Best Movies of the Decade

A few weeks ago I saw a video or article about the best movies of the last decade. Most of the choices were hipster indie choices, which is fine, but they definitely didn’t capture my favorites of the decade. It gave me the idea to make a video of my list but that felt boring. On a whim I decided to reach out to my fellow youtubers on twitter and see if anyone else wanted to contribute. I asked each person to make a 1-2 minute video about their favorite movie and to my shock the response was massive. I ended up with 14 contributors and it made for a video I really love. I love how different everyone’s picks are and how heartfelt their explanations behind their picks. It’s definitely one of my favorite videos I’ve ever done on my channel so check it out.

My favorite can be no surprise to all of you: 2016’s anime masterpiece Your Name. However, I thought I would give you the rest of my top 10 for here on the blog. I am not going to include a pick from this year because they haven’t had a chance to sit long enough but if I did I would probably pick Avengers: End Game, which is a film I love.

1. Your Name– beautiful in every facet with a layered story about what happens when we understand the humanity of the people around us

2. Wonder Woman– not just a superhero story but a story about why God loves us mortals despite us being pretty awful towards each other. I loved Diana. I loved the message. I loved everything about it

3. Perks of Being a Wallflower– my favorite coming of age movie. I love the message. I related strongly to the group of teens and its not about finding love but believing we deserve love in the first place

4. Inside Out– brilliant metaphysical film that has the guts to teach us all that sadness matters. It’s funny, sweet, with devastating yet effective endings for 3 of its characters- Joy, Riley and Bing Bong

5. Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse– I loved the animation. It still blows me away on each watch. I loved the character of Miles. I loved the meta story with the different Spider-man. I loved how funny it is. Perfection!

6. Tangled- Disney’s first romantic comedy and done so well. I love the witty banter between Flynn and Rapunzel. I love how indecisive she is and how he grows and changes. I love Mother Gothel as a true dishy villain and I love the songs.

7. Sing Street– Speaking of songs few films filled me with more musical-enhanced joy than Sing Street. What a lovely film about growing up, making music and finding love. The original songs are super catchy and the relationship between the brothers feels so authentic

8. Paddington 1 and 2Paddington and Paddington 2 are near perfect family films. They both have humor, huge hearts and characters that are so charming. I wish we could get one each year.

9. Song of the SeaSong of the Sea is the film I cried the most in the theater. What a touching film about grief and how little Ben can learn to forgive his Mother for dying and his sister for being the cause. The animation and music are stunning. So lovely.

10. Arthur Christmas– For my money the best holiday film of the last decade is Arthur Christmas. Such a sweet, heartfelt movie that captures the innocence and kindness of Christmas. Even the “villain” brother is just trying to run things well. It’s perfect to watch at Christmas

Honorable Mentions- Mary Poppins Returns, Crazy Rich Asians, STEP, Hacksaw Ridge, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Lean on Pete, Boyhood, Frozen, Moana, The Avengers, Paranorman, Mud, The Martian, Hidden Figures, The Lego Movie, Harry Potter 7 pt 2, Toy Story 3, Gravity, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor Ragnarok, XMen Days of Future Past, Interstellar, American Sniper, Pitch Perfect, Brooklyn, 45 Years, Creed, Cinderella, and many more.

What would be your favorites?

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The Art Book of Song of the Sea Review

P1500080It’s rare in the world of animated art book that you have one written by the director himself! But that is just what you get with the Song of the Sea Art Book. Anyone who reads this blog knows I consider Song of the Sea to be a modern animated masterpiece so when I saw this for sale I shelled out the big bucks for it. It’s expensive but I had to have it!!

This art book is so rich I could read it for weeks and get new things out of it. It starts out with a brief introduction from art director Adrien Mericeau, head of story Nora Twomey and then director Tomm Moore. What I love is how close the team felt to these characters. Twomey says “Bit by bit, it came together, layer upon layer bound together by story, song and beauty.  Once we remained true to Ben and Saoirse and thought of them as real people, everything else came into place”.  You feel that closeness to the characters when you watch the film.

