31 December 2023

2023 at Eternium's Gate: Movie Moments, Songs, and THRILLS

It's time here now, at the end of all things to talk about whatever else there is to talk about this year. 2023 wasn't too bad, right? I mean, the world always sucks. In terms of film and art we were stricken with the writers and actor's strikes and are really at the crux of art and technology. I don't know what's going to happen with the studio system, we're seeing a lot of what had been working over the last few years completely melt down. I mean, who cares, these movies are terrible. We really need to burn the entire industry down and start again.

Let's get into the fun! And of course we here at NMW have some boffo picks.

Comedic Performance of the Year

Kid Cudi in House Party (2023). That's right, I've been sitting on this for a year. There aren't even good clips of this shit. House Party was actually decent, although it assuredly did not push its premise far enough. The Kid Cudi scenes offer a glimpse into this much more out there film and it's fun to think of this dude carrying a whole movie. He's great!

Hero of the Year

It's Rocket in Guardians 3 (2023). I mean, that's the whole point of the movie. I think this third installment lacked the novelty of the first one and the heart of the second, but it's still upper tier stuff. Rocket is sidelined through most of the present film, but we see his origin through extensive flashbacks, a moral code developing that is fulfilled by the end. A close second is Pete Davidson in Transformers! You forgot about that one, didn't you.

Villain of the Year

I'm tempted to go with Mamoa in Fast X, but ultimately we have too little of this kind of insanity, which I guess was on purpose?! How could you? This franchise is so dead in the water, we really could have used some of his chaotic energy to spice it up. But no, let's go with BOWSER from the Super Mario Bros. Movie. They really found the zone between his goofiness and threateningness and of course adding a signature Jack Black song gave us THE Movie song of the year (until "I'm Just Ken" came along). He's monstrous but also totally in character. A great villain.

Actors of the Year

This is tough. The obvious is just Margot Robbie, right? Can we go with Chris Melton or Ayo Edebiri? Chris Pratt was technically in two of the biggest films of the year, but it doesn't feel like he was ubiquitous. Can we go Jonathan Majors? Oof. Kang really should have been the greatest villain, him appearing in multiple platforms as a legit threat could have been a really cool way to show him encroaching on the entire MCU. Some What Ifs would have been great. Whomp-whomp. Creed III, too, but that was a bit of a thud. Is it weird to say Matt Damon had a big year? Same with Joaquin Phoenix, and Nicolas Cage. And Jason Statham was in a ton of movies!

Let's go Dave Bautista. Knock at the Cabin gave him indie cred and Guardians 3 gave him blockbuster cred. He's still a rising star and has a lot more interesting roles in him. I was thinking Florence Pugh or uhhh....Taylor Swift? But I think this is Margot Robbie's year again! Barbie is just a great film, the #1 film of the year somehow, and it doesn't work without Robbie.

Scenes of the Year

In no real order,  here are our favorites:

MCU's First F-Bomb I mean, I laughed out loud, an unreal way to send-off these guys.
I'm Just Ken - probably the #1 scene. The production is insane, I love re-watching and seeing the guys just dancing in the background. It's so incredibly melodramatic and the song is a genuine banger. Also the greatest film of the year climaxes with interpretive dance. Brillian.
All of Saltburn, but let's go with this. No clips exist, but if you know you know.
Jason Statham vs. Shark. The Meg 2 was somehow far superior to its predecessor and deserves a lot of moments here. Let's go with the entire final battle. Also, this movie mostly took place in the Trench, which I guess is the title, but the trailers were totally just this scene.
Oppenheimer crowd Most folks will go with Trinity, but THIS is the scene, man. This is where Oppie realizes the world-ending chain reaction.
Spider-Prowler super ending spoiler but damn is this well crafted
the stop motion alien in Asteroid City man I didn't like this movie but this was rad
John Wick Sacre-Coeur an OK end to two OK films after two great films, but John Wick falling down stairs was funny
DnD glitch I don't think I laughed harder at anything in this fun but not actually well written at all film.

