My Top 15 Favorite Film Musicals

Almost everyone, at some point in time, loved a musical. As children, musicals are one of the first genres we are exposed to thanks in large part to the Disney Renaissance of the late 80’s and 90’s. As a film buff who was also exposed to theater in college and has a sibling who is a dancer, the genre has always been one of my favorites (when done correctly). So here is the list of my Top 15 musical films of all time. There have been plenty of sensational musicals on Broadway over the years (*cough* Hamilton), but this is a movie blog so every movie on this list will be ranked based on the quality of the film as well as the music. Enjoy!

15. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)

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It only makes sense to start with a musical classic. Singin’ in the Rain is a staple of old Hollywood cinema and features vibrant set pieces and some fun choreography performed by an iconic cast. For all intents and purposes, it is the first film that comes to my mind when I think of classic musical films.

FAVORITE SONG: “Singin’ in the Rain” of course. It has a wonderful jazzy feel to it.

 

14. INTO THE WOODS (2014)

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This movie had great potential until its somewhat jarring and poorly fitting final act. But that doesn’t change the fact that this blending of classic fairy tales set to music by iconic composer Stephen Sondheim is an overall fun film with a great cast.

FAVORITE SONG: “Agony” is not only a great song, but seeing the two pompous princes (Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen) perform it is the funniest part in the movie.

 

13. THE WIZ (1978)

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The Motown re-imagining of L.Frank Baum’s classic novel doesn’t get enough credit. The set pieces and costumes are gorgeous. And you can’t go wrong musically with the likes of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

FAVORITE SONG: Young Michael Jackson’s soulful rendition of “You can’t win” will always be my favorite.

 

12. LES MISERABLES (2013)

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This would be much higher on the list if I actually enjoyed the movie as much as I enjoyed the stage performance. Casting Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried was almost an insult to the incredible music created by French composer Claude-Michel Schonberg. I was also not a fan of having the actors sing live rather than having the songs dubbed like most musicals. But Hugh Jackman was amicable as Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks all give sensational performances.

FAVORITE SONG: Not even Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried’s lackluster vocals can spoil “One Day More”.

 

11. THE LAST FIVE YEARS (2014)

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This film is undoubtedly the least known as it was essentially only released On-Demand. But if you’re a fan of musicals or romantic comedies, I suggest you check it out. The film chronicles the relationship between a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and a successful writer (Jeremy Jordan). It earns points for its unique non-linear narrative along with a great soundtrack.

FAVORITE SONG: The song “A Part of That” shows off Kendrick’s enchanting vocals and also personifies her character’s inner struggle with the success of her significant other while her career sputters.

 

10. DREAMGIRLS (2006)

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This film featured an all star cast that included Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé, Eddie Murphy, Anika Noni Rose, and famously won Jennifer Hudson a much deserved Academy Award. It does get a bit lengthy, but what Broadway musical turned film doesn’t?

FAVORITE SONG: While I love the song “Heavy”, because it has a Destiny’s Child vibe to it, it’s only about a minute and a half long, I’ll go with the obvious choice in “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” which was powerfully performed by Hudson.

 

9. IDLEWILD (2006)

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This film is highly underrated and features incredible Hip Hop duo Outkast in their musical production debut. It also helped launch the career of Paula Patton. A unique hip hop musical before the likes of Hamilton, this film features some great cinematography (albeit a bit jarring at times) as well as a soundtrack that’s basically just another Outkast album.

FAVORITE SONG: “Movin’ Cool” (which ironically isn’t on the official soundtrack) is a wonderful duet that also marks one of the most endearing moments in the film when Andre 3000’s Percival helps Patton’s Sally B. Shelly become the actual star she had been posing as.

 

8. ALADDIN (1992)

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You didn’t think this was going to be a list of greatest musicals and not include Disney films, did you? Well get ready, because they’re about to come in droves. This film is an animated classic and features a ton of iconic songs as well as some great characters like The Genie.

FAVORITE SONG: “A Whole New World” is easily the best romantic ballad in all of Disney history.

 

7. THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009)

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The most underappreciated Disney film of all time. The characters were fun and endearing, but what won me over was the music which carries a beautiful touch of New Orleans jazz that is fitting and unique.

FAVORITE SONG: “Friends on the Other Side” is my all time favorite villain song and the scene probably would’ve given me nightmares if I wasn’t 21 years old when I first saw it.

