I’m Baaaaaack….and Here’s My Top 50 of the Decade

Hello all! It’s been nigh on four years since I last dropped some knowledge on you here at Reel News Daily. I went off and got a Master’s degree, new job and all that, but have still been rocking films from all over the world. I’m happy to be back in the fold here at Reel News Daily and look forward to contributing more this year. Don’t you feel lucky?

So, I figured my phoenix rising from the ashes post should be something that might start a little conversation – my Top 50 films of the last decade. There were so many great films to choose from, which made this list very difficult. After two days of whittling it down and moving films around, I feel confident with what I decided on. I’m sure I missed a few of your favorites, but this is my list so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Here we go:

50) Shoplifters (2018) dir. by Hirokazu Koreeda
49) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) dir. by Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
48) Gone Girl (2014) dir. by David Fincher
47) A Hidden Life (2019) dir. by Terrence Malick
46) Annihilation (2018) dir. by Alex Garland
45) Under the Skin (2013) dir. by Jonathan Glazer
44) Her (2013) dir. by Spike Jonze
43) The Favourite (2018) dir. by Yorgos Lanthimos
42) Take Shelter (2011) dir. by Jeff Nichols
41) Leviathan (2012) dir. by Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel
40) Upstream Color (2013) dir. by Shane Carruth
39) Death of Stalin (2017) dir. by Armando Iannucci
38) Columbus (2017) dir. Kogonada
37) Holy Motors (2012) dir. by Leos Carax
36) Shame (2011) dir. by Steve McQueen
35) Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010) dir. by Edgar Wright
34) Midnight in Paris (2011) dir. by Woody Allen
33) Stories We Tell (2012) dir. by Sarah Polley
32) Cold War (2018) dir. by Pawel Pawlikowski
31) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) dir. by George Miller
30) Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) dir. by Ethan & Joel Coen
29) The Look of Silence (2015) dir. by Joshua Oppenheimer
28) We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) dir. by Lynne Ramsay
27) BlacKkKlansman (2018) dir. by Spike Lee
26) First Reformed (2017) dir. by Paul Schrader
25) Carol (2015) dir. by Todd Haynes
24) Winter’s Bone (2010) dir. by Debra Granik
23) Citizenfour (2014) dir. by Laura Poitras
22) Animal Kingdom (2010) dir. by David Michôd
21) A Separation (2011) dir. by Asgar Farhadi
20) Meek’s Cutoff (2010) dir. by Kelly Reichardt
19) La La Land (2016) dir. by Damien Chazelle
18) Phantom Thread (2018) dir. by Paul Thomas Anderson
17) The Lobster (2015) dir. by Yorgos Lanthimos
16) Calvary (2014) dir. by John Michael McDonagh
15) Best of Enemies: Buckley Vs. Vidal (2015) dir. by Robert Morgan & Morgan Neville
14) Looper (2012) dir. by Rian Johnson
13) Frances Ha (2013) dir. by Noah Baumbach
12) Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) dir. by Benh Zeitlin
11) Lady Bird (2018) dir. by Greta Gerwig
10) A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) dir. by Ana Lily Amirpour
9) Moonlight (2016) dir. by Barry Jenkins
8) Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) dir. by Jim Jarmusch
7) Zero Dark Thirty (2012) dir. by Kathryn Bigelow
6) The Tree of Life (2014) dir. by Terrence Malick
5) You Were Never Really Here (2017) dir. by Lynne Ramsay
4) Ex Machina (2014) dir. by Alex Garland
3) Melancholia (2011) dir. by Lars Von Trier
2) The Act of Killing (2012) dir. by Joshua Oppenheimer

1) The Master (2012) dir. by Paul Thomas Anderson

So there you have it. It was a tough job, but I was happy to do it. Here are a few that nearly made the list: Everybody Wants Some!! (underrated Richard Linklater that more people should watch), Tomas Alfredson’s slow burn spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Paul Thomas Anderson’s hippie noir adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Admittedly, it was hard to weave many of the films from 2019 into the list as they’ll need to sit me a longer. I will say that Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story nearly edged their way on.

Here’s to hoping that the next ten years brings as many great films as the last ten have.

Sad News: Young talent, Anton Yelchin has passed away at 27


Reel News Daily is very sad to report the passing of Anton Yelchin. Most of you may know Yelchin’s work from the Star Trek reboot but we are particularly fond of his vast array of indie work in titles like Charlie Bartlett, Odd Thomas, Only Lovers Left Alive, 5 to 7, Rudderless, Cymbeline, The Driftless Area and many, many more. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and the film community. Anton had a maturity about his performances that was a rarity for his age, unafraid to tackles roles in any genre, big or small. He will be sorely missed.

