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January 31, 2011

Best of 2010- The Burnies!

Now that award season is in full-swing I have had time to think about my choices for the best movies of the year. I had a lot of trouble choosing just one film for different categories, such as drama or comedy. Instead here is my list of the best films of the year overall, in no particular order. It is clear that dramas dominated the movie scene in 2010. I had a lot of trouble finding a great comedy for the year. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association chose The Kids Are Alright for their best comedy. I think this was a great story to tell but was rather serious to be a comedy and not as memorable as other films this year. Most of these have been reviewed on the blog, so you can check those out for more details.

Toy Story 3
Social Network
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Shutter Island
The Town
The Fighter
True Grit
The Kids Are Alright
King's Speech
Black Swan

January 25, 2011

Oscar Nominations Announced!!!

The 2011 Oscar Nominations were announced today. This begins the most exciting time of the year for movie lovers. There were a few surprises, but for the most part it was much as I expected.

Two Thumbs Up!!!
True Grit received 10 Oscar nominations even though it was completed snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press at the Globes.
Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in True Grit. I am so glad this amazing young actress getting some recognition. I doubt she will walk away with an award, but it's great to see such a deserving performance receiving critical acclaim.
King's Speech received 12 nominations!!!
The Social Network and  Inception received 8 nominations each!!!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I received nominations for art direction and visual effects! It's nice to see high quality popular films receiving some recognition also!

Surprise Surprise
Annette Bening was nominated for her role in The Kids Are Alright; however, her co-star Julianne Moore did not receive a nomination.
I am a bit surprised that 127 Hours received 6 nominations. This one created a buzz before it's release but has flown under the radar since then.
The Kids Are Alright received 4 nominations including best supporting actress and actor and best picture. I agree that the acting was strong, but I didn't fell it was as strong overall as many other films this year.

For a complete list of this year's nominations, go to

January 23, 2011

Black Swan

Black Swan is a psychological thriller about a ballet dancer trying to create the perfect swan queen in Swan Lake. This film gives a whole new meaning to the term psychological thriller. It has you on the edge of your sit throughout the entire film. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis show their amazing talents as actors. The writers created a unique, twisted plot and the director executed it perfectly. This is by far one of the best films of 2010!

The acting in this film is phenomenal! Natalie Portman is enveloped in this delusional character who is torn between her perfect White Swan personality and the wicked Black Swan personality. It is amazing to watch as her character struggles and transforms throughout the film. One remarkable scene at the end of the film shows Portman's character in her dressing room preparing for the final act in Swan Lake that will send a chill down your spine. Mila Kunis's performance is very memorable also. Her character is a free spirit, natural Black Swan who appears to befriend Portman's character. Kunis's acting helps create the on edge feeling throughout the film. You always feel that this character is going to pop in with a back stabbing move.

The most amazing aspect of this film is the story and the way it is presented. Anyone who can create a plot that is this psychological and frightening is amazing! This story is slightly confusing because of the mix between what is real life and what is part of the delusions of the main character, Nina. However, that is what makes the film so frightening and thrilling. Throughout the film you are guessing what is real and what is the delusions.  Along with this the directing in this film is exceptional! The use of mirrors is always a great way to create thrill and tension in a film. Director Darren Aronofsky took this even farther by creating the feeling that each viewer is in Nina's position as she walks through the dark city streets. This is done through flashes through scenes and bouncing movements as she's walking. To some this may seem undesirable, but I think this is what makes the film so great. This creative movement makes the thrill and creativity of this excellent plot come alive.

Overall, I am having trouble finding a film that is better than the film Black Swan this year.  The acting, directing, writing, and editing are beyond any I have seen in other films this year. If you haven't seen it yet, go see it now.


No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached is the story of two friends that decide to use each other for sex rather than have a full, committed relationship. Natalie Portman plays a medical resident who has trouble showing affection. Ashton Kutcher plays a former actor's son who has had a rough relationship with his father. This is yet another romantic comedy with a cookie-cutter plot, but it will make you laugh!

I had very low expectations for No Strings Attached because it seemed to be the story that has been told in one episode on every sitcom ever written and has been intertwined within many other films. This did not seem like a story that could fill two hours without getting drawn out. The couple would make the decision to use each, one would fall for the other, and in the end they would live happily ever after. I was correct about the overall story line, but, impressively, the writers found a way the mix in enough comedy to keep you entertained for the full 110 minutes. On top of that, there is enough cutsie romance to make for the perfect date night movie. Comedy to make you laugh and romance to cheer up any romantic girl.... sounds like a romantic comedy to me!

