swI have always been a proponent of the idea that I can separate what I think is brilliant from what I personally enjoy.  Let’s just look at 2015.  I think that Carol and The Revenant were the two best films of the year.  But if I’m going to sit and watch a movie from 2015, odds are it will be The Force Awakens (this is borne out by the fact that I’ve seen Carol twice, The Revenant all the way through once and The Force Awakens, at a modest count, 21 times complete plus the final 20 minutes about 15 more).

To that extent, I have finally culled together a list of my 100 Favorite Films, the ones I am most likely to sit still and watch, or at least not change the station if I come across them.  They’re not heavy Drama.  In fact, when I went through the genres, only one film on the entire list is one that I classify primarily as Drama (Casablanca).

It’s really hard to do this kind of list when you’ve seen as many films as I have (14,000+).  I put it together by going through year by year and adding films, and once I hit 100, knocking off the films at the bottom.  When I first read Veronica a list of 50 films, I then pointed out that those were the 50 I was about to delete because they didn’t make the list and she was stunned.  “But you love those films!” she pointed out.  “But I love the Top 100 even more,” I replied.  It was very, very tough.  Though they are easily two of the greatest directors of all-time if not the two greatest directors of all-time, not a single Kurosawa or Kubrick film ended up on the list.  There is no Bergman.  There is no David Lean.  The Ealing Comedies and the Hammer Horror, both of which I love so much I wrote about them only have one film each.  I did For Love of Film posts for James Bond (1 film) and Star Trek (2 films).  It’s really, really hard to narrow it all down. (more…)

Probably my mother's favorite movie, at least in part because Chris Cooper actually plays the hero.

Probably my mother’s favorite movie, at least in part because Chris Cooper actually plays the hero.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films (or directors) in olive are links to earlier posts that I don’t want to have show up in blue and be mistaken for a nominee.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing the top 12 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Lone Star
  2. Trainspotting
  3. The English Patient
  4. Fargo
  5. Hamlet
  6. Secrets & Lies
  7. Jerry Maguire
  8. In the Bleak Midwinter
  9. Cold Comfort Farm
  10. The Crucible
  11. Romeo + Juliet
  12. Emma

Analysis:  There are a lot of years that have a better #1 film than Lone Star.  But not many have a better #2 than Trainspotting.  Even fewer have a better #3 than The English Patient.  The Top three films are tied with several others years for third best to-date (behind 1946 and 1950).  But Fargo is the best #4 film to-date (actually, it’s almost certainly the best #4 film ever).  And only a handful of years have a #5 film as good as Hamlet.  As a result, this year is tied with 1946 for the best Top 4 to-date and Top 5 to-date (and, probably, all-time).  There is a three point drop after that, so it’s only the second best Top 6, then another two point drop.  But, because all 10 films are ****, it is in the 6th best Top 10 to-date, behind only 1989, 1960, 1994, 1962 and 1991.
One thing I must make mention of here.  I don’t count documentaries, as I have mentioned in the past.  That is particularly relevant in this year, a year in which I actually went to see two documentaries in the theater (The Celluloid Closet, Looking for Richard) and there are a couple of others which are phenomenal (When We Were Kings, Paradise Lost).  I went with 12 films because this is my whole list of **** films.
Two of these films rank among the films I have watched the most over the last 20 years (Trainspotting, In the Bleak Midwinter). (more…)

Star Trek Beyond

  • star_trek_beyond_ver2Year:  2016
  • Director:  Justin Lin
  • Series Rank:  #9
  • The Enterprise Crew:  Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin
  • Villain:  Idris Elba


Wil Wheaton, an actor who I am not inclined to give much leeway to, as he played one of the most annoying Star Trek characters ever (I actually dislike Guinan more), tweeted a response to the original premiere of the Star Trek Beyond trailer back in December that I agreed with at the time: “I saw the weirdest trailer today. It was for a generic science fiction action movie, but it was all dressed up in Star Trek costumes.”  But, a little ways into this film, I settled back and accepted the inevitable: as much as Star Trek was never an action franchise during the first 40 years of its existence, it certainly is now.  I may not like it, but there’s no point in continually harping over it when that’s clearly the decision they have made.  They want to give you nonstop action whether you want it or not.  So, let’s focus on other things. (more…)

star-trek-wrath-of-khan-spock-death-2The Films (ranked):

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Star Trek: First Contact
  3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  4. Star Trek
  5. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  7. Star Trek Into Darkness
  8. Star Trek: Generations
  9. Star Trek Beyond
  10. Star Trek: Nemesis
  11. Star Trek: Insurrection
  12. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  13. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

note:  The first film is ****.  The next three are ***.5.  The rest are *** except Star Trek V, which is **.5.


Star Trek Into Darkness

  • star_trek_into_darknessYear:  2013
  • Director:  J. J. Abrams
  • Series Rank:  #7
  • Year Rank:  #39
  • Oscar Nominations:  Visual Effects
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • The Enterprise Crew:  Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Alice Eve
  • Villains:  Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Weller

When I walked out of the theater after seeing Star Trek in 2009, I started explaining to Veronica all the reasons the film annoyed me, and I continued it through the whole ride home.  I didn’t see Star Trek Into Darkness with Veronica because we didn’t have a chance to get a babysitter and I wanted to see the film before the secret of who Benedict Cumberbatch was playing got out.  But even so, once I got home, I knew it wasn’t as good as the first one and that it was, in many ways, a pale imitation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the film that provided the initial inspiration for this film, but I had a much harder time explaining why. (more…)

Star Trek

  • star_trek_xi_ver19Year:  2009
  • Director:  J. J. Abrams
  • Series Rank:  #4
  • Year Rank:  #20
  • Oscar Nominations:  Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • The Enterprise Crew:  Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood
  • Villain:  Eric Bana

There is talk in this film about cheating.  That’s because Jim Kirk cheats on the Kobayashi Maru test.  Do you know what that test is?  If you haven’t seen Star Trek II, you might not, in which case this might not mean anything to you, and that says a lot about my feelings on this film.  J. J. Abrams cheats.  That is why this film holds an almost unique spot in my personal appreciation of films.  I have seen over 13,000 feature films and very few of them do what this one does – fill me with pleasure and joy and delight while at the same time making me scream in anger, frustration or irritation. (more…)

Star Trek: Nemesis

  • star_trek_nemesis_ver2Year:  2002
  • Director:  Stuart Baird
  • Series Rank:  #9
  • Year Rank:  #122
  • Oscar Nominations:  none
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  none
  • The Enterprise Crew:  Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Gates MacFadden, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn
  • Villain:  Tom Hardy

I mentioned that Star Trek V was such a disappointment that it almost killed the franchise.  Even though this is a better film than that one, it was such a disappointment that it did kill the film franchise.  It would be another seven years before Star Trek would appear in theaters and that would be rebooted to younger versions of the original crew.  There are a variety of reasons why this film did what the earlier film could not but there are also things to enjoy about this film and in the end, I still think it preferable, not only to two of the original films, but also the previous TNG film.  Hell, it even has a villain played by an actor that I spent a considerable amount of time lambasting in my most recent Best Picture reviews and I still think it’s better. (more…)