Top 5 Movies of 2014 (So Far . . . )

Well, I’m a bit past the halfway point, but I figure July is as safe a month as any to post my top five movies for the first half of the year. Originally, I wanted to go with ten movies, but I don’t feel like I’ve seen enough movies to really give a solid top ten. I read what Ruth from Flixchatter did in her post about how she described her top movies as a mix between her favorites and the movies she deemed “best” that she had viewed, and I thought that description was exactly how I wanted to describe my “top” movies of the year.

5) The Grand Budapest Hotel

I loved this movie. It was fast-paced, quirky, charming, and just so enjoyable. I really think this is one of Wes Anderson’s best movies so far. There’s nothing quite like it out there, but I guess that is the typical description of a Wes Anderson film. TGBH has a colorful cast of characters played by a great group of actors, including Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, and playing practically the same character as his last Wes Anderson film, Edward Norton. I think what makes this movie great is the introduction of an actor new to the screen, Tony Revolori, who plays Zero, the character we follow throughout the entire movie. TGBH is odd, and perhaps even made only for a niche audience, but it’s quirky charm and eccentric characters won me over.

4) Captain America: Winter Soldier

It’s interesting watching a Captain America film after seeing Chris Evans play Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four. I’m not a fan of the Fantastic Four films, but Chris Evans plays a snarky, youthful bad boy so believably, that it makes his performance as Captain America in Winter Soldier that much more impressive. It’s hard to believe that an actor could play two Marvel characters who are so opposite from one another so well, but Winter Soldier really displays Evans’s dedication to the character Steve Rogers and makes you forget that he ever played Johnny Storm in the first place. Aside from Evans’s leading man grace, the movie is filled with old and new characters, played with enough charisma and excitement that Winter Soldier has definitely set the bar for future Marvel movies yet to be released.

3) The Fault in Our Stars

The year 2014, no doubt, it Shailene Woodley’s year. She starred in Divergent, which was released earlier in March, and now she’s in another popular book turned-to-film story where she plays one of her most notable characters yet. The first time I had heard her name, I was watching the pilot for The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I hadn’t given the actress much thought after that show, but after I saw her in The Descendants in 2011, I, like many in the film community, thought she might come back in a big way. She returned to the big screen again in The Spectacular Now, which, while I really didn’t care for, definitely convinced me Woodley was just getting started. I realize many adults will probably not share my interest this film, given that it stars teens. But I like the characters’ intelligence, and possibly even more, their attitudes toward cancer. It’s a heavy subject to deal with cancer, especially in young people. It made me think of 50/50, and how different those characters dealt with the life-sucking disease. Yes, it is a love story, but I think it’s better than a lot of films based off Nicholas Sparks books. When Woodley’s character, Hazel, visits Van Houten (played wonderfully by Willem Dafoe), you sense that this isn’t going to be a teeny-bopper, feel-good film. Overall, it’s a moving film, and certainly one of my favorites of the year so far.

2) Edge of Tomorrow

I almost didn’t see Edge of Tomorrow given Tom Cruise’s recent track record with movies. The trailer did nothing for me, and I really assumed I wasn’t going to enjoy it. Perhaps that is the reason it makes it so high on my list. It does remind you of Groundhog Day, but it’s done well enough that you’re wanting to know what happens next. My husband and I saw it in 3D, and I was once again reminded that there are films worth watching in the overrated and overpriced viewing option. Emily Blunt shows how versatile she is in EOT, and I really wouldn’t be surprised if she were offered more action star gigs if she’s interested. While watching this movie, I felt like I was watching a video game unravel: Cage (Tom Cruise) had multiple lives to try out new tactics in order to eventually defeat the enemy and ultimately win. Edge of Tomorrow is definitely worth seeing in theaters.

