2010s

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2010

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Best Picture (2010): The King’s Speech (2010)
Release Date: September 6, 2010
Director: Tom Hooper
Studio: Paramount
The King’s Speech tells the story of the soon-to-be King George VI or “Bertie” (Colin Firth) as he struggles with a speech impediment -namely stuttering. He goes to visit Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) who offers a unique form of therapy: he plays classical music for him through headphones, while he successfully completes the famous soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Despite some minor historical inaccuracies, The King’s Speech is a personal favorite film of mine from the 2010s.

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Toy Story 3 (2010)
Release Date: June 12, 2010
Director: Lee Unkrich
Studio: Disney/Pixar
Toy Story 3 is a delightful film in the Toy Story series about a grown-up Andy who goes away to college, and his toy collection is donated to a daycare center where the toys build a happy new life, but the kids soon become burdensome and abusive. Andy’s toys devise a plot to escape. It is a sentimental and beautifully crafted picture from Pixar.

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Inception (2010)
Release date: July 8, 2010
Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Bros.
Inception is an unforgettably mind-bending thriller and another extremely disorienting film from Christopher Nolan. It boast an all-star cast of Leonardoo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine. Inception is about a ‘dream builder and stealer’ who mines the depths of peoples’ subconscious -and in the end we are left wondering how much is a dream versus reality.

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Predator #3: Predators (2010)
Release Date: July 9, 2010
Director: Nimród Antal
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Predators is an all-around predictable, ridiculous reboot of the Predator franchise, though I admit it can be a fun, cheap action flick if the spirit moves. It follows a random assortment of characters who are dropped into a remote jungle with little memory of how they arrived but they are soon hunted by a band of predators for sport. It features a cast of Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne, and others.

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The American (2010)
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Director: Anton Corbijn
Studio: Focus Features
The American is a long, slow, artfully-made espionage film about an American spy hiding out in a small Italian village. George Clooney plays “Jack” a gunsmith who is hiding out with his girlfriend in a remote part of Sweden. When his identity becomes compromised he is forced to kill his girlfriend and live in paranoia as he moves from place to place.

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Black Swan (2010)
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Black Swan stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in a plot focused on the deeply troubling psychological struggles faced by ballet dancers as they fight to achieve notoriety and perfection during a New York City performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

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127 Hours (2010)
Release Date: September 4, 2010
Director: Danny Boyle
Studio: Warner Bros/Fox Searchlight
127 Hours is very nearly the documentary of one man’s harrowing struggle to survival. The title refers to the time from the main character’s accident to when he was rescued and put under anesthesia. It is an entertaining and a true story.

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The Social Network (2010)
Release Date: September 24, 2010
Director: David Fincher
Studio: Sony/Columbia
The Social Network tells a notably biased and revisionist story of the founding of “TheFacebook”, the essential social networking website turned dystopian wasteland. It details the rise of a robotic and antisocial Mark Zuckerberg as he founds (or perhaps steals) a college networking site while attending Harvard University. The story of the business is told via a lawsuit in a series of flashbacks.

Copie conforme (Certified Copy) (2010)

Despicable Me (2010)

The Fighter (2010)

Hævnen (In A Better World) (2010)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010)

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Somewhere (2010)

The Town (2010)

True Grit (2010)

Winter’s Bone (2010)

2011

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Best Picture (2011): The Artist (2011)
Release Date: May 15, 2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Studio: Warner Bros.
The Artist is a French, modern silent film that is an homage to Old Hollywood. It takes place in the late 1920s as an aging silent film star in Hollywood loses his appeal amidst the advent of “talkies,” while a rising young star (his lover) gains popularity. The story was written as a love letter to the cinematic art, drawing upon inspiration from Hitchcock, Lang, Lubistch, Murnau, and Wilder. The film is at once fun and silly, as well as tragic and beautiful. We only hear sound about halfway through the film when the main character cannot speak, but he hears his glass set down on the table, and he appears confused. The scene is extraordinary. It is a remarkable film, though it has been criticized as being clear “oscar-bait” and is bit self-indulgent and melodramatic.

