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Favorite Movies of the Decade January 21, 2010

Okay so I just did the best films of 2009. Phew. Done with the end of the year lists. Oh wait. It’s the ending of the decade too…

Since there’s too many to list: this isn’t going to be a top 10 or 20 or whatever. Instead I’m just going to reminisce on the films these past 10 years that made a profound of impact on me.

Requiem For A Dream (2000)

No other movie has moved me as powerfully as this one but it was far from an easy trip. If you’ve talked to anyone about this film you would know that it is one of the most brutally intense, disturbing and depressing American films ever released. It’s one of those films you have to watch but might be to rough to watch again.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

There’s quirky, then there’s The Royal Tenenbaums: with a charmingly off-beat humorist style that’s so intriguing, using the word quirky is an insult. Many believe that without this film, there’d be no Arrested Development, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno or Modern Family. Not to mention, the cast is fantastic. The more you watch it. The more you discover that this movie helped reinvent the dysfunctional family genre.

Moulin Rouge (2001)

First time I heard of this film, I thought it looked horrible. Then I saw it. And I was wrong. Damn wrong. I mean, yeah the beginning is a slight step above a trip on E but it’s the over-the-top, ridiculousness of it that makes it so appealing. But what made me adore this jukebox romantic comedy/tragedy musical was how the movie quickly jolted from absolutely hilarious to completely tragic. You know what’s going to happen from the beginning but even with that in mind the film puts you in a false sense of security that a happy ending will actually occur until the disaster hits you right in the stomach. Even if a love story is too feminine or cliched for you, even the biggest elitist can’t help but love the chaotically brilliant art style and music that mashes every pop song imaginable (one moments mixes together Labelle, Nirvana and Fatboy Slim). From an artistic standpoint, this is one of the most arrestingly fantastic films of the early decade.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

I think it’s pretty obvious this was going to make the list. Sure Star Wars will always be considered THE holy trilogy in my book however The Lord of the Rings were a landmark franchise in the early 2000s. Additionally, it was a massive form of escapism that, in a post-9/11 America, was desperately needed. It was epic, it was beautiful and it helped put “nerd”-related mediums in the mainstream. In the 80s and 90s, Role Playing Games were considered either social suicide or the work of Satan. Now in 2010, half of the country’s population plays World of Warcraft. Would this have happened had LOTR never hit the screens? Possibly but one has to wonder. These movies blew my post-middle school mind. The battle at Helm’s Deep, the terror of the Ringwraiths and Orcs, the sheer hilarity at Gollum arguing with himself were just some of the highlights that made me love this trilogy. And sure, the ending of part three may have been a little long (and slightly homoerotic) but even a die hard Star Wars fanboy can’t argue that the “other” trilogy made a major impact in the 2000s.

Love, Actually (2003)

Probably my favorite romantic comedy not just of this decade, but ever. This christmas epic not only boasts a fantastic cast but also strips down the term of love to its essential elements. It’s not only love of husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend but also the love between best friends and family. The score is chillingly good, all of the side-stories are interesting and don’t just resort to one-dimensional characterization and, not to mention, it gives you that special kind of holiday spirit no film has done this momentously since It’s A Wonderful Life. That says a lot.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003-2004)

This ultra-bloody tribute to the samurai film pretty much made my freshman year. Over-the-top, violent and tons of kick-ass fun. The blood-soaked fights, perfect one-liners (“Wiggle your big toe” “I’ll collect your f–king head”) blew my post-puberty mind. Stylishly fantastic and classic Quarintino.

Garden State (2004)

I saw this film over the summer it came out and loved the hell out of it. It established everything I was feeling at the time. After all, I was in high school: angsty, confused, rebellious and desperately needed to pretentiously listen to indie rock. Garden State offered all of that, with a fantastic soundtrack to boot. It would also be one of the first films to introduce me to the indie film. Before Garden State, my favorite films were The Matrix, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. In other words, big budget flicks in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. Garden State ignited my love affair with Fox Searchlight, a studio that would put out fantastic film after fantastic film.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Yet another example of my falling in love with indie cinema. Eternal Sunshine takes a love story and blends it with science fiction, surrealism and post-modern storytelling. It’s inventive presentation, storytelling and directing style made it one of the most original films of the decade. Perhaps even the Pulp Fiction of the 00s?

