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Old 02-22-2013, 07:05 PM   #151
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Horror Film of the Year
2011 was a horrible year for horror and that year I had to nominate a bunch of crap just to get up to five nominees and the winning film pretty much just got in by default. This year wasnít quite as bad, but there still wasnít a truly great film that clearly deserved to win. I donít know whatís preventing truly great horror cinema from being made recently, but hopefully it will turn around next year.

The Cabin in the Woods: The Cabin in the Woods is not a scary film, at all; I donít think it was even trying to be. For that reason I almost thought about disqualifying it, but at the end of the day it is too rooted in the genre tropes of the horror film to really leave off. I didnít respond to the film as positively as a lot of people did, but it does do some interesting things within the genre and there are monster-related set-pieces that make it memorable.

The Innkeepers: From the indie side of the horror genre we get this little ghost story from Ty West, the director of The House of the Devil. This film, about a hotel workerís close encounter with ďthe other sideĒ on that supposedly haunted hotelís last day of operation. The film lacks a certain degree of scope that would have launched it to the next level, but it does have some very effectively creepy moments.

Kill List: Itís almost a spoiler to call this a horror movie because itís meant to seem more like an assassin movie when it first starts, but as it goes on it becomes clear that this is entrenched in the world of some really dark stuff. If nothing else, itís a horror movie that doesnít follow any of the usual conventions and it always keeps you guessing.

Sinister: This is a last minute addition to the nominee lineup since I just got a chance to finally see it last night. It advertises itself as coming from the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, and like both of those films this is a good example of a supernatural Hollywood horror film which is surprisingly better than its trailer promises. While it goes for a few too many jump scares, its best moments are really disturbing and it leaves you fairly unsettled once itís done.

The Woman in Black: We donít see a lot of period-piece horror films anymore and that gives The Woman in Black a sort of odd uniqueness. Like The Innkeepers, it tells a sort of low key ghost story which isnít wildly original but which does have a handful of nice little scares to impart on its audience. The titular woman appears in the film at the most frightening possible moments and the fact that many of her victims are children adds to her wickedness.

And the Golden Stake goes toÖ
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Kill List

Ben Wheatleyís Kill List is a fairly experimental entry into the horror genre, one that Iíd be a little more comfortable giving a nomination to than a full on win, but in this year itís the only choice thatís really viable. I donít want that to be too much of a backhanded compliment though because Kill List is a really solidly disturbing and violent film that keeps you second guessing your perception of it throughout its run time.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:43 PM   #152
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Kill List is a terrific movie. I'll take this moment to plug my number 1 of 2012 - The Loved Ones. Top notch acting, ick factor, great writing - it is the most satisfying horror film I've seen in years.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:01 AM   #153
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I guess I should check out Kill List.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:30 AM   #154
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Dracula, did you see V/H/S?
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:22 AM   #155
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Quote:
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Dracula, did you see V/H/S?
No. I'm not a fan of anthology films in general and I heard that one was bad.
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:52 AM   #156
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Quote:
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No. I'm not a fan of anthology films in general and I heard that one was bad.
Good call. It is awful.
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:04 AM   #157
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Documentary of the Year
As is often the case, there are a number of high profile documentaries from this year that I didnít have a chance to see. This year the list includes The House I Live In, The Central Park Five, The Gatekeepers, and West of Memphis among others. Still, I feel like Iíve seen a lot of great documentaries this year, so many that I almost wanted to extend the number of nominations so I could include such titles as Searching For Sugar Man, The Invisible War, The Queen of Versailles, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and Mea Maxima Culpa.

5 Broken Cameras: When Israeli settlements threatened to overtake lands near the Palestinian city of Bilíin, the citizens launched a series of non-violent protests which were met by hostile Israeli soldiers who beat back the crowds with tear-gas and batons. Amateur journalist Emad Burnat was there to document it all on his own with consumer grade cameras which kept getting broken in the various scuffles. Most documentaries are made by seasoned professionals with large camera crews and full research staffs, but this documentary shows how much can be done by a lone man with a camera.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry: One of the most used formats for documentaries these days is the ďprofile movie.Ē These documentaries follow a noteworthy person around for a few weeks and also delve into their pasts through stock footage. The best example of this in 2012 was probably Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, which looks at the life and work of the famous Chinese dissident artists and his various campaigns to bring change to his home country. The film serves as both an education about this interesting man and also gives its audience a good idea of what itís like for someone like that in China.