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Pirates of the Caribbean #4: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Release Date: May 7, 2011
Director: Rob Marshall
Studio: Disney
Despite the collapsing scenery of the previous two Pirates of the Caribbean films, producer Jerry Bruckheimer simply could not resist the allure of a winning franchise, and so Disney immediately began production on another sequel. The previous “trilogy” ended Gore Verbinski’s involvement in the project and he was instead replaced as director by Rob Marshall. In this fourth Pirates installment the story departs from the Will Turner/Elizabeth Swann narrative as Jack Sparrow goes in search of the Fountain of Youth.

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Midnight in Paris (2011)
Release Date: May 11, 2011
Director: Woody Allen
Studio: Sony
Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen’s late masterpiece. It follows Gil (Owen Wilson), an uninspired writer, who is on vacation in Paris with his horrendous fiance. While out walking one night, he comes upon a miraculous situation wherein he travels back in time to the era of the postwar expats in Paris. He meets Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dali, and many others. The film is a beautiful and sentimental exploration of nostalgia, or the potent desire to return to a fabled “golden age.”

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The Help (2011)
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Director: Tate Taylor
Studio: Disney/Dreamworks
The story of The Help comes from the best-selling novel of the same name. It takes place during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi. It tells the story of “Skeeter” Phelan, a graduate of Ole Miss, as she tries to document black and women and their experiences providing service to white families – they are “the help.”

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The Descendants (2011)
Release Date: September 10, 2011
Director: Alexander Payne
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Descendants is a sobering, bittersweet comedy about coping with grief and inheritance. It is based on a 2007 novel of the same name by Hawaiian writer Kaui Hart Hemmings. George Clooney plays the sole trustee to a plot of significant Hawaiian acreage. At the same time he must also come to terms with his family and friends as his wife lays dying following a traumatic boating injury.

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Release Date: December 12, 2011
Director: David Fincher
Studio: Sony/Columbia/MGM
The story for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is based on the famous best-selling novel series by the late Stieg Larsson. The film stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara and it takes place in Sweden. A disgraced journalist is being sued for libel by a wealthy businessman. Suddenly, an odd researcher and hacker, Lisbeth Salander, appears offering detailed information on the plaintiff, in exchange for his promise to dig into a 40-year old murder mystery story that had gone cold, on behalf of another wealthy man. It is a dark but compelling tale of modern revenge.

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The Iron Lady (2011)
Release Date: December 26, 2011
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Studio: 20th Century Fox/Pathe
The Iron Lady is the story of Margaret Thatcher, the great prime minister of England during the 1980s. The story is told through a series of flashbacks, as she works in her family’s grocery store, resents her mother’s occupation as a housewife, struggles to break into the Conservative Party, and the story of her marriage to businessman Denis Thatcher.

A Separation (2011)

Drive (2011)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)

Hugo (2011)

Moneyball (2011)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

The Tree of Life (2011)

War Horse (2011)

2012

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Best Picture (2012): Argo (2012)
Release Date: August 31, 2012
Director: Ben Affleck
Studio: Warner Bros.
Argo is the unique and amusing thriller film based on the story of Tony Mendez, a CIA operative during the 1980s. The story of the film is based on a true story of CIA operatives infiltrating Iran during the hostage crisis in the late 1980s as they go undercover as film-makers for a science fiction movie called “Argo” which they claim to be shooting in Tehran. It is an entertaining film, yet somehow it won the Oscar for Best Picture.

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Hunger Games #1: The Hunger Games (2012)
Release Date: March 12, 2012
Director: Gary Ross
Studio: Lionsgate
The Hunger Games is based on Suzanne Collin’s 2008 novel of the same name, a remarkable teen/family bestseller. It is a science-fiction film, taking place in an imagined future dystopian world wherein one boy and a girl each are chosen as tribute to participate in the hunger games -a brutal, simulated battle royale created for entertainment. One girl, Katniss Everdeen, rises as a heroic warrior in the games.

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Prometheus (2012) 
Release Date: April 11, 2012
Director: Ridley Scott
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Prometheus is a beautifully shot film, but its plot is found sorely lacking. It is Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien franchise in attempt to salvage it from the depths of Alien vs Predator, but sadly despite an all-star cast and wonderful cinematography, this prequel is really not worth the time. It attempts to raise questions rather than answer them.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Release Date: April 13, 2012
Director: Drew Goddard
Studio: Lionsgate
The Cabin in the Woods is a bit of a trip. It is a highly meta film that contemplates the horror genre, and reorients the audience’s perspective up until the very end. The film is actually funnier than it is scary or horrifying, though it is a gruesome flick.

