Posts Tagged ‘animation’

Ezra’s 2020 Oscar Predictions

Posted 07 Feb 2020 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead 

There are several nominated films I have not yet seen, including Best Picture nominee Ford v Ferrari, but I will do my best to predict all 24 categories anyway, with a little help from the oddsmakers in Las Vegas. First, the snubs, as I see them. First and foremost is Uncut Gems, which is shockingly missing from any and all categories. The most obvious snub is Adam Sandler for Best Actor, but I think it should have a Best Picture nomination as well. There are a couple others missing from that category that I love even more (Avengers: Endgame, Midsommar), but Gems is the only one I am actually surprised to see missing.

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Surprise Dinosaurs! Can Make Any Movie Better

Posted 14 Jul 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead

On the cult-classic two-season animated sitcom The Critic (R.I.P.), one of the half-dozen or so fake movie clips recycled in the opening credits throughout the series depicts a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers-style black-and-white ballroom dancing scene suddenly interrupted by a full-color Tyrannosaurus Rex devouring the dancing couple. The show’s protagonist, Jay Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz), responds with his usual catchphrase (“It stinks!”), but every time this particular clip comes up, I can’t help but think he’s dead wrong about it. That would clearly be one of the greatest movies ever made, because nothing can improve literally any movie like the sudden, unexpected appearance of a prehistoric creature or two. In other words: surprise dinosaurs!  Read More

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Movies Of 2015

Posted 27 Feb 2016 — by Ezra Stead
Category Animation, Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

This is always a difficult thing to do, and this year, just like every other year, I left out plenty of movies I really like, even from the Honorable Mentions. This is a particularly interesting year in that I actually really like all the Oscar nominees that I’ve seen, which is relatively rare for me. Anyway, of the 107 new movies from 2015 I managed to see in time for this list, these are my (completely subjective) favorites.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a movie in the glorious pulp tradition of Robert E. Howard and Heavy Metal magazine, but it never feels derivative, even of its own source material1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – it’s always a treat to have really high expectations for a movie and then to see them exceeded. George Miller’s return to the wasteland of his career-defining trilogy is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The first time I saw it, though, Fury Road appeared to only meet my expectations, a rare enough feat in its own right. It was the second viewing that made me realize that this was not only my favorite movie of the year, but also my favorite Mad Max movie, and quite possibly my favorite movie of the last two decades. Then I saw it three more times in the space of about two weeks, and I noticed something new about it every single time. The rich, detailed world-building not only rewards but demands multiple viewings, and it’s a testament to Miller’s craft that the movie doesn’t rely on a lot of expository dialogue and other hand-holding devices to make sure the audience can keep up. Max Rockatansky’s world of “fire and blood” has its own language that is every bit as evocative and original as its eye-popping visuals: War Boys, Blood Bags, Bullet Farms, etc. This is a movie in the glorious pulp tradition of Robert E. Howard and Heavy Metal magazine, but it never feels derivative, even of its own source material (The Road Warrior being the original Mad Max movie it most closely resembles). What seems to be overlooked in all the talk about its incredible visual effects and stuntwork (which makes a better case than any movie I can think of for an Oscar category devoted to the people who risk their lives to make movies awesome) is the quality of the writing and performances. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult are especially great, but there is also a surprising tenderness and depth to Tom Hardy’s performance as Max, a man of few words and great stoicism, and Melissa Jaffer managed to break my heart with just a few minutes of screen time as the Keeper of the Seeds. Critics and skeptics say this movie is just one long chase scene, which is reductive, but even if that were strictly true, complaining about that misses the point of how amazing it is that a movie this compelling could be made from a single long chase. Others might say it doesn’t belong in the Best Picture Oscar race because it’s not serious and important enough, but its themes of feminism and environmentalism are extremely relevant; they’re just not belabored to the point of didacticism. Fury Road’s vision of the destruction of the Old World, in which water was plentiful and “everyone had a show,” seems all too plausible, despite its over-the-top visual antics, and there’s a funny/scary comparison to be made between the film’s main villain, Immortan Joe, and a certain current Presidential candidate. I have no doubt this movie will ride eternal in Valhalla, shiny and chrome. It is perfect in every way.  Read More

I’ve Been Everywhere (As Told By Luke Skywalker)

Posted 30 May 2015 — by contributor
Category Movies I Got

By Mike Shaeffer

I've Been EverywhereI was totin’ my pack along the icy frontier of Hoth, when along came a wild-eyed pistol waver a-ridin’ on his tauntaun. He said, “If you’ve heard of the Millennium Falcon, with me you can ride,” then he sliced open the tauntaun, and then I settled down inside.

