Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2020

MOVIES For a long time I've aimed to watch approximately one movie a day, averaging around 350 a year. In a typical year as a movie critic, about 200 of those were new releases, films that came out t...

The Best Movies of 2020 (That I Saw)

I did not make a top 10 list this year. Usually I've seen more than 200 of the year's new releases; this year I only saw 69. And while it may seem like fewer movies came out this year than usual, t...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2019

I started doing this in 2004, mostly for myself. Now I feel like I can never stop, even if I wanted to. It's the same way with watching new episodes of The Simpsons. I've been doing it for so long, it...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2019

The more I do this, the more it seems wrong to call these the "best" movies when I only saw a fraction of the entries. Well over 1,300 new films were released in the U.S. this year; I saw a couple hun...

2019 Films: Miscellaneous Data

Based on my own research. Films included only if they played theatrically. Corrections and additions are welcome (@ me). For comparison’s sake, here are the 2018 and 2017 ed...

My 2019 Sundance Film Festival Diary

Day 1: Thursday, Jan. 24 Good news! They decided to have the Sundance Film Festival again this year. I'm here in Park City, Utah, for my 20th 'dance, having started in 2000, when Bill Clinton was sti...

2018 Films: Miscellaneous Data

Based on my own research. Films included only if they played theatrically. Corrections and additions are welcome (@ me). For comparison's sake, here's the 2017 edition.   Total wide releases (6...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2018

This is the 15th year I've done this. As always, it might only matter to me and will not be on the midterm. MOVIES I watched 381 movies in 2018. It could have been a lot more -- there were 105 days ...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2018

The usual disclaimers apply: I didn't see every movie, I'm an idiot who doesn't know what he's talking about, etc. I note that four of the 10 were directed by women, and nine of them were "festival mo...

A Report from Fantastic Fest 2.0

After last year's bumpy edition of Fantastic Fest, roiled by revelations that its founder had continued working with employees and associates who'd been credibly accused of sexual assault, this year's...

My 2018 Sundance Film Festival Diary

MOVIES: "American Animals" "Arizona" "Assassination Nation" "Beast" "Blindspotting" "Clara's Ghost" "An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn" "The Guilty" "The Happy Prince" "Hereditary" "Juliet,...

2017 Films: Miscellaneous Data

Based on my own research. Additions and corrections welcome (@ me), will update accordingly.   Total wide releases (600+ theaters): 155 Sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, and franchises:...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2017

For the 14th year in a row I kept track of what I watched and read and report it now to you, if you're interested. If you're not interested, you can skip this. I'll never know! MOVIES I watched 339 ...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2017

So. 2017. How about that? This was the year that I started switching to saying "twenty-seventeen" instead of "two thousand seventeen." I expect to be fully converted to the "twenty-" system by the end...

An Obsessive’s Guide to the ‘Halloween’ Movies

Since 1978, Halloween hasn’t just been a day to worship Satan and eat small candy bars. It’s also been a celebration of a long-running, highly influential film series about a masked killer: Batman. ...

Report from a Beleaguered Fantastic Fest

This year’s Fantastic Fest was packed with surprises, sexual deviancy, revenge, and sorrow, and that was just on Twitter. The movies were likewise full of intrigue — it was a good lineup, everything e...

Reviews from Fantastic Fest 2017

We’ll talk about the behind-the-scenes turmoil at Fantastic Fest in another wordpile. In the meantime, here are reviews of some of the notable films that played there. They don’t have U.S. release dat...

What You Missed at the Overlook Film Festival

A certain breed of movie fan knows immediately why something called The Overlook Film Festival would be held at a place called the Timberline Lodge. The Timberline Lodge? In Oregon? Why, that’s the pl...

My 2017 Sundance Film Festival Diary

Listen! Do you smell that? It's the Sundance Film Festival, back for another year of showcasing new independent films and terrorizing the helpless town of Park City, Utah. The mood is slightly mute...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2016

This will not be on the midterm. This is not valuable information to anyone but me and those who stalk me (hi, Tim!). It's just a list of what I watched and read this year. MOVIES As it happens, I w...

2016 films: miscellaneous data

Based on my own research. Additions welcome (@ me), will update accordingly.   Total wide releases: 160 Remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels, and franchises: 45 Based on novels: 19 B...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2016

It has not been a very good year, except for movies. And really, what else matters? THE BEST MOVIES OF 2016 1. "Arrival" I'm not particularly a science-fiction guy, but I know what I love, ...