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Release Date: May 16, 2012
Director: Wes Anderson
Studio: Focus Features
Moonrise Kingdom takes place on the fictional New England island of “New Penzance.” It tells the story of a young romance – two lovers find their way together: a boy scout and his new girlfriend who escape their lives and found a new world, “Moonrise Kingdom.” The scenery and cinematography is carefully, geometrically choreographed, as is standard-fare in the well-organized, highly stylized Wes Anderson film. It is a top-notch movie.

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Release Date: July 16, 2012
Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Bros.
The plot for The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the end of The Dark Knight, in which a powerful criminal, Bane, forces an aging Bruce Wayne out of retirement. The return of the Batman comes in order to save the city of Gotham from a nuclear holocaust. It is another terrific film in this great series, though The Dark Knight obviously stands out as the best in the trilogy.

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Jason Bourne #4: The Bourne Legacy (2012)
Release Date: July 30, 2012
Director: Tony Gilroy
Studio: Universal Pictures
While certainly lacking the luster of the original Bourne trilogy, The Bourne Legacy is still a fun thriller that takes us through an alternate deep state narrative that runs concurrent with the events of the Jason Bourne series. It stars Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, a black ops agent in “Operation Outcome,” a program that is testing performance enhancing drugs on its agents. Cross and a single survivor Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) flee to Manila while being tracked by Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton).

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Release Date: September 8, 2012
Director: David Russell
Studio: The Weinstein Company
This surprisingly charming film stars Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano, a man struggling with bipolar disorder. He is released from a psychiatric hospital only to move in with his parents in Pennsylvania. He hopes to reunite with his ex-wife, but instead develops a new relationship with Tiffany, an equally troubled young woman played by Jennifer Lawrence.

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Lincoln (2012)
Release Date: October 8, 2012
Director: Steven Spielberg
Studio: Disney/Dreamworks/20th Century Fox et al
Lincoln is loosely based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s highly successful historical account of President Lincoln’s cabinet, Team of Rivals. The screenplay was written by the successful writer, Tony Kushner. The story covers the last four months of Lincoln’s life and his efforts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, Lincoln’s battles with Democrats, the radical Republicans, and Confederates as he attempts to bring freedom to disenfranchised black Americans.

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James Bond #23: Skyfall (2012)
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Director: Sam Mendes
Studio: MGM/Eon/Columbia/Sony
Skyfall is a brilliant James Bond film, perhaps the greatest ever made. It re-introduces Bond into an era of advanced technology, with many people questioning the need for “old-fashioned” spies a la the Cold War. At the beginning of the film an accident occurs in which Eve MoneyPenny accidentally shoots Bond on a train while he battles his opponent. Back at home, MI6 is under scrutiny for the incident and is facing threats of closure. Suddenly, MI6 is hacked and riddled with explosives. At the last moment, Bond returns and follows the trail which leads to Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem), a former MI6 agent who was abandoned by M. Silva is seeking revenge against MI6 and M. Bond takes M and they take refuge at his family’s country estate as Silva and his men close in on Bond culminating in a dramatic confrontation in an old cobble-stoned church, killing M (Judi Dench) as well as Silva. In the end, Moneypenny formally introduces herself to Bond and a new M is officially brought on board.

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Les Misérables (2012)
Release Date: December 5, 2012
Director: Tom Hooper
Studio: Universal Pictures
It was a rare bit of class on the modern Hollywood silver screen when the artfully made Les Misérables was released -a modern film version of the musical stage production of Victor Hugo’s famous novel. This is despite some tragically less than stellar musical performances from Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.

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Django Unchained (2012)
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Studio: Weinstein/Columbia/Sony
Django follows the pattern of other recent Tarantino films – a historically revisionist revenge film that is entertaining, extremely violent, and playfully rife with allusions to classic cinema. The story takes place in the antebellum American south as a German bounty hunter teams up with a slave named Django to hunt down men, and eventually rescue Django’s wife from her evil slaveholders.

