Monday, January 27, 2014

Zelig review

Say what you will about Woody Allen's personal life, but the guy can make a good movie. Granted, he's still one weird dude.
We've all seen Woody Allen movies. Whether it's his classic romantic comedies like Manhattan and Annie Hall, or his newer stuff like Blue Jasmine and Midnight in Paris. None of those movies are anything like this one. Zelig is a fictional documentary about a strange man in the 1920's named Leonard Zelig who blends in to whoever he is around. Meaning, if he's around Chinese people, he becomes fully Chinese. If he's around doctors, he becomes a knowledgeable doctor. This film documents his exploits as he's treated for his disorder and becomes a national sensation. It's an unarguably strange premise that's truly unlike what Allen usually does. Yet somehow, it really works. Under the wrong direction, Zelig could have easily become unnecessarily weird or even boring. Under the writing and directing prowess of Woody Allen, Zelig becomes an entertaining and funny look at society and one strange man. The movie starts out showing how Leonard Zelig was discovered at a party by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and then goes on to tell how he was apprehended in Chinatown and brought to a hospital where he underwent lots of testing. The film is interwoven with realistic looking news reel footage and "real" interviews with people who knew him. As preposterous as the whole thing is, at times I almost believed it was real! The pictures are all in black and white and are all scratched up and gritty as if they were archived news reels. I have to admit, before I got really into the movie, I honestly thought the whole thing was an actual documentary. It's just done so well. The acting is great too. It's a mix of seemingly regular people and famous ones like Mia Farrow. They all put on the airs of a regular 1920's civilian. Like the movie, the acting here could have easily been overdone or underdone. That being said, Zelig isn't a masterpiece in cinema. It isn't perfect. It does sometimes poke fun at society and how we blow things out of proportion and put too much attention in a trivial story. It does this by embracing the tabloid wackiness of it all and presenting the story as 100% real. Yet, it doesn't always get it's point across or even seem to know where it's going at times. When it does do things right, it's one of the most wonderfully wacky things I've seen in a while. Allen excels at what he does here. As a Woody Allen fan, I'm a late bloomer. Although it depresses me to say this, the first of his films I saw was Blue Jasmine last summer. While it wasn't bad, I was incredibly underwhelmed and had numerous problems with the movie. As a result of that, I was very turned off to this seemingly overrated Woody Allen guy everyone keeps raving about. Then I watched Annie Hall. I was so blown away by it's sheer comedic genius, I didn't know what to think. I loved it! But surely this could not be the same write/director who did the stuffy and overblown Blue Jasmine? It was. So, I watched Manhattan. Almost as great, equally as funny, a truly terrific film. Then I watched Play It Again, Sam (which he wrote and starred in) and I was hooked. Only after watching Zelig do I realize how much I love Woody Allen. It makes me want to watch all of his movies. And I do plan to. The last time I got this excited about a director was back whenever I started watching Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino. I can finally see why everyone seems to love Woody Allen. He is a cinematic genius, and I don't say that often. Seeing how great he can be really makes me want to go back and revisit Blue Jasmine. Maybe I missed something. If you haven't seen Zelig, or any of Allen's other films for that matter, I highly urge you too. As for me, I think I'll go watch a Woody Allen movie. Happy Viewing guys. Remember to follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at to keep up with my blog and talk to me about movie related things.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Duck, You Sucker review

