Month in Review: November 2014

Popular Posts in November

Fairy Tale Blogathan: Sabrina (1995)

Matinee Podcast: Big Hero 6 (2014)

Shame List #25: The Shining (1980)

Not a Review: Interstellar (2014)

AEOS Review: Whiplash (2014)

New Movies I Saw in Theaters

Big Hero 6

Birdman
Review coming soon!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Review coming soon!

Interstellar

Theory of Everything
Review coming soon!

Whiplash

Best Movie [I saw in theaters] This Month

Whiplash

While Whiplash probably made me more uncomfortable in a movie theater than what I’m accustomed to, I cannot help but praise this film as one of the best of the year. It’s a film I’d like to add to my collection, even if I watch it only once every couple of years. The performances do not carry, but rather complement a film that gives us great music, an interesting perspective on performance arts, and a great story to tell.

Worst Movie [I saw in theaters] This Month

 Theory of Everything

Now technically I saw Theory of Everything early this month, but since the film was released in November, and I’m a bit behind in posting November’s month in review, I thought it was safe to add to this month. Theory of Everything isn’t so much a bad film as it’s more of a “been here, done that” misdemeanor in film. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the film, or that I think it’s a bad film. I don’t. It just happens to come in last place for the new films I saw in theaters over the month of November.

Looking Forward to December

It is a little crazy to think we are nearing the end of 2014 this quickly. I, for one, have had an incredible 2014, having returned to blogging this July after a long year and a half hiatus. But I’ll save that talk for future posts. December boasts a LOT of big films, similarly to November. I doubt I’ll catch all, much less most of these films this month. But hey, that’s what January is for, right?

Because there are so many films I’m itching to see this month, I’m going to limit this list to my top five I’m most excited for.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (12/16)

I have so much love for the Lord of the Rings universe Peter Jackson created on-screen. While I have not been a fan of the first two The Hobbit offerings, I am still excited for this finale. We really haven’t gotten to see much of the actual material from the book unfold on screen, so I’m looking forward to what Mr. Jackson has in store for us.

Into the Woods (12/25)

I’ve been anticipating Into the Woods since a teaser first arrived online. Now while I haven’t seen the musical production of this, I think the premise is interesting, and I’m very excited to see so many of the actors and actresses I love grace the screen in a musical. My sister and I have established a tradition over the past several years to see a movie in theaters Christmas night. Since I met my hubby Matt in 2012, he has come along, making it that much more fun. Into the Woods is the movie I hope to see this Christmas.

Unbroken (12/25)

I know way less about Unbroken than I’d like, but I’ve read raving reviews for the book it is based on. I’ve also researched how Angelina Jolie came into contact with the man whose story is Unbroken, so I’m curious to see how Jolie’s latest return to the director’s chair will pan out. This movie promises inspiration for a story that looks devastating. It reminds me a little bit of 12 Years a Slave (2013) in the trailer.

Big Eyes (12/25)

I haven’t always been a huge fan of Amy Adams. Sometimes I love her, and other times I don’t care for her roles. But Big Eyes attracts me even more given that Tim Burton is the director. While Burton always dabbles in the unusual, Big Eyes doesn’t seem to be his usual fare. And with Christoph Waltz, I can’t help but be curious about this unusually appealing film.

Selma (12/25)

Selma will be a limited-release film that I probably won’t get to see until January. That said, this movie looks incredible from the trailer, and it’s full of huge actors. I’ve been seeing trailers for this only within the past month, so my guess is that the push will be around Christmas/New Years into January. I really think this movie is going to be nominated for a lot of awards.

Since December is such a huge month for films, here is a list of other films released in December I’m still excited to see, even if I don’t get to them until January/February next year:

Wild (12/3)

Inherent Vice (12/12)

Annie (12/19)

American Sniper (12/25)

The Gambler (12/25)

A Most Violent Year (12/31)

It’s your turn now. What were the best and worst movies you saw in November? What movies are you anticipating in December? Please join the conversation below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

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Five Film Trends in the Last Five Years

While the past decade has boasted higher ticket prices at the theaters, the art of film, or plainly stated, the box office records, have show some major trends in movies over the past five years. While this list can easily exceed five trends, these are ones I have noticed and researched.

5) Dystopian book-to-film adaptations on the rise

Recently, I published a post on a comparison of The Hunger Games (2012) and Divergent (2014) films. Those two movies are part of only two of the major book-turned-film franchises to hit the box office over the past five years. Most film fans are no stranger to the dystopian film genre. The Matrix (1999) series started in the late ’90s. Tom Cruise’s film The Minority Report (2002) was based on Philip K. Dick’s short story. Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), and Twelve Monkeys (1995) are only three offerings of the genre we were offered in the 1980s and ’90s. But in the past five years (2010-2014), I have noticed many dystopian books get a movie deal.