Songs of 2023

This was a big year for music that was Spanish jibberish to my ears, along with Taylor Swift, and female rap artists. What a terrible year for racist uncles. You still got Morgan Wallen.

What do I like? "Paint the Town Red" by Doja Cat or "Hot City" by Bonnie McKee. The Barbie Album was non-stop bangers. "Kill Bill" SZA had a big year. And Olivia Rodrigo might not be an industry plant! Her wit reminds me of like 2017 Taylor Swift. And I'm a Gorillaz fan so it was a lot of fun to get Cracker Island on our butts. "Lil Boo Thing" is fun, feels like an old song.

That's it for 2023! What a wonderful year! Next year will be a big crossroads for Hollywood - mergers, streaming failures, non-superheroes and more! Stay tuned, folks!

29 December 2023

The Best Movies of Each Year Every Year Since This Blog Was Founded

We've been at this a while now and it's about time we assessed the top films of each year since we started this nonsense. We'll post our original lists along with what is probably now the definitive rankings. And since we started this along with the start of time, in 2009, that's how far back we're going!

2009: A Serious Man, Coen Bros
2010: The Social Network, David Fincher
2011: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher
2012: The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson
2013: The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese
2014: Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer
2015: Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller
2016: American Honey, Andrea Arnold
2017: Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve
2018: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
2019: The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers
2020: Nomadland, Chloe Zhao
2021: The Green Knight, David Lowery
2022: The Northman, Robert Eggers
2023: Beau is Afraid, Ari Aster

Close finishes:

2010: MacGruber
2011: Take Shelter or Melancholia
2014: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
2015: Ex Machina
2016: The VVitch
2019: Midsommar
2020: Promising Young Woman or Color Out of Space
2021: PIG

Some of these pics surprised even me. Some years like 2017 and 2012 I have never really doubted who #1 should be. Others like 2011 and 2019 put up a good fight and I could go either way. 2020 is a really tough year, I'm not super satisfied but Nomadland is a great choice. 2016 I had a ton of trouble with, I like American Honey and think about it a ton these days. But there just isn't a lot of great choices there. I might call 2016 the worst year for film since I've been doing this. The best is probably 2011 or 2012. Maybe 2022.

This will be our immutable list for all of time!

28 December 2023

10 Years Gone: The Best Films of 2013

It takes a long time for movies to sit and develop both within a culture and within my brain. So in addition to reevaluating one year gone, we really need to do a ten-year reevaluation. That is what this is all about. We'll look at all of our previous 2013 lists and come up with something really really distinctive and definitive. So let's start with our shortlist. These would be all the movies I kind of liked from 2013:

John Dies at the End
Warm Bodies
Side Effects
Spring Breakers
The Place Beyond the Pines
Pain & Gain
This is The End
The Lone Ranger
Bad Words
The Way Way Back
Pacific Rim
The World's End
You're Next
Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Don Jon
12 Years a Slave
Inside Llewyn Davis
American Hustle
Anchorman 2: The Legend Contiues
The Wolf of Wall Street

Alright, we've got to widdle this down. There are definitely some that have always been on my list, and I think that's true again here. Let's go with our immutable, the definitely always going to have a spot here:

The Wolf of Wall Street
Inside Llewyn Davis
Pacific Rim
Spring Breakers
The Place Beyond the Pines
Pain & Gain

That might be it. I can't believe I dropped Frozen and 12 Years a Slave from that list, but I'm not sure either are totally as awe-inspiring as they once were. Maybe Frozen, still, just because that felt so fresh at the time. It's always hard to divest the original work from the repeated influences thread over the past ten years. I think on a real list it still has to make an appearance. I don't know who gets the last bit, out of either Apocalypse comedy this year, probably The World's End.

