Blog... Blog... Blog...

< Previous 123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536 Next >
The Spring of Magic Movie Review

2012 was, among other things, the Year of the Animated Horror Movie (with "ParaNorman". "Frankenweenie" and "Hotel Translyvania"). The first theme emerging so far this year "appears" to be Magic. Three major releases are magician-related, including two out this month:

"Oz: The Great and Powerful" is a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz". The Wizard, a man named Oscar (Oz), is a struggling magician who journeys to the Emerald City and has to use his "powers" to save everyone from the Wicked Witch.

"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone", which opens next week, stars Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi as a modern, Vegas-type team whose magic act has become outdated. Jim Carrey plays Steve Gray. a rival who takes a more modern, Criss Angel-type approach to his work. Looks very funny.

And "Now You See Me" (opening June 7th) is part sci-fi, part drama, part crime mystery, centered around three magicians (played by Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Isla Fisher). The new trailer is playing before "Oz", and I'll likely see it again next week before "Burt Wonderstone". Morgan Freeman (who perfectly narrates the trailer) reunites in the supporting cast with "Dark Knight" co-star Michael Caine. And that's not an illusion.





Time to Talk about Times Movie Review

It wasn't that long ago that, for fans to see a movie before it's scheduled release date (unless there was a preview screening) they had to go to a midnight show the night before. Yes, technically, midnight is really the next day, but you get the idea. Thursday Midnight showings for blockbusters, especially during Summer Movie Season, became the common practice.

Within the past few months, the 10p Thursday Night showings started popping-up. Clearly these are not same-day screenings, but the studios obviously realize that midnight showings that aren't during the summer are very difficult for most people to attend. Should the "night before" money generated by these early screenings count in the weekend box office totals? I say no - because this gives an unfair advantage to the films that offer the 10p screenings.

Well, now 9p Thursday night screenings are about to appears at a mutliplex near you, starting this week with "Oz: The Great and Powerful" (update: most theaters have now moved to 8p shows). All the ads still say: "In Theaters Friday", but "Oz" screenings will be taking place all over the country Thursday night, beginning at 9p. There's a banner ad on this website with a clock counting-down to midnight Thursday night, even though thousands of people will have already seen the entire movie by then. 9p is still a little late for kids who have to get up for school on Friday morning (especially since the film is over 2 hrs long), but is this the new trend that we'll be seeing from now on?

Paramount is advertising that "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" will now be opening on Thursday, March 28th, but there's no confirmation yet whether that means 9p/10p shows or that it's going to be a full Thursday release.

At some point every studio will simply have to start saying "In Theaters Thursday Night", and the industry will have to go to 4-day weekend box office totals. New releases come out on Thursday down in Australia, so maybe we're heading in that direction. But then it won't be long before some studio comes-up with the plan to do Wednesday Midnight showings...Then 10p...Then 9p...Then 8...Then...





The Goodman Effect Movie Review

Once is an event. Twice is a pattern.

Each of the past two Best Picture Oscar winners has featured John Goodman in a memorable supporting role. Many people are writing this week about the possible 2014 Oscar contenders and their lists are long and varied. But for me it's not that difficult - since Goodman's only in five films:

"Inside Llewyn Davis" - The Coen Brothers are back with this drama set in NYC during the folk-music scene of the 60's. Three of their last four films have received Best Picture nominations. Early buzz is very good.

"Monsters University" - Goodman returns as the voice of Sully in this prequel to Pixar's "Monsters Inc.". No chance to win Best Picture (or probably a nomination), but Best Animated Feature is certainly a possibility.

"The Hangover Part III" - Hey, even John Goodman has to pay the bills.

"The Internship" - Comedy about two middle-aged friends (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn) who become interns at Google. Could be funny, won't be an awards contender.

"Monuments Men" - Here's the winner: George Clooney directs this "based on a true story" drama about the daring rescue of priceless works of art from the Nazis during WWII. Clooney also stars, along with Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin AND Goodman. And it also has a coveted Dec. 18 release date. Start engraving the statue now.

So, a second straight Oscars show will end with Clooney on stage, this time in the role of Ben Affleck (star, director, producer). But the better streak will be Goodman's, as he will make it three straight Best Picture wins.

Wonder what projects he's looking at for 2014?