Fantastic Fest 2016: An Exhaustive Report

One of my favorite weeks of the year is the one I spend at Austin's Alamo Drafthouse for Fantastic Fest, a genre celebration devoted to the kinds of movies that other festivals only play at midnight (...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2015

This is for my own records. Nobody else read it! MOVIES I watched 349 movies in 2015. That's less than one a day, which is low for me. On the other hand, it's still 349 movies, which is a lot. I...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2015

Another year has sped past us at the alarming rate of one day per day, 365 of them in a row, without cessation. Then, without warning, it stopped being one year and started being a different year. Wha...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2014

As always, you're not obligated to be interested in this. This is mostly for me. It's just a rundown of what I consumed in 2014, media-wise. Future generations may find it useful in reconstructing the...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2014

2014 was a terrific year for movies -- and I say that without having seen several of the films that are appearing on others' top 10 lists, like "Selma," "Mr. Turner," "Ida," and "The Immigrant." (That...

Upcoming Movies with Internet-Inspired Titles Like ‘That Awkward Moment’

“That Awkward Moment” (in theaters Jan. 31) is an R-rated comedy starring Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, and Miles Teller as bros looking to score with hot ladies. The trailer indicates that one of the...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2013

There were some good movies in 2013. There were also some bad movies. In short, 2013 was like a lot of years: it had good things and bad things. Here are the top good things, in my estimation, accordi...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2013

The rules are simple. I tell you, with an excruciating amount of exactness, what I watched and read this year, and you either read it because you are interested or you don’t because you aren’t. In oth...

2013 Film Titles: A Dramatic Reading

And now, two playlets in which the dialogue is composed entirely of 2013 movie titles (U.S. theatrical releases). Playlet 1 An atheist who believes global climate change will soon kill Mother Earth ...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘Last Vegas’

Thanks to the magic of high-tech surveillance equipment and a murky sense of ethics, we’re able to spy on the boardrooms of Hollywood and bring you the germs of ideas that lead to full-blown outbreaks...

We Asked a Telekinetic Teenage Girl with a Crazy Mother to Fact-Check ‘Carrie’

(Note: Our guest reviewer, 16-year-old Ashlei Mulligan of Fresno, Calif., is a junior in high school who has both telekinetic powers and an abusive, Bible-thumping mother. She has agreed to offer her ...

‘The Butler’ Box Office and Political Agendas

All human beings have biases and opinions. That includes the subsection of reporters, critics, and journalists who are human beings. It’s only natural to hope that your personal point of view is borne...

The 2013 Summer Movie Quiz!

Labor Day is upon us, which means we have survived another summer blockbuster season! But did it make an impression on us? After all the robots have been decommissioned and the zombies beheaded; after...

The Steep Decline of Sketch Comedy from ‘Kentucky Fried Movie’ to ‘Movie 43’

Sketch comedy has been a staple of television ever since TV emerged, fully formed, from Milton Berle’s nurturing womb, but it’s never been a big hit in the movie world. Something about the format of b...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘R.I.P.D.’

Time now for another round of a game we like to call “How Did That Ever Get Made, Who Thought It Was a Good Idea, and What Were They Thinking?” It’s an unwieldy title, but it gets right to the heart o...

7 Pairs of Movies That Shared a Title Without Anyone Suing About It

There’s a kerfuffle going on right now between Harvey Weinstein and Warner Bros. over The Weinstein Company’s upcoming release “The Butler,” which shares its title with a 1916 Warner-owned short film....

The Pitch Meeting for ‘The Lone Ranger’

They say movies are like sausages: if you like them, you shouldn’t watch how they’re made, because it’s an ugly process that involves a lot of pigs’ anuses. But around here we disregard conventional w...

How ‘Man of Steel’ Is Better Than ‘Superman Returns’ (and Vice Versa)

Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" arrives this week, with fans hoping it is more like Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" (i.e., pretty good) than Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" (i.e., the worst thing ever devi...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘Peeples’

Most of you aren’t important enough to have access to the plush, blood-stained offices where Hollywood executives make their decisions. Neither are we! But we are important enough to hire ex-CIA black...

What Is CinemaScore? Can It Hurt Us?

The Jackie Robinson biopic “42″ made headlines for a couple of reasons when it hit theaters earlier this month. One was its box office haul of $27.3 million, which is the best debut ever for a basebal...