Never heard of or seen this movie? You better fix that.
I hadn't heard of Duck, You Sucker (which is sometimes known as A Fistful of Dynamite) at all until I got a box set of Sergio Leone films for my birthday. It came with the obligatory Dollars Trilogy with Clint Eastwood (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), but it also came with this movie called Duck, You Sucker that I hadn't ever heard of. Well, last night I popped it in and watched it. What followed was one of the most wonderful, thoughtful, and awesome westerns I had ever seen. The film is about a low class bank robber named Juan (Rod Steiger) who teams up with a charismatic I.R.A explosives expert named John Mallory (James Coburn) to heist a large bank in Mexico. Yet, instead of that they get thrown head over heels into the Mexican revolution. One of the reasons I was so blown away by Duck, You Sucker was the fact that it was so different then most of Leone's other westerns. It had some similar parts to it, but it really felt completely different than his Dollars Trilogy or Once Upon a Time in The West. It dealt with much more political subjects and seemed to go a lot deeper into character than most of his other films. Don't get me wrong, I love his other movies to death. Yet, this one was different in such a good way. It starts out with Juan boarding a stagecoach filled with rich white people, all of them looking at him in disgust and being generally racist and elitist. This was when I started to see Leone grappling with issues like class discrepancy and stuff like that. I thought he was just touching on a subject like that. No, about halfway through the film it starts really dealing with the Mexican revolution and how it affected the Mexicans. One shot shows soldiers just massacring rebels in pits, and not just the adult men. Women and children are not spared. The film isn't all horrifying war stuff like that though. It somehow manages to take comedic scenes, exciting western action, and very emotional and in depth scenes and marry them in a beautiful way. There are certain parts that are very cool classic Leone western scenes. Then there are these very touching exchanges between Juan and John that are just beautiful. There's also a series of flashbacks that give John's character some background. They all take place in what we think is Ireland and are all done incredibly well. The amount of range this film has is fantastic. I honestly can't recommend it enough. Another great thing here are the explosions. Nowadays we have CGI explosions in our movies. It's amazing to see that when stuff gets blown up in this movie, it's for real. The explosions look so raw and real, because they are. It's better than CGI could ever do. There's one scene in particular where a bridge is blown up. It's one of the most incredible things I've seen on film. One trademark of Sergio Leone films are the musical scores done by Ennio Morricone. You probably have heard The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly one, or maybe some of the others. They all have a very distinct sound. They remind me of a warrior marching into battle, or two men facing off in a gunfight. The score for Duck, You Sucker is one of Morricone's best. It started off kind of slow and I was quite skeptical, then it get's better and it really grows on you. To tell you the truth, I'm listening to it right now. When the movie started out it seemed like any other Leone film. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. But it seemed like it could be a For a Few Dollars More-esque bank heist western. I really liked that movie so I was excited. Instead, I got a politically charged and very emotional film with a lot more thematic weight than any western I've seen in a while. I haven't seen all of his movies so I can't say for sure, and I'd want to watch this again before I made any judgements, but Duck, You Sucker may be my favorite Sergio Leone film. And this is coming from someone who genuinely loves The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Again, I'm not too sure about that yet. Duck, You Sucker is different then most classic westerns I've seen because it mixes great western style and tropes with heartfelt messages and serious character development. If you haven't noticed by now, I really loved the film. I'm surprised this hasn't reached the level of notoriety that many western (particular Leone) movies have gained. It's better than many, like High Noon, that have become quite famous. With Duck, You Sucker, Sergio Leone proves yet again that he is a master of the genre. If you haven't seen it, I urge you to do so as soon as you can. Duck, You Sucker is funny, epic, exciting, and really damn terrific. Thanks for reading! You can always follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at! Happy Viewing!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Philomena review