 

6. THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998)

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Take notes Ridley Scott. THIS is how you tell the story of Moses. This is still the greatest non-Disney animated musical ever made. The animation is vibrant and pays homage to the art of the era and the music (written by Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer) is nothing short of breathtaking.

FAVORITE SONG: Choosing the late Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s rendition of “When You Believe” would be a cop out since it isn’t in the actual movie until the end credits, so I’ll go with the hauntingly beautiful “The Plagues” which features a duet between Moses (performed by Amick Byram) and his brother turned enemy, Rameses (Ralph Fiennes).

 

5. LA LA LAND (2016)

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I knew there was a reason I had waited to post my list of favorite musicals. La La Land was one of my favorite films of 2016 and it featured captivating performances by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as well as some excellent jazz music fused with the style of old Hollywood.

FAVORITE SONG: “Someone In the Crowd” is a great toe tapping arrangement and the scene features some sensational cinematography.

4. THE LION KING (1992)

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I originally had this higher on my totem pole until I realized I loved the story and characters more than the music itself. But that’s not to say the music isn’t great as well. Lion King still has the best intro song of any Disney musical and all of the songs are memorable.

FAVORITE SONG: “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” arranged by Elton John, comes in a close second. But my favorite is “Hakuna Matata”… duh. It means no worries. Who knew the safari was so hip to jazz music?

 

3. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991)

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Emphasis on the 1991 version. The remake was fine, but Emma Watson doesn’t have the vocal range of Paige O’Hara. This film features one of the most angelic compositions in any movie to date and it helps that the story itself is full of memorable characters.

FAVORITE SONG: The title song, performed by the great Angela Lansbury, is a fan favorite. But my actual favorite song from the film is the opening number titled “Belle”.

 

2. SWEENEY TODD (2007)

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Tim Burton’s grungy, wonderfully gory and gothic, musical horror film adaptation is not actually as great as the musical stage play I once saw in person at my alma mater (UNCG), but it’s still excellent. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and the late Alan Rickman deserve credit for holding their own musically and not spoiling Stephen Sondheim’s vivacious soundtrack. If the movie had true vocalists, this would actually be #1 on my list as it is my favorite musical (excluding Hamilton).

FAVORITE SONG: As a fun and exciting duet that is ironically vibrant and boisterous despite being the prelude of attempted murder, “Pretty Women” is the epitome of the overall tone of the film.

 

1. MULAN (1998)

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One of my favorite animated films features a soundtrack that I believe is flawless. The empowering story is also great so this film is in this spot simply because it is the ultimate combination of wonderful music infused with the culture of its setting and a movie worth watching even without the music.

FAVORITE SONG: Let’s get down to business, to defeat the Hun. Did they send me daughters, when I asked for sons? You’re the saddest bunch I’ve ever met, but you can bet before we’re through… mister “I’ll Make a Man Out of You!” Yes… I wrote that without looking up the lyrics. Judge away.

 

Honorable Mention: West Side Story (1961), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Hairspray (2007), Chicago (2002), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Pocahontas (1995), Tangled (2007), Moana (2016)

Think I left something off of my list? Feel free to comment and share! And if you have any suggestions for other lists, feel free to comment them below! Thanks for reading!

The 1st Annual Moore Review Awards

mr2017Welcome, to the first annual Moore Review Awards… or “The Brady’s” for short. There are tons of award shows out there, but few manage to encapsulate all of the film genres and show appreciation for the movie going public who can find enjoyment with the mindless action film as well as the thought provoking Oscar bate. That is what the Brady’s are for. Good performances don’t just come in dramas or period pieces, and my awards highlight all of the movies that make us laugh, cry, and sit on the edge of our seats. Quick side note before we get into the awards, films up for nomination had to have been released in 2016 (even if limited) to be considered. Also, as this is a recap of all of the films of last year, there is a SPOILER WARNING for this article. Now, without further ado… enjoy the first annual Moore Review Awards and feel free to comment and share.

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE

Bronze: Zack Efron (Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates) – Efron is quickly becoming one of the best actors at comedic performances, and he managed to steal the show in this offbeat comedy.

Silver: Alan Tudyk (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) – The unfiltered droid, K2-SO,provided some of the best comic relief in the franchise’s history


Winner: Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) – C’mon. Was there any doubt? Deadpool was one of the best movies of 2016 mainly because it simply let Ryan Reynolds be Ryan Reynolds. And that’s almost always hilarious.

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Other nominees: Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence), Kevin Hart (What Now?), Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters)

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Bronze: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – If the newer Star Wars films have taught us anything, it’s that for this franchise, practical effects work better than CGI.