March of the Penguins (2005)

I love penguins. Plain and simple. So much that when I was a kid, I adored the mediocre (compared to Don Bluth’s other works) animated film The Pebble and the Penguin soley because it had penguins. Well this documentary combined two of my favorite things: penguins AND Morgan Freeman’s voice. Honestly, you can’t for anything more. Well that and the visuals are gorgeous as hell.

The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

I can’t even count how many times I’ve watched this movie yet even still I find new moments that make me burst into laughter. This is easily one of my favorite comedies and began my belief that Judd Apatow is a comedic God.

Children Of Men (2006)

Amazing direction mixed with flawless storytelling of a dystopian world. To be honest, no words can truly describe how much I adore this film. It’s as brutal as it is beautiful.

The Fountain (2006)

An absolute feast for both the eyes and the ears with beautiful imagery utilizing macro photography instead of computer generated imagery and one of the most relentlessly perfect scores I have ever heard in my lifetime. It’s a tale of love, loss and the fight of mortality that is truly one for the ages.

Once (2007)

A simple tale of how every personal encounter can inspire and push someone to their potential. It’s simple but what makes this film is the music. And it’s fantastic: giving off an Irish singer-songwriter vibe akin to Damien Rice. When this film came out, I was absolutely obsessed with Damien Rice and when with film came out, I was in love. Very few irish films make it big in America and when Once broke out, I was super stoked. Once showed moviegoers that a musical can be realistic and dramatic without any camp. Hopefully, Hollywood will learn from the film’s success and continue this trend. Fox Searchlight does it yet again.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

I’ll give you three reasons why I love the hell out of this film. This… and this… annnnnddddddd this… . No but in all seriousness, Daniel Day Lewis’ performance in There Will Be Blood is easily one of the best of the decade (and Paul Dano’s performance isn’t too far from top either). The cinematography and eerily magnificent score by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood only further propels the brilliance of this film. This movie single-handedly helped reach Paul T. Anderson (one of my favorite directors) to filmmaker superstardom.

Wall-E (2008)

I always knew animation wasn’t just kid stuff, but this film made me not only believe it, but openly advocate that idea. Thanks to Wall-E, I am now a huge fan of animation and a devoted Pixar fanboy.  If it wasn’t for this film, I wouldn’t have explored the world of underground animation from the cult favorite Fantastic Planet to the phenomenal works of Ralph Bakshi. Wall-E truly is a work of art and a visual masterpiece with some unbelievably imaginative sound design. Very few films this decade won my heart as much as this one. See it.

The Dark Knight (2008)

We all know why this is on the list. It’s the ideal superhero film and one that all other will aspire too. A monumental cinematic achievement.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Ah yes. Another Fox Searchlight pick. And third times the charm. Stylishly directed with my second favorite score ever (first obviously The Fountain), Slumdog combines Bollywood flair with American fall film grittiness in a “best of both worlds” kind of hybrid. I, along with many others, discovered the beauty of Indian cinema thanks to this gem. All this plus, the idea of telling the life of young man’s trials and tribulations through a game show is something uniquely appealing. It may be emotionally rough at times but in the end, it truly is a tale of the triumph of love and the human spirit. And in times like this, it’s something we all need pretty darn bad. So… all together now: JAI HO!

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

District 9 (2009)

Up (2009)

I’ve discussed these two films in full in my 2009 recap. You all know how much I adore these movies but if you want to hear what I have to say about them: click here.


Nerdy Heartbeat 2009 Recap: The Best Movies of 2009 January 2, 2010

Holy crap 2009. It’s over and for the most part it was a pretty chaotic and insane year (not in a good way). Between the economy continuing plummeting down, Auto-tune plummeting up and Fox News hypocritically and ironically going jihad on Obama after 8 years of whining how bashing a president is anti-American, it was hard to escape from the real world. Good thing movies are still one of the best forms of escapism that doesn’t involve dying of overdose. 2009 was an amazing year for movies both of quality and from a commercial standpoint. The yearly gross is at the highest its ever been (so far at 10.5 BILLION) and with Avatar invading the box office it will only get even higher. The ticket sales were high too at about 1460 million tickets sold this year, the highest its been since 2004. It’s clear that the recession isn’t hurting the film industry at all, in fact it’s helping it. Also as far as quality movies were fantastic with a variety of different genres for something for everyone, not to mention a vast array of original films which is rare in a world of remakes and adaptations. It was a hard list to make; there were so many great films this year, the top 5 itself are easily some of my favorite films this decade.