Jeremy’s Review: Spike Lee’s “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” a Nod to Indie Roots, But Ultimately Falls Short on Execution

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Spike Lee is a lot like Stanley Kubrick to me in that they are both hit or miss directors that can wow me with one film and completely lose me with another. I can’t think of two directors that can make my opinion of their work swing from liking to disliking as quickly. It’s been since Lee‘s 2002 film 25th Hour that I’ve felt he lived up to what he gave with his masterpiece Do the Right Thing. Since then, it’s been a series of misfires and almost-theres. So, when I had the chance to see Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, his remake of Bill Gunn‘s cult classic Ganja and Hess, I will admit I was curious. I had high hopes that his working independently of a studio would capture some of the lightning that was bottled back in the 90s. Unfortunately, this film fell more in the Oldboy (which was an absolute mess) camp than his He Got Game camp.

Da-Sweet-Blood-of-Jesus-Stephen Tyrone Williams

The story is as such: Dr. Hess Greene (Stephen Tyrone Williams), a foremost expert on African cultures, begins a new project with the help of a researcher Lafayette Hightower (Elvis Nolasco). After the two meet and have some in depth conversation at Hess’ beautiful Martha’s Vineyard estatel they adjourn for the evening. When an unidentified sound drags Hess out of his house, he finds Hightower wailing high in a tree with a rope around his neck, about to throw himself from the branch on which he sits and kill himself. He is clearly a troubled man and Hess does everything to convince him to keep from committing suicide and it works…for the time being. Later, after further discussing the events of the evening, Hess is convinced that this is a one time thing and that Hightower will recover. Short lived, Hess wakes up to Hightower trying to strangle him. As the two battle back and forth, Hightower grabs a recently unearthed Ashanti dagger (the Ashanti are the major culture in Ghana) and stabs Hess, killing him. Or so we think. Later, Hess wakes up, still alive and apparently well despite the wound from the dagger. However, he is a changed man with an insatiable lust for blood. When he confronts Hightower after rising from the dead, Hightower shoots himself and we see Hess lapping at the blood left behind, sealing his fate. What plays out after this is Hightower’s wife, Ganja (Zaraah Abrahams), arrives on the island looking for her husband as he owes her money. They are on the outs and she just wants to be rid of him. It’s fairly easy to tell what happens after this…Hess and Ganja fall in love, marry and Hess turns her into a bloodlusting fiend just like him. How does all of that play out…well, for that you will need to see the film.

Da-Sweet-Blood-of-Jesus-Zaraah-Swamp-Brush

Tonally, this film is all over the place. It plays like the original (although I will confess I’ve not seen all of it) but with a higher class level of exploitation. The film’s thematic material also runs the gamut – colonialism, race, class. The way it was filmed reminded me so much of Fassbinder‘s Whity, although there is little other reference to it in Da Sweet Blood of Jesus aside from the racial aspects, which Lee has always had a knack for transcribing to the big screen. This is where Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is most successful, even though Lee isn’t terribly subtle with some of his references (e.g. Hightower trying to hang himself in a big tree). I really enjoyed Williams in the lead role, but the acting aside was spotty at best. I also really appreciated that this film didn’t devolve into some ridiculous vampire film. No one will ever do an understated vampire film better than Jim Jarmusch‘s Only Lovers Left Alive in my opinion so Lee was wise not to tread on that territory. The eroticism that was laced  throughout was well earned and avoided the trappings that befall other bloodsucking films. I love that Lee used Kickstarter to fund this film as no studio in their right minds would have funded it. This definitely allowed Lee the license to add content that would never have been allowed otherwise. I applaud his courage for that.

As a whole, this certainly is an interesting film and I may revisit it again. This film has been very hit or very miss with little wiggle room in between with other critics. I think this film is a near miss, but perhaps my opinion of it will change after finishing Gunn‘s film in its entirety. If you are a Spike Lee fan, this is worth a watch. If you want to see some off the beaten path, then I would suggest it. It may strike your fancy where it didn’t strike mine.

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus was released this week on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Saturn Awards Nominations Have Been Announced!

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The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films has announced the nominations for this year’s 41st Annual Saturn Awards and we have your list of nominees below!

On the movie side, Captain America: The Winter Soldier leads the nominations this year with a total of 11, including Best Comic Book-to-Film Release with  Interstellar close behind with 10 nominations. Guardians of the Galaxy chimes in with 9 nominations.

On the television, The Walking Dead leads with 7 nominations with Agent Carter and The Flash both receiving three each.