Amour (2012)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

A Coffee in Berlin (2012)

The Master (2012)

Stories We Tell (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

2013

Best Picture (2013): 12 Years a Slave (2013)

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Star Trek #12: Star Trek Into Darkness
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Director: J.J. Abrams
Studio: Paramount
After the success of the first film in the modern Star Trek reboot/alternate reality/Kelvin timeline series, producers at Paramount and J.J. Abrams signed on to create a sequel: Into Darkness. In this sequel we see most of same cohort of actors reprising their roles, as well as some new faces including Benedict Cumberbatch as the newly reimagined classic villain, Khan.

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The Great Gatsby (2013)
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Studio: Warner Bros.
This adaptation of The Great Gatsby takes considerable liberties from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s far superior novel. It is a forgettable and unfortunate cinematic version of an otherwise the brilliant novel. I was truly disappointed in this.

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Release Date: December 17, 2013
Director: Martin Scorsese
Studio: Paramount
The Wolf of Wall Street is a different kind of crime film, telling the story of crime on Wall Street. The film is a cocaine-fueled binge that examines the grotesquely indulgent life of Jordan Belfort, a mostly true account of the founder of a brokerage firm on Wall Street in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He rises from being a clever salesman of penny stocks, to becoming the founder of an explosively successful firm that begins dealin in illegal trades.

All is Lost (2013)

American Hustle (2013)

August: Osage County (2013)

Before Midnight (2013)

(Lee Daniels’) The Butler (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Gravity (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Nebraska (2013)

2014

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Best Picture (2014): Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Release Date: August 27, 2014
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Birdman is a modern surrealist, experimental, and deeply psychological exploration into the mind of a washed up actor in New York City. The film is edited to appear as if shot in a single shot, to give it a blurred, dream-like quality. I did not care for this film, not being a fan of this odd, ambiguous surrealist style.

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Jack Ryan #5: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
Release Date: January 17, 2014
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed by Shakespearean Actor and theatrical virtuoso Kenneth Branagh (who also plays the lead villain of Viktor Cherevin, a shadowy Russian businessman), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a fun reboot of the Jack Ryan series, with Chris Pine and Keira Knightley, though this story was not based on any of Tom Clancy’s books. It is about a Russian plot to dump U.S. Treasuries coupled with a terrorist attack on Wall Street in order to cause a second global great depression. It is a tale of Russian revenge in a post 9/11 world.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Release Date: February 6, 2014
Director: Wes Anderson
Studio: Fox Searchlight
As with all Wes Anderson films, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is a meticulously crafted film with extraordinarily precise camera movements and shots. The narrative of the film is framed in several ways. In many ways the film is a contemplation on the recollections of Zero Moustafa, a bellhop at the Grand Budapest Hotel during the war period. He shares his reflections with a writer staying at the now decaying hotel that Zero has purchased. The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of the best films I have seen in recent years.

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Gone Girl (2014)
Release Date: September 26, 2014
Director: David Fincher
Studio: 20th Century Fox
The story for Gone Girl is based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name published in 2012. It is a disturbing take on a crime/mystery story between a husband and wife, one which leaves the audience guessing ‘who dunnit’ until the very end. It stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris.

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Interstellar (2014)
Release Date: October 26, 2014
Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Bros/Paramount
Interstellar is another complex epic, science fiction film from Christopher Nolan. It takes place in a dystopian future as a former NASA astronaut passes through a wormhole in search of a more habitable planet on a short time continuum, but he finds the planet and must return home but he accidentally crosses into the fourth dimension. The struggle to reach out and explore during the first half of the movie becomes a desperate longing to return in the second half of the movie.

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American Sniper (2014)
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Director: Clint Eastwood
Studio: Warner Bros.
The film American Sniper is loosely based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography, his memoir as an American soldier abroad. It tells the story of his experiences that led him to become the most deadly sniper in American history, and the toll his many tours in Iraq took on his personal health and his family life. It stars Bradley Cooper and Siena Miller.

Boyhood (2014)

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

The Homesman (2014)

Into the Woods (2014)

Selma (2014)

The Theory of Everything (2014)

Unbroken (2014)

2015

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Best Picture (2015): Spotlight (2015)
Release Date: September 3, 2015
Director: Tom McCarthy
Studio: Various
Spotlight is the true story of the Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the devastating scandal involving numerous Catholic priests who were abusing children for many decades. Hearkening back to the gritty journalistic style of All The President’s MenSpotlight delivers a compelling film. It features an all-star cast of Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, and Liev Schreiber).