Tomm Moore shares how he came up with the idea for Song of the Sea when visiting a beach in Dingle with his 10 year old son Ben. “While there we came across a sea cull and I started thinking about the connection between our attitude to wildlife and our environment and the stories that once reminded us our place in the natural world”. This idea kept “percolating away in my sketchbooks and in the back of my mind”.  Isn’t it great that this kind of animation is still possible? That someone can get an idea and make a movie in this day of franchises, marketing gimmicks and big budgets it’s really refreshing.

We then next get a forward by Charles Solomon.  This is more like an interview with Tomm Moore sharing his approach to filmmaknig and creating Song of the Sea. It’s really cool that they have a quote from Pixar’s Pete Docter who says “Many films are noisy and manic, full of pop culture jokes; frenetically paced with wacky, manic characters that never hold still. In contrast, Song of the Sea has a quiet beauty.  It is graphically gorgeous, yet simple. Best of all, the characters are well-observed and truthful. It’s a joy to watch for so many reasons.” Amen to that!

P1500081Next Moore gives tons of information about the mythological and folkloric references. It even explains the meaning behind things I just accepted as his own invention like the spirtuality of the family dog Cu. “As it is the children’s dog Cu’s moment of glory the wind takes the form of 2 Cu Sidhe, fairy dog hounds, from Scottish and Irish folklore.” I don’t know about you but I find that fascinating.

P1500091Then Moore has a QandA he did that has incredible details. This is followed by our first chapter of the book which is all about the locations they used and how they sketched what they saw. This includes both sea and cityscapes and we get beautiful color photos along with descriptions.

P1500086Next up we have a large section on the characters.  This includes the concept art and inspiration for their stories. We  get our main characters of course but also smaller characters like the trick-or-treaters and the owls.

P1500087What’s really neat about these sketches is the finished product is so similar to them so you really feel like you are seeing into the mind of the artists!

Then we move on to development and production.  This details the storyboarding and layouts and what had to be cut that Tomm Moore loved.

P1500085P1500089The artwork in this segment is just amazing. I wish I could frame every page and put it on my wall!

P1500092The final segment is quotes and acknowledgements and has memories and thoughts from producers, cast and crew and then ‘quotes from friends’. They have Don Hall director of Big Hero 6 who says “steeped in his country’s mythology, as well as classic animation from all over the world Tomm Moore is telling that incredibly difficult and all too rare, type of story: the personal film that is accessible to all. And he does it with style, but never at the expense of substance. In fact, the style…actually enhances the substance”. I couldn’t agree more.

The Art Book of Song of the Sea is pricey. I think it cost me $60 because I had to buy it from England but to me it is worth it. I love my book and it has made the movie even better, if that was even possible. If you can afford it I highly recommend picking it up!

Family Movie Night: Song of the Sea

This week on my family movie night video I put another plug for you all to see Song of the Sea.

I can’t say enough good things about this film.  It’s still the best movie I’ve seen all year including Inside Out.  In my opinion Song of the Sea is a true new masterpiece and I love it more each time I see it.  It’s emotional, peaceful, tense, sweet, scary and everything else.  The journey that Ben takes in dealing with the loss of his Mother is engrossing and devastating at times.  There is magic and unexpected characters and the animation is stunning.

Please watch it!!!  It is available as a free stream if you are an amazon prime member.

Have you seen it?  What did you think?

The music by Bruno Calais and Kila is so moving as well.  I have the soundtrack and enjoy listening to it throughout the day.  It has a calming effect over me.

What would you say is a new masterpiece released in the last 3 or 4 years.  I would put last year’s Boyhood in that discussion and Inside Out would be on the short list.

Did the Right Film Win? 2014 Animated Oscars

Well my friends I have finished my series of watching all of the Oscar nominated films for Best Animated Feature Film.  Last year I said 2014 was one of the best years in animation in a long time and now after seeing films going back to 2001, I stand by that claim.  You can make an argument for 2009 and 2010 but for not having a Pixar movie it was pretty darn good- and really diverse in style, tone and everything else.