Okay, so here is our original list from 2013, which was weird because we copped out and gave very clear distinctions to everything. What's amazing is that that list is almost the exact same as what I have here, down to Don Jon and Side Effects. In 2017 we again added most of the same things we see here. In 2021 we morphed a bit, adding Anchorman 2 and room for both This is The End and The World's End as our three bonus films. Other than that, it's pretty much still on the money with my tastes.

One thing it really makes me thing is...why am I doing this? It's pretty much the same. I'm surprised at how much it canonizes so fast.

2013 becomes a nice year for everything, much like my original list. There are really compelling dramas, action films, and fun or experimental films pretty much everywhere. I'm surprised, honestly, that so many of these movies I can still think, "Yeah, that's okay!" Part of this is just me seeing more films like The Place Beyond the Pines and recognizing how legit they are.

2014 is weird, always the year of Guardians and Birdman, but I'm curious if we have more surprises than this year!

2023 at Eternium's Gate: Best of 2022!

I have gotten into this more lately - it really does take a whole year to catch up. And I didn't even watch all the ones I said I would here. But there's a lot that I've shifted around and some painful losses. Ultimately I chose Puss in Boots over Pinocchio because it does a better job of saying the same thing about death and immortality, even though I do have fondness in my heart for the latter. And it might one day get in here, but I just had to leave Ambulance out. You should definitely watch Ambulance, though.

#10: Prey still works and sticks in my head as one of the cleanest, purest action movies in recent memory. It's remarkably direct and simple and still one of the best Friday nights you can have.

#9: Weird: The Al Yankovic Story I just bought on DVD because I don't trust the ability to watch it on any platform, much less Roku. I was pleasantly reminded of just how funny this thing still is. It helps to be steeped in Weird Lore, but every line just slays me. I fully grasped the concept that Michael Jackson's "Beat It" is actually a parody of Weird Al's "Eat It."

#8: The Banshees of Inisherin I was thinking about Barry Keoghan in this while watching Saltburn (2023). I often reference cutting off my fingers to get away from friends I don't like as well. I'm actually not convinced of this film's 10-year staying power, but for now it's still pretty fresh with me.

#7: Babylon is for sure a bit of a mess, but it's so damn realized and the characters hit so hard. There are for sure unnecessary slurs but it secretly belongs amongst Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt's best work. No small feat. I really enjoyed thus. Definitely too long. I don't 

#6: TAR took me a bit to get into and it is almost certainly too long. We could have used quite a bit less lengthy inside conductor talk, but it does add to the whole story. Anyway, it's a continuously unexpected story of this woman's life falling apart, it being continually her fault, and her absolute refusal to acknowledge it. And the ending is spectacular. You can picture anyone else but Cate Blanchett in the role but also she totally loses herself. Just a great experience.

#5: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has no right to be as good as it is. This sequel to a Shrek spin-off brilliantly finds a sublime challenge for its protagonist, intrinsic to his character while also being a treat to look at and very funny as well. Its playfulness matches its style and Antonio Banderas owns this role like few others. It's a lot of fun, has a lot of heart, and one of the best villains ever in that Wolf Death guy.

#4: RRR is still an unbelievable movie. We are getting into the probably never off this list section of this list and I don't see it ever dropping. It's the kind of movie I remember watching every second for the first time. And then I put it on again as soon as it ended. It's the ultimate action bromance and what every American action movie wishes it was.

#3: NOPE remains Jordan Peele's best film. I hate to be a hater, but I didn't think his other stuff is all THAT great, I mean, they're fine, but NOPE is really where he lands as both a supreme visual storyteller, but one who can bathe his films in metaphor, callbacks, multiple coherent themes firing at once, and legit scares and tension. It's great and deserves so much more praise.

#2: Everything Everywhere All at Once somehow someway became an Oscar darling which is a baffling thing to think about, but also we need to admit that the Academy Awards have become deeply deeply weird. But this is one that they got right. It's an epic, a movie for our times, who we all wish our situation may have turned out differently, but we need to learn to deal with the relationships in our reality. Also we're all living in different realities anyway. It's impeccably crafted and full of boffo action scenes as well. It'll be on list list forever.