He said he made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. I told him that a parsec is not a unit of speed but a unit of distance equal to approximately three and a quarter light years, and then I looked right into his frostbit face and said, “Han, ol’ buddy… I’ve been everywhere, man.

“I’ve been everywhere, man. I’ve crossed the deserts bare, man. I’ve breathed the mountain air, man. Of travel I’ve had my share, man. I’ve been everywhere.  Read More

Ezra’s Top Ten Favorite Movies Of 2013

Posted 01 Mar 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Behind the Candelabra is a delightfully decadent look at the life of Liberace, brilliantly played by Michael Douglas in one of his very best performances. Every year, I struggle with the relatively arbitrary process of ranking movies, so this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of a traditional Top Ten list, I’m grouping two thematically connected films together for each place on the list, resulting in a hopefully more interesting Top 20 list. I’ve also included a more traditional Top Ten below that, for all you “too long, didn’t read” folks. One final note before we get to the list: it should tell you a lot about my credibility as a film critic that I liked Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa more than most of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees for 2013.

10. THE WICKER MAN: FINAL CUT / JURASSIC PARK 3-D – BEST RE-RELEASES. Obviously, this category doesn’t really count, as both of these films were originally released decades ago, but I can’t deny that each of them provided one of the most enjoyable experiences I had in a movie theater in 2013. This new cut of the original 1973 classic The Wicker Man adds some nuance and more musical numbers to an already great film. Most crucially, it opens with a scene of Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) praying in church, emphasizing his piousness from the very start, which enriches the events to follow. Jurassic Park, on the other hand, is quite simply my favorite movie (it has the most dinosaurs in it – I rest my case), and seeing it on a big screen again, in 3-D no less, made me fall in love with it all over again.  Read More

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2012

Posted 15 Feb 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Grey is nothing but desolate Alaskan wilderness and people being brutally murdered by wolves for two hours. What's not to love?I’ve been making these lists, in one form or another, for a dozen years now, and every year I’ve done my best to balance my own personal preferences with an objective and educated view of cinema in order to recommend not only my personal favorite films of any given year, but also those I believe to be the best. Well, no more! This year, and forever onward, I strive to give you only my own subjective favorites, the films that I have watched and am likely to watch over and over again throughout the years. When I look back over the last five years, for example, I have to admit that these have proven to be my actual favorite films, despite what I may have written at the time in an effort to recognize other worthy cinematic achievements to which I may or may not have returned even once in the years since: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007); The Dark Knight (2008); Inglourious Basterds (2009); Dogtooth (2010); and Drive (2011).

Of those five, only Dogtooth actually topped my list at the time. So, with this in mind, I present my favorite films of 2012, in all their highly subjective glory. Since ranking films in order of preference is often at least somewhat arbitrary, I should admit that some of these may have made it into the top 10, rather than the runner-up category, solely because they were more fun to write about. However, my top 5 is solidly made up of films I have already seen at least twice, and feel strongly that I would be more than happy to watch again at absolutely any time. Read More

Movie Haiku

By Ezra Stead

Akira is the greatest animated film of all time. Let’s stray from the beaten path for awhile, shall we? Instead of a review in the usual format, today I’d like to offer up thoughts on over 25 films, mostly some of my favorites, but with a few that I love to hate thrown in for good measure. Only a few of these actually work as reviews; most are free-form poetic interpretations of the feelings they brought up in me. Some are just plain silly. At any rate, all are written in the form of the ancient Japanese art of haiku. For those who don’t know, that means five syllables in the first line, seven in the next, and another five in the last, preferably with some sort of twist in the last line or, failing that, at least a sense of poetry throughout. Almost all of these were written sometime in 2005, which explains why there are three inspired by Frank Miller’s Sin City, my favorite film that year. Let’s begin with a couple of actual Japanese films:

 

The net is vast and / infinite. Now that we two / have merged, where to go?
Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Tetsuo – not the / Iron Man, but a bike punk / transcends earthly life.
Akira (1988)  Read More