1) X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past was the movie I most anticipated for 2014, and it delivered. Back when X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out in theaters, I didn’t really know much about X-Men. However, my friends dragged me to the theater, and I ended up enjoying the film. By the time X-Men: First Class came out, I became very interested in the characters and stories, so I watched the rest of the X-Men movies. There is a lack of consistency and continuity among the movies, given the different timelines, characters, and directors. I think Bryan Singer had a big job to create a movie that was able to unite the old and new films, and successfully accomplish it at that. But he did. Days of Future Past was entertaining and thoughtful, and certainly one of the best action movies to come out so far this year. The scene with Quicksilver alone makes this movie worth watching. Props to Wolverine, aka Hugh Jackman, for carrying this movie. What were your top movies so far this year? Is this a good year for blockbusters? As my friend Keith noted from his post over at Keith & The Movies, blockbusters seem to be great this year! What would you have added to this list?

AEOS Update: Back to Blogging

To my friends, followers, and most important, my fellow movie bloggers,

I’m finally back! After taking a break from blogging about the movies for two years, I realized that NOW is the time to finally get back to my favorite hobby. Why now? Well, I’ve experienced a lot of life changes in the past few years. I’m starting to get settled, and I’m itching to write again. I can’t put into words how much I’ve missed being on the blogosphere, because frankly, there’s nothing quite like being a part of the coolest club in the world: the movie blogging community.

Everyone has their reasons for joining, leaving, or returning to blogging. My reason involves a lot of details, but I’m happy to share a few with those who are actually interested. I updated my About AEOS section, which you can find here. But for those of you who are a little lazy (like me), you can just read on, since I’m just copying/pasting the text below:

In the fall of 2010, I started this blog because I love movies. I discovered an online film community that welcomed me with open arms. All Eyes On Screen evolved over the next two years. Blogging about movies introduced me to fellow movie buffs all over the world, and my love for movies and writing about them has become a bigger passion in my life than I ever imagined it could be. Matt and KristinI’ve learned so much from disciplining myself to watch more, write more, write better, and be influenced by my fellow bloggers.

By the fall of 2012, my life changed in the best way possible: I met the guy of my dreams. But over the course of the next two years, my life also involved taking on multiple job responsibilities. By mid-2014, I changed jobs, moved states, and married that perfect man. As many of my fellow movie-blogging friends know, I started and quit blogging multiple times over the last few years, attempting to blog amidst my hectic schedule. Eventually, I lost my site URL, and I put blogging on hold until I KNEW I would be able to return to blogging at a regular and consistent pace.

Well, that time has finally arrived, and I’m happy to say that All Eyes On Screen is coming back in a big way: new posts, new movies to review, and new improvements are coming to All Eyes On Screen. I hope you’ll join the conversation and keep your eyes on screen as I write, critique, and chat about all the latest movies coming out.

Happy movie watching and writing,

Kristin

Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2012

Categorizing my favorite moves in 2012 was so much more difficult for me than it was in 2011. I had obvious, definite picks to close out 2011, and I have found myself nitpicking over which movies ought to make my top 1o favorites list this year. If you remember from last year, I picked up a movie for the tenth spot that performed horribly for critics and audiences alike, but I stuck to it, just as easily as it was for me to say that The Artist and 50/50 were the obvious stand-out movies of 2011 for me.

I haven’t finished seeing all the movies I want to see yet, including Flight and Beasts of the Southern Wild, which I can imagine will most likely alter this list. My assurance comes from being a big fan of Robert Zemeckis films, and I keep hearing great things for Beasts. So there’s a good chance a couple of these movies may be bumped off to make room! Other movies I think could possibly make it onto this list are Amour and Life of Pi, but my hopes aren’t as high for these as they are for the former two films I mentioned.

And a disclaimer before the list: I really enjoyed both The Impossible and Zero Dark Thirty, but they’re both the kind of movie that won’t get repeated viewings from me because of the subject matter. While both feats of their own, I really don’t care to watch either again with how rough and gritty it was. Another honorable mention that didn’t make my list was Lincoln. I enjoyed it immensely, but it’s running time had me looking at my watch a few times. The performances were incredible under Steven Spielberg’s direction, and I’m rooting for John Williams’s score to win the Oscar.