Silver: The Jungle Book – Jon Favreau and company managed to make an entire jungle and talking animals look incredibly lifelike.

Winner: Doctor Strange – It wasn’t just cool CGI, but the use of it that made this film look mesmerizing. The added 3D effect really helped bring the psychedelic world to life like nothing we’d ever seen in a superhero film.doctorstrange_teaser_trailer

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Other nominees: Assassin’s Creed, Kubo & The Two Strings, Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

BEST SOUNDTRACK

Bronze: Moana – Lin Manuel Miranda, of Hamilton fame, put his stamp on this Polynesian inspired soundtrack.

Silver: Suicide Squad – the plot may have been a mess, but the soundtrack was a perfect combination of old hits and new music that captured the essence of the ragtag characters.

Winner: La La Land – Old Hollywood musical meets new school Jazz. Even without seasoned vocalists, the music in this film was captivating from start to finish.

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Other nominees: Sing, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Kubo & The Two Strings

BEST ACTION SEQUENCE

Bronze: The Spanish Inquisition Chase Scene (Assassin’s Creed) – Not a lot to love about this movie, but the parkour chase/fight sequences were exhilarating.

Silver: Darth Vader fight scene (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) – In a matter of seconds, we got to see why Darth Vader is one of the most menacing villains in pop culture.

Winner: The Airport fight scene (Captain America: Civil War) – The most awesome scene in the history of comic book films. So many heroes doing so many cool things!5289551-3439904924-top-5

Other nominees: The Mirror Dimension fight (Doctor Strange), Batman rescues Martha Kent (Batman v Superman), Quicksilver mansion rescue (X-Men: Apocalypse)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Bronze: Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures) – The songstress played Mary Jackson with lovable spunk and a headstrong vigor that made her the woman you’d want to fall in love with.

Silver: Noami Harris (Moonlight) – While the drug addict mother is a bit of a cliché character, Harris played the role with gut wrenching intensity.

Winner: Viola Davis (Fences) – Davis somehow managed to out act Denzel Washington with a few monologues that had beautiful emotional execution.

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Other nominees: Viola Davis (Suicide Squad), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Gal Gadot (Batman v Superman)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Bronze: Robert Downey Jr. (Captain America: Civil War) – RDJ gave his best performance as Tony Stark yet, as a conflicted hero whose sense of retribution pit him against his closest friends.

Silver: John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane) – Goodman’s creepy performance was what made the simplistic film so suspenseful.

Winner: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) – An up-incoming actor who played the mentor role with perfection. The biggest flaw with Moonlight is that he isn’t in it enough.

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Other nominees: Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad), Chiwtel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)

 

BEST ADAPTATION

Bronze: Captain America: Civil War – While it was a watered down version of the comic mini-series, the film succeeded in giving a ton of a heroes reason to be onscreen together and come into conflict with each other.

Silver: Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly’s historical account was well crafted into a heartwarming story about African American women overcoming prejudice.

Winner: Deadpool – No comic film has been adapted as perfectly as this film was. They kept the violence, humor, and fourth wall breaks intact without compromising the endearment of the characters.

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Other nominees: Fences, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

 

BEST ONSCREEN ROMANCE

Bronze: Ryan Reynolds & Morena Baccarin (Deadpool) – Even with all of the violence and humor, the chemistry between these two is what gave the film its heart.

Silver: Multiple actors who played Black & Kevin (Moonlight) – Same sex relationships are rarely shown on screen, even fewer between men. This film’s portrayal of such a relationship was both groundbreaking and emotionally captivating.

Winner: Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling (La La Land) – The two actors are insanely likable apart, and their chemistry in this film helped drive an already interesting narrative.

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Other nominees: Matthew McConaughey & Charlize Theron (Kubo & The Two Strings), Seth Rogen & Kristen Wiig (Sausage Party), Lamorne Morris & Margot Bingham (Barbershop: The Next Cut)

BEST ONSCREEN TEAM

Bronze: Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters) – Despite the unfair comparisons to their male predecessors, this group of female comedians had a fun dynamic onscreen and each had a moment to shine.

Silver: Team Cap (Captain America: Civil War) – Unlike Team Iron Man, this team was cohesive and got a surprising MVP performance from Ant-Man.

Winner: The Rebels (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) – This team provided a great blend of different characters from noble Chirrut Inwe to snarky K2-SO. Despite their wide range of personalities, they all had a likable trait and they meshed beautifully in accomplishing their ill-fated mission.