Never-Let-Me-Go-30929_5

The first one in the past five years I thought of was Never Let Me Go (2010), a British sci-fi drama that focused on the lives of three clones who exist for the purpose of donating their organs to others. Another popular, although unsuccessful film, is Atlas Shrugged Part 1 (2010), a dystopian film based on the controversial novel by Ayn Rand. One book that, while may not be considered dystopian in nature, nevertheless has its film adaptation fit well enough into the dystopian genre is World War Z (2013), starring Brad Pitt. Two other noteworthy films to include in this category are Dredd (2012) and Oblivion (2013), each based off graphic novels, the latter inspired by Joseph Kosinski’s unpublished manuscript of the same name.

Of course, the most well-known dystopian book-to-film adaptations include the box-smashing The Hunger Games series, with the final two movies getting released this year and 2015; Divergent, the movie based on the popular YA series written by Veronica Roth; The Giver, an unsuccessful film adaptation that didn’t sit well with critics, yet was inspired by a prominent book written in the early ’90s (you can see my review of the movie here); and The Maze Runner, the the first of three popular James Dashner novels that will be released next month in theaters.

4) Female protagonist films lead the box office

In the 1950s and ’60s, there were women-centered films and female protagonists. They were marketed in a much more sexist way then, but the times have changed, and more films have starred women. But in the last five years, films with female-protagonists have led the box office. According to Time‘s article “5 Things We’ve Learned in 5 Years of Box Office Reports,” published just this past April, the year 2012 included three movies in the top eight that starred women: The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence; Breaking Dawn Part 2, starring Kristen Stewart; and Brave, starring the talented voice work of Kelly Macdonald. The same article notes that last year, three of the top six films had female protagonists (Sandra Bullock in Gravity, Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Indina Menzel in Frozen).

Perhaps the most notable fact that supports the idea that female protagonist films are leading the box office is that 2013’s highest-grossing film was the Jennifer Lawrence-starring film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the first movie since 1965’s The Sound of Music (starring Julie Andrews) to fill that top spot.

Of course, The Hunger Games franchise are not the only female-starring movies to make a splash at the box office over the past five years. Salt (2010), Hanna (2011), and Haywire (2012) were all female-led movies that obtained positive scores with both critics and viewers alike, with Angelina Jolie’s action film leading the box office with over $100 million.

3) Comic book movies no longer niche genre

When Sam Raimi’s first Spiderman (2002), I thought it was a special case. Personally, I loved that movie. My family regularly rented it from Blockbuster. It was the first superhero movie I had seen that wasn’t about Batman or Superman. The first Batman movie was released in theaters in 1966. I was amazed how odd it was that in 2002, it wasn’t considered a usual thing for a movie to be based on a comic book character, unless it was Superman or Batman. Blade 2 (2002), Daredevil (2003), Hulk (2003),  Hellboy (2004), and Catwoman (2004) were all released in the next three years following Raimi’s first Spiderman, just a few of the comic-based movies to get released in the early 2000s. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized the first X-Men film, directed by Bryan Singer, was released in theaters in 2000.

In the early 2000s, there’s a sense that many film critics didn’t take the comic book based film as seriously as other film genres, such as dramas, biopics, and comedies. But times have changed, and there has been a new acceptance of comic-based films as Marvel has mapped out its future in movies for at least the next six years. (This is a fun article worth checking out, Marvel fans.) DC seems to take note of Marvel, now working on its own agenda for a Batman vs. Superman movie along with a Justice League film franchise in the works.

While it isn’t perfect, I found a list that compiles every superhero movie released, both on TV and in theaters, including both animated and live-action films. A quick view of the list would prove that comic book movies are no longer niche, but far more commonplace as they have found a place at the movies, considerably expanding its audience. I would personally credit Christopher Nolans’s The Dark Knight trilogy for giving audiences and critics a darker, more serious adaptation of comic based films, proving that just because the movie is based off a comic book character, doesn’t mean it can’t be a stylistic, entertaining, and bold film worthy of praise.

2) Sequels and remakes lead the way

Perhaps this trend has existed more than just in the past five years, but I imagine most anyone can agree that few original screenplays make it to the big screen today, and if they do, they usually do not sell the most tickets or perform as successfully. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, such as 2010’s Inception, the original screenplay penned by Christopher Nolan, but let’s get back to the point.