As of now, here are my top ten favorite films of 2012!

10) Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

As of June last year, Seeking a Friend was my favorite film I had seen so far. It was a very different film and it struck a chord with me that no other end-of-the-world flick ever had. Steve Carell shined in his performance, and Lorene Scafaria’s directorial debut was promising. More than anything, I appreciated the music and tone of this film. Scafaria stuck to her ending and I’m happy to add this movie to my top ten list of 2012.

9) Celeste and Jesse Forever

Another film I haven’t seen on anyone else’s favorites or top lists is Celeste and Jesse Forever, which made its first appearance at Sundance. Rashinda Jones both writes and stars in this film that offers an entirely different take on relationships. It’s complicated, but it’s a well-written, thoughtful screenplay that poses questions that are difficult to answer. Any Samberg shows more range than one would expect. I really enjoyed this movie and hope that it gets more exposed!

8) The Hobbit

After reading The Hobbit in January of last year, I grew more excited for the first film of three to be released in December. While there were disappointments, such as extended scenes and added parts that I believe took away from the film, I still really enjoyed it. Where The Hobbit didn’t lack was in the acting. It was great getting to see Sherlock‘s Martin Freeman star as Bilbo, and one of the strongest and best scenes of the film was the riddle scene with Bilbo and Andy Serkis’s Gollum.

7) Skyfall

For not being a huge James Bond fan, I really enjoyed Skyfall. I was hoping for something great after enjoying Casino Royale, and Skyfall does not disappoint at all. Daniel Craig does some of his best work here, and Javier Bardem makes for a great villain. The pacing and script are great and it gives a very satisfying end to the film.

6) Django Unchained

I wasn’t sure whether I’d love or hate Django going in, but it ended up being the former. For clocking in close to three hours, Django didn’t feel nearly as long as films like Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty, for me. It’s chocked full of Quentin Tarantino humor, and both Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio offer great supporting performances.

5) The Avengers

Earlier in 2012, I had seen The Avengers four times in theaters. If you had asked me in 2011 what movie I was planning to see the most in 2012, my answer would certainly not be The Avengers. But I’m completely won over, having seen Captain AmericaThor, and both Iron Man films multiple times before seeing The Avengers. It’s a solid film that delivers on multiple fronts, not only entertaining, but also works as an excellent inclusion of multiple characters to make one grand superhero film fit together.

4) Argo

Early in 2012 I had caught wind of a little movie called Argo to be directed by Ben Affleck. It was one of my most anticipated films of the year, and I consider it one of the best films to come out in 2012. It’s unfortunate that the Academy did not nomimate Affleck for Best Director as he brought to film one of the most interesting and thrilling political stories. I’m rooting for Argo to perform well at the awards!

3) The Dark Knight Rises

I wasn’t expecting to place DKR so high on my list, but in conjuction with everything I’ve seen in 2012, I can’t not put it so high. Even with its many critiques by fanboys and critics alike, Christopher Nolan’s epic end to his Batman trilogy is so good that people really have to fight a bit to be critical about it. While Batman Begins is still probably my favorite of the trilogy, it’s a great problem to have to be able to pick the “worst” of the three when all were solid films. Nolan set a foundation for character films to follow by placing the bar high enough for critics to like and modest enough for audiences to really enjoy.

2) The Perks of Being a Wallflower

When I first saw the trailer for Perks, I was convinced that it would be one of my favorite movies of the year. And while I’m usually wrong and set my expectations too high going in, Stephen Chbosky’s book and now film (which he also directed and wrote the screenplay for) won me over. It’s a coming of age story, but it’s written and acted out so beautifully, that I had a difficult time pinpointing what exactly it was about Perks that made it so likeable for me. The actors actually looked more of the ages they were playing rather than mid- to late-twenties adults playing high schoolers, as they do in most teen-based movies.