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Other nominees: Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone (La La Land), The magnificent seven (The Magnificent Seven), Jonah Hill & Miles Teller (War Dogs)

BEST VILLAIN

Bronze: Oscar Isaac (X-Men: Apocalypse) – Sure, the Apocalypse character was a bit too cliché megalomaniac. But Isaac brought great charisma and a deviously regal aura to the role.

Silver: Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe) – Creepy, intimidating, and arguably not a villain. Lang’s eerie blind man made this suspense thriller a must see.

Winner: John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane) – Goodman’s character might’ve been the only one creepier than the Blind Man. The fact that this murderous, kidnapping, conspiracy theorist turned out to be less crazy than we thought just makes the character even more frightening.

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Other nominees: Ed Skrein (Deadpool), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), The Shark (The Shallows)

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Bronze: La La Land – An endearing idea of molding classic Hollywood musicals with modern jazz as the backdrop to a love story where both characters  are struggling to follow their dreams.

Silver: Moonlight – It’s often amazing how few films there are about same sex relationships. Combining that concept with the element of a character’s childhood, adolescents, and adulthood help add to the splendor of this thought provoking film.

Winner: 10 Cloverfield Lane – Making a movie where virtually all of the scenes take place in two rooms between three characters isn’t easy, but to make one as suspenseful as this one is a testament to a sensational script.

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Other nominees: Zootopia, The Nice Guys, Don’t Breathe

 

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Bronze: Kubo & The Two Strings – Gorgeously animated, stylish, exciting and clever with a wonderful cast of characters.

Silver: Finding Dory – A sequel as good or better than its predecessor. This movie gave us a tear jerking story and a host of wonderful new characters to go along with the ones we loved from Finding Nemo.

Winner: Zootopia – Smart, funny, and incredibly socially relevant for a children’s film. Zootopia is a modern Disney classic.

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Other nominees – Sing, Moana, The Secret Life of Pets

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Bronze: Denis Villenueve (Arrival) – Breathtaking cinematography and brilliant non-linear framing helped make this thinking man’s sci-fi film into one of the most beautiful film’s of the year.

Silver: Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe) – This movie was proof that good direction can make or break any film. Claustrophobic camera angles and an eerie score helped make Don’t Breathe a memorable slasher/thriller film.

Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land) – There were so many memorable scenes that stand out in this film. The musical numbers were sensational and the ending montage was the cherry on top of a well crafted, enjoyable film from beginning to end.

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Other Nominees: Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), Travis Knight (Kubo & The Two Strings), Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book)

 

BEST ACTRESS

Bronze: Emma Stone (La La Land) – Stone’s performance was both charming and soulful and had audiences rooting for the struggling actress from her first audition.

Silver: Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) – The sensational depths of her performance as Katherine Johnson can be  summed up in her powerful monologue after having to run in the rain to the ‘colored’ restroom.

Winner: Amy Adams (Arrival) – A movie with such a somber tone has to have a solid leading lady to keep things flowing. Adams is both clever, headstrong and endearingly vulnerable in her performance as Louise Banks.

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Other nominees: Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad), Emily Blunt (Girl on the Train)

 

BEST ACTOR

Bronze: Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) – All of the people who played Chiron were great, but Sanders’ performance as the teenage boy struggling with his sexuality was easily the most incredible. Sanders’ portrayal helped illustrate the boy’s transition from meager bullied kid into a tough and relentless man.

Silver: Denzel Washington (Fences) – Denzel will always deliver. In Fences he had one gripping monologue after another and helped carry a narrative that might’ve dragged without his (and Viola Davis’) performance.

Winner: Ryan Gosling (La La Land) – Sauve, charismatic, and intensely soulful. Gosling made the character of Sebastian easily the most fun and likable character on screen in 2016. He also gets extra credit for actually learning how to tap dance and play the piano for the role.

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Other nominees: Tom Hanks (Sully), Will Smith (Suicide Squad), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)

 

2016 MOVIE OF THE YEAR

Bronze: Deadpool – Making a unique superhero film in this day and age is not easy. And yet, Deadpool manages to be a satire of the genre while also providing intense action and a charming romantic subplot.

Silver: Zootopia – Pertinent to the point that it should be required viewing in schools, Disney’s masterpiece also manages to be heartwarming and incredibly funny for a film with such a thought provoking subject matter.