I would make a joke about the name Philomena, but I don't have the most run-of-the-mill name either so.... I'll just keep my mouth shut.
Philomena is about this old lady named Philomena Lee (played by Judi Dench). When Philomena was a mere teenager, she has sex with a boy and becomes pregnant. This is bad, although most people can deal with it some way or another. The problem with Philomena is that she lives in a nunnery-type place and gets her child taken away from her by the nuns to be adopted to an American family. This understandably hurts Philomena very much. You'd think at that point you'd try your hardest to get your baby back or at least try and go see him, right? Well Philomena has been brainwashed into thinking what she did was an unforgivable sin. So, she never tries to find her child at all. She thinks that she's paying for what she's done everyday. After 50 years of this, she finally tells her daughter. At a dinner party, the daughter confronts recently laid-off journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) about her mother's story. Sixsmith is reluctant, but he does take up the story and helps Philomena find her long lost son. On hearing about this movie, I really wasn't interested in it at all. It sounded like an emotionally manipulative and sappy piece of Oscar bait that I just wouldn't be able to stand. Well, it went and got nominated for four Oscars (including Best Picture). While I do think we often put too much attention and weight on the Academy Awards, I still like to be up to date with them. Plus, a movie has to be pretty damn good to be nominated for four major Oscars right? RIGHT? Maybe. Philomena is a pretty decent film. I didn't hate it, and I really liked certain aspects of it. Yet, in no way is it deserving of Best Picture, or really any of the Oscars it was nominated for. It was better then I expected but worse then many critics made it seem. Philomena has a very interesting and incredible story. That's not because of the writers or director though. That is just because this actually happened. The film is just showcasing the story. I feel like the story could have been showcased in a better and less manipulative way. The story is just sort of thrown up there for you to see. It uses big swells of music and the acting of Judi Dench as a crutch for the sometimes weak direction and script that didn't have a lot to say. What the music and acting doesn't hide is how very cheesy this movie feels at times. The aforementioned swells of music paired alongside especially emotional moments feels incredibly cheesy and worst of all it feels like the director is shoving emotions in you face. It's like he's practically shouting at you "Feel sad!" "Feel happy! This is heartwarming so you should feel happy!". While a little little bit of that when used the right way (like The Shawshank Redemption) can work wonders, a large heaping amount of it used the wrong way can make something like Philomena feel all wrong. Now don't get me wrong, this movie isn't all bad. Philomena's screenplay can be weak at times, but at other times it's quite funny and filled with wonderful British wit. Also, the acting is pretty great. Dame Judi Dench is terrific here as Philomena. She displays equal parts naive innocence and a determined demeanor that works great here. Her acting nomination is the only one I think is even halfway deserved. After seeing her play M in the James Bond flicks the past few years, it's nice to see her show what other ability she has. Steve Coogan, while not fantastic, does a solid job playing the sarcastic and skeptical journalist. Coogan has proved he can be funnier and better, but he understands this is Dench's film. He let's her take the helm while simultaneously providing support and funny lines along the way. This movie is a nice story filled with emotion that the whole family can enjoy. Yet, it's not all that great. And it could've been done a lot better in my opinion. Philomena has different parts that are great, but as a whole I felt it faltered a bit. It's not bad, but it sure as hell isn't Best Picture worthy. I give Philomena 3.4 out of 5 stars. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Happy Viewing!        

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lone Survivor review

SPOILER: Only one of them survives.
Lone Survivor is the true story of the botched Navy SEAL operation that left all but one dead. So first off lest me say that I feel very conflicted about this movie. On one hand, it's a very well-shot, fairly inspirational, decently directed, and well acted true war film that can be quite gripping. On the other hand, it really isn't sure on what it wants to say, the dialog is really not very good at all, and it doesn't seem to really have an underlying message. While part of me liked the film, another part of me really didn't. I feel very torn. Lone Survivor is directed by Peter Berg. He's the "acclaimed" director of such "classics" like Battleship. I'm using parentheses because Battleship really sucked. Regardless of Lone Survivor's faults, it's still a huge step up from Battleship. While Battleship was a stupid, pointless, vapid, and loud movie, Lone Survivor is much better made and is at least trying to be a good movie. Granted, it's still not great. At first, the film seems like it wants to be an uber patriotic movie filled with lots of Proud-To-Be-American kind of moments that almost border on propaganda. While this could get irritating, it's not the worst thing a film could do. Then the tone switches to what seems to be a very anti-war film. Showing the gritty, gruesome, and downright horrifying aspects of war. You see Americans getting shot with blood spurting everywhere and bones sticking out. People are dying and it's pretty sad and pretty scary. It only shows the American point of view though. The Afghan troops are nothing more then nameless enemies that need to be shot down. While I completely understand that the Taliban are horrible, horrible war criminals, I still think they should have at least tried to show things from there point of view. Or maybe just show where these people's hatred is coming from. Instead it focuses solely on the Americans. I get that this is about the American soldiers but I feel like they could have approached the Afghans differently then they did. If the film had taken a single stance and stuck with it, that would be okay with me. If it was a very patriotic war movie focusing on the sheer heroism and honor of the soldiers, that'd be fine. If it had been an adamant anti-war movie like Platoon, that'd be just as fine. But instead it's stuck in the middle. Often times, Lone Survivor seems to be trying to say something meaningful. Yet, it gets lost in translation. I know it sounds like I'm really hating on the movie, I suppose I am, but that doesn't mean I hated it. While it had numerous problems, it still did a lot of things fairly well. For one, it was really intense and absorbing. Ridley Scott made a similar war film a few years ago (coincidentally also co-starring Eric Bana) called Black Hawk Down. I hated it. It focused 100% on these loud violent battle scenes and nothing else.  I can appreciate a well done fight sequence and there have been some great ones (think Saving Private Ryan), but Scott really overdid it. The whole movie was one overlong mess of a battle scene. It got really boring. Lone Survivor could have easily fallen into being a movie like that. Besides a few scenes in the beginning and end, the film is pretty much one long battle. Yet, Peter Berg manages to make this whole exciting and gritty battle also tense and emotional with at least a little focus on character. Well actually he only really focuses on Mark Wahlberg's character (the aforementioned 'Lone Survivor'). The rest of the cast isn't developed much and isn't given all that much time to shine. Their deaths are the only time they get some real focus. It's not a huge deal and doesn't really hamper the film too much, but it is a bit annoying. The film is definitely helped by some great performances by Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch, and Emile Hirsch. While there's little focus on the other characters besides Mark Wahlberg, they all still do a bang up job. I was actually pretty surprised. It also helps how beautiful this all looks. There are some breathtaking shots of this sweeping Afghan landscape and the movie as a whole looks very polished and good. Even though some of the choices Pete Berg made here really ticked me off, I was still wowed by how damn beautiful everything looked. Regardless of everything, the film was incredibly well shot. Yet, none of those wonderful shots were really used to say something. At least the movie could have tried a little harder for an anti-war message. I felt like Berg was trying to say some things here, but just didn't follow through. One thing the movie did succeed in doing, was telling an inspirational true story that is pretty damn amazing. It wasn't told in the best way, but it was fairly gripping at times and it was very well shot. And it certainly did benefit from Wahlberg's performance. I didn't hate it, I just felt it could've been done a lot better. Maybe if it was made by a Born on the Fourth of July-era Oliver Stone with access to today's technology. Now THAT would be a movie right there. It's inspirational and gripping, but not that great in other ways. I give Lone Survivor 3.2 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing y'all. If you haven't already, you should definitely follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Thanks for reading.            