So here is my video breaking down my thoughts on the 2014 nominees:

This is the first year I was doing this blog and have reviews for all of these films, so my thoughts probably aren’t a surprise to any of you.  Nevertheless, here is a little summary:

How to Train Your Dragon 2- A rare sequel that improves upon the original.  An epic feel to the story and some of the best animation Dreamworks has ever done.  I find the story with the 2 alpha dragons to be a little confusing and I think they give the Mother too much of a free pass for leaving her family.  But still a very satisfying, entertaining, exciting film.

Big Hero 6- A film with real heart from Walt Disney Animated Studios.  I love the character of Baymax and the relationship of Hiro and Tadeshi.  I found the villain to be clever and surprising and Sanfransokyo was extremely creative.

Boxtrolls- A wonderful stop motion film about a town whose leadership gets to wear white hats and eat cheese.  Snatcher the villain wants to wear the white hat and be respected which I think is a unique motivation and a good lesson for kids about labeling through clothing and other items.  The Boxtrolls are sweet and the humor worked for me.  The ending didn’t 100% work for me and the lead Eggs is a little flat and I don’t love the drag queen segment but it is very entertaining.

Tale of Princess Kaguya– A movie that has improved each time I’ve seen it.  A true artistic masterpiece and a story unique to Japan.  It is about a girl found in a bamboo stalk who is trained to be a princess.  She has independent instincts but she chooses to be obedient.  At first that was challenging to accept but now I love it’s different perspective.  It is so gorgeous to look at and uses music very well.   It’s a little bit of an artistically challenging movie but worth the effort.

Song of the Sea- A true masterpiece.  Even with Inside Out, Song of the Sea is the best film I’ve seen this year.  It’s got the emotional depth of Inside Out with Ben trying to deal with the loss of his mother but the hand drawn animation is stunning.  Ben’s sister is a Selkie and Ben must get her back to the sea before it is too late.  Along the way they meet an Owl Witch and other creatures so it is exciting, heartbreaking and tense.  It made my Top 10 Favorite Animated Films.  The music is stunning and I wish I could convince everyone to see it.  I love it so much .

So if I was giving away the award I would pick Song of the Sea, despite my liking all 5 films.  Of the mainstream nominees I do think Big Hero 6 is the best so in that sense the right film did win; however, I think Song of the Sea is the best of 2014.

What about you?  What do you think of these 5 films and which would you pick as best of the year?

 

Song of the Sea Review

song of the sea4

I have been hunting down the hidden animated gems from 2014.  Today is probably the most prominent hidden gem as it has an Oscar nomination: The Song of the Sea.  It is from Cartoon Saloon and distributed by Gkids Films directed and written by Tomm Moore.  It is the same team who made the lovely Oscar nominated Secret of the Kells in 2009.  As wonderful as Kells is I think Song of the Sea is even better.

I can’t remember the last time I cried so much in a movie and in a good way.  In a ‘I love these characters and I’m involved in the story’ kind of way. It is the 3rd animated film in 2014 to deal with subjects of death, grief and loss in a mature and beautiful way.  I was really moved by it and wish more people would see it.

There will be some spoilers but I will try to keep it to a minimum.

song of the seaThe main story is about a family that lives on a small island running a lighthouse.  At the opening little boy Ben loses his mother to childbirth with his sister Saoirse.  We then quickly move up and find out she is an odd child who at 6 has never learned to talk.  Ben resents his sister and he constantly carries around his mother’s book of Celtic legends.

song of the sea6

The stories focus on a myth called the selkie which if you’ve ever seen The Secret of the Roan Inish it is the basis for that movie as well.  The selkies live as both seals and humans and they have a power which animates everything including other magic like fairies.

The characters then go on a journey where they face peril, meet an Owl witch, some more friendly fairies and learn much more about Saoirse, Ben and their Mother. (I really don’t want to give much else away).

song of the sea3As you can tell from the photos on this post the animation is gorgeous. It flows and never makes the easy choice.  Everything has the feel of a wave because that is the power of the selkie myth.

song of the sea7There is a scene where Ben must say goodbye to his Mother and just writing about it now makes me tear up.  It really moved me.  The only thing I can think to relate it too is in Harry Potter when Harry has to stop looking in the Mirror of Erised and has to say goodbye to his parents.  It’s that kind of emotion.

song of the sea10
The Mother in the story

In front of me at the theater there were two little girls maybe 4 and 6. They were very chatty but it was kind of interesting to hear their reactions.  It definitely scared both of them at certain points and they were pretty upset.  Song of the Sea also has some jump scares and very tense moments that build.  They were asking their Mother if so and so character was going to be ok, very worried.  That’s really the only downside to Song of the Sea is it is pretty sad and scary in spots.  Characters go a lot of the movie heads hanging down in mourning.