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The Witch (2015)
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Director Robert Eggers
Studio: A24
The Witch advertises itself as a folktale (perhaps as opposed to a fairy tale). It is another inspiring production from A24, a studio increasingly renowned for taking risks and supporting up and coming directors. The Witch is the directorial debut of Robert Eggers and it is part of an extraordinary renaissance in the horror genre as we move beyond amusing parodies in slasher films into serious, intelligent (albeit haunting) portrayals of the unknown. In the cold, grey atmosphere of New England of the 1630s one family has been banished from a rigid puritanical colony and they come under the control of a dark, supernatural, and perhaps sinister witch.

jurassic-world

Jurassic Park #4: Jurassic World (2015)
Release Date: May 29, 2015
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Studio: Universal Pictures
Jurassic World is a mostly brain-dead, indulgent CGI-festival of cynicism. It introduces us to a new theme park “Jurassic World” located on the original Isla Nublar island and we experience it through the eyes of two young brothers visiting for a weekend, as well as staff of the park Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Jurassic World is rollicking adventure if you can shut your brain off for a couple hours and simply enjoy all the explosive special effects.

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James Bond #24: Spectre (2015)
Release Date: October 26, 2015
Director: Sam Mendes
Studio: Eon/MGM/Columbia
Spectre is a sophomore follow-up to the brilliant Skyfall, also directed by Sam Mendes. The film continues the story from Skyfall as Bond receives a posthumous note from M instructing him to prevent a criminal deal in Mexico (featuring a memorable dia de los muertos scene) just as the 00 program at MI6 is facing cut-backs in favor of a new international intelligence group. The trail leads Bond to SPECTRE, a familiar organization from the early Bond films headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (the last time it was featured was in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever). It turns out that SPECTRE is behind the villains from the three previous Daniel Craig Bond films, and it is also behind the new intelligence group at MI6. Bond is captured and tortured but he explodes his watch in the face of Blofeld, causing his signature scar. In the end, Bond escapes and Blofeld is captured and arrested after a helicopter chase.

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The Big Short (2015)
Release Date: November 12, 2015
Director: Adam McKay
Studio: Paramount Pictures
The Big Short is based on Michael Lewis’s famous book of the same name. It tells the story of the notorious financial and housing collapse in the United States in 2007-2009. Michael Burry, a hedge fund manager, bets against the housing market at its height, and wins a 489% gain for his fund when it finally collapses. The film stars Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling.

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The Hateful Eight (2015)
Release Date: December 7, 2015
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Studio: The Weinstein Company
This slow-building, highly intense film is entirely shot in one place -a remote log cabin along a stagecoach stopover during a blizzard sometime shortly after the civil war. Ennio Morricone completed the score for the film, his first major film since 2000 and first Western in 34 years. The film centers on several bounty hunters and a letter from Abraham Lincoln that turns out to be a forgery. The tension builds gradually throughout the film until one final and dramatic shootout.

Star Wars Trailer

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Release Date: December 14, 2015
Director: J.J. Abrams
Studio: Lucasfilm/Disney
The Force Awakens
is the first Star Wars movie to be created without George Lucas involved, after the controversial acquisition of LucasFilm by Disney. The Force Awakens is an entertaining film, certainly better than the dreary “prequel” films like Attack of the Clones. However, it follows a familiar pattern -a new powerful force has arisen from the ashes of the Galactic Empire called the First Order, which battles a lowly band of rebels called the “Resistance” while constructing a new weapon called “StarKiller Base.” The most interesting new character is Kylo Ren -the child of Leia Organa and Han Solo. The other intriguing character is Finn, a disillusioned stormtrooper who inadvertently joins the Resistance. The plot essentially recreates the story of A New Hope, but it is still an enjoyable film, at least, despite an over-reliance on digital effects and action sequences to the detriment of pacing and character development.