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club review

This movie is about people slowly dying from the horrible disease of AIDS. And I thought my cold was bad!
Dallas Buyers Club is the story of a homophobic electrician from Texas, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), who gets diagnosed with HIV. He starts selling medicine to make some extra cash, but soon he starts doing it just to help people. At first glance this seems like a guilt trip of a film designed to get showered with awards and make you feel all sorts of emotions. It looks formulaic and cheesy. Heck even it's tagline, "Dare to Live", sounds corny as hell. And while Dallas Buyers Club does occasionally do some of the things mentioned, in the end it is a solid and very well acted flick that I can certainly recommend. The film is based on a true story, but it still has room to add a little extra drama and conflict. And at times it does get overly dramatic. With other actors, this could turn into a sob-fest worthy of a Lifetime TV movie. Yet, with McConaughey and  (surprisingly)  Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club becomes really good. Matthew McConaughey's transformation into an emaciated AIDS patient is nothing compared to his transformation as an actor. From annoying rom-com dude to serious and respectable Golden Globe winner, I don't think any of us saw this coming. I've said it before, as has everyone else, and I'll say it again. Just a few short years ago McConaughey was starring in such "movies" as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Failure to Launch, and Fool's Gold. Now he's in stuff like Mud, True Detective, and The Wolf of Wall Street. And you can add this to his list of good films with good performances. The guy kills it here. Not only did he lose a massive amount of weight for the role, but he really shows the pain,hate, and emotion in his character quite well. And although he carries most of the film on his shoulders, he isn't alone. Musician and occasional actor Jared Leto is in this movie. And he is really, really good in it. I don't know where his talent came from but damn is he fantastic in his role as a transsexual woman named Rayon. It's no wonder they both won acting awards at Sundays Globes. I'm not sure if McConaughey has secured an Oscar win yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if Leto has. Even if you're skeptical about the film as I once was, see it at least for the performances.  Don't get me wrong though, the acting isn't the only strong point here. The other parts of the film aren't all bad. While I did find the script a tad cliche at times, the direction and overall feel of the movie was really good. I haven't heard of the director of this before, but he did a pretty good job here. The film has this feel of being slightly old, fitting of it's time period, yet it doesn't overdo it as to distract us. The close ups and quiet, prolonged shots of the characters in pain help really highlight the superb acting here and put us in the character's shoes. Even if it is only for 117 minutes. While the script is sometimes mediocre, it still manages to capture the raw emotion and courage of this true story. You feel the pain of these poor, sick people. When a character dies, you can't help but get teary eyed. The catharsis here here is astounding. Aw damn, now I'm starting to sound corny. Dallas Buyers Club is quite good, mostly because of it's top notch performances, but it's still good. Had I seen this earlier it certainly would have made my Top 15 of 2013 list. While it's sometimes overly dramatic, Dallas Buyers Club is mostly very good and especially well acted. I just hope McConaughey keeps up this streak of being awesome in awesome movies. I give Dallas Buyers Club 4.2 out of 5 stars! Happy Viewing y'all! Remember to follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at   