10. Adventureland

Greg Molotta’s first film since Superbad may not be the Apatow-esque sex-romp everyone expected. In fact, it’s better. Adventureland deals with the post-college troubles that come when one has to deal with the real world in a truly powerful coming-of-age story. A perfect portrayal of all the ups and downs of growing up; not to mention proves to America that Kristen Stewart can acutally act.

9. The Princess and the Frog

The Disney films that we all grew up with are considered classics. Why? Because they kept them simple: renowned folklore reinvented as animated musicals for Western audiences. But after Mulan and experimenting with science fiction (resulting in a few decent but commercially disappointing efforts), Disney plummeted into mediocrity. For the entire decade, Disney had to hold on to Pixar and live-action hits to dear life to stay afloat. But in 2009, Disney decided to go back to their roots with The Princess and the Frog. At the core, it has the same premise of your average Disney Princess movie but beneath that is a great world and story they weave around the simple premise. It’s propelled even further with entertaining characters and jaw-dropping yet nostalgic 2D animation. The music is no Alan Menken but it’s still catchy and fun. It also reminds us how accessible Disney movies are; the film has plenty of humor, visual flare, charm and nods to 1920s New Orleans culture that even a group of full grown adults can enjoy it just as much kids. The Disney magic is back.

8. Zombieland

A 90 minute commercial for Twinkies? Probably but this is one of the most entertaining movies of the year and one of 2009’s best comedies and easily 2009’s best horror film. This year was great to horror with fantastic original horror films left and right, (Drag Me to Hell, Orphan, Paranormal Activity) it was really good that companies aren’t just using horror to cash in on mediocre remakes. Zombieland takes the traditional zombie apocalypse and turns its trademarks on its head with a hilariously engrossing story, dialog and characters. The last 10 or so minutes where the gang fight their way through an amusement park is one of the best fight scenes in a horror movie in a very long time. Sony should stick with this idea; it has strong potential of being a horror classic and can help revive the zombie movie in America.

7. Fantastic Mr. Fox

One of my favorite stories as a kid comes to life with witty Wes Anderson flair. Gorgeous visuals, sharp writing and great voice acting from an impressive ensemble cast make this shine above the rest of the animated films this year in what is ultimately, Ocean’s 11 meets The Royal Tenenbaums with animals. It’s a phenomenal work but a damn shame that this didn’t do as well as many hoped while G-Force and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel were enormously popular. Guess America prefers rodents making fart jokes and singing pop songs. That being said if you’re a fan of animation (particularly anything unconventional outside of the typical CGI affair) or just a huge fan of Wes Anderson’s work, you absolutely need to see this.

6. A Single Man

Visually and aesthetically, this is easily the year’s most phenomenal. Unconventional editing mashed with experimentations with color schemes and brilliant fashion design makes this an artistic gold mine. But underneath all the visual flair is a tragic tale of a man recovering from a lost love and dealing with depression. It is simply a cinematic marvel. That and I’m a sucker for Julianne Moore and Ginnifer Goodwin.

5. The Road

After the masterpiece that was Children of Men, I wasn’t sure if the post-apocalyptic thriller could get any better. Then when I scoffed through films like Babylon A.D., I was convinced that the genre was dead. When I first of The Road, I didn’t know what to think expect that it was just another fall thriller. Then after watching the first 10 or so minutes I knew this was going to be anything but run-of-the-mill. Viggo Mortensen has always been a cinematic badass but this film solidified him as a brilliant actor. The supporting cast, including Robert Duvall and Charlize Theron are pretty fantastic as well. The cinematography is visually staggering and the overall feel of the film is as intense as an post-apocalyptic world can be. Unlike other films this year like 2012 or Zombieland, there’s no over-the-top explosions, hard boiled action, humor or hope. This is the real deal. It’s gritty, bleak and simply tragic. However, the film still makes you feel for these characters despite the fact that hope is slim. It’s an aggressively marvelous tale about the struggle and tenacity of the human spirit and proves that movies about the end of the world can still send shivers down your spine.

4. Up in the Air

George Clooney is cool as f–k. You probably don’t want to admit it but even if you hate him (for whatever reason) you can’t help but realize that you desperately want to be him. Up in the Air proves that as Clooney plays as suave but severely flawed man who gets paid by firing people, lives in airports, believes marriage is a joke and emotionally distances himself from everyone. You don’t want to like him but alas you can’t help but root for the smug bastard. Add this with a fantastic script, brilliant supporting roles from Vera Farminga and Anna Kendrick (aka the “other girl” in the Twilight movies) and a twist that will make M. Night green with envy and you have something that’s very very special. Easily one of the year’s best offerings.

