Every Best Picture Winner Since 2000, Ranked

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 8.48.18 PMSo here is a dumb little exercise I decided to tackle for no reason. Following the end of the Oscars on Sunday, I started to look back on the Best Picture winners of recent years. And, honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. As much as we like to complain about the movies that win Academy Awards, the truth is that the winners are rarely genuinely bad. If anything, we get angry because they choose the wrong kind of good movie, consistently showing affection for solid, inoffensive, B-plus material while passing by more ambitious, bolder fare. Anyway, for kicks and giggles, I decided to rank every Best Picture winner since the turn of the century, explain my verdict, and then provide my choice for the nominee that should have won that year. I’ve also decided to divide the winners into three tiers: the years when the Academy chose well, the years when the Academy chose a good movie instead of a great one, and the years where they just plain blew it. Now, let’s get started. Continue reading

The Same Old Song: An Oscar Postmortem

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 12.04.25 PM
The Oscars are, of course, incredibly predictable. They have been for a long time, and it’s hard to see that changing in the foreseeable future. There are too many guild awards, too many prognosticators, and the months (months!) leading up to the ceremony have become a deafening buzz machine full of stupid, desperate campaigning and even stupider smear campaigns. As Oscar season rolls on, various movies are placed on a pedestal only to be violently torn down. Selma, Boyhood and even American Sniper had moments on that pedestal, and once all the mud-slinging is done, what are we left with? Birdman, another film that ostensibly pokes fun at show business, but does so politely for two hours before coming to the conclusion that it’s actually awesome and important. Continue reading

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is a rare anti-violent blockbuster

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 9.01.53 PM

The last few weeks of summer movie season have provided us with something of an accidental contrast in how violence is handled in your usual blockbuster. The weekend before Independence Day, there was the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which provides viewers with the usual heavy dose of constant mayhem, robot fights and boring/embarrassing human storylines. Like the previous Transformers films, along with most of Michael Bay’s oeuvre, it could not care less about what any of the carnage or violence means. On top of that, the scenes of hand-to-hand robot combat would be The Raid 2-level gruesome if they played out between human beings, and the series’ ostensible noble “hero” Optimus Prime is actually a super-violent psychopath who will quickly murder anyone that even looks at him funny. As much as I dislike the Transformers films, however, it is unfair to single them out. Most summer blockbusters and big-budget action films share this series’ bloodlust, and only when something like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes comes along do we realize that there’s actually another way to go about things. Continue reading

How I learned to stop worrying and love Wes Anderson

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 7.20.41 PM

The story of my relationship with the films of Wes Anderson begins, more or less, when I first started to seriously get into movies. I had always enjoyed them, of course, but sometime in high school it became more of an obsession. This was when I realized all the things that movies could actually accomplish, and around that time I also got into violent, edgy movies, like your typical horrible teenage male. For a while there, I was all about the dark, gritty stuff, and perhaps as a side effect my brain decided to reject the work of Wes Anderson. I developed an irrational hatred of all things twee, and while it might be extreme to say I hated Wes Anderson, I more or less wrote him off as something I was never going to identify with. Continue reading