Saturday, January 11, 2014

If I Ran The Oscars...

We are currently in awards season. The time of year when all the best films vie for a trophy at the Oscars, or the BAFTA's, or the Golden Globes. While many of the movies nominated for stuff this year is good, I feel some movies were snubbed, an other movies won't win what they deserve. So, this year I am doing my own personal list of Oscar nominations complete with the winners. Enjoy.
Edited Version

Her (Winner)
The Wolf of Wall Street
The World's End
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Inside Llewyn Davis
Captain Phillips

Her-Spike Jonze (Winner)
The World's End-Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright
Frances Ha-Noah Baubach & Greta Gerwig
American Hustle-David O. Russell
Nebraska-Bob Nelson
The Place Beyond the Pines-Derek Cianfrance & Ben Coccio
The Counselor-Cormac McCarthy

The Wolf of Wall Street-Terence Winter (Winner)
12 Years a Slave-John Ridley
Behind the Candelabra-Richard LaGravenese
Captain Phillips-Billy Ray
Much Ado About Nothing-Joss Whedon

Amy Adams-American Hustle (Winner)
Eva Mendes-The Place Beyond the Pines
Greta Gerwig -Frances Ha
Sandra Bullock-Gravity
Carey Mulligan-Inside Llewyn Davis

Leonardo DiCaprio-The Wolf of Wall Street (Winner)
Matthew McConaughey-Dallas Buyers Club
Oscar Isaac-Inside Llewyn Davis
Christian Bale-American Hustle
Joaquin Phoenix-Her
Simon Pegg-The World's End

June Squibb-Nebraska (Winner)
Amy Adams-Her
Jennifer Lawrence-American Hustle
Scarlett Johansson-Her
Lupita Nyong'o-12 Years a Slave

Jared Leto-Dallas Buyers Club (Winner)
Jonah Hill-The Wolf of Wall Street
Micheal Fassbender-12 Years a Slave
Bradley Cooper-American Hustle
Jeremy Renner-American Hustle

Alfonso Cuaron-Gravity (Winner)
Edgar Wright-The World's End
Paul Greengrass-Captain Phillips
Martin Scorsese-The Wolf of Wall Street
Spike Jonze-Her

Roger Deakins-Prisoners (Winner)
Bruno Delbonnel-Inside Llewyn Davis
Hoyte Van Hoytema-Her
Dariusz Wolski-The Counselor
Phedon Papamicheal-Nebraksa

Pretty much every original song on the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack. We all know that's what deserves to win this category.

Well that's it guys. When the actual nominees come out I'll do another list of predictions. Hope you enjoyed this. If I missed something or you guys agree/disagree, feel free to comment with your thoughts. Hey, don't forget to follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Goodfellas review