Winner: La La Land – Fun, beautifully filmed, smart, soulful, and lead by two actors with infectious charm this musical reminded us of what was so wonderful about old school Hollywood filmmaking.

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Other nominees: Arrival, Hidden Figures, Captain America: Civil War, Sully, Finding Dory

There you have it ladies and gents. The first annual MooreReview.com Awards is in the books. Thanks for reading and I look forward to 2017’s nominees. Please like/share and feel free to comment who you think the winners should’ve been. As for the 2016 Academy Awards, expect films like La La LandMoonlight, and Fences to rack up.

17 for 17 (My Most Anticipated Movies of 2017)

Have you ever seen that Facebook post with all of the movie posters for upcoming movies? Doesn’t it get you excited (even though most of them are photoshopped and a third of them haven’t even been written yet let alone started filming). Well with a new year upon us, it’s time to look forward to all of those big budget sequels and adaptations that will either be amazing, or big giant letdowns (*cough DC Extended Universe *cough*). Here are the 17 movies I’m most looking forward to in 2017.

17. GHOST IN THE SHELL (March 31st)

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Based on a popular Japanese anime and manga, Ghost in the Shell will star Scarlett Johansson as an android police officer. The anime was gritty, dark and inspired by film noir. If the first trailer is any indication, this live action version will carry the same tone with awesome CGI to bring the futuristic world to life. Let’s just hope the story is captivating.

16. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (May 26th)

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The last Pirates of the Caribbean felt like one of those old straight to VHS Disney sequels from the 90’s. But my hopes are high that they can get the series back on track. That’s mainly because this time around they’ll be getting the old band back together. Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly are slated to appear alongside Johnny Depp for this newest adventure which will also feature Javier Bardem as a new villain.

15. BAYWATCH (May 26th)

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We all know of the show, even if you never actually watched anything past the opening credits. Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron will star in the lead roles to help bring to life this action comedy that is essentially a tongue and cheek spoof of the original TV series. Both actors have proven they can nail comedic roles, so I’m anticipating this being one of the few movies that will be as funny as its trailer.

14. KONG: SKULL ISLAND (March 10th)

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For me, Peter King’s 2005 King Kong film fell flat. It had its moments, but it was way too long and had a ton of plot holes. This new Kong film is set to do away with the “giant monkey captures woman and fights planes atop a building” narrative to give us more of what we liked in the last film. Which is: monster on monster violence. Packed with an all-star cast that includes Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, and Tom Hiddleston, this movie has the potential to be a lot of fun.

13. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (July 7th)

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This movie may be a bit low on the list, as Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes. But the teenage webslinger has been done to death (This will make 6 movies in the last 15 years with 2 different reboots). Still, the Marvel Cinematic Universe rarely disappoints, and Tom Holland seemed perfect for the role in his cameo appearance in last summer’s Captain America: Civil War. So although I’m tired of Spider-Man movies, I can’t help but expect this one to be at least better than the last one.

12. BLADE RUNNER 2049 (October 6th)

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The original Blade Runner was a film about futuristic police officers tracking down Replicants (human androids). Back in 1982 it revitalized the film noir genre. Now three and a half decades later, Harrison Ford is slated to return for a long awaited sequel. Ryan Gosling will play the lead as the new blade runner in a film that will hopefully impress even without original Director Ridley Scott.

11. KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (October 6th)

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Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of my favorite movies of 2015. It was suave, action packed, and didn’t take itself too seriously. Taron Egerton and Mark Strong return for this sequel that will add Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, and Julianne Moore. If it’s anything like the first film, it is sure to be another outrageously wild ride.

10. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (MAY 5th)

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The first film was a breakout hit and launched Chris Pratt’s career into super stardom. The follow up is sure to be a box office success. The star studded cast will reunite, with Kurt Russell joining on as Star Lord (Pratt)’s mysterious father while Baby Groot is sure to be a hit with wide audiences. I personally am most excited for the soundtrack.

9. VALERIAN and the CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (July 21st)

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This film is an adaptation of a science fiction graphic novel and is sure to bring all sorts of weird alien worlds and awesome special effects. The talented Dane DeHaan and the tolerable Cara Delevingne will play the lead roles as a pair of traveling space police. The film will be directed by Luc Besson who directed 2 films I love (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element) and 2 films I didn’t (The Family, Lucy), so we’ll see which end of the spectrum this one falls under.

8. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (July 14th)

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The revitalized Planet of the Apes movies following Andy Serkis’ Caesar character have all been sensational so my expectations are high for part three. Woody Harrelson joins the cast as the villain which should make for some intense moments to go along with exciting ape on human action sequences.