3. Up

Pixar, much like a famed balloon house in their summer hit Up, is flying high as one of the most prolific film companies right now. After the magnificent visual feast that was Wall-E, some (including me) believed Pixar couldn’t get any better. Boy were we wrong. The first 10 minutes of Up were more oscar-worthy than any of the scenes currently nominated for the Golden Globe for best picture and the rest of the movie has dozen of scenes that will either make burst into laughter, bring tears to your eye or give you chills. It’s a storytelling marvel, plain and simple. Arguably one of the best animated films this past decade.

2. District 9

We live in a world where a blockbuster must be based on a comic book/toy line/TV show/book. Then District 9 came along and proved that as long as the world and story is convincing enough and if you’ve got a great marketing campaign, a film can succeed despite of all of the things going against it (unknown cast, heavy R rating, film technique that’s hit/miss with audience, TriStar not releasing a hit since the late 90s). But the fact that it’s an original work or the genius marketing or how it was able to live up to all the hype is why this is so high on the list. Very few sci-films (at least in this day and age) were able to juxtapose sci-fi based mythology with real world social problems so flawlessly without preaching to the audience. The way to narrative unraveled underneath a magnificent yet terrifying setting was masterful. Combine this with visual effects that rival films with a $100+ budget, fantastic acting, an engrossing documentary style and brutally intense action and you have one of the best popcorn flicks in a long time. Not bad for a first-time director. Let’s just hope that with this movie, (as well as Avatar) film companies learned that you don’t need to remake/adapt a previous work to guarantee a hit.

1. (500) Days of Summer

The romantic comedy genre got its share of beatings over the past decade. Sure it got a few bones thrown to it in the shape of Love Actually, Eternal Sunshine and Garden State, but for the most part, romantic comedies were mediocre cliched romps. Especially this year where the romantic comedy went from mediocre (The Proposal) to bad (The Ugly Truth) to horrible (Bride Wars) to All About Steve. It seemed like the genre had its final nail in the coffin. Until this movie came along. However, while it’s a romantic boy meets girl story the film said it right in the beginning: “This is not a love story”. It’s a tale about fate and destiny; how it can shatter and rise again when you least expect it. It’s a story about how what one wants and what one gets can collide like a brutal car crash. It’s about how love, like everything else, is a cycle that grows, blossoms, withers, dies and becomes born again. All of these themes and the way the film presents them is what truly makes it a stand-out film. That and how often do you see a rom-com from a guys point of view? And how often are said guys not the stereotypical womanizer archetype? (500) Days truly is a relatable, realistic love story that feels real which ironically is rare in the genre. Which begs the question: between this, Slumdog, Wrestler, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine and Garden State, does Fox Searchlight EVER release something that isn’t brilliant?

Honorable Mentions:


Paper Heart

Funny People

Whatever Works

Star Trek

The Hangover


Where the Wild Things Are



What’s Out on DVD This Week?: 11/11 November 11, 2009

Filed under: DVDs — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 8:42 pm
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One of the best films of the year and proof that Pixar might just be the best thing for Hollywood animation since… ever, Up was an hilarious, touching, coming-of-old age film that was simply to die for in Disney Digital 3D. If you didn’t like this you were either A. a parent who’s mad a movie actually made their kid cry (God forbid) or B. A person born without a soul.

In short, it’s a modern day animated masterpiece and if you haven’t seen this yet, rent it or buy it now. As with most other Pixar DVD’s, Up will also include an animated spin-off short based on the film as well as plenty of other extras reminding you how Pixar works their massively talented butts off to disappoint families that want mindless entertainment and blow away everyone else who has a valuable opinion.

RIYL: Pixar, floating houses, talking dogs, really really sad opening scenes, old dudes, Wall-E


The Ugly Truth:

3446325584_1ecb89335eSpeaking of best films of the year, this…. definitely isn’t one of them. After Katherine Heigl’s “serious feminine persona” was so mad that Knocked Up was sexist (and by sexist she means being one of the few rom-coms that shows the guy’s perspective), she took serious action. She starred and produced in a film where she played… the exacted same role she did in Knocked Up, only this character gave the image of “as a woman you’re either a work-obsessive mega bitch or a seductress trying to turn on whatever guy you’re into at the moment”. Not only that but this film also says that guys just care about sex and flirtation when it comes to relationships. So much for gender equality right?