Is it bad if you prefer this to The Godfather? I'm asking for a friend. 
Watching The Wolf of Wall Street reminded me of how much I love Martin Scorsese. Over the summer, I went on a Scorsese kick and watched a lot of his films. Even his lesser known and more obscure stuff like Who's That Knocking at My Door and After Hours. The movie everyone talks about when they talk about Martin Scorsese is Goodfellas. It's a film I saw a while back and loved, but for some strange reason, have never returned to. Well, recently I picked up a copy on DVD. Let's just say I will be returning to it a lot in the future. Goodfellas is about Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). As he says in the beginning, "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. To me, being a gangster was better than being President of the United States." Hill grew up with the gang. He got an after school job at the cab stand, doing deliveries and occasionally blowing up cars. He loved it. Hill grows up to be a respected figure in the Italian mob. This isn't a Scarface rise-and-fall story though. Henry never gets to be a boss or a big name in organized crime. But he does have a very interesting story to tell. With the help of Martin Scorsese, it is told remarkably well. Back in 1990, when this came out, it lost to Dances with Wolves in the Oscars. Now it's considered a classic and arguably Scorsese's best film to date. And it's considered that for good reason! Goodfellas does so many things right, and is a blast to watch. Citizen Kane may have been important and had some revolutionary camera angles, but is the story all that great? And is it really all that exciting to watch? Didn't think so. Goodfellas is a masterpiece in filmmaking, and also truly entertaining. Scorsese's signature use of the constantly moving camera is not only used very well here, but incredibly appropriate for the movie. The life of a gangster is fast and constantly on the move. Perform a hits, make money, sell drugs, go to jail, repeat. It's a violent and exciting lifestyle, with it's own twists, and turns. The film reflects that well. Scorsese collaborated with Nicholas Pileggi (who wrote the book on which this is based) to write the screenplay. I'm not sure why Scorsese doesn't write his scripts anymore, because they were damn good. The dialog here flows really well, it's a lot harder then you'd think to write dialog that flows as well as this does. The actors certainly help deliver the dialog too. Ray Liotta gives what was probably his best performance as Henry Hill and did quite a good job. He falters occasionally but the rest of the time he's golden. Robert De Niro is playing a part that nowadays would be considered a cliche Robert De Niro role. But he does it so well. It's a shame De Niro has to be in stuff like Little Fockers now when he used to be the Oscar bait star that he was. Lorraine Bracco gives a great (and Oscar nominated) performance as Hill's wife, Karen. She plays her part of head over heels in love in the beginning, and quickly transitions to coke addicted and jealous wife towards the end. Her role here is probably how she got on The Sopranos. The best performance here is obviously Joe Pesci, as the insane gangster, Tommy DeVito. While Pesci never really proved himself in other films, here he's absolutely nuts! And he makes it work beautifully! It's no wonder he was awarded an Oscar for his role. Although this should have won Best Picture before anything else. I don't know if this is my favorite film, but it very well might be. The directing, soundtrack, editing, acting, and everything else about this make it just so great. I doubt my review can do this any justice. If you haven't seen this yet, you are crazy and are missing out! Goodfellas is fantastic and Martin Scorsese is a genius. That's all there is too it. Happy Viewing. If you want to keep up with my reviews and other movie related things, follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at            

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Favorite Films of 2013

As you all probably know, 2013 was an awesome year for movies. I had to expand my list from 10 to 15 films. I almost pushed it to 20! While I tried to see all of the best stuff this year, I did not see everything. While I would've liked to see Dallas Buyers Club, The Wind Rises, and Saving Mr. Banks, I couldn't see them soon enough. But I did see enough to make this list. As I said, 2013 was a fantastic year for film. So good, that not every movie made it on to my list. So I'll start off with some honorable mentions.
Honorable Mentions: Side Effects, Stoker, Pacific Rim, This Is the End, The Way Way Back, Much Ado About Nothing, Star Trek Into Darkness, and The Counselor. (I almost didn't put The Counselor on here, but I did enjoy it and I felt it was really over hated and under seen. Plus the performances were good and the dialog was awesome) All of those films are worth seeing. They just aren't as good as the ones on my Top 15 list. So without much ado, My Top 15 Movies of 2013!

15. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. People love to hate on Peter Jackson's Hobbit films. Sure, the first one was overlong and nothing compared to the LOTR movies, but the second installment was a huge improvement in many ways. The CGI and pacing was a hell of a lot better than the first one. It was also vastly entertaining and a really fun viewing experience, especially in 3D (which I don't usually say). It's not award worthy, but I really enjoyed this Hobbit film.