7. THOR: RAGNAROK (November 3rd)

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Sure, the Thor movies might be the weakest tandem in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but this one looks to be awesome. Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett will be playing the villain and the movie is also set to feature Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk in a major role. They’re also taking the focus away from Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings and keeping the film out in space where Creed’s Tessa Thompson will be playing a warrior female lead.

6. JOHN WICK 2 (February 10th)

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If you haven’t seen the first John Wick, then you ma’am or sir are missing out. John Wick was a stylistically unique, bad ass action flick that felt like something straight out of a graphic novel. All of the cast (that survived the first film) are back and Laurence Fishburne and Common join the cast as fellow assassins. After watching the first trailer, this movie is sure to be another action packed thriller.

5. LOGAN (March 3rd)

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The X-Men movies are great (most of them at least), and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is even greater. He is set to sport the claws one last time in this loose adaptation of the Old Man Logan graphic novel. From the looks of the awesome trailer, this film has the potential to be a masterpiece. It will also be the first non-Deadpool X-Men film to be rated ‘R’ so there will be nothing stopping the Wolverine from getting as gruesome as we all want him to be.

4. JUSTICE LEAGUE (November 17th)

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Yes, the DC Extended Universe hasn’t lived up to the hype just yet. And yes, Zack Snyder is once again bringing his overindulgent style of filmmaking back. But c’mon this is the Justice League. The original mashup of elite superheroes. It’ll unite Gal Gadot’s scene stealing Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck’s bulky, bad ass Batman with the first cinematic appearance of the Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. Henry Cavill’s Superman will also be resurrected, so even if the movie flops  plot wise, it’ll at least be fun to watch for the action sequences and visuals. Plus the early footage looks like the tone will be much lighter than the overly depressing Batman v Superman.

3. WONDER WOMAN (June 2nd)

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Speaking of the DCEU and the scene stealing Wonder Woman, this film will finally bring the iconic female hero to the forefront. Patty Jenkins is on tap to direct and the film will be keeping the character to her Amazonian roots while teaming her with Chris Pine. There’s never been a good female led superhero movie (thanks to Catwoman and Elektra), but the early trailers have been impressive so my hopes are high that this film will finally give the DC movies a film worth being proud of.

2. POWER RANGERS (March 24th)

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Newsflash, I loved the original Power Rangers show. I even made a post about my expectations for the movie. Sure the original show was cheesy, but the concept was every kid’s dream. This reboot will reimagine the original heroes with a young cast of newcomers. And while many have panned the new designs for the film, I am thoroughly intrigued by what I’ve seen. If the movie can keep the core elements that made the original series a hit while also scaling back the cheesiness and making things feel more believable, than this movie could be a fun, nostalgic setup to a brand new film saga.

  1. STAR WARS: EPISODE 8 (December 15th)

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I don’t care if The Force Awakens rehashed too many things from the original Star Wars film, the new characters were all great and the cinematography was even greater. They’re all set to return, and with so many questions unanswered by the last film and the folks at Lucasfilm keeping things tight lipped, this movie is already loaded with intrigue even before a trailer drops. The rehashed death star has been destroyed and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) will be returning to the fold, so there are a ton of directions that these new exciting characters could go in. Plus, this will be our last time to see the late, great Carrie Fisher on the big screen.

So there’s my list. Where’s Fate of the Furious you may ask? Well… I basically despise those movies, so there’s that. And as much as we all want to see Bad Boys 3, it isn’t slated until 2018. Hopefully all of these movies live up to the hype (of course they won’t).

HONORABLE MENTION:

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (MAR 17th): I loved the original, but this one is basically going to be the exact same movie.

 DESPICABLE ME 3 (JUNE 30th): The first 2 were good, but Minions was awful.

 THE MUMMY (June 9th): Tom Cruise > Brendan Frasier

 TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (June 23rd): The trailers always look great. But I’ve lost faith in these movies.

My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2016

Another year is in the books and with it comes another year of ranking my Top 10 movies. It’s almost impossible to say that one movie is actually the best, so these are simply my favorites; i.e. the movies that I had the most enjoyable experience watching in 2016. Click on each title to read the full review. Thanks to everyone who read, shared, commented, or liked any of my posts this year and I look forward to bringing more insight in 2017. Happy New Year everyone!