1) Silver Linings Playbook

And my top favorite film of the year is Silver Linings Playbook. It’s my favorite film of 2012 because it has the two qualities that attract me most to any film: strong writing and interesting characters. Based off the novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings tells the story of a man who is blissfully unaware he has issues. Bradley Cooper gives a stunning and turning performance which will hopefully afford him better roles in the future. Again, Jennifer Lawrence gets nominated for an Oscar, and rightfully so. It’s an interesting and different film, directed by David O. Russell, who’s known to like telling stories of dysfunctional families, his latest film being The Fighter. Even De Niro gives an unforgettable and entertaining performance in this movie. Moving, endearing, and performance strong, Silver Linings Playbook was my favorite movie of the year.

Welcome, 2013: Free Screenplays, Interview with a Quvenzhané, and an Angry Tolkien

The Oscar nominations are in, and I find it interesting that 2012 film does not a pose a strong #1 film that will take down Oscar this year. Perhaps that will happen regardless, as it does most years, but with so many great movies that came out, I really do wonder who will take Best Picture.

Within this past week alone, I have seen Django UnchainedSilver Linings Playbook, and The Impossible. I’m gearing up for Zero Dark Thirty‘s release tomorrow. Oh, and I’ve made a list of movies to see yet before Oscar date February 24:

When all the top 10 lists start popping up, I can’t help but mentally compose my own for the movie year of 2012. So many of the heavy-hitters didn’t get released in Chicago theaters until early 2013, so I’m battling to see many of the films in their short theater runs before they slip away, their DVD releases not arriving until after the Academy Awards air.

I am only dying to post my Top 10 Favorites of 2012, but before I do that, I need to cross a few of those off my list. It’s difficult to catch all the great movies before the Oscars, but my goal is to post a top 10 list by the end of January. In the meantime, I’d like to offer up some film goodies:

  • Oscar Screenplays Available for Download — Now I cannot take credit for this because my boyfriend, Matt, knows how much I love film, and he found this online. Perhaps you’ve already seen these, or you’re not one for screenplays. Even so, this is quite the motherload of screenplays for several critically-acclaimed films of 2012. I know they’ll be available only for a limited time, so I’d recommend downloading your favorites while they’re available.
  • Roger Ebert’s Interview with Quvenzhané Wallis – Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest person to ever get nominated in Oscar history. It’s a pretty extraordinary achievement! Now while I haven’t seen Beasts of the Southern Wild yet, from the trailer, the interview, the article, the reviews of this film and her performance, I can only imagine how powerful her performance must have been.
  • Christopher Tolkien Disenchanted with The Hobbit film – This is quite the read for anyone interested in the Lord of the Rings world J.R.R. Tolkien created, be it the books, maps, languages, or most well-known, the Peter Jackson film adaptations. After reading this, I can’t help but see both sides of issue. Credit goes to my friend Deb for the find.

As of now, one of the movies I saw this week holds my #1 slot for favorites films of 2012, with a couple films following that I haven’t see on anyone else’s top 10 list.

What’s your #1 film of 2012? What are your first thoughts on the Oscar nominations?

The Hobbit: New Trailer Released!

In lieu of Frodo and Bilbo’s shared birthday on September 22, The Hobbit‘s marketing plan goes into full swing as it releases the latest and most revealing trailer for the first third of films.

This trailer certainly includes some new material that makes it come off as a bit of an action flick. We also get bigger glimpses of Elrond, Galadriel, and more dialogue from Gollum. I’d have to read some of Tolkien’s other books to know how accurate some of the material is, because after reading The Hobbit, there are a few parts of the trailer that certainly have not come from the book.

Ever since I heard Peter Jackson was dividing The Hobbit  three separate films, I got less excited for the film. I still wonder how three great films can be made from a book that has fewer than 300 pages. I know other Tolkien books will be included, but I’ve also read that new characters/storylines will be added.

What are your thoughts on the new trailer? Are you still excited for the first third of The Hobbit? Share what you think below!