LCJ's 2013 Oscar Predictions Movie Review

Here are my predictions for Sunday's "85th Annual Academy Awards" in all 24 categories. The winners will kind be spread-out this year: "Lincoln" will lead with 4 Oscars, followed by "Argo" and "Les Miserables" with 3 each:

Best Picture - "Argo"
Best Director - Steven Spielberg - "Lincoln"
Best Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis - "Lincoln"
Best Actress - Jennifer Lawrence - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Supporting Actor - Robert De Niro - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Supporting Actress - Anne Hathaway - "Les Miserables"
Best Animated Feature - "Wreck-It Ralph"
Best Documentary Feature - "Searching for Sugar Man"
Best Foreign Language Film - "Amour"
Best Original Screenplay - Mark Boal - "Zero Dark Thirty"
Best Adapted Screenplay - Chris Terrio - "Argo"
Best Animated Short Film - "Adam and Dog"
Best Live-Action Short Film - "Henry"
Best Documentary Short Film - "Open Heart"
Best Visual Effects - "Life of Pi"
Best Cinematography - "Life of Pi"
Best Production Design - "Lincoln"
Best Makeup and Hairstyling - "Les Miserables"
Best Costume Design - "Anna Karenina"
Best Film Editing - "Argo"
Best Sound Editing - "Skyfall"
Best Sound Mixing - "Les Miserables"
Best Original Score - "Lincoln"
Best Original Song - "Skyfall" - music and lyrics by Adele and Paul Epworth - "Skyfall"

Seth MacFarlane will be a big hit, and the show will end at approx. 12:10 am ET


Best Picture Nominees A-F
Argo - A
Silver Linings Playbook - A
Lincoln - A-
Les Miserables - B+
Zero Dark Thirty - B+
Amour - B
Beasts of the Southern Wild - B-
Django Unchained - C
Life of Pi - C

The 2013 LCJ Movie Awards Movie Review

We're just a week away from The 85th Annual Academy Awards and that means it's time for the 2nd Annual LCJ MOVIE AWARDS. This year, I've added 5 new categories for a grand total of 30! Who gets to add this award to their resume? The envelopes please:







Best Picture
Marvel's The Avengers
The Impossible
Les Miserables
Ruby Sparks
Searching for Sugar Man
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Director
Ben Affleck - "Argo"
Kathryn Bigelow - "Zero Dark Thirty"
Tom Hooper - "Les Miserables"
Steven Spielberg - "Lincoln"
Joe Wright - "Anna Karenina"

Best Actor
Jack Black - "Bernie"
Daniel Day-Lewis - "Lincoln"
Hugh Jackman - "Les Miserables"
Jean-Louis Trintignant - "Amour"
Denzel Washington - "Flight"

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain - "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Helen Mirren - "Hitchcock"
Emmanuelle Riva - "Amour"
Naomi Watts - "The Impossible"

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin - "Argo"
Josh Brolin - "Men in Black 3"
Robert De Niro - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Tommy Lee Jones - "Lincoln"
Ewan McGregor - "The Impossible"

Best Supporting Actress
Judi Dench - "Skyfall"
Sally Field - "Lincoln"
Anne Hathaway - "Les Miserables"
Whitney Houston - "Sparkle"
Charlize Theron - "Snow White & the Huntsman"

Best Younger Actor/Actress
CJ Adams - "The Odd Life of Timothy Green"
Kara Hayward - "Moonrise Kingdom"
Tom Holland - "The Impossible"
Suraj Sharma - "Life of Pi"
Quvenzhane Wallis - "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Best Animated Feature
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Best Director of an Animated Feature
Tim Burton - "Frankenweenie"
Chris Butler & Sam Fell - "ParaNorman"
Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath & Conrad Vernon - "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted"
Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt - "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"
Peter Ramsey - "Rise of the Guardians"

Best Documentary Feature
Katy Perry: Part of Me
Searching for Sugar Man
Side by Side

Best Action Film
Marvel's The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
The Expendables 2
Snow White & the Huntsman

Best Comedy
The Campaign
Ruby Sparks
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Drama
The Impossible
Les Miserables
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Best Family Film
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
The Three Stooges

Best Ensemble
Marvel's The Avengers
Les Miserables
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Original Screenplay
Ruby Sparks
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Impossible
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Animated Short Film
Adam and Dog
Daffy's Rhapsody
Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"
Partysaurus Rex
Tangled Ever After

Best Editing
Searching for Sugar Man
Side by Side
Silver Linings Playbook

Best Cinematography
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Art Direction
Anna Karenina
Cloud Atlas
Promised Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Dark Shadows
The Hunger Games
Les Miserables
Men in Black 3

Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina
Marvel's The Avengers
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Mirror Mirror

Best Visual Effects
The Amazing Spider-Man
Marvel's The Avengers
Cloud Atlas
The Impossible

Best Sound Editing/Mixing
Marvel's The Avengers
Django Unchained
Premium Rush

Best Original Score
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Cloud Atlas
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Impossible

Best Original Song
"Everybody Needs a Best Friend" - "Ted"
"Safe and Sound" - "The Hunger Games"
"Skyfall" - "Skyfall"
"Strange Love" - "Frankenweenie"
"Suddenly" - "Les Miserables"

Best 3D
Finding Nemo 3D
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Rise of the Guardians
Titanic 3D

Best Cameo
Bill Hader - "Men in Black 3"
Sam J. Jones - "Ted"
Stan Lee - "Marvel's The Avengers"
Liam Neeson - "The Dark Knight Rises"
Uggie the Dog - "The Campaign"

