I saw a lot of movies this summer and have been very busy with a new job. This is why I have not written a review for all the movies I went to. Starting May 6th until this last weekend I went and saw 12 movies in the theater. You do the math with the current ticket prices…JEEZ! This is an expensive habit.
During the summer I try to really focus on big summer blockbusters, I love art house films and romantic comedies, but during the summer I really want to get my money’s worth out of at least two of my senses. All the movies I did see fit in this category; big, expensive, A-list actors/directors, and they all made a lot of money. To tell you the truth it was a really good summer, I can honestly say only one of the movies was awful, another few were okay, but the other eight were good or really good.
I have been thinking and examining my top 5 and they have changed here and there, but this final list is really where I feel the most comfortable and feel like I can justify an explanation.
5. Tie!!! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. First time ever I have had a tie, but this is truly a tie. First HP, I loved this movie, it made me cry and gave me other emotional responses that reminded me of being a kid. That being said, it was not this one movie that did it for me, it was combination of 7 other films and 7 books that made this one movie so great. Second, RotPotA, this movie will most definitely win an Academy Award for visual effects, WETA is the absolute best in visual effects right now. Not since Jurassic Park have I been so in awe of animal CGI. Again, this movie could not be as good as it was if not for my childhood love of the “Apes” series. As a kid my favorite one was Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Rise is just a reimagining of, and a really good one. Both these films have sentimental connection to me that was unrivaled this year, but it was because they are a part of something much bigger than just one film.
4. Thor. This is in the Top 5 because I had very low expectations, I would say I even dreaded going to see and was happy that X-Men was coming out a couple weeks later. You know what happened, it blew me away. It was not the best comic book hero movie ever, but it was better than a lot of them, and Thor is a really boring comic book character in my opinion. This movie was fun and exciting and a great fit into what Marvel Studios is doing right now. As will all the current Marvel films, the casting is what sold it. Everyone in the cast was believable and not too over the top, and Kat Dennings could have been way worse. This movie exceeded my expectations, which is nearly impossible these days.
3. Super 8. This movie was nearly flawless, which is what everyone should expect from J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg. It was a throwback to the late 70s and 80s movies that launched the latter to the top of Hollywood. It was mysterious and fun and exciting and scary and just so good. It was not your typical alien movie and the alien didn’t end up being E.T., it ate people, but the whole story was not about the alien or government. This movie was about people in a different era and their problems and hopes and dreams, and how they define those individuals in an extreme circumstance that makes them reflect on themselves and the people who are in their lives. Great film can’t wait to watch this with Jack and Nora when they are older.
2. X-Men: First Class. At the beginning of the summer I would have said this will be the best movie of the summer, and it nearly was. I love X-Men, the comics, toys, cartoons, movies, and books, all of it. The X-Men are my favorite, by far, comic book characters. So of course I loved this movie, but so did most of you. It was because it was a different take on what we had seen before, it was not set in present day, didn’t have to conform modernism. It was a 1960s movie with 2011 special effects! I have been a fan of Matthew Vaughn for a while now, everyone should rent Layer Cake and Stardust, and I think this is best film, followed closely by Kick-Ass. He has this relaxed cool thing about his films and actors like Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy fit right in and sell it so well you forget they are acting. I think Vaughn may have revived Kevin Bacon’s career too. This movie is so good, after a couple of viewing it has overtaken X2 as the best X-Men movie made.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger. Like with Thor, I was a little weary when I first heard about this film. Then I heard Joe Johnston was going to direct it, and after Jurassic Park III, I was not too thrilled about that. I was completely wrong; Johnston went back to his roots and made hands down, the best movie of the summer, and most like a Top 5 of the year. It had the perfect combination of action, story, special effects, romance, humor, and Tommy Lee Jones. Like X-Men, it was a period piece that worked fantastically. I will say I am worried about how Cap’ will fair in the modern world because typically, comics, that can sometimes get boring. This movie was both cool and up to date, yet still reminded me of the movies I watched as kid (probably because Joe Johnston was art director of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark). With as good as every movie Marvel has made, yes I liked Iron Man 2, I am very excited for next summer and the reign of The Avengers.
What were your favorite movies of the summer? I really want to know…seriously.
P.S.- I apologize of the X-Men: First Class poster, it didn’t realize they never made a good one.
I am a firm believer that film is a director’s medium. There are tons of great directors that have literally made movies what they are today. People like Frank Capra, Michael Curtiz, George Cukor, and Alfred Hitchcock invented genres. Men such as Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, and Steven Spielberg stretched imagination and curiosity. These are men who deserve to be honored.