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The Revenant (2015)
Release Date: December 16, 2015
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Studio: 20th Century Fox
At any rate, the film is based on the 2002 Michael Punke novel of the same name. based on the life of Hugh Glass, a 19th century frontiersman. In the film, Glass leads a group of trappers as they are attacked by Indians and Glass is brutally mauled by a bear and left for dead. His story is a struggle to strike revenge on his betrayer. The movie is largely remembered for giving Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar for Best Actor.

Amy (2015)

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Carol (2015)

The Danish Girl (2015)

Ex Machina (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

The Martian (2015)

Inside Out (2015)

Room (2015)

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Sunset Song (2015)

2016

Moonlight_(2016_film)

Best Picture (2016): Moonlight (2016)
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Director: Barry Jenkins
Studio: Plan B Entertainment
Moonlight is a warped bildungsroman film told in three separate parts about a young black boy and his extraordinary struggles through adolescence and adulthood.

jason-bourne

Jason Bourne #5: Jason Bourne (2016)
Release Date: July 11, 2016
Director: Paul Greengrass
Studio: Universal Pictures
While it was nice to see Matt Damon reprise his role as Jason Bourne, The Bourne Ultimatum had succinctly concluded the Bourne narrative and so the need for another movie was suspect in my view. Jason Bourne is a terrific action film but it falls far short of the original Bourne franchise despite the return of the many of the original players including Director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon.

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Arrival (2016)
Release Date: September 1, 2016
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Studio: Paramount Pictures/Sony
Arrival is a surprisingly fresh take on the alien invasion cinematic trope. It inverts the War of the Worlds narrative. In this case, the aliens come to earth bearing a gift, but humanity interprets it as a hostile act and begins war preparations. The gift is a new language that allows humans to see the future, and experience it in real time. It is a powerful picture.

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The Girl on the Train (2016)
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Director: Tate Taylor
Studio: Dreamworks/Universal
In The Girl on the Train Emily Blunt plays Rachel, an alcoholic who rides the train every day past her ex-husband’s home with his new wife. The story is about Rachel being gaslit and publicly accused of being crazy, until we experience a surprising twist in the end. It is a well-done film.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Release Date: December 10, 2016
Director: Gareth Edwards
Studio: Lucasfilm/Disney
Rogue One is Disney’s first foray into a side-story that takes place in the Star Wars universe, but does not follow the Skywalker saga. It is easily the best of the recent Disney Star Wars movies. It tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance in the original series acquired the plans for the newly constructed Death Star.

Deadpool (2016)

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Fences (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

The Handmaiden (2016)

La La Land (2016)

The Lost City of Z (2016)

Paterson (2016)

Silence (2016)

Sully (2016)

2017

Best Picture (2017): The Shape of Water (2017)

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Get Out (2017)
Release Date: January 23, 2017
Director: Jordan Peele
Studio: Universal Pictures
Get Out is the fantastic directorial debut of Jordan Peele, former comedian turned film buff aficionado. The film is a psychological horror film that plays on certain racial fears and resentments in popular culture.

alien-covenant

Alien Covenant (2017)
Release Date: May 4, 2017
Director: Ridley Scott
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Alien Covenant continues the Alien prequel story as initially started in Prometheus. It follows a group of colonizers who revert course to discover a deadly infection and a rogue android who is attempting to create the perfect creature to destroy humanity.

pirates-5

Pirates of the Caribbean #5: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
Release Date: May 11, 2017
Director: Joachim Rønning
Studio: Disney
Unsurprisingly Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a hollow, frivolous, B-movie that was only greenlit in order to squeeze as much money out of this franchise as possible. Dead Men Tell No Tales picks up from where the third movie At World’s End left off but this time Jack Sparrow searches for “Poseidon’s Trident” which will allow Will Turner to be freed from the Flying Dutchman. Despite the introduction of Javier Bardem as a new ghostly character in this fifth installment, Dead Men Tell No Tales should be enthusiastically cast to the flames, or perhaps at least tossed down to Davy Jones’s locker, never to be revisited.

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Dunkirk (2017)
Release Date: July 13, 2017
Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s great war film about the Battle of France in which allied soldiers were pushed back to the beaches at Dunkirk awaiting evacuation across the English Channel to Britain. The plot is told in several different situations from varying time signatures. Dunkirk is an excellent war film, another triumph from Christopher Nolan.