Actor of the Year
Emily Blunt - "Looper", "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen", "Your Sister's Sister"
Bradley Cooper - "Silver Linings Playbook", "The Words"
Bryan Cranston - "Argo", "John Carter", "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted", "Rock of Ages", "Total Recall"
John Goodman - "Argo", "Flight", "ParaNorman", "Trouble with the Curve"
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - "The Dark Knight Rises", "Lincoln", "Looper", "Premium Rush"

The LCJ Movie Awards are Coming! Movie Review

This Sunday at 8pmET, I will be announcing the winners of the major categories for THE 2013 LCJ MOVIE AWARDS on Twitter (@LCJReviews). Then at 8:30pm all the nominees and winners will be posted on the site. Here are some hints of what's to come:

- 8 of the 10 Best Picture nominees are up for Academy Awards

- 4 of the 5 Best Animated Feature noms are up for the Oscar

- 4 of the 5 Best Director nominees did NOT receive Oscar nominations

- There are some big snubs in the acting categories, including stars from "Silver Linings Playbook", "Django Unchained" and "The Master"

- Two actors who appeared in the same movie in 2012 are nominated in the same category, but for different films

- A new category is called "Actor of the Year". In order to qualify, an actor or actress had to be in at least two films from 2012 and were consistently good in all their films. They also could not have been nominated in the four acting categories.

"Argo" is the clear favorite to win the Best Picture and it was my favorite film of the year. But the winner for the best studio marketing campaign for this awards season, by far, is "Lincoln".

As a first year member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association I had no idea what to expect as far as receiving movie screeners and other "goodies" from the studios. I must say, as the season winds-down, that it has been overwhelming. I've gotten over 100 films on DVD, dozens of scripts, soundtrack CDs, and other very cool items. And practically all of the best extras are from "Lincoln": coffee table books, numbered artwork, making-of DVD, even a Mary Todd Lincoln cookbook. DreamWorks has spared no expense in publicizing and celebrating this special film.

And now they've taken thing even futher, with the announcement that every High School and Middle School in the country will be sent a copy of the "Lincoln" DVD when it is released. This is part of a campaign, "Stand Tall: Live Like Lincoln", kicked-off this week in conjunction with Abe's birthday. Director Steven Spielberg is excited to have millions of students see the film:

"As more and more people began to see the film, we received letters from teachers asking if it could be available in their classrooms. We realized that the educational value that "Lincoln" could have was not only for the adult audience - who have studied his lfe in history books - but for the young students in the classroom as well."

The DVD package each school will receive includes an Educator's Guide to help teachers engage in discussions and a complete lesson plan relating to the signifcance of Abraham Lincoln's leadership and the importance of that period in our nations' history.

Congratulations to Participant Media, DreamWorks Pictures, Fox/Newscorp and Disney In-Home for this effort. I've already seen "Lincoln" twice, but will be more than happy to host the screening at my school when our copy arrives.

More News...NOW Movie Review

What a week it's been for the entertainment industry. More of the top headlines:

"You're returning to the big screen, Mr. Grinch". Universal and Illumination Entertainment (the studio behind "Despicable Me" and 2012's smash hit "The Lorax") are developing an animated remake of another Dr. Seuss classic - "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" Of course, Jim Carrey starred in the 2000 live-action version (which earned him a Golden Globe nomination). Just as I felt when Universal announced an animated adaptation of "The Cat in the Hat", I don't think this new "Grinch" necessary.

Another surprise: the revival of a franchise that I thought (along with everyone else) was over: "Night at the Museum 3" is set to be released on Christmas Day 2014. Ben Stiller will return, along with director Shawn Levy, who helmed the first two films in the series. Interesting that it'll be five and a half years since "Battle of the Smithsonian" when "NATM 3" opens. That exact gap length has worked for some series (2011's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" crushed 06's "M:I3" at the box office). And we'll find out this week how "A Good Day to Die Hard" does...just over five and a half years after the somewhat successful "Live Free or Die Hard".

And speaking of movies opening next week, "Escape From Planet Earth" will no longer come out on Thursday the 14th, but a day later on Friday the 15th. The Weinstein Company must've finally realized that Valentine's Day is not a school holiday and kids don't begin President's Week vacations until Friday.

The Week in News Movie Review

Some big news from a busy week:

Following DreamWorks Animation's pushing back of "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" to March 2014 and cancellation of "Me and My Shadow", the comedy "Last Vegas" has moved into "Sherman"'s original spot: November 1, 2013. "Vegas" has an all-star cast, including Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Robert De Niro. "Vegas" was originally set to open on a crowded December 20th along with "Anchorman 2", "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Monuments Men. Now its only competition will be the sci-fi film, "Ender's Game".