The Great Debate: SXSW vs. Sundance

Our Great Debate this week addresses an explosive question that has incited arguments among philosophers and brought nations to war: Sundance or SXSW? I am pleased to take the Sundance side of the deb...

‘Snitch,’ Guns In Movies, And Why Hollywood Can’t Shoot Straight

The NRA is right about one thing. Movies do affect the way we think. Now, I don’t mean that violent entertainment is a major cause of real-life violence (though it’s naïve to think it has no effect). ...

Zombie Boyfriends: ‘Warm Bodies’ vs. ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’

The new film “Warm Bodies,” about a compassionate zombie who has a crush on a living girl, might sound familiar if you are the kind of person who remembers obscure movies from 20 years ago. “Warm Bodi...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2012

I didn't fall in love with a lot of movies this year, but there were quite a few that I liked an awful lot. Strong, significant infatuations, maybe. The films that ended up in the bottom few spots on ...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2012

The rules are simple. I tell you, with an excruciating amount of exactness, what I watched and read this year, and you either read it because you are interested or you don't because you aren't. In oth...

Is ‘The Hobbit’ OK for Kids? The Case For and Against

Even people who can’t read or don’t know what books are know that J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel “The Hobbit” is much lighter than his “Lord of the Rings” series. It’s shorter, more whimsical and more direc...

Dear ‘Twilight’: Thank You For Ending

The “Twilight” movie franchise has been so successful that even people who are not in its target audience of teenage girls and sexually frustrated middle-aged women have been consumed by it, overwhelm...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure’

The question that people ask most frequently about the Hollywood film-making process is this: What were you thinking? This is followed closely by Why did you do that? and Who would want to see that? a...

The 2012 Cannes Film Festival: A Recap

Bonjour, amigos! I was thrilled to attend the Cannes Film Festival for the first time this year, fulfilling a dream I’d had ever since I learned that you don’t pronounce the “s.” It’s not possible for...

Live-Blogging the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Trailer

"The Dark Knight Rises" won’t be in theaters until July 20, but Warner Bros. has helped satisfy our bat-appetites by releasing several hundred trailers. The latest one “dropped” (I think that is the s...

10 Universal Truths We’ve Learned at the Movies

1. If there’s only one person with a British accent, that person is the villain. 2. Any plan deemed “just crazy enough to work” will, in fact, work. Any plan deemed “foolproof,” “simple,” or “perfe...

Things the Avengers Theoretically Would Not Assemble For

So this movie coming up, "The Avengers," you know what it’s about, right? It’s about some superheroes from other movies, plus a guy with a bow and arrow, who get together to fight villains. This is ne...

What Household Items Will Become Movies After the Board Games Are Used Up?

The "Battleship" movie is coming May 18, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s out there, it can’t be reasoned with, etc. Everyone laughed when it was announced a couple years ago, then laughe...

Pros and Cons of Seeing ‘The Phantom Menace’ in 3D

George Lucas announced in September 2010 that he would release 3D versions of all six "Star Wars" films, one a year, starting in 2012. In a rare instance of George Lucas doing exactly what he said he ...

The Oxford Film Festival, and What It Says About Other Small Fests

Oh, sure, there’s Sundance and Cannes and Toronto and all those other “big” film festivals. Who needs ‘em?! Wait, that’s too harsh. We do need them. They’re great festivals. I’m sorry. Let me start...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2011

Over the last few weeks I noticed several of my colleagues musing on Twitter about how difficult it was to choose a No. 1 film for 2011. They seemed to feel that there were a lot of movies that were v...

Media Inventory: What I Watched and Read in 2011

This is the eighth year I've kept track of all the media I consumed. I like to keep track of things. As always, this may be of no interest to anyone but me, and you are welcome to skip it, or to read ...

2011 Film Titles: A Dramatic Reading

And now, a playlet in which the dialogue is composed entirely of 2011 movie titles.   MAN: What's your number? WOMAN: I am number four. MAN: Arthur. WOMAN: Hanna. MAN: Monte Ca...

The Next 35 ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Movie Sequel Titles

What we’ve already seen: "Alvin and the Chipmunks" "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked" The next 35 titles: "Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein...