How to Survive a Plague: As someone who was very young and disengaged during the 90s, I never really understood the impact that the AIDS epidemic during its first years. This documentary does a good job of bringing the fear, desperation, and injustice of that era to life. The film only makes minimal use of talking heads and instead opts to use archive footage from the era in order to build a rather thrilling narrative about the way that grassroots activism was able to turn the tide on the then contentious issue.

Indie Game: The Movie: I had assumed that this movie was mostly just getting attention because it was about video games, but when saw it I was actually very impressed by how well it was made. At itís very core, this is mostly a talking head documentary, but it doesnít feel that way because directors James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot do a lot of interesting things to open the film up and turn it into a real narrative. Along the way you meet some interestingly eccentric people and get a sense of how much theyíre putting into their work and how many challenges they face.

The Impostor: You may have heard the story about the family that thought they were having their kidnapped son returned to them only to find out later that the person they welcomed into their house wasnít kidnapped at all, but you probably havenít heard it told quite like this. If nothing else, The Imposter is the most impeccably crafted of all the documentaries Iíve nominated this year. Taking a number of cues from Errol Morris, Bart Layton has managed to combine stark interviews with reenactments in order to bring a strange and almost unbelievable story to the screen in a highly cinematic fashion.

And the Golden Stake goes toÖ
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
How to Survive a Plague

Itís not the most popular doc of the year, or necessarily the most artful, or the most politically relevant, but this movie fascinated me in a way that no other documentary did this year. Director David France really dug into the archives and found all the necessary footage to really tell a story without missing many beats. The resulting film feels less like a historical document and more like a vital disaster film.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:04 PM   #158
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i've really been slacking on my doc watching, i thought searching for sugar man was good, but it is the odds on favorite to win the oscar. not sure if it is that good, but an interesting story. still need to see plague, 5 broken cameras and the impostor before i make my decision though.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:12 PM   #159
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I am very interested in checking out The Imposter.
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:36 PM   #160
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My Top Ten

Going to try to reveal one title every hour or so throughout the day

The Number 10 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
The Dark Knight Rises

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman
Distributer: Warner Brothers
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 165 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Date released: 7/20/2012
Date seen: 7/20/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $1,081,041,287
# of Oscar nominations: 0
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 10 (Best Fight, Musical Performance, Best Chase, Best Set-Piece, Original Score, Villain, Cameo, Supporting Actress, Action Film, and Trailer)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 2 (Best Fight and Best Villain)

Every year I reserve the number ten slot on my list for a film which might have some flaws but which I feel hasnít gotten the credit it deserves amongst the critical community. I ironically enough that movie this year is one of the yearís highest grossing movies: The Dark Knight Rises. Of course the movie has problems, particularly its messy first act, but these are problems which I donít think people would be harping on if there hadnít already been sky-high expectations for the film and the filmís handful of issues shouldnít over cloud the MANY great things that the movie does. Itís apocalyptic vision of an entire city being taken captive by a terroristic leader alone makes this film one of my favorite of the year and its many great performances, action scenes, and moments also deserve recognition. More important than all that though is that this movie is the perfect representation of what I want Hollywood blockbusters to be doing: taking their craft seriously. Itís films like this which I believe should be encouraged, not the un-ambitious effects extravaganzas filled with one-liners like The Avengers.
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:54 PM   #161
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Off to a good start.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:19 PM   #162
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The Number 9 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Django Unchained

Directed by: Quentin Tarentino
Written by: Quentin Tarentino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Michael Parks, and Don Johnson
Distributer: The Weinstein Company
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 165 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Date released: 12/25/2012
Date seen: 12/25/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $365,584,000
# of Oscar nominations: 5 (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound Editing)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 8 (Best Shootout, Source Music, Soundtrack, Villain, Supporting Actor, Line, Original Screenplay, and Comedy)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 2 (Best Soundtrack and Comedy of the Year)

Django Unchained is, first and foremost, a fearless and provocative film that is proof positive that the world is not “succumbing to political correctness” as the talk show pundits like to put it. It’s also a highly watchable and rather hilarious viewing experience, which is more than can be usually said about movies that are “fearless and provocative.” It also has most of the usual frills we’ve come to expect from Tarentino like great dialogue, unexpected bursts of violence, non-formulaic structure, and cool movie references. And yet, given all this, you’d think that Django Unchained would rank a little higher than number nine. I’m not entirely sure I can put a finger on what keeps the film from reaching the lofty heights of a Pulp Fiction or Inglourious Basterds, but the editing just isn’t quite as sharp and the material doesn’t seem quite as original as it once did. Still, it’s a testament to how great a filmmaker Tarentino is that one of his lesser films is still significantly better than much of anything that anyone else is doing.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:19 PM   #163
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The Number 8 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Moonrise Kingdom