All four of last year's Acting category Oscar winners: Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady"), Jean Dujardin ("The Artist"), Octavia Spencer ("The Help"), and Christopher Plummer ("Beginners") will present at this year's Academy Awards. They'll now be joined by The Avengers! More specifically: Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jeremy Renner.

And finally, "The Force" will definitely be with all of us: Along with the next three "Star Wars" installments from Disney (the first directed by J.J. Abrams), there will also be several spin-off character films. As of now, Yoda, Han Solo and Boba Fett films are all in the works.

Oh, and beginning in August there will no longer be regular mail delivery. Crazy.

2013 Super Bowl Ads Movie Review


It's Super Bowl Sunday! That means three things: The Big Game, The Halftime Show, and the Commericals. Studios love to spend millions advertising the most anticipated films to come over the next several months.

Tonight, we're expected to see ads from:

"Snitch" (Feb. 22), "Oz: The Great and Powerful" (Mar. 8), "Iron Man 3" (May 3), "Star Trek Into Darkness" (May 17), "Fast & Furious 6" (May 24), "World War Z" (June 21), and "The Lone Ranger" (July 3).

Interestingly enough, last year, Paramount had a Super Bowl teaser for "G.I. Joe: Retaliation", which was then supposed to open on June 29, 2012. Then, of course, it was pushed to this March (the 29th) because the studio wanted a 3D post conversion. It'd be great if there was another ad tonight, but I think Paramount's confident enough in "IM3", "Trek", and "WWZ". However, "Z" was also delayed from a Christmas release to June.

So, what are my predictions for the game:

It's going to be a Dark Knight in New Orleans. While the Eagles had a Silver Linings Playbook, this season they were Les Miserables.

It's Brother vs. Brother. While it's been an Unexpected Journey for the both of them, neither one really has Amour of a chance than the other.

Will Beyonce become The Master of the halftime show with a Pitch Perfect performance, or Taken 2 much time away from the game?

Argo with the 49ers over the Ravens. Here Comes the Score: 27-24. And the game will end at approx. Nine Dark Thirty.

Disney-Mania! Movie Review

Normally a week doesn't go by where we don't get some intersting Disney news, but the hot topic involving Mickey and Co. these days is Disneyland.

ABC's ordering of a TV pilot loosely based on a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride is an interersting one. According to Variety “plotline involves a 19th century New York doctor and his family who are given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to relocate to a frontier mining town run by a powerful but mysterious tycoon. Soon, they quickly realize that not everything in Big Thunder is as it seems.”

Doesn't sound as exciting as the ride, which happens to be my favorite on all the Disneyland/Disney World attractions. Producers know the title will attract people, but the show will have to be interesting and exciting to keep them around (if it even makes it to the network at all).

On the movie front, Disney's decision to change the title of their Dec. 2014 Sci-Fi release previously known as "1952" to "Tomorrowland" is making more and more people believe that the Brad Bird-directed film will be about Walt Disney's creation of Disneyland. Bird is also producing and co-writing the script with Damon Lindelof. So far very little is know about the super-secret project, except that George Clooney will star. With a December release you know this one is already being planned as an awards contender.

In the meantime, we only have to wait until this December to see Tom Hanks play Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks". This movie, we know, is the story of the making of "Mary Poppins". Hanks isn't part of this awards season due to the good but underwhelming "Cloud Atlas". Expect that to change next year.

And the Actor Will Go To... Movie Review

UPDATE: Well, I went 4 for 5. Thanks to Daniel Day-Lewis for his Best Actor win. "Argo" pulls the surprise Best Ensemble win. Now it's THE FRONTRUNNER for Best Picture of the Year at the Oscars, and I'm so glad!

3 for 3! Jennifer Lawrence's win makes it Jessica vs. Jennifer for the Oscars. Good battle!

2 for 2 so far, as Tommy Lee Jones makes Supporting Actor Oscar race an exciting one, and Hathaway is now a lock for Supporting Actress.

Along with being part of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, I am also a member of SAG-AFTRA. Therefore, I was able to vote for the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which air this Sunday at 8pm on TBS and TNT. Here's who I think will be taking the Actor home on Sunday night:

Best Supporting Actor

While Phillip Seymour Hoffman won the Critics Choice Award, and Christoph Waltz took the Golden Globe, "The Master" can't be fresh in the minds of the voters and Waltz isn't even nominated. I can't imagine there's a SAG member who hasn't seen "Lincoln" which is why Tommy Lee Jones is my pick to win. Javier Bardem ("Skyfall") could be the surprise upset winner.

Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway is close to a lock for the SAG and the Oscar next month for her performance in "Les Miserables". Sally Field has the best shot to pull the upset.

Best Actor

No question Daniel Day-Lewis will win for his amazing portrayl of Lincoln. I'm glad Hugh Jackman is getting recognition he is for his equally impressive performance in "Les Mis", but I don't think he can pull-off the shocker.