Natalie Portman shows her range of acting abilities by having two extremely different films in theaters at the same time. I was thoroughly impressed with her ability to drop the comedic one liners and portray a unaffectionate woman who's fallen in love realistically. Comparing this to her award-winning role in Black Swan made her abilities even more impressive.  I cannot say the same for Ashton Kutcher. He has a great face and is great at comedic acting. However, each serious, romantic scene he was in became unrealistic and uncomfortable. 

Overall, this is the perfect date night or girls night movie. It has some great comedic moments and brings in the romance that most ladies love to see. If you are looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy, this is a great choice. 

January 3, 2011

Little Fockers

The third film in the Meet the Parents series keeps the same realistic family humor and the characters that we all love, but doesn’t quite measure up to the original.
You can’t doubt that the writers of Meet the Parents created incredible characters that nearly every person in America can relate to. They also created a story line that is hilarious and again something nearly everyone can relate to. Both of these can be said about the most recent film in this series, Little Fockers. They were very lucky to bring back all the original cast members once again and use the humor we love in a whole new way. This time Deb and Greg Focker have a family of their own and the grandparents are coming to visit.
The storyline and characters stays true the theme of the previous two films, but the predictability and craziness are there also.  This is the only downfall of Little Fockers. The ending, as with the previous films, displays excessive insanity and complete predictability.
With both of these things in mind, I was not disappointed by Little Fockers. I always worry that sequels will be complete failures, but this film created a whole new plot with the same characters we have loved from the previous films. It is not an attempted to repeat the original. It does not use a bad storyline to make some extra dough off a overtold story. That is the best you can ask for in a sequel in my opinion. If you are in love with Jack Byrnes and the Focker crew, get yourself to a theater now. If not, save your money and Redbox it!
Redbox It!

January 1, 2011

True Grit

If someone would have told me I would be seeing a humor-filled, interesting, modern western in 2010, I would have never believed it. But this unreal idea became a reality in the remake of True Grit.

True Grit is the most recent film from the Coen brothers. It tells the story of a stubborn young girl in the Old West as she journeys to track down her father’s murderer. She enlists the help of the toughest US Marshall, but demands that she join the Marshall on this quest. 

 It cannot be denied that this film is a western.  This includes the Old West setting, gun fights, horse riding, unique trading, and polite humor, but this film does not feel like the old time westerns you might be used to. It is modern, fast-paced, and very entertaining!

The most impressive aspect of this film was how modern the film felt. The increased technology and high quality of the film help make this film feel different from the first scene. It is the fast pace of the plot and dialogue help make this storyline feel more relatable to our culture of constant motion and multitasking. Taking all of the usual western elements and transforming them into a film that is relatable to today’s audiences is no easy feat, but it was achieved in this film.

After watching the film I was able to do some research about the original. Another remarkable aspect is the similarity between the dialogue of the original and the remake. Many of the classic lines from the original were used (and implemented well) in the remake. Today the sincerity and uniqueness of original films are often lost in remakes. It is amazing that the Coen brothers can take these age-old oneliners and alter them in a way that makes the lines humorous today also.

The casting for this film is phenomenal. Jeff Bridges proves himself as an acting heavy hitter yet again. He transforms himself into this role and makes every word of dialogue, gesture, and movement believable. I was skeptical of Matt Damon in his role as a half-witty, yet cocky, Texas Ranger, but he also appears to have morphed himself in to this character to make it fully believable. His performance/character is also very humorous. He is very clearly the less intellectual of the main characters, but he is immensely loveable. Josh Brolin comes in later in the film to accomplish a great performance as the Old West’s “villain”, but this is highly overshadowed by the excellent performances of the main characters. None of these compare to the performance of Hailee Steinfeld as the hard-headed, witty young Mattie Ross. She appears to be fairly new to acting focused mostly in film shorts and television movies. She perfectly portrays this young girl who will not back down to anyone she encounters.

Overall, this film was excellent. It takes the classic story of a western, keeps some of the age-old elements, but adds some modern twists to make it relatable and enjoyable to today’s audiences. While it does contain clear evidence of the Coen brothers’ brutality and wit at times, I think this film can be enjoyed by everyone (even those who have not enjoyed previous Coen films).