14. Behind the Candelabra. While Side Effects was quite good, Steven Soderbergh's other film he released this year was a little better.  It chronicled the relationship between Liberace and his much younger lover, Scott Thorson, and did it in a emotionally heavy and tasteful way that I really liked. Soderbergh's direction has never been smoother or more assured. Not to mention the movie boasted two great performances from Matt Damon and Micheal Douglas.

13. Nebraska. Alexander Payne's newest film is one of his best. His story about a sad old man chasing a fantasy with the help of his reluctant son was hilarious and really damn touching. Bruce Dern has never been better and June Squibb gave one of the funniest and best performances of the year. Really a good movie.

12. Mud. Matthew McConaughey has went from mediocre rom-com star to fantastic actor and Oscar contender. Mud is another great example of that. Jeff Nichols crafts a wonderful coming of age story that I haven't seen since Stand By Me. After some promising stuff like Shotgun Stories, Nichols shows he can make really good and meaningful cinema with Mud. The kids acting here are pretty good too, which is definitely rarer then it should be. Mud would be much higher on this list if so much good stuff didn't come out this year.

11. Captain Phillips. Movies don't often have the level of sheer intensity that Captain Phillips has. Paul Greengrass' action movie style direction certainly helped. Tom Hanks already showed he can carry a movie on his back in Cast Away. He just reinforces that here, especially in a powerful last ten minutes. Newcomer Barkhad Abdirahman was fantastic too as a Somali pirate.

10. Frances Ha. Yeah, Frances Ha doesn't tackle big subjects like racism or disease. But it doesn't have to. Noah Baumbach did a great job of showing us a touching snapshot of the life of a struggling artist in New York. Frances Ha has a great performance by Greta Gerwig, a fantastic screenplay, and some very good direction. I highly recommend this film, and it's a shame it's getting snubbed for so many awards.

9. The Place Beyond the Pines. When I saw this in theaters back in April, I was completely blown away. Derek Cianfrance last did the very good Blue Valentine. The Place Beyond the Pines is more ambitious, better acted, and just an extraordinary film in all. Eva Mendes gives a surprisingly great performance along with Bradley Cooper, Ben Mendelsohn, and Ryan Gosling. It weaves together three stories over about a fifteen year period and is exciting, sad, and just very, very good.

8. The World's End. I really love this film. I've seen it twice now and own it on DVD. I'm actually tempted to put it higher on the list. Director Edgar Wright does an amazing job with mixing wild comedy, great filmmaking, surprisingly heartfelt statements about coming home and addiction, and really good performances (specifically Simon Pegg) to make an almost perfect movie. Definitely a satisfying end to The Cornetto Trilogy. I can't recommend this enough.

7. Gravity. Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi thriller is nothing short of mind blowing. People complain that it's short on plot and character, but they're kind of wrong. The simplicity of it is what makes it work so well. While I feel Gravity was quite over hyped, it was still amazing. Especially in 3D, which as I said before, I don't usually say.

6. Prisoners. I walked away from Prisoners with my jaw to the floor and my head filled with thoughts about the film. Not only did it turn the whole mystery genre on it's head, but it was original and intense as hell. Denis Villeneuve nailed it with this. The performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Paul Dano, and Melissa Leo were terrific. This was actually at my number one spot for a while, you really should see it.

5. Inside Llewyn Davis. The Coen Brothers have quite obviously mastered the craft of filmmaking. Their newest film, Inside Llewyn Davis is a funny, emotional, and interesting look at one struggling musician's life in the 60's New York folk scene. It was hilarious at times and sad at others, and very well done. The cinematography was beautiful. Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan both are great here, along with a nice appearance by John Goodman. Not to mention, it had a killer soundtrack.
4. American Hustle. Christian Bale's performance is one of the best things in a movie filled with great things. American Hustle was one of the more entertaining films of the year and was chock full of great performances. It's 70's setting was spot on and the script was very funny. David O. Russell is definitely doing something right.