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain has been sweeping the circuit for her leading role in "Zero Dark Thirty". But I'm going to take a shot with Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook"). A win here by Lawrence would make this category a real battle come Oscar time.

Best Cast

Most interesting category of the year.

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" has no shot. While "Argo" is my favorite film of 2012, I don't think it has the best ensemble. "Les Miserables" features a remarkable group of actors who also pulled-off singing very well. "Silver Linings Playbook" won the Critics Choice in this category. But I'll stick with the decision I made on my ballot: "Lincoln". It's an exceptional ensemble, one that deserves to be recognized.



2013 Preview: Part 2 Movie Review


3 - "Despicable Me 2", "The Lone Ranger"
12 - "Grown Ups 2", "Pacific Rim"
19 - "Turbo", "R.I.P.D."
26 - "The Wolverine"
31 - "The Smurfs 2"


2 - "300: Rise of An Empire", "Red 2"
9 - "Elysium", "Planes", "We're the Millers"
16 - "2 Guns", "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters", "The To-Do List"
23 - "Mortal Instruments"
28 - "Closed Circuit"
30 - "One Direction Concert Movie", "Getaway"


6 - Riddick
13 - "Battle of the Year", "I, Frankenstein", "Machete Kills"
20 - "Star Wars: Ep. II 3D", "Rush", "Prisoners"
27 - "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2", "Runner Runner", "The Tomb"


4 - "Gravity", "The Delivery Man", "Sin City 2", "Star Wars: Ep. III 3D"
11 - "Capitan Phillips"
18 - "Carrie", "The Seventh Son", "Malavita"
25 - "Paranormal Activity 5", "The World's End", "Baggage Claim"


1 - "Mr. Peabody & Sherman", "Ender's Game"
8 - "Thor: The Dark World"
15 - "Untitled Sequel to The Best Man"
22 - "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
27 - "Frozen"


13 - "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", "A Madea Christmas"
18 - "Monuments Men"
20 - "Anchorman 2", "Last Vegas", "Saving Mr. Banks", "Walking with Dinosaurs"
25 - "47 Ronin", "Jack Ryan", "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

2013 Preview: Part 1 Movie Review


18 - "Broken City"
- "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters"


1 - "Stand Up Guys", "Warm Bodies"
- "Identity Thief", "Side Effects"
- "A Good Day to Die Hard", "Escape From Planet Earth", "Safe Haven"
- "Snitch"


1 - "Jack the Giant Slayer"
- "Oz: The Great and Powerful", "Admission"
- "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone", "The Call"
- "The Croods"
- "G.I. Joe: Retalliation" (finally!), "The Host"


5 - "Jurassic Park 3D", "The Heat"
- "42", "Scary Movie 5"
- "Oblivion"
- "Pain and Gain", "The Big Wedding"


3 - "Iron Man 3"
- "The Great Gatsby" (finally!), "About Time"
- Star Trek Into Darkness
- "Epic", "Fast & Furious 6", "The Hangover: Part III"
- "The Purge"


7 - "After Earth", "The Internship", "Now You See Me"
- "Man of Steel"
- "Monsters University", "World War Z"
- "Kick-Ass 2", "White House Down"

First thoughts on 2013 Oscar Nominations Movie Review

The announcement ceremony of the 2013 Oscar Nominations was certainly one to remember, and not necessarily for host Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone's wisecracks:

Once again nine nominees for Best Picture. "Argo", "Les Miserables", "Lincoln", "Life of Pi", "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Zero Dark Thirty" were expected. A lot of love for "Amour" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild", as both films received Best Picture nominations, plus their directors (Michael Haneke and Benn Zeitlen) picked-up surprise Best Director nominations, and leading ladies (9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis and 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva) are up for Best Actress.

The surprise nomination of "Silver Linings Playbook" director David O. Russell also forced "Argo"'s Ben Affleck, "Zero Dark Thirty"'s Kathryn Bigelow (who won three years ago for "The Hurt Locker"), "Les Miserables"'s Tom Hooper (who won two years ago for "The King's Speech"), and "Django Unchained"'s Quentin Tarantino out of the running. "Lincoln" director Steven Spielberg and "Life of Pi" director Ang Lee are nominated.

"Silver Linings" had a very good morning. The film is nominated in all of the six major categories. Not many saw Jacki Weaver's Supporting Actress nod coming, as she knocked-out several hopeful contenders including Maggie Smith ("The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"), Ann Dowd ("Compliance") and Nicole Kidman ("The Paperboy"). John Hawkes is off the ballot for his performance in "The Sessions", while co-star Helen Hunt is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

"The Master"'s three lead actors (Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams) are all nominated, but the film is not up for Best Picture. Seems the early buzz for the movie died up the performances remained frsh in the minds of the voters. Marion Cotillard and Helen Mirren were getting a lot of buzz for their performances in "Rust and Bone" and "Hitchcock" respectively, but both were also denied.