Fan art that just makes you laugh 🙂

Here is a non-exclusive, incomplete list over the past five years of major sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots that premiered each year:

2010: Clash of the Titans (sequel), Why Did I Get Married Too? (sequel), A Nightmare on Elm Street (remake), Iron Man 2 (sequel), Shrek Forever After (sequel), Sex and the City 2 (sequel), The A-Team (remake), The Karate Kid (remake), Toy Story 3 (sequel), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (sequel), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (sequel), True Grit (remake)

2011: Scream 4 (sequel), Paranormal Activity 3 (sequel), Fright Night (remake), The Hangover Part 2 (sequel), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (reboot), Kung Fu Panda 2 (sequel), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (sequel), Fast Five (sequel), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (sequel), Cars 2 (sequel), Happy Feet 2 (sequel), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (sequel)

2012: The Dark Knight Rises (reboot, sequel), The Amazing Spider-Man (reboot), The Expendables 2 (sequel), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (sequel), Men in Black 3 (sequel), Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (sequel), Prometheus (prequel), Wrath of the Titans (sequel), Total Recall (remake), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (sequel), The Bourne Legacy (sequel)

2013: Iron Man 3 (sequel), Carrie (remake), Despicable Me 2 (sequel), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (sequel), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (sequel), Kick-Ass 2 (sequel), Man of Steel (reboot), Monsters University (sequel), Red 2 (sequel), Evil Dead (remake), Scary Movie 5 (sequel), The Great Gatsby (remake), Star Trek Into Darkness (reboot, sequel), The Hangover 3 (sequel)

2014: Annie (remake), 300: Rise of an Empire (sequel), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (sequel), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (reboot, sequel), Godzilla (remake), X-Men: Days of Future Past (prequel, sequel), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (sequel), Transformers: Age of Extinction (sequel), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (reboot, sequel), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (sequel)

What’s even funnier about it is that if you google “remakes and sequels for the year [fill in year],” every year for the past five years contains articles similarly titled to “[insert year]” is the year of remakes and sequels!

1) A billion dollars isn’t a billion dollars anymore

A quick check at recent box office records, or the same Time‘s article I’ve been citing throughout this post shows that the billion dollar list, James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) becoming its first entry, has now grown to a whopping 19 movies, including both last year’s Iron Man 3 and Frozen.

List of Highest Grossing Films

Image taken from Wikipedia’s page “List of Highest Grossing Films.” Green indicates the film is still playing in theaters around the world.

Looking at that list, you’ll notice that only three of those movies were released in the 1990s. Twelve of those films entered the list during the 2010s. But what’s most interesting about the list is that it isn’t adjusted for inflation, which changes everything, especially the list of highest-grossing films:

Highest Grossing Films Adjusted for Inflation

Image taken from Wikipedia’s page “List of Highest Grossing Films.”

Now it’s your turn, folks. What trends have you noticed in film in the past five years? Which trends do you find to be most dominant? Have some trends lasted longer than others? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts! 

Women in the Director’s Chair

The latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, due to come out December 16, is titled “The (Female) Directors,” with Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2) gracing the cover.

Originally, when I saw the cover, I was really confused as to why Angelina Jolie, of all people, would be on the cover. I couldn’t think of a single film she has directed or was slated to direct. According to this article in that THR issue, Jolie’s directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, is set to hit theaters in limited release on December 23. Given her international political resume, I can’t say it’s a surprise that Jolie’s debut is a Bosnian war film. It’s neat to see the female directors together again since Nelson directed Jolie in Kung Fu Panda 2, which is only the second animated film to ever be directed by a woman (first was The Tigger Movie).

Last year marked history for female directors with Kathryn Bigelow being the first female director to ever win the Oscar for Best Director for her movie The Hurt Locker. Also mentioned in the another THR article from the same issue, “The Femmes to Watch,” include the only other three female directors to ever get nominated for Best Director:

“Only three other women before had been nominated in the category: Lisa Wertmuller for Seven Beauties in 1976, Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993 and Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2003.”

It’s interesting to watch the rise of women in the film industry. Shakespeare in Love includes a great example of when women weren’t allowed on stage, and men portrayed women. Later, the Bechdel test was invented to show the type of role women are represented in movies. Perhaps you’ve even read a post about a certain type of character some female actresses constantly fall into, like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Women no longer take the backseat to men in film anymore. They’re in front of the camera, and more are starting to get behind it as well.

Kathyrn Bigelow’s Acceptance Speech:

(upon winning the Oscar for Best Director for The Hurt Locker)

“This really is when … there is no other way to describe this. It’s the moment of a lifetime. First of all — this is so extraordinary to be in the company of such powerful — my fellow nominees — such powerful film makers who have inspired me and I have admired for — some of whom — for decades. Thank you to every member of the Academy. This is again the moment of a lifetime.