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Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Release Date: December 9, 2017
Director: Rian Johnson
Studio: Lucasfilm/Disney
The Last Jedi is riddled with errors and plot holes that are obvious even to the most novice of audiences. Almost everything from the previous film, The Force Awakens, is wholly discarded in The Last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson introduces all manner of silly moments: Leia flying through space while on the verge of death, Luke behaving like a jaded and disappointing loser who can apparently hologram himself to other parts of the galaxy, awful characters like Admiral Holdo, a frivolous side-plot to a Las Vegas-esque planet, ridiculous slapstick jokes, ships suddenly hyperdriving into other ships, new secret Jedi books are introduced and then promptly destroyed, the great mystery of Rey’s background is destroyed as irrelevent, the central villain is suddenly killed off with no explanation of his background, and on and on. Apparently, Johnson was merely hoping to “subvert expectations” with this film. The Last Jedi is a film to be resoundingly disregarded as one of the worst sequels of all time. The only redeeming parts of the film are the visually stunning effects and shooting locations. Instead, we should focus our cinematic appreciation on the far superior original Star Wars trilogy –The Empire Strikes Back being one of the greatest sequels of all time.

Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Lady Bird (2017)

2018

Best Picture (2018): Green Book (2018)

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Hereditary (2018)
Release Date: January 21, 2018
Director: Ari Aster
Studio: A24
In his directorial debut, Ari Aster shocks and disturbs in Hereditary, a film that is rife with allusions to cinematic horror classics, and one which I would put thematically on par with The Exorcist. In this movie, there are lots of lurking shadowy figures and hidden details used as misdirection in the background of shots, sometimes blurry, mostly we lean forward hoping to understand what we are seeing –are they real or not? Studio A24 continues to yield new and inventive films that triumphantly break through the yawning mold and malaise of Hollywood. Hereditary is a film about the trauma of loss, grief, and inheritance as one family becomes tormented by a demonic presence as a legacy from their late grandmother.

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Jurassic Park #5: Jurassic World: Forbidden Kingdom (2018)
Release Date: May 21, 2018
Director: J. A. Bayona
Studio: Universal Pictures
Directed by Spanish horror film director, J. A. Bayona, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens with a volcanic eruption threatening the existence of the dinosaurs now freely roaming on Isla Nublar. Hoards of animal rights activists demand care and protection for the animals, but Dr. Malcolm (reprised by Jeff Goldblum) argues they should not be rescued because they have already been selected by Nature for extinction. This whole movie is a long boring slog in which all of the main characters fail in their objectives, followed by a yawning plot twist involving human cloning, and in the end the dinosaurs escape into the broader world (hence “Jurassic World”).

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Release Date: August 31, 2018
Directors: The Coen Brothers
Studio: Netflix
This episodic homage to the classic tropes of the Western genre, was granted a limited release in theaters and was widely released for streaming on Netflix. The film has a storybook quality to it as we see the pages turn in an original fictional book edition from 1873. It features six segments examining the American West.

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Predator #4: The Predator (2018)
Release Date: September 6, 2018
Director: Shane Black
Studio: 20th Century Fox
The Predator is another boring, widely-panned, hackjob of the Predator series. I only watched this unfathomably stupid and lazy movie to complete my goal of watching all the films in this series. The plot is empty, the dialogue is cheap and rife with cliche, the score is uninspiring, the acting is mediocre, the backroom editing seems to have entirely cut crucial scenes and dialogue, and the special effects look like they are re-hashed from a forgettable 1990s syndicated television show.

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At Eternity’s Gate (2018)
Release Date: September 3, 2018
Director: Julian Schnabel
Studio: CBS Films/Netflix
Julian Schnabel, an American artist and film-maker, pursues a controversial theory about the death of van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate, in which van Gogh is the victim of foul play, rather than suicide. Willem Dafoe plays van Gogh in this beautifully inspired film. The scenery and settings for the film are awe-inspiring. The film tells the story of van Gogh’s life as he ventures out into the rural part of Arles in southern France.

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Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Release Date: November 15, 2018
Director: Josie Rourke
Studio: Focus/Universal Pictures
The tragic story of Mary Queen of Scots has been played out many times -the story of a woman who fought for power, trying to move the appropriate chess pieces, however in the end, she loses her love and her life. Her political life is greatly overshadowed by her nemesis, Queen Elizabeth I. This film is a somewhat historically revisionist account, but it is nevertheless an entertaining flick.