Now onto my personal favorite: Best Animated Feature. It's a HUGE year for Disney as three of their 2012 animated films (Pixar's "Brave", Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" and "Wreck-It Ralph") are all up for the honor, along with "ParaNorman", which has been winning film critics circles across the country. But the big pleasant surprise: Aardman's hilarious stop-motion animated farce "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" snagged a nomination away from DreamWorks' "Rise of the Guardians". Overlooked by audiences, but loved by critics, "The Pirates!" should attract a lot more attention during awards season.

Also happy for Naomi Watts, didn't expect to hear Ewan McGregor's name, but it would have been nice. In the Documentary Feature category, frontrunner "Searching for Sugar Man" is a nominee, while the controversial but impactful "Bully" is snubbed.

At least "Hitchcock" gets a little love with a Best Makeup and Hairstyling nomination. Even though nominee Daniel Day-Lewis truly looked like Abraham Lincoln, the makeup wasn't good enough to be nominated in that category. "Mirror Mirror"'s only highlight is the costume design, which is why it's nominated along with "Anna Karenina". And just as I predicted, "The Simpsons" are going to the Academy Awards. The animated short film "Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare" will be going-up against Disney's "Paperman" and three others on Oscar Sunday.

And the Academy didn't seem to fall in love with Bond, James Bond , as "Skyfall" and Javier Bardem did not receive nominations, but Adele did for her title song. The Original Song category also featured another surprise: "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from "Ted". MacFarlane, who wrote the lyrics, reacted to his nomination by saying, "I get to go to the Oscars now", which got a big laugh. The 85th Annual Academy Awards are Sunday February 24th on ABC.

Biggest Disappointments and Surprises of 2012 Movie Review

Awards Season is here, and "Texas Chainsaw 3D" has become the first 2013 film to win the Weekend Box Office, but let's continue to look back at 2012 with my biggest disappointments and most pleasant surprises:


Was really looking forward to Disney's latest animated film. The trailers made the film look original, fun and emotional. The film itself has none of those qualities.

Wes Anderson's 2009 animated film "Fantastic Mr. Fox" was phenomenal. "Moonrise" is just too quirky and offbeat, and the characters are underdeveloped.

From the Denis Leary dinner table scene, to the casting of Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield playing 17-year-olds, even to Stan Lee's cameo, this Spidey was all over-the-place.

Mediocre script and flat film, apparently made for 6-year-olds and no one else. Franchise should have ended after "Dawn of the Dinosaurs".

Promising idea, but really no pay-off.

Great concept: Frank Langella and a robot. Unfortunately nothing works, including (sadly) Langella's performance.

Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams are fine together, but the script strikes-out early on with no hope for a late comeback.

Director Roger Michell last directed the charming 2010 comedy "Morning Glory". However, "Hyde Park" has absolutely no focus.

Action scenes work, but 90% of the film is dialogue-driven; way too talky.

Had all the early Oscar buzz but will likely not get nominated for Best Picture on Thursday because story was forgettable and pointless.


For once, A slapstick comedy I enjoyed. "Stooge" fans were not disappointed either.

Fascinating and well-made documentary. More in-depth than Bieber's "Never Say Never".

From the trailers, looked like Sony Animation's first bomb. But it's funny and the animation is unique.

A rare "adult comedy" that didn't go the easy raunchy route. Rogen and Streisand make nice pair.

2008's "2" wasn't very good. But with a perfect cast and sharp script, this is the best of the franchise.

The twist is excellent (and the only positive feature).

From the trailer it looked like it could be one of Will Ferrell's worst, but I couldn't stop laughing.

Josh Brolin is just terrific as the younger Tommy Lee Jones. And the story has some surprising emotional depth.

Serious but fun action film with a fantastic villain (Charlize Theron).

Director Joe Wright's fresh take on the classic period piece is genius. Using the stage as a centerpiece for the drama) works very well.

The 10 Worst Movies of 2012 Movie Review

2013 is underway, but let's continue to look back at 2012. Here are my selections as the 10 Worst Movies of the Year:

Not only bad, it's WRONG on so many levels. Halloween comedy starring Nickelodeon's Victoria Justice. The main character is an 8-year-old boy who is ignored by his family, abducted by strangers several times and even locked in room by a maniac. Who thought this would be funny? Not to mention the bathroom humor, sex, adult language, underage drinking, a gunfight and many other inappropriate scenes. This wasn't a treat, it was a complete mess.

The second in the series (2011's "Rodrick Rules") miraculously avoid that year's worst list. But not this dreadful, mediocre third installment that is by far the worst of the franchise.

Here's hoping you didn't spend part of Christmas Day watching this bomb. Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play grandparents who take care of three bratty, "only in the movies weird" grandchildren for a week. The most stereotypes of any film this year, not to mention the corniest and lamest script.