But hypocrisy of Hiegl aside, there is some redeeming qualities in this rom-com, but frankly, who cares? There are so many other rom-coms to choose from at this point, most of which are far better, far funnier and much less offensive than this one. Wait for 500 Days of Summer to come out on DVD.

RIYL: How to Lose A Bride War in 27 Dresses, sexism, Katherine Heigl contradicting herself, Gerald Butler gradually losing his masculinity, unfunny sex jokes that go on way to long, SRSLYYY, ALL GUYS CARE ABOUT IZ SEXXXX AND DER LYKE TOTALLL PIGZ!!!!!!11


Best Films of 2009 (so far and from what I’ve seen) August 21, 2009

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Box Office: Rom Com Leads Last Weekend Before “Robots Blowing Stuff Up” Will Dominate June 21, 2009

Filed under: box office — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 9:34 pm
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1. The Proposal (34.1 Mil) – At first I didn’t think this was gonna do well at all, until I realized it was the only romcom/chick flick in theaters right now. The female 15-30 age group ate this up and with nothing like this until mid July with The Ugly “Truth”, it will probably continue to stay in the top 5 for a while.

2. The Hangover (26.8 Mil) – This honestly has potential of topping Wedding Crashers as the most successful R-rated Comedy ever. And who knew the biggest comedy of our generation would star 3 B/C-List Comedians rather than the “big names”. Suck on that Eddie Murphy.

3. Up (21.3 Mil) – As of now it’s doing almost as well as Finding Nemo (highest grossing Pixar flick) did back in 2003. And boy does it deserve every penny. Seriously, this is Pixar’s best, even better than Wall-e which I thought was impossible. Plus, it’s to die for in 3-D.

4. Year One (20.2 Mil) – Ouch. Not as good as people were expecting. Surprising that you have Apatow producing and Ramis directing, and you have not only critics trashing it but audiences not seeing it. Guess people are sick of Black and Cera playing the same roles.

5. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (11.3 Mil) – Who doesn’t want to see John Travolta take a train hostage?


Prepare to Cry: Pixar Grants Girl’s Dying Wish June 20, 2009

Filed under: Prepare to Cry — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 11:04 pm
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It’s like Fanboys but much much more touching. Colby Curtin, a 10-year-old with a rare form of cancer, had one more wish — To live to see the new Disney-Pixar movie Up. Pixar sent a DVD copy of the film that the family could watch at the hospital. She died seven hours after the screening. It’s absolutely amazing that Pixar did something like this and ultimately shows just the true progressive and humanistic nature of the studio. For the full story click here.

If you haven’t seen Up yet, go to the theater and see it now. It’s arguably the best thing Pixar has done yet.


Box Office Weekend June 5-7: Up Gets Number 1 Spot Two Weeks In A Row June 7, 2009

3426149236_49ea57b5c21. Up (44.2 Mil) – Second week in a row at number 1. Not really surprising since any movie associated with Pixar is destined to make lots and lots of money. That and it has a lot going for it: mature storyline akin to last year’s Wall-E, rave reviews, talking dogs. This definitely has potential of being one of the highest grossing films of the summer.

2. The Hangover (43.2 Mil) – Not gonna lie, I’m kind of surprised this did this well. I mean there’s not exactly an A-List star in this and there wasn’t a huge amount of advertising. Nonetheless, it did extremely well being only 1 million below the number one movie.

3. Land of the Lost (19.5 Mil) – Kind of a disappointment, especially when compared to the success of the opposing new comedy this weekend. Who knows, maybe Americans are tired of Will Ferrell’s typical antics. Or maybe less people were fans of the TV show than Universal expected.

4. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (14.6 Mil) – Starting to lose its steam, despite doing exceptionally well on Memorial Day weekend. Probably because American families realized that there is a much much MUCH better family film in theaters right now. Think about it: Pixar film or sequel with Ben Stiller doing more physical comedy in another museum. Which would you chose?

5. Star Trek (8.4 Mil) – Jesus. Five weeks later and its still in the top 5. As of now its made 222 Million being the highest grossing film of the year. And it really does deserve every dollar it makes. All this being said, the success of Star Trek will probably soon be overshadowed by an upcoming sequel with the robots blowing stuff up.