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban
Distributer: Focus Features
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Date released: 5/25/2012
Date seen: 6/17/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $65,044,087
# of Oscar nominations: 1 (Best Original Screenplay)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 5 (Art Direction, Soundtrack, Cameo, Ensemble, and Original Screenplay)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 0

The comeback of the year award for 2012 would probably go to Wes Anderson, who returned to relevancy with Moonrise Kingdom after a handful of misfires. The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited were both interesting and well staged films, but they both lacked the heart that really propelled Andersonís better films, and thatís the element thatís returned in his latest film. Andersonís ability as a visual stylist remains intact and he contributes a handful of new signature Anderson visuals to the cinematic lexicon. At its heart though, this is a simple story at its core about two unhappy children finding solace in each othersí company, thereís all sorts of Wes Anderson craziness on top of that but the core is there and thatís what sets the film apart.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:26 PM   #164
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You know Wes Anderson hit a home run with "Moonrise Kingdom" when mainstream audiences embraced it. It's definitely this year's "Midnight in Paris." The indie comedy from a niche filmmaker that caught on.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:08 PM   #165
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The Number 7 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Cloud Atlas

Directed by: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski
Written by: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D'Arcy, Keith David, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant
Distributer: Warner Brothers
Country: Germany
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 171 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Date released: 10/26/2012
Date seen: 10/27/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $107,989,814
# of Oscar nominations: 0
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 7 (Best Chase, Makeup, Sound Design, Editing, Ensemble, Adapted Screenplay, and Under-Appreciated)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 3 (Makeup, Editing, and Under-Appreciated)

Between the Matrix sequels, Speed Racer, and their secondary career producing stuff like Ninja Assassin I was kind of worried about the Wachowskis. For that matter, I wasnít exactly sure if Tom Tykwer would be able to hit one out of the park again either. And yet, these seemingly unique filmmakers were somehow able to come together in order to create a film of stunning ambition thatís unique in its vision. Itís a film that takes a book that no one (myself included) thought could be adapted and just goes right ahead and made it. Of course there are some rough edges and questionable decisions that were made along the way, but I couldnít help but be amazed by the sheer scope and audacity of the project in spite of these flaws.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:10 PM   #166
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Quote:
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i've really been slacking on my doc watching
Same here. I need to check out 5 Broken Cameras and How to Survive a Plague.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:12 PM   #167
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Quote:
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Same here. I need to check out 5 Broken Cameras and How to Survive a Plague.
They're both on Netflix watch instant, if you have that

The Number 6 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Life of Pi

Directed by: Ang Lee
Written by: David Magee
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Adil Hussain, Gerard Depardieu, and Rafe Spall
Distributer: 20th Century Fox
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: PG
Running Time: 127 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Date released: 11/21/2012
Date seen: 12/14/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $564,516,901
# of Oscar nominations: 11 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects, Best Score, Best Song)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 3 (Best Set-Piece, Best Score, Best Adapted Screenplay)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 0

When you here a film described as a ďCGI heavy big budget production made by a major Hollywood studioĒ the best you can usually hope for is a well made action movie. The last thing you ever expect from such a description is a smartly told and largely philosophical work based on a supposedly unadaptable novel, which is what Ang Leeís Life of Pi is, and unlike Cloud Atlas this film has been largely rewarded at the box office for its many ambitions. The film is certainly a technical achievement, both for how real the tiger looks and for its amazing 3D effects, but it manages to tackle some rather deep subjects along the way. Whatís more amazing is that it manages to explore the topic of faith and spirituality in a way that pretty much everyone of any walk of life can take something away from, even a secular thinker like myself.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:38 PM   #168
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Good stuff so far. Thrilled Moonrise Kingdom made the list.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:29 PM   #169
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The Number 5 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Holy Motors

Directed by: Leos Carax
Written by: Leos Carax
Starring: Denis Lavant, …dith Scob, Eva Mendes, and Kylie Minogue
Distributer: Indomina Releasing
Country: France
Language: French
Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Date released: 10/17/2012
Date seen: 12/8/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $1,624,852
# of Oscar nominations: 0
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 3 (Musical Performance, Makeup, Actor)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 0

