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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Wonder Woman: Am I Just Buying into Hype?

As you guys have certainly been able to tell from this blog I am a huge fan of the recent Wonder Woman film from Warner Brothers. I’ve seen it 3 times and each time I have loved the film. I am aware of flaws and issues but none of those are dealbreakers that stop me from loving the movie. Naturally when anything these days becomes popular there is the inherent backlash against said property. Most people do this politely and I have no issue with such dissenting views. There are many popular blockbusters I wasn’t much of a fan of such as Rogue One and Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2. I try to let people enjoy their films and not be annoying about it but my opinion still remains in the minority. Nevertheless, when I hear these criticisms of Wonder Woman it does make me ask myself- am I just buying into hype? Do I really like it so much? It’s probably a healthy question to ask but I can honestly say- it’s not hype.  I really do love it this much.

I have now seen Wonder Woman 3 times and each time I was weeping throughout the film. Not just crying but this is full on public water works weeping. You can ask my brother if you don’t believe me. There is something about this character and her journey that impacted me emotionally. The idea of a woman coming to grips with human frailty and war was very moving for me and each time humans let her down it was devastating. There is a feeling that the humans really ‘don’t deserve’ her.  It made me wonder if Jesus or an angel came down would it be a similar experience that Wonder Woman had? That’s moving stuff!

When you have such an emotional connection with a film things like wonky cgi do not matter at all. In my podcast I described it like falling in love with a bald man. Sure he’s not my ideal but I love him.  I’ve emotionally connected with him so he is perfect to me. (Bet you never thought you’d hear Wonder Woman compared to a bald man but there it is!). I’ve thought long and hard and I really do believe this emotional response is separate and unique from any kind of hype or publicity. Like I said, I am frequently willing to go against hype or popular films. This is just a case of me happening to agree with the hype.

Part of the problem with hype is when people can’t admit to the problems in a film they love. In the case of Wonder Woman it is true the villains are standard, as well as other things about the plot. However, it did not matter to me because I was emotionally connected to Diana and her journey. In my eyes it took a superhero formula story and told it with real heart and power. Lots of movies do that. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a good movie (in fact, often those ‘original’ movies are awful). There is nothing wrong with taking a tried and true formula and executing it well. That’s what Wonder Woman did.

Aside from just an emotional connection there are aspects to Wonder Woman that make it truly stand out from other superhero movies. While it was meaningful to me to have a powerful female superhero, let’s set that aside for the moment. One of the best things about the movie is the way it tells a feminist message without degrading men. Steve Trevor is a great counterbalance to Diana. He understands the human world and the way things work there. She is clearly the fighter and the emotional voice of the story. She’s the one that pushes him to help people and to fight for good over evil. He’s the military man and she’s the Mother in a way. That’s what made the ending work so well when they both have to sacrifice and fight to get a respite from the war.

Another amazing sequence I will never forget is when Wonder Woman is tired of being told she can’t help people and she ascends the trenches into No Man’s Land. It is in my opinion one of the greatest scenes ever in a comic book movie. I loved everything about it from the special effects down to the music. It was empowering, exciting and everything else.

The opening sequences in Themiscyra were also very memorable. Not only did you see female warriors kicking butt but you saw warriors training and fighting in awesome ways and then when we saw them take on Germans with guns it was awesome! What a great sequence! Throughout Wonder Woman there are real stakes. We lose people we really care about and that more importantly Diana cares about. This is something the Marvel has not been brave enough to do (for the most part). It gave the movie weight and heart it wouldn’t have otherwise had.

I can’t think of a superhero movie that so successfully integrated war in the way Wonder Woman did. Some have claimed Captain America: the First Avenger does but it’s not quite the same. His role is more as a propaganda tool than actually fighting the way Wonder Woman does. If any similarities are problems than pretty much every superhero movie has this problem. Even everyone’s beloved Dark Knight closely mirrors Michael Mann’s Heat in many ways. Is this a problem? No because it executes what it is trying to do well while adding some new elements to keep it exciting.

Some more positives that I think will give the movie legs over the hype is the incredible chemistry between Chris Pine and Gal Gadot. This is far better than any pairing up we’ve ever seen in a Batman movie in my opinion. They had real conversations and we got to know them both in comedic and more heart-felt moments. This is not the damsel in distress or the assistant we so often see in superhero movies. They are equals and the two actors playing the leads worked so well together.

Aside from a brief introduction and closing segment, Wonder Woman is also its own movie. In a world of cinematic universes this is very refreshing. Obviously Wonder Woman is part of the DCEU but you could see it and not have seen any of the other films. It stands on its own as a complete story. This helps movies like Iron Man to last where other films like Avengers: Age of Ultron don’t.  Many superhero movies today feel like you are only getting a piece of the narrative but that wasn’t the case with Wonder Woman. It was Diana’s story and so even if the rest of the DCEU continues to suck I will have this film unspoiled. That will help it to last.