3. 12 Years a Slave. Never has a film showed suffering as 12 Years a Slave has. Steve McQueen shows slavery as it was, nothing more and nothing less. And boy is it horrifying. Yet, it is so well made and well acted that you must see it. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives one of the best performances of the year as the tortured Solomon Northup. 12 Years a Slave is a film I won't forget for as long as I am alive.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street. Martin Scorsese is my favorite director, and the case could be made that he is America's greatest director. The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese's best film since The Departed, and possibly GoodFellas. It's entertaining as hell, while still showing us the excess and greed personified in 90's Wall Street. Some have criticized the movie for 'condoning' the actions of the people it portrays. This isn't true, and we shouldn't have to be told that these guys are bad. It's the audience's fault if we can't understand that what Jordan Belfort did was bad. The film also houses Leonardo DiCaprio's best performance ever. Give that man an Oscar! I loved The Wolf of Wall Street.

1. Her. I haven't seen a film as astounding as Her probably in a really long time. It makes a relationship between a man and an operating system seem normal, even understandable. Writer/director Spike Jonze also asks and answers so many questions about artificial intelligence and consciousness. Her is beautiful in so many ways. The performances are great. Namely Joaquin Phoenix, but also Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson (even though you never see her). Spike Jonze's screenplay is terrific and his direction is the best it's been since Being John Malkovich, if not better. I can barely express my feelings and love for Her, it's just such a masterpiece. Her is without a doubt, the best movie of the year.
 Well thanks for reading! As Always, Happy Viewing! You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at

Nebraska review

Good thing this movie isn't actually about the state of Nebraska. No offense to the state of Nebraska, but I think that would make for one really boring film.
Alexander Payne is known for his funny, and occasionally sad, films that seem to almost make fun of their characters. My favorite of his is Election, although I thought The Descendants was alright too. His newest movie, Nebraska, is about a reluctant son, named David Grant (played by Will Forte), who takes his aging drunk of a father, Woody (Bruce Dern), on a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. Why? To claim the million dollars Woody "won" in a bogus sweepstakes scam in the mail. David knows he hasn't really won, but he takes him because he wants to spend time with his father, and make him happy. Nebraska is filmed all in black and white. There seems to be more films in black and white recently, like Frances Ha and Computer Chess. Sometimes black and white can make a film feel retro, and possibly make it fit the time period. Other times, as in the cases of Nebraska, it sets the mood for the film, giving it a certain feel. Nebraska feels kind of tired and old, but not in a bad way. The movie's style and feel are reflective of it's main characters, mainly Woody. Woody Grant is quite old, obviously affected from his heavy drinking, and tired. Tired of his life. That's the reason he's going to Nebraska, to try and find something to live for. He says he wants to buy new truck if he gets his million, but he can't drive. He just wants the truck to feel like he has something. Woody isn't the only one who's old and tired. On the way to Nebraska, David and Woody stop in Woody's hometown of Hawthorne, Nebraska. Everyone in Hawthorne is old and worn out, some are still hanging on to old debts and grudges form years ago. Alexander Payne does a great job of showing the whole thing. Payne is good at directing actors, showing their emotions and such. But what he is really good at, is using his films' setting to reflect or affect his characters. He did it here, and he certainly did it in The Descendants. he's also pretty good at choosing acting talent, because the actors here are top notch. Bruce Dern is great here as Woody. Dern doesn't seem to ever get a big part. He always gets supporting roles or cameos. Well even if the guy is 77, he's certainly found his perfect role in Nebraska. He's already gotten a Golden Globe nomination for it, and he will definitely get an Oscar nod. It is well deserved. Dern plays his confused yet determined character quite well, putting so much emotion and sadness into a very stoic and generally emotionless character. The rest of the cast is fairly terrific too, namely June Squibb. Squibb plays David's mom and Woody's wife. She's angry, full of gossip, and downright hilarious. While this film could be considered a comedy, it's very serious a lot of the time. She provides a hefty amount of laughter to the movie, that is with the help of this films' wonderful screenplay. Her character uses her acid tongue to berate Woody every chance she gets. Eventually you see she obviously loves him very much, and there's one scene towards the end where she expresses it, and it's really beautiful. Will Forte is decent in this too. It's good to see him acting out of his usual comedy comfort zone, but he's not much compared to some of the others in the cast. He's still pretty good though. I won't ruin it for you, but I will say that I really liked the ending of Nebraska. It's slightly subdued, but it was almost poetic in a way. And it didn't go on too long, which was good. The film occasionally drags a bit and I felt some parts could have been done a bit better, but otherwise it was pretty good. I give Nebraska 4.3 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. Remember you can always follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at