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…

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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…

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REVIEW: Pawn Sacrifice [2015]

“I’m searching for the truth” I’ve always been fascinated by Bobby Fischer due to his vanishing rather than anything he accomplished at a chessboard. I’ve never been good at the game, yet I respect its complexity. The greats literally memorize past matches and maneuvers, so in-tune with the playing field that they can play out loud with nothing more than words. Fischer was a great—the youngest Grandmaster in history and the first American-born World Champion. Like most geniuses, however, the strain of intellect, pressure, and success brought with it a…

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REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [2014]

“You still blow dry your hair every morning?” It’s time to embrace the comic aspect of comic book films. I’m sorry, but it is. Christopher Nolan‘s time on the Dark Knight Trilogy is over and while we’d like the comic genre’s big brother graphic novel to imbue the dark conflicted nature of an Oscar worthy film, it doesn’t necessarily mimic the medium’s tone. We’re talking costumed heroes fighting a rogue’s gallery of mutated baddies with special powers who wreak havoc, never die, and engage in a never-ending cycle so that…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Labor Day [2013]

“I understood who my real family was: her.” If anyone questioned whether or not Jason Reitman was truly a great director or merely someone with excellent luck at choosing projects—I remember thinking his Best Director nod for Juno was premature myself—Labor Day should set the record straight. And that’s despite his introduction before its third screening at the Toronto International Film Festival thanking his crew for making it seem he knew what he was doing. It’s very much a different beast than his previous works, pushing comedy to the side…

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REVIEW: The Great Gatsby [2013]

“Once again I was within and without” Visionary filmmaker Baz Luhrmann returns with a big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus The Great Gatsby, filmed in the ostentatious aesthetic that made his jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! such a divisively stunning work. Love him or hate him, no one can deny the man has style or the ego necessary to transform iconic literature and historical eras into contemporary art-infused visual epics that overwhelm our senses. No one does excess better—over-cranked and pulsing to music intentionally subverting the subject matter…

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REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man [2012]

“Up your what, Dad?” Ten years after Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man joined Bryan Singer‘s X-Men in proving the superhero genre could be taken seriously in the annals of cinematic history, the reset button has been pressed for a fresh new look. Between Marvel taking the initiative to pool their collective, solely-owned properties into one giant universe of quasi sequels with 2008’s Iron Man and DC Comics lucking into Christopher Nolan‘s vision of Batman as more than a surreally cartoonish romp in the darkness, what was one of the most legitimate comic…

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REVIEW: Spider-Man 3 [2007]

“I’d give my life for them” So here it is, the final piece to the Raimi/Maguire trilogy of superheroes and love conquering all. The first two installments in the franchise helped rejuvenate the comic book movie, making them be taken seriously and showing that a little imagination surrounded by the real world could create suspense, action, and heart. Spider-Man 3 had a lot of expectations to live up to, and not just to be cohesive and complete with three villains and a couple new faces on the side. I know…

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