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.

New trailer for Woody Allen’s latest movie ‘Cafe Society’ – Premiering at Cannes & releasing in Amazon July 15th

Cafe Society

CAFÉ SOCIETY will have its world premiere on opening night of the 69th Cannes Film Festival

Amazon Studios & Lionsgate will release CAFÉ SOCIETY on July 15, 2016

Directed and Written by Woody Allen

Starring Jeannie Berlin, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll, and Ken Stott

Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, and Edward Walson

Set in the 1930s, Woody Allen’s bittersweet romance CAFÉ SOCIETY follows Bronx-born Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) to Hollywood, where he falls in love, and back to New York, where he is swept up in the vibrant world of high society nightclub life.

Centering on events in the lives of Bobby’s colorful Bronx family, the film is a glittering valentine to the movie stars, socialites, playboys, debutantes, politicians, and gangsters who epitomized the excitement and glamour of the age.

Bobby’s family features his relentlessly bickering parents Rose (Jeannie Berlin) and Marty (Ken Stott), his casually amoral gangster brother Ben (Corey Stoll); his good-hearted teacher sister Evelyn (Sari Lennick), and her egghead husband Leonard (Stephen Kunken). For the hooligan Ben, there are no questions that can’t be answered with brute force, but the others are more likely to ponder deeper matters, like right and wrong, life and death, and the commercial viability of religion.

Seeking more out of life, Bobby flees his father’s jewelry store for Hollywood, where he works for his high-powered agent uncle Phil (Steve Carell). He soon falls for Phil’s charming assistant Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), but as she’s involved with another man, he settles for friendship. Bobby also befriends Rad (Parker Posey), a model agency owner, and her husband Steve (Paul Schneider), a wealthy producer.

When Vonnie’s boyfriend breaks up with her, Bobby seizes the opportunity to romance her, and she ultimately returns his affections. When he asks her to marry him and move to New York, she is tempted, but things do not go as smoothly as planned.

Heartbroken, Bobby returns to New York, where he begins working for Ben, who has muscled his way into owning a nightclub. Bobby displays natural talents as an impresario and swiftly promotes the club into the hottest in town, renaming it “Les Tropiques.”  Rad introduces him to the beautiful socialite Veronica (Blake Lively) and he courts her assiduously. Although he is still carrying a torch for Vonnie, when Veronica reveals she’s pregnant, they marry and begin a genuinely happy life together.

Everything seems to have fallen into place for Bobby until the night Vonnie walks into “Les Tropiques.”

Poignant, and often hilarious, CAFÉ SOCIETY, a film with a novel’s sweep, takes us on a journey from pastel-clad dealmakers in plush Hollywood mansions, to the quarrels and tribulations of a humble Bronx family, to the rough-and-tumble violence of New York gangsters, to the sparkling surfaces and secret scandals of Manhattan high life.

With CAFÉ SOCIETY, Woody Allen conjures up a 1930s world that has passed to tell a deeply romantic tale of dreams that never die.

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Opposing Reviews: Melissa & Liz review Woody Allen’s ‘Irrational Man’ with Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone & Parker Posey

irrationalman_poster

Summary:

Liz and I often agree on movies, but there are occasions where we do not, and Irrational Man is one of them. As it rolls out to theaters across the country, starting with this weekend, we thought you might like to read two different opinions. Enjoy!

Melissa

Looking through the stills of Irrational Man, I almost remember it fondly. Seeing these characters without the context of the movie, they are attractive and happy. Within the movie, Joaquin is a bitter, drunk college professor with some sort of social disorder and a Emma is a student who falls in love with her teacher.

So what’s it about? Abe (Joaquin Phoenix) is the new philosophy professor whose cynical yet brilliant ideas attract a student, Jill (Emma Stone) as well as a colleague, Rita (Parker Posey). Ok, another example of a young woman attracted to an older man. But wait, is it?

I’m typically a Woody Allen fan, but I didn’t care for the last movie with Emma Stone, Magic in the Moonlight, either. In this, Emma is way too eager and without a likeable personality. She knows she’s a silly girl, yet she doesn’t shy away from it. Parker Posey is even more manic than expected and it actually works pretty well. She’s a bright spot.

Joaquin seems totally miscast and never really gets into the role. His words don’t seem natural at all and come off as though he’s adding words on his own. It kills me, as I’ve loved everything he’s been in.

The story is pretty original however, with unexpected turns, especially the ending. As per usual with a Woody Allen movie, it’s beautifully shot and edited. The soundtrack is unbelievably repetitive, with the same piano version of “Judy In Disguise” playing over and over again in pretty much every scene. I had never noticed this in Allen’s movies before, but I certainly noticed it this time around.