2012's Worst Action film (but not by much) is tough to get through because of the intentionally complicated plot. You simply don't care enough to want to follow along. Performances are bland and the visuals are unspectacular. It does get the honor for having characters use the word "sh--" more often than in any other movie this year. Not exactly something to be proud of.

Don't be deceived by Meryl Streep's Golden Globe nomination. There wouldn't be the Globes without Streep, as she's received 27 Globe nominations over the past 35 years. I felt bad for her having to do the things she had to do in this film. And it's no fun for Steve Carell and Tommy Lee Jones either. But it's the audience that suffers the most.

Actor Taylor Kitsch didn't have a great year (He'll make another appearance later on in the countdown). From the dialogue, to the action, to the weak supporting cast (Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna), to the look of the aliens, "Battleship" both sunk and stunk.

Completely unnecessary fourth effort in this franchise. Only highlight is the dancing, but even that's getting old. Many of the scenes are unintentionally hilarious. There's a shot of Peter Gallagher starting to cry towards the end of the film sums things up nicely.

Believe it or not, "Wrath" is better than its predecessor "Clash" thanks to a more impressive 3D post-conversion. Otherwise, not much changed from original to sequel. Except the dialogue got even lamer: "Brother!" "Yes, Brother."

Bill Murray also snagged a Globe nomination for his portrayal of FDR.  He's by far the best thing about "Hyde Park". The rest of the film is surprisingly bad, from Laura Linney's narration to the endless conversations about hot dogs, which drove me INSANE.

Disney's $250 million sci-fi action film grossed a mere $73 million in the US. Even though it made its budget back thanks to the foreign box office, it's still one of Disney's biggest bombs of all-time. The movie is long, dull, and unoriginal, with some of the worst special effects seen on screen in years. And Kitsch is an uneffective and unappealing action hero.


BIG MIRACLE - Saving whales just isn't that exciting.
HERE COMES THE BOOM - Few laughs, but certainly no "Paul Blart".
THE MASTER - Still don't know what the point of it was.
MIRROR MIRROR - Bizarre. Case in point: Armie Hammer licking Julia Roberts.
TO ROME WITH LOVE - Woody Allen tried to duplicate the success of Oscar winner "Midnight in Paris", but with a mediocre script, over-the-top performances (including his own) and bland, careless characters, he reverts back to pre-"MiP" form.

The 10 Best Movies of 2012 Movie Review

2012 was a pretty solid year for movies. There were a lot of fantastic films, but these 10 stood-out above the rest in their own, unique ways:

Ben Affleck not only stars-in but masterfully directs this drama based on the true story of six Americans hiding-out during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Affleck’s achievements both in front of and behind the camera are amazing. Bryan Cranston (who appeared in practically every movie this year) has some strong moments. And Alan Arkin and John Goodman are 2012’s best duo playing a producer and make-up artist who are key characters in this daring rescue plan. Arkin’s a frontrunner for every Best Supporting Actor award. “Argo” is part drama; part movie about the making of movies; part suspense thriller, and it was the only film this year where my heart was truly pounding while I was watching it and it’s made a lasting impression on me since.

Bradley Cooper stars in this “slice of life” comedy about a some-what dysfunctional guy who’s looking to put his life back together. It works every step of the way. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent; Robert De Niro and Chris Tucker help maintain a perfect tone throughout. It’s an engaging story with very believable characters. Probably the most FUN I had at the movies this year.

It’s rare that someone in Hollywood comes-up with an original concept for a film - and then can pull-it-off. Writer/Star Zoe Kazan created this story of a struggling writer who dreams-up a character - a young woman, and after he writes about her, she literally comes to life. Great cast: Paul Dano, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Chris Messina and Steve Coogan. Watch it.

I’ve been telling you about it since it opened in June because it’s simply incredible. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are at their finest, dealing with a “what would you do if the world was ending in a few weeks” scenario. Funny, sad, smart and an honest pay-off at the end.

Based on a true story, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play parents vacationing with their kids in Thailand when the deadly 2004 tsunami hits and tears them apart. Strong performances by Critics Choice nominee Watts and newcomer Tom Holland - and McGregor is great as well. This is a powerful and moving film.

Daniel Day-Lewis is simply outstanding as our 16th President. It has the best ensemble of the year - including Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Hal Holbrook. And Steven Spielberg stages it all perfectly.

Tim Burton’s first animated film since 2005’s “Corpse Bride” is smart, funny, emotional and visually stunning. It’s the best animated film of the year and has a real shot at taking home the Oscar.

It was a great year for documentaries, and this is the best of the bunch. Tells the story of a singer from Detroit named Rodriguez who is unknown in America, but his music becomes legendary in South Africa. Fascinating, featuring some candid interviews, amazing footage. Inspiring filmmaking.

The first movie musical in which actors performed every song live (no prerecorded music), and it paid off. Credit to Director Tom Hooper. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are locks for Oscar nominations.

