Category: Commentary


I joined Netflix five years ago when it was just a DVD service and have enjoyed the streaming services the company has introduced. But one of the reasons I subscribe is how affordable it is, much better than shelling out for overpriced movie tickets for every new release.

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Filmic Turns 300!

After I posted my 299th blog entry last week, a review for the indie drama Urbania, I pondered how I would mark the occasion of my 300th post. For Filmic‘s first year I posted interesting reader stats. For my second anniversary I listed my twenty favorite films of the last decade. But what to do for my 300th post? More stats? Announce the 300 greatest something-or-other? I like making lists, but trying to come up with 300 of anything would waste your time and mine.

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As the credits began to roll on Rabbit Hole, the excellent John Cameron Mitchell film starring Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman as grieving parents, one crucial, all-encompassing thought went through my mind: Should I give this film three-and-a-half stars or four stars?

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They say there aren’t enough roles for women in movies, and generally they’re right. There’s something called the Bechdel Test for film that is as follows:

1) Does this movie include more than one female character with a name (“Hooker #2” doesn’t count)?

2) Do those characters ever talk to each other?

3) Are they talking about something other than a man?

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The Best Films of 2010

I’ll go out on a limb and declare 2010 the best year for movies since I’ve been watching them, going back almost fifteen years. That has something to do with Netflix, through which I’ve accessed more foreign, independent, and documentary titles than ever before, but it’s more a credit to the work of great filmmakers.

2009 was the nadir. That year had no shortage of good films, and a few great ones, and I unreservedly stand by each I listed among the best, but there were few I felt unequivocally passionate about, few that held up against previous years’ offerings. I started to question myself, wondering if I’d lost some of the thrill of moviegoing. 2010 put that fear to rest.

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There came a moment early during the evening when I, and I’m sure many other close Oscar watchers, thought the foregone conclusion of The King’s Speech winning Best Picture might not have been so foregone after all. At the beginning of the show, Tom Hanks presented the first two categories, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, mentioning an odd, mostly irrelevant statistic: no film had won those two categories as well as Best Picture since Titanic. The first envelope opened and Art Direction went to Alice in Wonderland. Then Cinematography went to Inception. So much for that.

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For the last five years, I and four fellow movie-lovers from the GoldDerby forums at the Envelope have joined together to choose the best in film, calling ourselves the Envelope Film Institute. Not all of our winners reflect my specific personal opinions (I’ll unveil my own top ten list next month), but they were arrived upon by fellows of good taste and discernment. It provides us the excitement and debate of an established critics’ group, but without Armond White to ruin everything.

These were our winners:

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The Academy Awards telecast is tomorrow. Here is who I think will take top honors:

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Oscar punditry isn’t an exact science, but it’s close. As the years go by, nearly two months of precursors are more and more accurately distilled into predictions, removing most of the suspense on the morning of Oscar nominations. Some of this year’s choices were more surprising than others (Javier Bardem in Biutiful, John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone), but every single one was mentioned at at least one stop on the Oscar campaign highway. These days, the Oscars feel more like the victory lap than the race.

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It’s a new year and a good time for wishful thinking. Ballots have been mailed to Academy Award voters and must be returned by January 14, so to all my Oscar-voting readers — let’s for the moment assume I have any — here are some eligible contenders you haven’t been hearing about but deserve your attention.

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