This would not be the movie to put on for the kids birthday party or for a lively sleepover.  However, it would be good for a Sunday night movie viewing where there is time to discuss more challenging concepts with kids and get their thoughts. Save comedies like Lego Movie, Penguins of Madegascar or Spongebob for the parties and use Song of the Sea for a quieter softer parenting moment.

fairies song of the seaIf you can get out to the theaters and see it I would implore you to go.  Support hand drawn and smaller animation at the box office.  Movies like Song of the Sea deserve a wider audience.  I would love if we could get out of having a 2 system animation world and embrace lots of different studios and ideas.  That would be amazing!

I loved it.  I was really moved by it.  It made me cry and laugh on occasion. It’s sad but it is not a downer.  It is so hopeful and peaceful even in the sad moments that you don’t feel manipulated with your tears.

It was stunningly beautiful and even though I got lost from time to time in the Celtic lore it didn’t really matter because I knew enough of what was going on to root for our heroes.  The voicecast is also good with David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Lisa Hannigan and Lucy O’Connell.

song of the sea5

I just wish more people would see it.  I went into Song of the Sea wondering if it was worthy of the nomination over Lego Movie (which I loved).  They are so different but yes Song of the Sea deserved it over Lego (Boxtrolls which I also loved should have been left off).  Song of the Sea is one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen.  Yep.  I will use that hyperbole.  I loved it!

The music by Bruno Coulais and Kiia is pitch perfect.  Like I said the only thing to really consider is if it might be too sad for very young children and when is the best time for a more thoughtful picture for our kids.  I bet they will love it too!  I think it is better than Princess Kaguya in both artistry and story and that’s saying a lot.

Overall Grade- A+

My youtube review.  Got emotional talking about it.

Annie Award Nominees

Today the Annie Award Nominees were released.  These awards celebrate the best in animated films.  I still say this has been an amazing year for animation.  It’s certainly been one of my favorites that’s for sure. I have seen all of the nominees but 2- Song of the Sea comes out Dec 19th, and I will hopefully see it, and Cheatin I must admit I hadn’t heard of but it looks awesome.

Cheatin trailer (this is clearly an animated feature for adults but I’m ok with that.  In fact, sometimes I prefer they go all adult instead of trying to make it appeal to kids and adults (ala Hunchback):

Anyway, the nominees are:

Big Hero 6,

The Lego Movie,

How To Train Your Dragon 2,

The Boxtrolls,

Book Of Life,

Cheatin’,

Song Of The Sea (here’s Song of the Sea trailer if you haven’t seen it yet. It looks amazing)

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya.

What an impressive list.  I LOVED Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2 (even more than original), Lego Movie, Boxtrolls and Kaguya (gave A’s to all 5 of those!).  Book of Life I really liked despite some problems (got a B). They are all so different it is tough to compare.  But again what a great year especially when you consider no Pixar and some highly entertaining films didn’t even make the list (Mr Peabody and Sherman and Penguins of Madagascar were really fun comedies).

Well, what would you pick to win?  I’d be happy with any of them winning but if I had to pick I’d go with The Lego Movie.  I know all of you weren’t as crazy about it as I was but this is my blog and my opinion so for me it was the most creative, visually inventive, had heart, showed how kids play, their randomness and fun, and it made me laugh a lot.  But I was really moved and dazzled by Big Hero 6 also, so I would love to see it win.  Same with Kaguya, which was so beautiful, and The Boxtrolls, which had a great look, and a story that makes kids (and me!)  think while charming them.  How to Train Your Dragon was an epic adventure and dazzled me from beginning to end.  Plus, I loved the flying sequences.

But push come to shove I would still pick Lego Movie.  What was your favorite? (And remember there are no wrong answers it’s just an opinion)