#1: The Northman remains my favorite, even if it hit a little less hard on my second re-watch. It's just very very cool. And also I still believe it's about how masculinity is stupid. In my opinion. It has everything firing at once, the visuals, both CGI and just shooting great landscapes, acting ranging from Dafoe to Kidman, a compelling story of twists and familial betrayal, and a volcano fight. What else do you want?

2022 - what a year! I like this list a lot and although we'll keep watching and reevaluating, this is pretty solid. I would watch any of these any day. Let's get ready to reassess 2023 in a year!

27 December 2023

2023 At Eternium's Gate: Best Movies!

Ladies and gentlepeople, thanks for sticking with us for our whopping TWELFTH post of the year! Needless to say, 2023 was excessively busy, most with my wife and newborn son. But we still watched some movies! I found that I didn't get to see nearly as many films on my list as I would have liked, so I wanted to do this in parts. First is a mild ranking of my favorite 2023 films that I actually saw. It's...it's not great, people. So I then cobbled together a mix of let's call them projected favorites. More and more I'm finding that we should just do a list a year from now when everything is settled.

And let's face it folks - there is only one big reason why I didn't see a lot of 2023's films this year. The collapse of Netflix DVD! It pains me quite a bit to lose access to what was once one of the greatest movie libraries of all time. I really did spent a lot of November / December catching up each year. Now I wait until streaming (The Holdovers comes to Peacock Dec 29!) but it does become tough when I clearly don't have things like Peacock.

So, let's start with the most honest ranking ever of movies I actually saw in 2023:

The Machine
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
The Killer
May December
Beau is Afraid

Well, there actually were nine films that I'd consider rankable. And yeah, we've got The Machine and Strays on there. These aren't good movies. But they're definitely the #8 and #9 movie I actually saw in 2023.

Movies I think I would like:

The Holdovers
American Fiction
Killers of the Flower Moon
Poor Things
Anatomy of a Fall
Zone of Interest
Godzilla Minus One
Dream Scenario

Alright, now let's be real bold and just straight up combine these lists and make the ultimate Top Ten list of films I have both seen and not seen. 

Poor Things
Killers of the Flower Moon
Godzilla Minus One
The Killer
May December
Beau is Afraid

It pains me to boot off Across the Spider-Verse. It is a very good film but ultimately too scatter-brained and incomplete to be truly great cinema. Maybe I'll change my mind next year....

Napoleon is probably not actually the great film it wants to be, and to be honest I wasn't that enthralled by the trailer for The Holdovers, although I dig the style and it's getting great reviews. American Fiction has gotten praise, but some are saying it's not actually treading new ground. I am cautious about Dream Scenario, too. The Cage says it's one of his best and it's an intriguing premise, but the trailer didn't seem to push the concept enough (one might assume the actual film pushes it farther and doesn't spill its hand).

I knocked off weird foreign and indie films. They're probably all very good. I'm really intrigued by Godland and Anatomy of a Fall, but based on not seeing them, I'm not actually all that jazzed up. From there let's get into the official, immutable, unchangeable TOP TEN of 2023!

#10: Poor Things is the latest Yorgos Lanthimos film. Someone get this guy an MCU contract! No, no, please don't. I actually thought The Favorite (2018) wasn't especially great, but I'm still an eternal fan of The Lobster (2015). There's a lot of humor to the darkness of his subject matter and this is combining a stellar cast, feminine doctrine, and Frankenstein into a pretty palpable mix.

#9: Bottoms looks pretty fun. Get Marshawn Lynch a Best Supporting Actor statue! Probably! In an era where it's supposedly impossible to make a comedy film, we need more Bottoms. Again, I have not seen this movie, but it's got a grind and lack of polish to it that actual comedies need. Probably.