Director Joss Whedon’s extravaganza brought together all of the Marvel superheroes and dominated the box office, becoming 2012’s highest-grossing film with $623 million. Action-packed, good performances, particularly by Mark Ruffalo and Samuel L. Jackson, and a whole lot of fun.


BERNIE - Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine star in this true-life crime story. Fascinating and fun.
BULLY - Powerful documentary about the current state of bullying in our education system.
HITCHCOCK - Anthony Hopkins is perfect as the legendary film director, and Helen Mirren is equally strong as his wife. One of the best times I had at a theater in years.
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED - The best of the trilogy. Great script and vivid animation.
ZERO DARK THIRTY - Kathryn Bigelow's hunt for Osama bin Laden drama may be the most authentic-looking film of the year.

The 20 Best Scenes of 2012 Movie Review

From the nearly 100 films I've seen (so far) this year here is my list of the 20 best scenes of 2012:

- Karenin (Jude Law) is grasping the news of his wife Anna (Keira Knightley) announcing that she's having an affair and a child with the other man. Law goes to centerstage and sits in a chair, with the stage lights dimmed low (Anna Karenina).

- Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) needs someone to answer the phone and prove their phoney movie is real while Lester Siegel and John Chambers (Alan Arkin and John Goodman) are being being held-up by the shooting of a scene on the lot. (Argo).

- Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) recites his version of The Lord's Prayer (The Campaign).

- Pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) intentionally inverts his plane and crash-lands into a field (Flight).

- The opening scene with Victor, his parents and dog Sparky watching one of his home movies wearing old-fashioned 3D glasses (Frankenweenie).

- Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) demonstrating his product - Scieoclean - to HSN execs at a Las Vegas convention (The Guilt Trip).

- Bilbo Baggins plays a riddle game with iconic "Lord of the Rings" character Gollum (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).

- Henry (Ewan McGregor) shares his story with other victims of the tsunami and one of them shares his cell phone allowing him to make two emotional calls to his family (The Impossible).

- Anne Hathaway (Fantine) sings "I Dreamed a Dream" in one effortless take (Les Miserables).

- Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) explains her importance to Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) and others while in a White House receiving line (Lincoln).

- Chantel DuBois (voiced by Frances McDormand) rounds-up her troops by singing Edith Piaf (Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted).

- Madea (Tyler Perry) going through airport security (Madea's Witness Protection).

- Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) defending himself and The Cause to a critic (The Master).

- Younger Agent K (Josh Brolin) comforts a young boy who has no idea that his father was just killed or who he would become (Men in Black 3).

- Calvin (Paul Dano), in the movie's final scene, meets a woman similar to his creation Ruby, but she isn't (Ruby Sparks).

- M (Judi Dench) is testifying at a hearing and is finally allowed to speak. At the same time, Silva (Javier Bardem) is on his way to kill M, and Bond (Daniel Craig) may show-up a little too late (Skyfall).

- Whitney Houston's solo number "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" (Sparkle).

- After an intense fighting sequence, there's a shocking and surprisingly effective twist (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2).

- Schoolteacher Nona (Viola Davis) admitting to her son something she did in the past that dramatically affected them both (Won't Back Down).

- Navy S.E.A.L.s quietly storming the bin Laden compound (Zero Dark Thirty).

And there's still a few days remaining in 2012, and a few more films to see, so I may have to add one or two to the final, official list.

Christmas Countdown Calendar Movie Review

It's the final stretch before Christmas - a crazy time for last minute shopping and planning. This is also one of the wildest series of days for movie releases in the entire year. Here's a handy countdown calendar to help you keep track of what's coming-out and when:


"The Guilt Trip" - Buddy road comedy starring Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand. 2300 screens

"Amour" - Both Best Foreign film and Best Picture contender. Limited release

"Monsters, Inc. 3D" - Disney's latest 3D re-release of a Pixar classic. Only animated film of the holidays. 2400 screens

"Zero Dark Thirty" - Highly-anticipated Oscar contender. Limited release on only 5 screens, goes wide Jan. 11


"Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away" - Concert film starring famous dance troupe. 800 screens

"Jack Reacher" - Tom Cruise stars in this crime drama. Third Paramount film of the week. 3200 screens

"This is 40" - Judd Apatow follow-up to "Knocked-Up". Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jason Segal return. 2900+ screens

"The Impossible" - True story of American family caught in the Asian Sunami. 14 screens, expands in Jan.

Christmas Day

"Les Miserables" - Beloved musical brought to screen by Dir. Tom Hooper. Major awards contender. Wide

"Django Unchained" - Quentin Tarantino's latest is a Western. Jamie Foxx, Leo DiCaprio. Wide

"Parental Guidance" - Holiday comedy with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei. Wide

Very likely could be the biggest Dec. 25 at the Box Office of all-time. Hopefully Santa will leave you some tickets and gift cards in your stocking.



< Previous 123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536 Next >