Top Ten 2018

2019-02-21T00:40:39+00:00February 21st, 2019|Essays, Reviews|

Just in time for Oscar voting, I list my favorite films of 2018. As I grow older, I find I rate films less on artistic merit or innovation or cultural relevance and more on the questions, Did I enjoy myself and Would I recommend the film to all my friends? Thus, my choices may seem [...]

NY Times Critics

2019-01-09T02:01:34+00:00January 9th, 2019|Essays|

It would be good to know that a certain critic’s taste coincided with your own, especially if that critic were on The New York Times, which is my primary source of movie information. One easy test of this came this weekend, when the Times printed an Oscars section in which their two chief critics, A.O. [...]

Top Ten 2015

2016-01-27T06:38:29+00:00January 27th, 2016|Essays|

My Top Ten this year is a bit of a cop-out, although not without precedent among major film critics: with no clear standout movie I will list my favorites in alphabetical order. Spotlight was the closest to a flawless movie, but it didn’t have the emotional power of Brooklyn, which was almost indistinguishable from Carol [...]

Oscar Dud 2015

2015-02-23T16:45:27+00:00February 23rd, 2015|Essays|

A big-winner favorite I didn't like and a self-referential host who wasn't funny were two of the reasons Oscar disappointed last night. As reported previously, my wife and I walked out of Birdman because we were having such a bad time. The absurdist magical-realism style never connected, and the characters, starting with Michael Keaton and [...]

Top Ten – 2013

2014-02-10T00:57:33+00:00February 10th, 2014|Essays, Reviews|

At one point, I thought I would use this year's list to highlight the unconventional approaches to moviemaking that gave me so much enjoyment. The Great Beauty and Blue Is the Warmest Color both benefited from my seeing them while I was rereading Proust. Neither had a traditional story arc; one was a portrait of [...]

Top Ten 2012

2013-02-06T19:30:14+00:00February 6th, 2013|Essays|

1. A Separation and Amour. Every year, it seems, there is a critical favorite that avoids the smaller cities until the deadline for my list has passed. Last year it was A Separation, which opened in 2011 but was far and away the best film I saw in 2012. This year it is Amour, which [...]

Best Movies 2011

2012-02-27T11:33:15+00:00February 27th, 2012|Essays|

Top Ten 2011 2011 was, at best, a middling year, with no standout like No Country for Old Men, and among the Oscar favorites, all of which we saw, no favorite like Hurt Locker. I do count 15 very good movies that, in the ultimate test, I had no trouble recommending to others. Rather than [...]

Oscar Preview

2011-02-27T12:54:21+00:00February 27th, 2011|Essays|

Having already given my pronouncements on the Best Picture race – for me, it should be Winter’s Bone over Black Swan, by a neck – it is time to look at the individual awards. The pundits are almost unanimous in predicting the actual winners, so I will instead give an analysis of whom I would [...]

Top Ten – 2010

2011-02-16T23:31:56+00:00February 16th, 2011|Essays|

This year for the first time I am offering three Top Ten movie lists, and the first, for reasons of pre-Oscar urgency, will merely be my capitulation of the ten nominees for best film. For detailed explanation of why I prefer one to another, go to the Alphabetical Listings for 2010 and click on the [...]

Oscar Review

2010-03-24T21:15:17+00:00March 24th, 2010|Essays|

No real surprises among this year's Oscar winners, although Time's prediction sheet managed 12 wrong, to 12 right. What dawned on me, however, as it must have before, is how much the Oscars are little more than a popularity contest, rather than a recognition of technical talent. I'm not referring to Sandra Bullock's win over [...]