10. SING 

While it didn’t break any new narrative ground, Sing capped off one of the best years ever for animated movies. A great cast of characters and wonderful music made this film a fun, heartwarming holiday film for the whole family.

9. DOCTOR STRANGE

Marvel does it again. Even if it wasn’t part of a larger film franchise, it would’ve been an awesome film to watch thanks to a great cast and utterly stunning visuals.

8. MOANA

The animated masterpieces keep on coming. This film gave us two great lead characters that are sure to become Disney classics. A few wonderful songs composed by musical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda was the icing on the cake for this fun, stylistically unique adventure.

7. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Capitalizing on the success of The Force Awakens, this film manages to heighten the Star Wars mythos while providing some great original characters and one of the most invigorating final acts of any movie this year.

6. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

Whether you side with Captain America or not, it’s hard to argue that the character has produced some of the best super hero films to date. This one was a well crafted thriller that successfully pitted heroes vs. heroes and produced some great action and surprisingly deep emotional moments.

5. ARRIVAL

A great think peace with splendid acting. Arrival was a well crafted narrative with a beautiful message and ending.

4. DEADPOOL

The funniest movie of the year. Ryan Reynolds was at his best and helped deliver a tongue and check, violently awesome take on the superhero genre.

3. LA LA LAND

A gorgeous throwback to old Hollywood musicals that gave us one of the best on screen duos of the year. From start to finish this movie is magically endearing.

2. FINDING DORY

One of the best sequels to date. This movie added fun and interesting characters to go along with one of the best animated characters to ever be onscreen. Chocked full of hilarious moments and enough emotion to make even the toughest person tear up, Finding Dory proved that Pixar is still the best at crafting smart, funny, and touching animated films.

1. ZOOTOPIA

Not only was this movie beautifully animated and filled with some great puns and sight gags, but it also delivered on a story that is incredibly pertinent. Zootopia is an intelligent, emotional guide to humanity disguised as a funny family cartoon and it is a much watch for everyone both young and old.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Jungle Book, Sully, The Secret Life of Pets, X-Men: Apocalypse,  The Nice Guys, Sausage Party, 10 Cloverfield Lane

My 10 Least Favorite Movies of 2016

You should never take negativity into the new year. So before the calendar turns, let’s get the countdown of the worst movies in 2016 out of the way. As always, I don’t get a chance to catch every movie, and the bad flicks slip through the cracks way more than the good ones do. So there are plenty of movies that won’t make this list because I never got around to wasting my time watching them. Also, full disclosure: If you’re looking for movies like Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, or Passengers, there’s a difference between disappointing and virtually unwatchable so those 2-hour balls of depression managed to miss the cut. Click on the title to get the full review. And of course, have a happy and safe New Year everyone.

  1. OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY

Office Christmas Party seems to inefficiently operate with the idea that loud and outrageous always equals funny. It doesn’t”

  1. ANGRY BIRDS

everything… about the film, from its relatively flat sight gags and slapstick humor to the overly kinetic plot, is an absolute mess. The story flows like a concept being pitched by an imaginative 4th grader who’s making it all up as he’s playing the game for the first time”

  1. WARCRAFT

a bland script and a plot void of any real surprises gives us a cast of generic characters that lack the charm or unique qualities to make them stand out as memorable. The result is a movie that struggles to make anyone care who, like me, never played the games.”

  1. RIDE ALONG 2

“Ride Along 2 just isn’t funny and like its predecessor, relies on the same tricks to try and justify its existence.”

  1. KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES

“It almost feels like a Saturday Night Live parody of something more interesting. The plot has no twists or unexpected turns making it feel like something written in a day”

  1. THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT

“Allegiant isn’t quite as droll as Insurgent, but it is bad for entirely new, avoidable reasons. Shoddy CGI and a few segments of noticeable green screen make the movie look cringe worthy in certain spots”

  1. GODS OF EGYPT

“this movie manages to be chocked full of as many plot holes as action sequences…  The fact that the film is poorly cast, filled with hardly relevant/unlikable characters that do idiotic things, and is about 30 minutes too long all make for an unpleasant overall experience.”

  1. WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS

“These movies usually involve stalker tendencies, blackmail, and the inevitable violent showdown at the end, but this movie does the bare minimum to even qualify as a thriller. I gave The Perfect Guy an ‘F’ last year, and this movie is significantly less watchable.”

  1. THE BOSS

“This may very well be McCarthy’s worst film. I spent the first 45 minutes waiting to laugh and even after the movie was over I had trouble recollecting a single funny moment.”