The movie Argo appears to be on track to win the Best Picture Oscar this year largely because itís a highly agreeable movie that pretty much anyone of any walk of life can understand and enjoy. Holy Motors is the opposite of that. Itís an absolutely bat**** exploration of the mind of a crazy film lover which will likely baffle anyone who isnít very open-minded. Like the last two films on my top ten (Cloud Atlas and Life of Pi) itís a wild visual experiment, and while it isnít as audience pleasing as either of those films, it doesnít necessarily seem as pretentious either. Leos Carax isnít trying to unravel the meaning of life so much as heís trying to create a very unique romp that employs a number of interesting visual tricks, oddball gags, and also serves as a showcase for Denis Lavant absolutely crazy performance.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:30 PM   #170
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Glad to see Cloud Atlas make the list, Life of Pi as well.
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:09 PM   #171
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The Number 4 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Lincoln

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Tony Kushner
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, David Strathairn, Bruce McGill, Joseph Cross, Hal Holbrook, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lee Pace, Tim Blake Nelson, John Hawkes, Michael Stuhlbarg, Walton Goggins, Stephen Henderson, Jackie Earle Haley, Gloria Reuben, Jared Harris, and S. Epatha Merkerson
Distributer: Touchstone Pictures
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Date released: 11/9/2012
Date seen: 11/17/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $235,872,490
# of Oscar nominations: 12 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Editing)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 7 (Best Makeup, Best Art Direction, Supporting Actor, Actor, Ensemble, Line, and Adapted Screenplay)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 2 (Supporting Actor and Ensemble)

As a consummate follower of Oscar races, I know a thing or two about just how boring biopics can be. Thatís why I was so relieved to see that Steven Spielberg did almost everything right when he set out to make a film about Abraham Lincoln. He smartly focused in on a single aspect of the presidentís life, he commissioned Tony Kushner to make an energetic script, he filled the cast with all sorts of great actors. That Daneil Day-Lewis is amazing goes without saying, but thereís so much more to like about the film than that. In many ways the film has come to us at the perfect time in history. Politics is so crazy and polarized right now that this is the right time to look back at a time when a strong president could cut through the extreme polarization in order to get something incredibly important done. As an American history buff and as a political junkie this was the perfect film for me and Iím glad to see the sheer number of other people that it was perfect for as well.
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:04 PM   #172
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The Number 3 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Amour

Directed by: Michael Haneke
Written by: Michael Haneke
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud, William Shimell, and Rita Blanco
Distributer: Sony Pictures Classics
Country: Austria
Language: French
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 127 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Date released: 12/19/2012
Date seen: 1/19/2013
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $15,090,860
# of Oscar nominations: 5 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 4 (Best Cameo, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 1 (Best Actress)

Michael Haneke generally makes films that are very dense and heady intellectual experiements. I donít want to suggest that Amour is dumbed down in any way, but there is a reason why itís reaching a wider audience than his previous works. The film expresses certain universal truths about what it means to grow old and about the fleeting nature of life and it doesnít take a genius to understand what heís expressing. That is not to say that this is some kind of sentimental yarn either or that Haneke has turned into some kind of soft humanist. Instead what heís made is a tough, almost visceral look at some painful parts of the human experience. Iíve had a lot of trouble finding ways to talk about the film because in many ways itís more of a film to be experienced than a film to be talked about.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:05 PM   #173
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The Number 2 Movie of the Year:
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
The Silver Linings Playbook

Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, John Ortiz, Anupam Kher, Julia Stiles, and Shea Whigham
Distributer: The Weinstein Company
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Date released: 11/16/2012
Date seen: 11/25/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $152,538,155
# of Oscar nominations: 8 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 8 (Source Music, Soundtrack, Supporting Actor, Actress, Actor, Ensemble, Adapted Screenplay, and Comedy)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 2 (Source Music and Adapted Screenplay)

If Amour is about the painful end of a romance, The Silver Linings Playbook is about the joyful beginnings of romance. Of course itís about more than that. Itís about the pain of mental illness, itís about life in a lightly dysfunctional family, and itís about life in a blue collar neighborhood, but at its heart this is a romantic comedy and itís been treated as an ugly stepchild throughout award season because of it. If anything, the fact that The Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy makes me all the more respectful of it because that is a genre of film that normally sucks, and the fact that David O. Russell was able to take that soulless template and create such a smart, soulful, funny, and charming film out of it speaks to how much work he put into this thing. There probably were weightier films this year, but no film had me as locked in and engaged with the screen as effectively as The Silver Linings Playbook.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:50 PM   #174
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I'll admit, I fell in love with Life of Pi. That was a joyous and visually enthralling experience.

Last edited by Justin; 02-23-2013 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:51 PM   #175
Neverending
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 22,625
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#1 will be The Master. It's kinda obvious.
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