I would not be standing here if it wasn’t for Mark Bohl who risked his life for the words on the page and wrote such a courageous screenplay that I was fortunate enough to have a great cast bring that screenplay to life. Jeremy Renner. Anthony Mackey and Brian Garrity.

And I think the secret to directing is collaborating and I had truly an extraordinary group of collaborators in my crew: Barry Akroyd and Kelly Juliason, and Bob Murawski, Chris Innis, Ray Beckett, Richard Stutzman. And if I could also just thank my producing partners, Greg Shapiro and my wonderful agent Brian Suberal, and the people of Jordan who were so hospitable to us when we were shooting.

And I’d like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world and may they come home safe.

Thank you.”

Don’t Mind the Age Difference

So I was watching The Proposal the other night on FX (it was airing for the umpteenth time), and I couldn’t stop thinking about the 12 year age difference between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Now there’s been a lot of paparazzi photos of the two of them and their “secret Texas wedding” and other crap filling the the hole of Hollywood tabloids. But my thoughts went more to the age difference we see between pairings in movies, not tabloids or “real life” or in Hollywood.

Here are some that I thought of:

Pairing: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz

Movie(s): Vanilla Sky and Knight and Day

Age Difference: 10 years

While Mr. Cruise is 16 years senior to his wife Katie Holmes, he is a surprising 10 years older than Ms. Diaz. I actually saw Knight and Day before Vanilla Sky, and I assumed there was maybe a 5 year difference between the two. After all, both have been acting for a long time. What I didn’t realize is that they’re actually 10 years a part. Even funnier, Penelope Cruz, a past girlfriend of Cruise’s and also a Vanilla Sky star who played opposite him in that movie, is 12 years his junior.

 

Pairing: Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts

Movie: Valentine’s Day

Age Difference: 8 years

Playing two characters who sit next to each other on a plane, Cooper looks far younger than Roberts, even in Valentine’s Day. She being 8 years his senior, perhaps people were glad to find out that his character was gay, particularly for Eric Dane (understanding, ha). Cooper isn’t a stranger playing against older woman, however–he also plays against Sandra Bullock in All About Steve (age difference: 11 years).

 

Pairing: Colin Firth and Lúcia Moniz

Movie: Love Actually

Age Difference: 16 years

Although Moniz is relatively unknown in the U.S., she plays a small role in the film, with much of her dialogue in it being Portuguese. This surprising and odd pairing made it all the weirder to see the two end up together because the age difference wasn’t only significant, it was also very visible, even in spite of the roles they played.

 

Pairing: Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl

Movie: The Ugly Truth

Age Difference: 9 years

In the movie The Bounty Hunter, Butler plays opposite Jenn Anniston, who is the same age as he is. In The Ugly Truth, he and Heigl end up together, despite their 9 year age difference. The almost decade isn’t as apparent as some couples since Heigl is taller, making her appear older. On Grey’s Anatomy, she’s nearly a decade younger than all of her costars.

 

Pairing: Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie

Movie: The Tourist

Age Difference: 12 years

This was one of the most surprising age differences for me. Her romantic link (not marriage) to Brad Pitt (who’s soon to be 48 this month) as well as her overall, general look, make her appear older. I was surprised to learn she is still well in her 30s. Both she and Cameron Diaz appear older than what they are, perhaps partly because they have been acting for a long time.

 

Pairing: Shia Labeouf and Michelle Monaghan

Movie: Eagle Eye

Age Difference: 10 years

Although there might have been only a slight hint of a romantic possibility at the very end of the movie, both Labeouf and Monaghan starred in this unsuccessful (while still enjoyable) thriller. Monaghan has one of the most interesting histories of movie pairing from Shia Labeouf in Eagle Eye to Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 3 to Patrick Dempsey in Made of Honor.

 

Pairing: Viggo Mortenson and Liv Tyler

Movie: Lord of the Rings trilogy

Age Difference: 19 years

Perhaps it works well that in the story: Mortenson’s character Aragorn is really an 87 year old ranger who is the last left of a dying breed of people who live exceptionally long, yet do not look as old as they are. This huge age difference actually works very well with Tyler, who is also a model, playing a pure and delicate looking elf in the films.

 

Pairing: Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway

Movie: Get Smart

Age Difference: 20 years

Similarly to LOTR, Hathaway plays a character that is actually older than she appears, but had plastic surgery that now makes her appear younger than what she actually is. One of the strangest pairings, both in personality and age difference, Hathaway and Carell sorta worked well together in this film.

Have you ever noticed any strange pairings and just wondered what the heck the director was thinking? Were you ever stunned after seeing a movie only to realize the leads were more than a decade a part?