#8: Killers of the Flower Moon - I came so close to actually seeing this in theaters. But it's three hours long and my wife was eight and half months pregnant. Oh well. I do really want to see this and even the most pretentious of year-end lists have this ranked pretty high. It will probably creep higher by the time I see it on Apple TV+ next year. I really did want to support this in theaters. The De Niro / DiCaprio is of course really interesting, and any S-tier Scorsese needs a lot of attention. Hopefully this is actually good,

#7: Godzilla: Minus One is a film I've loved since it was announced. The Legendary Godzillas have been hit or miss in terms of being actual movies (I have been a die hard fan for all of them of course), but it's nice for Toho to reassert itself and throw down some really legit Godzilla films in recent years. It's such an evolution from the hokiness that persisted, even through the Millennium Era. I'm not sure what Era we are in now, but I'll take these one-off reinventions as long as they continue being this good. Probably.

#6: The Killer was a lot of really sly fun. It felt like Dave Fincher taking a big step back from big filmmaking and just having a bit of of fun. The moment you realize that Mike Fassbender is full of shit is incredible and then the film keeps building his hypocrisy and idiocy from there. There is a constant juxtaposition throughout the film and it does it all while reminding you that Fincher really know how to light and shoot a film.

#5: Barbie was a huge event this year and the movie really backs up all the hype. With all the talk of Ryan Gosling as Best Supporting Ken, Margot Robbie really deserves more attention for her role as the Barbie. She has such a ridiculous range but is also a perfect Barbie, both in her eloquence, flustered, and preoccupation with Death. It legit hits humor hard, hits obscure Barbie Lore hard, and pivots as a great meta movie and obviously feminist. But also shows how Barbie is anti-feminist. It's all a big pot of fun.

#4: May December is full of real REAL thorny material, but navigates it well. It's simultaneously a character study, a commentary on acting, trauma, generational trauma, and also weirdly funny. The ending is brilliant and almost impossible to conceive based on what has preceded it. It's really that kind of movie that pushes everyone out to the emotional edge. I loved the 4:3 aspect ratio. So many films are praised for their visuals that are really just made in a computer lab. I mean, that does take skill, but Toddy Haynes shows us that you can have incredible images that advance the story and supplement theming with simple shots in the mirror.

#3: Saltburn definitely will have its detractors but dude this movie rules. It's pretty fucked up and some of that just dips into shock value, but it's basically Parasite (2019) and everyone liked that, right. And it's not even all THAT fucked up. Right? Like, that bath water was mostly drained. It's got this cheekiness to it, straight from the opening titles and I always enjoy films where every single character is awful. When will Barry Keoghan get his statue? I think he's probably just too weird. I love the ending, too.

#2: Oppenheimer, I mean, of course. This is just a monumental film, the kind of old war film that features every actor who has ever lived. It succeeds on so many levels simultaneously - a character study, a historical epic, a cautionary tale, subjective vs. objective playing with cinema, an acting tour de force from everyone involved, and at times even a surrealist masterpiece. It's got everything and as a film about the atomic bomb, that is precisely the point. Give these people Oscars. Nice to remember how good of an actor Robert Downey, Jr is.

#1: Beau is Afraid I watched on a plane and even that didn't bar my enjoyment. It is a long, rambling, wackadoodle film that fits my sensibilities with Saltburn, May December, and The Killer in being a super dark comedy. It's maybe the most comedic of these four in that it revels in absolute absurdism. It's not even quite satire as it plays its world straight. You never quite know if it's in Joaquin Phoenix's mind that we are just seeing or the world as it is being played out. It's again full of fearless acting, although it's far too weird to get any real notice. The journey depicted here is truly epic and although it loses a bit of steam as it goes along, it stuck its landing really well. I still don't know if that thing in the attic was a metaphor or not. Just an altogether fun flick.

I really do need to get on some of these if I'd like to continue to claim to run an unsuccessful film blog, but c'mon, this is good enough for you animals! We'll end the year with much more fun recaps, so stay tuned!
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