AEOS Review: The Bourne Legacy

I haven’t reviewed a film in quite a while, but I have some free time right now, so I’m back to posting. Thanks for everyone’s patience! (I know all of you just missed me so much, ha!)

There haven’t been that many great films to review this month (see: last post), but The Bourne Legacy was one of those films I was looking forward to for one reason: Jeremy Renner. He arrives on the Hollywood scene in his early 40s, and he seems to be the “back-up plan” for all of these franchises that seem to bumble between furthering the franchise with yet another film, rebooting the franchise entirely, or recasting the series with Renner.

Renner first showed up in The Hurt Locker and did one heck of a job so I’m told, although I have yet to see that film. But I’ve witnessed him play an excellent supporting role in The TownMission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and The Avengers. Renner knows how to own the screen whether it’s a starring or supporting role, and I look forward to seeing more and more of him in the future!

Unfortunately, I did not dig The Bourne Legacy like I hoped to. I wouldn’t call Renner and Weisz’s performances saving graces since the film wasn’t that terrible, but the truth of the matter is that the film fell flat. It didn’t live up to the previous Bourne films, it lacked a great villain, it completely wasted Edward Norton’s talents, and Aaron Cross’s motivations were consumed solely with finding the “chems.”

Aside from the film’s notable issues, however, I found it to be an enjoyable action film. The lab scene where one of the workers goes on a killing spree was especially terrifying and shot in such a serious and subtle way, that it stood out as the best scene of the film for me.

Nothing about The Bourne Legacy especially grabbed my attention aside from the lab scene–the score lacked the excitement of the previous films, although the film did end with Moby’s Extreme Ways, which I appreciated. I tend to wonder whether there will be a fifth installment with the lackluster response both critics and audiences have given the film.

If you’d like to hear more of my banter on the film, please check out my movie buddy Ryan’s podcast on his site, The Matinee. I had the privilege of getting to guest on episode 66, where we talked not only about The Bourne Legacy, but in light of this interesting recast (Matt Damon to Jeremy Renner), also listed off each of our top 5 recasts in films. And not only to put in a plug for Ryan, but also just to say from my own perspective — Ryan runs a great site and is so up to date. He puts me to shame with how on top of things he is from writing posts, to seeing films, to recording podcasts. Please take the time to check out his site and specifically listen to episode 66 if you can spare the time! You won’t regret it.

What did you think of The Bourne Legacy? Did you like it more than I did? Do you think Jeremy Renner lived up to Matt Damon in the Bourne series? Do you think there will be a fifth Bourne film?

August: The Dead Month of Movies?

For a year that was highly-anticipatory for film, January through April took its sweet ‘ol time passing through, delivering only one fairly memorable film–The Hunger Games–and made all us viewers wonder if 2012 was really going to deliver, or just release a few biggies during the summer and Oscar seasons.

Finally, May rolled around and The Avengers blew everything away for the past 4 months. Then June opened up with some fun summer films, notably Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman (would everyone please stop talking about Kristen Stewart already?!), and The Dark Knight Rises showed up in July along with The Amazing Spider-Man. And now we’re sitting in August, dealing with 80s remakes and unsuccessful franchise continuations and not a whole lot of films to look forward to until October/November/December sweeps.

All of this begs me to ask, is August the “dead” month of movies? Both Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy came with their disappointments, though the latter succeeded the former with its storyline and acting alone (talking to you, Jeremy Renner!). Premium Rush is the only film I see with a hint of promise for the month. There’s a little hope with Lawless, watching Shia Labeouf attempt to win people over after his run through the Transformer films.

The only film I feel gipped for missing is Celeste and Jesse Forever, which opened only in very limited release, Rashinda Jones’s first writing project that performed successfully at Sundance.

We’re in that busy month of the year where everyone’s going back to school, and no one’s really focused on going to see a good film, with studios optimizing on the summer and Christmas breaks to release the films people most look forward to.

So ease my mind and tell me, have you liked any of the films August has offered so far? Or is it really the dead month of the year for film? What do you look forward to for the rest of the month?