  1. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

“I searched myself for over 24 hours for something enjoyable about this film. Make no mistake, Independence Day: Resurgence is a loud, clumsy and hollow sequel that taints the legacy of its predecessor.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Now You See Me 2, The Legend of Tarzan, The Perfect Match

 

Ranking The STAR WARS Films

Disney is in full Star Wars mode for the next five years or so. So it seems like a good time to officially rank all of the films in the saga as I see fit just before the release of Rogue One. So, here it is… the definitive (and by definitive, I mean completely my opinion) rank of the Star Wars films.

 

7. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONESstar_wars_-_episode_ii_attack_of_the_clones_movie_poster

Make no mistake, this is the worst Star Wars film. Even the moments that should’ve been great (An army of Jedi in battle) are bogged down by mediocre cinematography. But what really makes Episode II the worst and almost an unwatchable film after its first viewing, is the cringeworthy romance narrative between Padme (Natlaie Portman) and Anakin (Bad acting Hayden Christenson). Throw in George Lucas’ over indulgence with CGI and Attack of the Clones (Which is also a lousy title) is easily the low note of the franchise. GRADE: D+

 

6. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

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This movie had loads of potential. Darth Maul (Ray Park) is a bad ass with a double bladed lightsaber. Liam Neeson gets to play a Jedi. John Williams’ epic score. And Pod racing. But the movie is hampered by an overly convoluted plot about trade negotiations. Darth Maul is underutilized and Jake Lloyd is a bad child actor as young Anakin Skywalker.  Oh, and there’s this guy. The worst character maybe in any sci-fi franchise. GRADE: C-

5. RETURN OF THE JEDI
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I have a love hate relationship with this movie. On one hand, I love the climactic battle between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Darth Vader.  I also love every scene with Yoda (Frank Oz). But the Ewoks are awful. Tiny teddy bears defeating an army with sticks and rocks? C’mon. I’m also not a fan of the overly drawn out opening that sees Luke and the gang rescuing Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from Jaba the Hutt. It’s a part that also gives Boba Fett (a potentially awesome character that never really does anything) an anti-climactic end. The final Death Star sequence is also too much of a retread of the original ending. GRADE: B-

4. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH
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This movie is a massive step above the other prequels but it still has some major flaws. Most of the issues I have are with Hayden Christensen’s acting. And although the film has a wonderfully dark tone, the transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader happens way too suddenly. One minute he’s snitching on the evil Emperor Palpatine, the next minute he’s killing kids? Anywho… the movie did have great action sequences like the opening space battle and the final fight scene between Anakin and Obi Wan (Ewen McGregor). And Ian McDiarmid’s performance as the Emperor goes down as one of the best portrayal’s in the franchise. GRADE: B

3. THE FORCE AWAKENS

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Yes, I know. There are too many things in this movie, such as the climax where they basically have to blow up another Death Star, that are retreads from the original. But I absolutely love the characters. All of the newcomers have wonderful chemistry and the villain, Kylo Ren, is given much more weight and emotion to his character than any other villain in the Star Wars saga not named Darth Vader. Combine that with some fun nostalgic moments and J.J. Abrams adding his excellent filmmaking expertise, and The Force Awakens is arguably the most fun Star Wars film since the original. GRADE: A-

2. STAR WARS (EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE)

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The original certainly gets extra credit for being the original and by all means, the first Star Wars is groundbreaking.  Although many of the effects are dated, it is a bit dull for much of the first half hour (Mainly because I hate C-3PO), and the lone lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan Kinobi and Darth Vader is also terrible in comparison to the other films, the plot is great and there are many iconic scenes such as any involving Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. More importantly, the original film laid the foundation for an incredibly vast and interesting cinematic universe. GRADE: A-

2. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

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Not only is this the best Star Wars film by a mile, it’s one of the best sci-fi films ever created. There is absolutely nothing to dislike about it. From the scope of Hoth and Cloud City to the drama of Luke Skywalker fighting Darth Vader for the first time, this movie is what Star Wars is meant to be; exciting and emotional. It’s paced beautifully and has a fantastic ending despite the fact that it actually ends on a somber note. It also introduces Yoda, so that’s always a plus. GRADE: A+

 

So there you have it. Hopefully Rogue One and next winter’s Episode VIII will find themselves on the high end of this list.  Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and (polite) criticisms blasting me for my blasphemous misplacement of Return of the Jedi. Until then… may the force be with you and Happy Holidays!