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Liz

On the flip side of the coin, I found this film to be pretty delightful. There is no mistaking this is pure Woody Allen fare. Punctuated by loose jazz standards, quippy, fast-paced dialogue, including dairy-esque monologues moving the film’s plot along nicely. It’s not too far fetched that one overheard conversation can change the course of your life forever, but certainly for amusing and dramatic purposes, this one is pretty over the top. The plot also revolves heavily around the concentration of philosophy, which is the subject Joaquin’s character teaches. One of the best tongue in cheek lines is a direct quote from his portrayal of Abe, ” Philosophy is verbal masturbation.” This is kind of the perfect way to describe Allen’s writing style in general and I think you either gravitate towards it, or you don’t.

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I was certainly pleased with all the performances in the film. Emma Stone‘s Jill is eager, bright, yet her flippant idolatry for her professor is not so far fetched. It’s a strong performance she owns with ease. Phoenix, for me, was perfectly cast as Abe. His jaded, depression filled, existential crisis excuses are anything but boring. It was refreshing to see him in something with a biting sense of humor as far as the script is concerned. And then we have my girl, Parker Posey as Rita. I’ve been a huge fan since her Waiting For Guffman and House of Yes days. She has an uncanny ability to slip into whatever role is thrown at her. Her genuine nonchalance as a bored fellow professor is just the best. Being of the same age and stage as Abe gives the two a breezy interaction that allows Posey to shine as a real person. Not a caricature of a woman, but a really well written woman, with hopes, dreams, opinions, unafraid and yet still completely vulnerable. I would have watched a full film about Rita.

So, there you go movie fans. Two Woody Allen fans with two very different opinions of the same film. I guess you’ll just have to buy a ticket and find out for yourself. Irrational  Man opens in theaters this weekend opening in more theaters throughout the coming weeks.

Jeremy’s Review: Simon Helberg & Jocelyn Towne’s ‘We’ll Never Have Paris’ Is a Woody Allen Knock Off But Has Its Moments

We'll Never Have Paris posterThe romantic comedy landscape is peppered with film trying to show the absurdities of love all the while doing their best to unite the two love interests. Some people do this well, most fail miserably, while few hit middle ground. Simon Helberg & Jocelyn Towne‘s We’ll Never Have Paris fits into the latter category. While I’ve never seen Big Bang Theory where Helberg has made his name (and a shit ton of money), I can imagine that his portrayal of super-nerd Howard Wolowitz isn’t far from what we see in his character Quinn in this film. But I could be wrong, although, admittedly, I rarely am. Read More →

Jeremy’s Review: Tom O’Brien’s ‘Manhattan Romance’ Is Fun But Hits Familiar Notes

ManhattanRomanceStillIt’s no surprise that Tom O’Brien‘s Manhattan Romance feels like a Woody Allen film. Most of Allen‘s most successful romantic comedies take place in Manhattan and have a tremendous amount of dialogue so in this sense, Manhattan Romance emulates Allen. The circumstances befalling his protagonist, Danny (played by O’Brien himself), and the absence of the signature Allen comedic touches distinguish the film from those of Allen. But they tread in the same water. That isn’t to say that Manhattan Romance is in the same league as films like Annie Hall or Manhattan, but could it be a distant relative? Read More →

Jeremy’s Review: Peter Glanz’s ‘The Longest Week’ Is What Happens When Wes Anderson and Woody Allen Films Mate…But Is That a Good Thing?

The Longest Week - PosterFresh with master shots, sly camera movements and clever inserts of nostalgic items such as record players flush with witty conversations on the meaning of life, sex and relationships, Peter Glanz‘s The Longest Week wears its influences on its sleeve – Wes Anderson and Woody Allen are everywhere in this film. The economic status of the characters could easily lead us to the New York comedies of Whit Stillman (Metropolitan in particular – the Jane Austen chatter alone pushes this). With all that cinematic genius being channeled, as the title of this article asks, is this a good thing? Maybe, maybe not. Read More →

“Life is meaningless” And Other Bits Of Awesome From ‘Magic In The Moonlight’ Press Conference

On a beautiful Friday morning, I and others gathered for a press conference about Woody Allen’s latest comedy, Magic In The Moonlight. In attendance is Colin Firth, Jacki Weaver and non other than the man himself, Woody Allen.

Magic In The Moonlight

Isn’t that just an amazing shot of Colin Firth? So dashing!

Woody Allen on the meaning of life

“I firmly believe, and I don’t mean this as a criticism, life is meaningless.”

Read More →