Top Ten Films of 2015: Where emotions run high

I have no problem saying 2015 was a great year for cinema. Putting together a Top Ten was difficult at every turn—both because each time I had to do so meant I had seen more films and as a result of my preferences constantly changing. There are more than a few from 11-20 that easily could be Top Ten candidates on a different day. Sadly for them that day isn’t today. Happily for us: the art’s level of quality was good enough to cause such problems. Rules: eligible feature-length films…

Read More

The 88th Oscars recap through tweets …

  The Oscars are today! You know, the awards show where Leonardo DiCaprio is “overdue” but black people can “wait till next year.” — Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) February 28, 2016 Bette Midler‘s tweet hours before the 88th Annual Academy Awards started says it all above. #OscarsSoWhite would and to a point should be the focus of the show because all the chaos that ensued once the nominations revealed a second consecutive year without a non-white acting nod deemed it so. However, the uproar was directed towards the Academy hastily and…

Read More

Picking Winners at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

For those handicapping at home, here are the guesses of Buffalo film fanatics Christopher Schobert, William Altreuter, and myself. Jared Mobarak: Here’s hoping Chris Rock does his best Ricky Gervais as far as not caring about political correctness or duty to kissing up to the celebrities all dressed-up nice because having him host the 2016 Oscars ceremony amidst the whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy is an opportunity not to be squandered. Two years in a row with no black actor/actress up for gold? That’s a major problem with The Academy and the…

Read More

REVIEW: The Revenant [2015]

“As long as you can still grab a breath … you fight” If we’re to go by the setting of Michael Punke‘s novel The Revenant on which Mark L. Smith based his script—director Alejandro González Iñárritu gets a co-writing credit after coming onboard—the year is 1822 and the Central American frontier is loaded with fur traders pillaging Native American land, animals, and women. Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) leads a band of men under the authority of his employer to procure pelts and return to camp with Hugh Glass (Leonardo…

Read More

Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the bone by credits’ end. The best thing I can say about 2014 is that my top ten (heck, maybe my top twenty-five) could be re-organized and re-listed without making me too angry about what is…

Read More

The 87th Oscars recap through tweets …

I’m not sure why I keep filling myself with false hope that the Oscars will one day be an entertaining show to watch. The optimism is almost completely unfounded by this point. Whether they go weird (Anne Hathaway and James Franco), safe (Billy Crystal), hip (Seth MacFarlane), or try and steal another show’s success (Neil Patrick Harris), the result is the same. NPH should have been the shot of adrenaline the 87th Annual Academy Awards needed—a song and dance guy who’s young, fun, and funny. Sadly—and I do blame the…

Read More

Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

Read More

REVIEW: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [2014]

“The truth is always interesting” It’s true what the film’s Times‘ theater critic (Lindsay Duncan) says: an artist should bleed for his craft. Physically, spiritually, metaphorically—blood must be spilt so the world knows he was here, selflessly (selfishly?) making us laugh, cry, and reflect on lives well lived and squandered. This is why those who touch upon life’s intrinsic emotions and universal feelings can demand salaries and compensation so large not even their over-stretched, ambitious, and insane imaginations can think of how to spend it all. They create what we…

Read More

REVIEW: Biutiful [2010]

“Still are your lashes, and so is your heart” It may be the first feature that Alejandro González Iñárritu directed without longtime writing partner Guillermo Arriaga, it may be the film that proves he was the driving force behind his loose trilogy of masterpieces spanning multiple languages and locales, but Biutiful also shows that his tales of emotionally wrought drama work best in an interweaving multi-layer structure. Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel all used three distinct plot threads, allowing them to coexist on a single plane and connect together,…

Read More

Picking Winners at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

Spree contributing writer William Altreuter, graphic designer Jared Mobarak, and I are going to share our thoughts on this week’s Oscar nominations. Let’s kick things off with a category whose victor—Colin “Mr. Darcy” Firth—seems to have already been agreed upon. — Christopher Schobert Best Actor:Javier Bardem: BiutifulJeff Bridges: True GritJesse Eisenberg: The Social NetworkColin Firth: The King’s SpeechJames Franco: 127 Hours William Altreuter: If the Academy had wanted to make a statement Jim Carrey‘s amazing turn in I Love You Phillip Morris would have found its way onto this list. Wouldn’t that…

Read More

Top 25 Films of 2010

(short and sweet and to the point; culled from watching 156 releases. constantly updated as i catch up to those i missed. click poster for review if applicable) #25: Restrepo directed by Tim Hetherington& Sebastian Junger #24: Trust directed by David Schwimmer. #23: Kick-Ass directed by Matthew Vaughn. #22: Christina directed by Larry Brand. #21: It’s Kind of a Funny Story directed byAnna Boden & Ryan Fleck #20: Catfish directed by Henry Joost& Ariel Schulman #19: The City ofYour Final Destination directed by James Ivory #18: The King’s Speech directed…

Read More