Logical Problems with a Horse That Goes to War

Sure, this new "War Horse" movie seems to have the makings of a champion. It’s based on a highly acclaimed stage play, it’s about a boy and a horse, and it’s directed by Steven Spielberg. That’s a pot...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘New Year’s Eve’

GARRY MARSHALL: Good afternoon, gentlemen! Thanks for seeing me! STUDIO EXEC #1: Are you kidding? You’re Garry Marshall, director of such classic films as "Pretty Woman," "Beaches," "Dear God,"...

How the ‘Paranormal Activity’ Formula Would Work in Other Genres

We’ve survived two "Paranormal Activity" films and are about to let a third one haunt our dreams, so we’re pretty familiar with the formula by now: people use surveillance cameras and camcorders to do...

The Timeline for Winning Best Picture

Thousands of films have tried, but so far only 83 have succeeded in being named best picture of the year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This exclusive club includes quite a bit of...

Things Nicolas Cage Could Do That Would Theoretically Still Shock Us

Few celebrities are as consistently entertaining as Nicolas Cage, an Oscar-winning actor who has forsaken serious drama in favor of behaving like a lunatic both on and off the screen. The list of biza...

2011 Fantastic Fest Review Round-up

When people ask what sort of movies are shown at Fantastic Fest, the easiest answer is that it’s any movie that can be described as “awesome.” In general terms, that means horror, sci-fi, and fantasy....

The Pitch Meeting for ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’

Perhaps you saw the trailer for "I Don’t Know How She Does It," recognized that it was based on a popular novel, and assumed the story of how it became a movie ended there. But no! There are always me...

A Fake Report from Our Fake Set Visit

As you know if you follow me on Twitter, I just got back from Tierra del Fuego, where I was visiting the amazing set of Brett Ratner’s upcoming remake of "Casablanca." You couldn’t be there with me, b...

‘Glee 3D’ vs. ‘Final Destination 5’

The multiplex is confusing! Your typical neighborhood movie emporium has 16 screens, and on those screens are as many as five or six different movies. It is easy to become disoriented and choose the w...

Investigating the Science of Body-Swap Movies

It’s time once again to put a movie trend under the microscope and examine it ... with Science! Our subject today is body-swap movies. Specifically: what is the deal with body-swap movies, scientifica...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘The Smurfs’

STUDIO EXEC #1: Gentlemen, I was rummaging around in the Dumpster behind the studio offices yesterday, and guess what I found? STUDIO EXEC #2: Nick Nolte? STUDIO EXEC #1: No. STUDIO EXEC ...

A Long Column About the Length of Movies

On the matter of movie length, Roger Ebert has summarized what every filmgoer knows intuitively: “No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.” Or as the old journalism saying goes, “A...

‘Larry Crowne’ vs. ‘Monte Carlo’: How to Tell if You’re the Target Audience

While "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is the movie that most people will be enjoying (well, watching) this weekend, Hollywood has a little thing called “counter-programming,” too, that enables you to...

Unsettling Questions Raised by the Alternate Reality in ‘Cars’

John Lasseter, the chief nerd-wizard at Pixar, recently gave an interview to Box Office Magazine wherein he explained some of the mysteries surrounding the universe in which the "Cars" movies are set....

Merchandising Opportunities That ‘Cars 2’ Missed

It’s astonishing to think that the combined marketing power of Disney AND Pixar could have missed any possible opportunity to cash in on "Cars 2." Yet our careful examination uncovers several potentia...

Other Films in the ‘We Bought a…’ Series

Cameron Crowe’s next film, due in theaters later this year, is called "We Bought a Zoo." The title is not metaphorical: It is about a family that buys a defunct zoo and saves the animals from destruct...

Why the ‘Don’t Think About It!’ Argument is Dumb

Whenever there’s a dumb new movie like "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" or "Little Fockers: Revenge of Robert De Niro," and the people who write about movies for a living point out how terrible i...

Fixing ‘Gulliver’s Travels’

"Gulliver’s Travels" wasn’t the worst film of 2010. With "Little Fockers" and "Yogi Bear" in the running, it wasn’t even the worst film of the second half of December. But it was bad enough, and its r...

Take a Tip from ‘The King’s Speech’: Edit Your Movie for a Better Rating!

You might think The Weinstein Company would be pleased with "The King’s Speech." It’s been a critical darling ever since it premiered last September, and a success with audiences since its theatrical ...

The 10 Commandments of Getting a Film into Sundance

And it came to pass that Redford did go up into a high mountain, and the Lord did speak to him, and did give unto him the 10 commandments of Sundance. And behold, Redford did proclaim these command...