A Quiet Place (2018)

A Star Is Born (2018)

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Black Panther (2018)

First Man (2018)

Leave No Trace (2018)

Private Life (2018)

Roma (2018)

2019

Best Picture (2019): Parasite (2019)

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Us (2019)
Release Date: March 8, 2019
Director: Jordan Peele
Studio: Universal Pictures
Us is the follow-up to Peele’s celebrated contemporary horror film Get Out. Us tells the story of Adelaide Wilson and her family on vacation in Santa Cruz, California when they are mysteriously attacked by a group of Doppelgängers at the Boardwalk. As the Doppelgängers emerge from underground, we ask ourselves a variety of questions – who are the true “tethered?” It is another excellent psychological horror film from Jordan Peele.

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The Lighthouse (2019)
Release Date: May 19, 2019
Director: Robert Eggers
Studio: A24
Following his acclaimed disturbing horror flick The Witch (2015), Robert Eggers returned in 2019 with a script written by his brother for The Lighthouse, an unsettling tale of nautical madness and mythology about two men stranded on an island as they gradually go insane (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson). The Lighthouse is a confusing, unsettling, and shockingly disgusting film, but it is absolutely beautiful the way it is shot in old-fashioned black and white, and there is some gripping framing angles as well as haunting lighting techniques.

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Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Studio: Sony/Columbia
The first half of the movie is about Rick Dalton, a washed up 1950s Western film star from an old series called Bounty Law. He is an alcoholic, and a vain, emotional wreck who lives up in the Hollywood hills next to Roman Polanski. The plot shifts to focus on Cliff Booth, Dalton’s stunt double, and their confrontation with Charles Manson’s group.

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Midsommar (2019)
Release Date: June 18, 2019
Director: Ari Aster
Studio: A24
Following his celebrated horror debut with Hereditary in 2018, Writer/Director Ari Aster released Midsommar in 2019 to much critical debate. Midsommar is indeed a shocking and disturbing film. It is a well-paced, impeccably captured, long-threaded film about a vulnerable college student named Dani (Florence Pugh) and her emotionally abusive relationship with Christian (Jack Reynor) as they travel to visit a Swedish Midsummer festival celebrated by a remote pagan community.

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Uncut Gems (2019)
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Directors: The Safdie Bros (Joshua and Benjamin)
Studio: A24
While I appreciate most movies to emerge from studio A24, Uncut Gems is simply not my cup of tea. It features an endless stream of screaming profanities in every single scene with a cast of lying, thieving characters in a soulless world driven only by despair and desperate attempts to get money. Adam Sandler steals the show as Howard, a low-brow New York City gem salesman who is constantly gambling away whatever little money he has, while fruitlessly attempting to talk his way out of risky situations with his creditors.

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1917 (2019)
Release Date: December 4, 2019
Director: Sam Mendes
Studio: Universal/Dreamworks
1917 is an incredible epic war film that takes place during one day in April of 1917. The film is brilliantly shot as one long, continuous take; and the story follows two soldiers from the British frontline in Northern France as they are called on a dangerous mission through German-occupied territory to deliver a message: call off the attack at dawn. The film is extraordinary.

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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Release Date: December 16, 2019
Director: J.J. Abrams
Studio: Lucasfilm/Disney
After inheriting a mess from Rian Johnson with The Last Jedi, J.J. Abrams was able to cobble together a halfway decent conclusion to this train wreck of a Star Wars series. The plot: a voice recording of the Emperor is echoing throughout the galaxy which leads to a race between the First Order and the rebels to find a secret planet where the Emperor reveals himself to be covertly conducting the First Order, now renamed the Final Order. How the Emperor has managed to survive remains a mystery. Kylo Ren faces a choice between good and evil -to save his future in the First Order or save the Resistance. The Rise of Skywalker is a mildly entertaining film that seems decent in contrast to its terrible predecessor.

A Hidden Life (2019)

Downton Abbey (2019)

The Irishman (2019)

Joker (2019)

Little Women (2019)

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

The Souvenir (2019)

Toy Story 4 (2019)