New this year is Best Superhero Adaptation Television Series, a special category to consider television series which are derived from comic book super heroes! An award sure to spark great debate amongst the legions of fans of these shows.

This year’s winners will be announced at the 41st Annual Saturn Awards, which takes place on June 25.

MOVIES

Best Comic Book-to-Film Release:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Science Fiction Film Release:

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Godzilla
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
  • Interstellar
  • The Zero Theorem

Best Fantasy Film Release:

  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent
  • Paddington

Best Horror Film Release:

  • Annabelle
  • The Babadook
  • Dracula Untold
  • Horns
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • The Purge: Anarchy

Best Thriller Film Release:

  • American Sniper
  • The Equalizer
  • Gone Girl
  • The Guest
  • The Imitation Game
  • Nightcrawler

Best Action / Adventure Film Release:

  • Exodus: Gods and Kings
  • Inherent Vice
  • Lucy
  • Noah
  • Snowpiercer
  • Unbroken

Best Actor in a Film:

  • Tom Cruise – Edge of Tomorrow
  • Chris Evans – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
  • Michael Keaton – Birdman
  • Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar
  • Chris Pratt  – Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Dan Stevens – The Guest

Best Actress in a Film:

  • Emily Blunt – Edge of Tomorrow
  • Essie Davis – The Babadook
  • Anne Hathaway – Interstellar
  • Angelina Jolie – Maleficent
  • Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
  • Rosemund Pike – Gone Girl

Best Supporting Actor in a Film:

  • Richard Armitage  – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice
  • Samuel L. Jackson – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Anthony Mackie – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Andy Serkis – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress in a Film:

  • Jessica Chastain – Interstellar
  • Scarlett Johansson – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Evangeline Lily – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Rene Russo – Nightcrawler
  • Emma Stone – Birdman
  • Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Best Performance by a Younger Actor in a Film:

  • Elle Fanning – Maleficent
  • MacKenzie Foy – Interstellar
  • Chloe Grace Moretz – The Equalizer
  • Tony Revolori – The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Noah Wiseman – The Babadook

Best Film Director:

  • Alejandro G. Innarritu – Birdman
  • James Gunn – Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Doug Liman – Edge of Tomorrow
  • Christopher Nolan – Interstellar
  • Matt Reeves – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Joe Russo, Anthony Russo – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Bryan Singer – X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Film Writing:

  • Captain America: Winter Soldier – Stephen McFeely, Christopher Markus
  • Edge of Tomorrow – Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
  • Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Best Film Editing:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt
  • Edge of Tomorrow – James Herbert, Laura Jennings
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Fred Raskin, Hughes Winborne, Craig Wood
  • Interstellar – Lee Smith
  • Unbroken – William Goldenberg, Tim Squyres
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past – John Ottman

Best Film Production Design:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Peter Wenham
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – James Chinlund
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Charles Wood
  • Interstellar – Nathan Crowley
  • Into the Woods – Dennis Gassner

Best Film Music:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Henry Jackman
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Michael Giacchino
  • Godzilla – Alexandre Desplat
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Howard Shore
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 – John Powell
  • Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

Best Film Costume:

  • Dracula Untold – Ngila Dickson
  • Exodus: Gods and Kings – Janty Yates
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Alexandra Byrne
  • Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood
  • Maleficent – Anna B. Sheppard
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past – Louise Mingenbach

Best Film Make-Up:

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Bill Terezakis, Lisa Love
  • Dracula Untold  – Mark Coulier, Daniel Phillips
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – David White, Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Peter King, Rick Findlater, Gino Acevedo
  • Into the Woods – Peter King, Matthew Smith
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past – Adrien Morot, Norma Hill-Patton

Best Film Special/Visual Effects:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Dan Daleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Dan Sudick
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist
  • Edge of Tomorrow – Gary Brozenich, Nick Davis, Jonathan Fawkner, Matthew Rouleau
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Nicholas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White
  • Interstellar – Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher

Best Independent Film Release:

  • Grand Piano
  • I, Origins
  • A Most Violent Year
  • The One I Love
  • The Two Faces of January
  • Whiplash

Best International Film Release:

  • Bird People
  • Calvary
  • Force Majeur
  • Mood Indigo
  • The Railway Man
  • The Theory of Everything

Best Animated Film Release:

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • The Lego Movie
  • The Wind Rises

TELEVISION

Best Network Television Series:

  • The Blacklist
  • The Following
  • Grimm
  • Hannibal
  • Person of Interest
  • Sleepy Hollow

Best Syndicated / Cable Television Series:

  • 12 Monkeys
  • American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Continuum
  • Falling Skies
  • Salem
  • The Strain
  • The Walking Dead

Best Limited Run Television Series:

  • Bates Motel
  • From Dusk Till Dawn
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Last Ship
  • The Librarians
  • Outlander

Best Superhero Adaptation Television Series:

  • Agent Carter
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Arrow
  • Constantine
  • The Flash
  • Gotham

Best Youth-Oriented Television Series:

  • The 100
  • Doctor Who
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Supernatural
  • Teen Wolf
  • The Vampire Diaries

Best Actor in a Television Series:

  • Hugh Dancy – Hannibal
  • Grant Gustin – The Flash
  • Andrew Lincoln – The Walking Dead
  • Tobias Menzies – Outlander
  • Mads Mikkelsen – Hannibal
  • Noah Wyle – Falling Skies

Best Actress in a Television Series:

  • Hayley Atwell – Agent Carter
  • Caitronia Balfe – Outlander
  • Vera Farmiga – Bates Motel
  • Jessica Lange – American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • Rachel Nichols – Continuum
  • Rebecca Romjin – The Librarians

Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series:

  • David Bradley – The Strain
  • Laurence Fishburne – Hannibal
  • Sam Heughan – Outlander
  • Erik Knudsen – Continuum
  • Norman Reedus – The Walking Dead
  • Richard Samuel – The Strain

Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series:

  • Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones
  • Jenna Coleman – Doctor Who
  • Caroline Dhavernas – Hannibal
  • Lexa Doig – Continuum
  • Emily Kinney – The Walking Dead
  • Melissa McBride – The Walking Dead

Best Performance by a Younger Actor in a Television Series:

  • Camren Bicondova – Gotham
  • Maxim Knight – Falling Skies
  • Tyler Posey – Teen Wolf
  • Chandler Riggs – The Walking Dead
  • Holly Taylor – The Americans
  • Maisie Williams – Game of Thrones

Best Guest Performance in a Television Series:

  • Dominic Cooper – Agent Carter
  • Neil Patrick Harris – American Horror Story: Freak Show
  • John Larroquette – The Librarians
  • Wentworth Miller – The Flash
  • Michael Pitt – Hannibal
  • Andrew J. West – The Walking Dead

HOME ENTERTAINMENT:

Best DVD/BD Release:

  • Beneath (IFC Film Release)
  • Blue Ruin
  • Odd Thomas
  • Ragnarok
  • White Bird in a Blizzard
  • Wolf Creek 2

Best DVD/BD Special Edition Release:

  • Alexander: The Ultimate Cut
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition
  • Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut
  • Once Upon a Time in America: Extended Director’s Cut
  • Sorcerer
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

Best DVD/BD Television Release:

  • Batman: The Complete Television Series
  • Hannibal: Season 2
  • Merlin: The Complete Series
  • Spartacus: The Complete Series
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 7
  • Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery
  • Wizards and Warriors: The Complete Series

Best DVD/BD Collection Release:

  • The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology
  • Halloween: The Complete Collection
  • Stanley Kubrick: The Masterpiece Collection
  • Steven Spielberg Director’s Collection
  • Toho Godzilla Collection
  • Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30 Film Collection

LIVE STAGE PRODUCTION:

Best Local Live Stage Production:

  • Damn Yankees (3-D Theatricals)
  • Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (Saban Theatre)
  • The Last Confession (Ahmanson Theatre)
  • Pippin (Segerstrom Center for the Arts)
  • Ragtime (3-D Theatricals)
  • Stoneface: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton (Pasadenia Playhouse)
  • The Wizard of Oz (Segerstrom Center for the Arts)

If I Chose the Academy Award Winners and Nominees – 2015 edition

I’ve now seen most of the films that had a release in 2014. This makes me more qualified to vote for the Oscars than 97.548% of the Academy’s membership. With the Oscar ceremony occurring tonight, I’ve picked, as I have the previous two years, who I think the nominees and winners should be in the bulk of the major categories. Once again, the foreign film category will be left off because I simply haven’t had access to enough foreign films to make a comment on them. Those that have made it to my neck of the woods, I will say, have been very good for the most part. Read More →

Reel News Daily’s Top Movies of 2014 on The Reel Big Show!

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It’s a full house on The Reel Big Show! Michael leads the group in discussion of their favorite movies of 2014, the night before the Oscar nominations. Below are their lists – with bold for which were nominated. See the list of nominations at Oscar.org.

Check out the fun IMDb quiz based on the 36 movies in all the lists!
Read More →