Logical Problems Presented by ‘Just Go With It’

In a rare lapse from the Happy Madison production company, it would seem that Adam Sandler’s latest work, "Just Go With It," is riddled with logical flaws. This is the impression we get from watching ...

The Best and Worst Movies of 2010

In theory, it should be easy to figure out my 10 favorite movies of the year. I give them grades when I write the reviews. Come December, all I have to do is sort them from A to F and draw a line after the top 10, right? Simple math.

Media Inventory: What I Watched in 2010

This account of my media intake is slightly streamlined compared to previous years. I've always done the "Media Inventory" mostly for my own amusement; this reflects how much amusement I found in it this time.

A Scientific Breakdown of the Physical Comedy Presented in the ‘Yogi Bear’ Trailer

After seeing the trailer for the "Yogi Bear" movie (in theaters Dec. 17!), most people, once the weeping and despair have subsided, start to consider the scientific principles pertaining to the physic...

Relationship Advice From Severus Snape

Dear Professor Snape, OK, I’m a 13-year-old girl, and I’m having a super-hard time with my friends. One of them, Britney, used to be BFFs with Mackenzie, but then Mackenzie made Britney mad and now...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’

Though you’ve already marked Feb. 11, 2011, on your calendar as the day "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" will be released, perhaps you’ll be interested in some behind-the-scenes details. How did such ...

Messages Left on Bill Murray’s Voice Mail

FACT: Bill Murray doesn’t have an agent or a publicist. Filmmakers who want to offer him a part in a movie must call him — if they can track down the phone number — and leave a voice mail. He’ll go fo...

EXCLUSIVE: Script Pages from the ‘Alien’ Prequel Gay Sex Scene!

Last week word got around that an Australian website called What's Playing had seen the script for Ridley Scott's "Alien" prequel, and that it included a rather peculiar scene. Two human slaves, Fin a...

Things That Could Theoretically Stop the Train from ‘Unstoppable’

"Unstoppable," the latest collaboration between director Tony Scott and actor Denzel Washington, invites scrutiny with its title. We know it’s about an out-of-control train filled with explosives that...

‘RED,’ As Written by David Mamet

One of the supporting roles in "RED" is played by Rebecca Pidgeon, who is married to David Mamet and primarily appears only in movies written and/or directed by him. When you see Rebecca Pidgeon in a ...

Fantastic Fest 2010 Mini-Reviews

Just about any major film festival will have a few selections that are controversially violent, graphic, or insane, or that address unserious topics like vampires and cannibals. These are often set as...

Top 10 Movies That I Am Thinking of Right Now

If you want to start a debate among movie fans, the easiest way is to ask, “What are the top 10 movies I’m thinking of right now?” Everyone’s going to have their own list of what movies I’m currently ...

Explaining ‘Machete’ to Aliens Who Have Just Arrived from Outer Space

Welcome to Earth! Thank you for not killing us immediately. Ha ha, just a little joke there. We’ve made a lot of movies about what might happen if aliens came to visit us, and it usually doesn’t go we...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘Devil’

Thanks to the hidden cameras and recording equipment that we’ve stashed all over Hollywood, we’re able to bring you transcripts of the secret meetings that take place every day. We do this in the hope...

Stallone-a-Thon: Daylight (1996)

In honor of Friday's release of "The Expendables," we're taking a week-long look at the action films of Sir Sylvester Stallone -- which is to say we're skipping his comedies. Out of respect. Title:...

And Now We Imagine a Meeting Between Nicolas Cage and His Agent

AGENT: Hey, Nic, thanks for coming in. I — what the hell is that on your head? CAGE: It’s a bird, man! Have you seen that Photoshop on the Internet where they turned my hair into a bird? I thought ...

The Pitch Meeting for ‘Grown Ups’

Our spies have once again discovered raw, uncensored footage of a pitch meeting held in Los Angeles, the result of which was the movie "Grown Ups," which opens June 25. Our spies are strangely prolifi...

Cinemaligion: ‘Dogma’

Kevin Smith nearly always adheres to the principle of "write what you know." That's why "Dogma," his controversial 1999 comedy, is brimming with Catholicism, skepticism, profanity, poop jokes, movie r...

Imagining ‘Marmaduke’ As an R-Rated Horror Film

Among the many crushing disappointments associated with the upcoming Marmaduke film — that it exists, that grown-ups spent money to create it, etc. — is the discovery that the MPAA has rated it PG “fo...