This is a list of people who have been making film for a while and are perhaps past their prime. Not saying they will never receive an Academy Award for directing, but the chances are getting fewer. I will not reference people like Wes Anderson, Jason Reitman, Christopher Nolan, or Darren Aronofsky. I think they still have years of filmmaking ahead of them.
5. David Fincher – He barely makes the top 5 because he has been making movies for nearly twenty years and he has only been nominated twice. I think that since se7en his films have been flawless. Of everyone on this list, he has the likeliest chance of winning an Academy Award in the future.
In my opinion Fincher’s greatest quality is his ability to create atmosphere. He has an A-list crew that can translate his vision onto the silver screen. Just look at the sets, tone, and pacing of se7en and Fight Club and you will understand what I am talking about. When I watch Zodiac I become so immersed in the story I forget that it is nearly three hours long! He creates tense situation, witty timing, and dark emotions, and then he makes a sprawling epic like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The amazing thing is that he does so with apparent ease.
Watch any commentary on any of his films, even Alien 3, and you will learn what the modern director really is.
4. Ridley Scott – Another guy who has been nominated a few times but never grabbed the gold. I think Scott may still have a chance to receive an Oscar, even if it is just a “we-owe-ya-one”. How did he not win for Thelma & Louise! Not even nominated for Alien! No one had made the future of humanity look so grungy and real. I will not even start on Blade Runner, Matchstick Men, and Kingdom of Heaven (this happens to be my favorite Ridley Scott film).
I do agree that Scott is not always been consistent; he did direct G.I. Jane, Hannibal, and Robin Hood. These were not bad movies, but definitely not great. I will point out that his films have won Academy Awards, but he has never won.
I think Scott is still full of massive potential, and I believe he will show that in the years to come. He can make Science Fiction realistic, and then go to quirk and mystery. He can do a period piece that resonates with a generation and he has at least three of the greatest women characters in the history of film (Ellen Ripley, Thelma Dickinson, and Louise Sawyer).
3. Rob Reiner – This may throw some for a loop. Most would probably not mention him on a list such as this. I will list some of his greatest pieces; This is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men, and The Bucket List. See what I mean? I understand that comedy is a hard sell for the Academy, but Woody Allen won.
I could write a significantly large article about how Reiner shaped my romantic life, how he helped me connect with my parents, how he will be a directorial legend in my house. I will not do this. I will say that Reiner understand boys, very well. Stand by Me and A Few Good Men are excellent examples of how men and boys act in intense situations. He shows how men are goofy and can be jerks in This is Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally, and The Bucket List.
I do not believe Reiner is a master storyteller or anything of that nature. He is a wizard of making characters relatable and likeable. He didn’t write The Princess Bride, William Goldman did, but Reiner made you fall in love with that movie. Even when you are terrified of Kathy Bates, you are so interested in her.
I know Billy Crystal says Reiner is an actor’s director, and I agree. If he does make another movie similar to Stand by Me, he will most likely be nominated and could even win. He is in the twilight of his career, so we will just have to see.
2. George Lucas – For people who are not “film buffs” this may seem out of place. People do not realize he did more than just Star Wars (which he will never surpass). My favorite film that George Lucas directed is American Graffiti.
Lucas is stuck in his Star Wars/Indiana Jones money-making rut. Hopefully he will go back to making timeless movies like THX-1138 and Willow (I know he didn’t direct, but he mentored Ron Howard on this one). He is a great storyteller, who unfortunately does not have anyone around him who suggests he use some self-control.
Do not get me wrong. I love Lucas and I think he is vital to film history, and my own upbringing. I have hope that he will direct another movie that has no connection to things he has previously done, he had such incredible ideas and potential.
Some examples of George Lucas as a great filmmaker are Kagemusha, Body Heat, and Labyrinth. He only produced these films, but he was directly involved in them. Two of his “protégés” are Ron Howard and Lawrence Kasdan; both have surpassed Lucas as far as directing goes.
1. Alfred Hitchcock – This may be stereotypical, but there is a reason for that. He never won! He will never win. He has the most illustrious career of any of these men, he was true innovator.
The obvious films that should be recognized are Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest (which is my favorite), and Psycho. These, literally defined the way films would be made forever into the future. He was a master of showing you the bare minimum in order to make your imagination run wild. Hitchcock never received what he deserved. He created tone and atmosphere and he worked with two of my all time favorite actors; Cary Grant and James Stewart. Even with the lack of special effects, his films felt real and thrilling. He does simple things like put you in one room for an entire movie, and you believe it. He manufactures suspense in a corn field by having a plane dive bomb and gases you, and you believe it. This is what legendary filmmakers do, and he did it best.
Other films that should be more widely recognized are Rope, Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and many more. Anytime you get a chance to watch a Hitchcock film, do it.