There are a lot of other reasons Wonder Woman worked for me. It was funny, sexy, romantic, a war movie, and a classic superhero story. Some may think I have just drunk the kool-aid but I know I have not. I legitimately love it. It’s cool if others don’t love it. That’s what makes film so great. It is a subjective medium open for all kinds of opinions.

So three cheers to Wonder Woman!!! Ra Ra Ra!

Wonder Woman Review

It’s always hard to write about movies I love. There’s a feeling that my opinion won’t be taken seriously or will be regarded as hyperbole. And for a movie I really love it can feel like throwing pearls before swine. Obviously that isn’t the case as you, my readers, are amazing and know me well enough that I do not rubber stamp movies or give any franchise a pass. When I say I love a movie it is because it is deserved.

All that said- I LOVE Wonder Woman. And it’s not just because it’s the best DCEU film. And it’s not because it is the first decent female led superhero movie (although I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a little meaningful to me). It’s because it spoke to me on an emotional level and entertained me in every way I can think of.

You could make the case that Wonder Woman follows a traditional origin story formula and I would agree with you but much like Moana it executes that formula so well. In both films, I deeply care about the characters and their journey.However, as much as I love Moana, Wonder Woman is even better. I just loved it so much.

The story is pretty simple and comes right from the comic books. Wonder Woman is Diana who is raised on the island of Themyscira among the all-female Amazons. She is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta and was created out of clay by her mother and Zeus. One day a soldier named Steve Trevor lands on their beach and Diana decides to become involved in World War 1 and try to save the people. Updating the conflict from World War 2 to World War 1 was very smart as the senselessness of World War 1 is far more obvious. Plus, you have the horrors of nerve gas and trench warfare in World War 1 to put as a backdrop.

I won’t tell you any more so you can experience it yourself but the key to this film working is Diana and Steve. Gal Gadot is effervescent, innocent and wonderful as Wonder Woman and Chris Pine is perfect as Steve. The two have incredible chemistry, and I really cared about them and their stories. This is not a film that empowers women at the expense of men. They are both needed and valued and their love is what is powerful. All love is powerful.

The journey Wonder Woman goes on puts it above most other superhero movies I’ve seen. She learns about not only the cost of war but the ease at which humans excuse that cost as nothing. I cried a lot both times when watching the film because I found her realization of human evil to be incredibly moving.

A lot of people criticize some superhero movies for having a lack of stakes. Not the case here. No spoilers but there is a price to pay for fighting evil and here it couldn’t be more devastating. And the resolution is far from tidy but more of a momentary breath and pause before we know mankind will succumb again to the worst in their nature.

You see the true villain in Wonder Woman is war itself and the corruptible nature of mankind that so often embraces it. Some have said Wonder Woman feels like a Marvel movie instead of a DC movie. Never mind the many DC movies that were far sillier than this (cough Green Lantern cough) but I think they are missing the point. Previous DCEU films like Batman v Superman are built on a traditional masculine energy and style of filmmaking. With Wonder Woman we get something entirely different. There is more of a traditional feminine energy to it. It is about emotions and relationships and that is why it is so moving. Even when it gets bombastic it does so because of despair and love.

That’s not to say Wonder Woman isn’t fun. It does have comedic moments to lighten the mood and those work as well. There’s also great action that will satisfy the action gurus of your group but again what was special to me is the emotional journey of a woman facing the horrors of war.

I really only have 2 tiny nitpicks with Wonder Woman. The accents on Themyscira are a little cheesy. I understand why they did it to match Gadot’s Israeli accent but it doesn’t quite work. They also use a slow motion effect in the action scenes a little bit too much. There is a villain reveal that could have been handled better but since the true villain was war itself I did not care. Aside from that, I thought Wonder Woman was spectacular.

I won’t give a ranking just yet but it is definitely one of my favorite superhero movies I’ve ever seen. Congrats to Patty Jenkins and everyone involved for finally giving me a blockbuster I actually cared about!  Thank you!

And thank you for giving little girls the superhero they should have had a long time ago

Overall Grade- A

For parents there is some war violence that might be concerning and some nudity/sensuality.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Wonder Woman (TV 1976)

This week for Hit Me with Your Best Shot Nathaniel at The Film Experience has given us a fun challenge. In honor of Wonder Woman we were assigned a 2 part episode of the iconic 1976 Wonder Woman television show to pick a best shot from. The episode is called The Feminum Myystique and it aired November 6 and 8, 1976

I used to watch Wonder Woman reruns when I was a little girl but it had been years since I revisited it and I must confess I found it to be a complete delight. I may have to get this show on bluray!

Lynda Carter radiates charisma as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. Her smile disarms you immediately and yet she is no bimbo especially as Diana working in the navy. It is easy to compare her to Christopher Reeves’ Superman as both are strong, immortal characters with old fashioned charm but I never viewed Reeves’ Clark Kent as all that bright like Diana is. Anyway, they are both great.

In this double episode a group of Nazi spies are trying to get information on the latest US fighter jet.  Diana’s sister, Drusilla (Wonder Girl), comes to bring Diana back to Paradise Island but becomes abducted by the Nazis. Eventually Queen Hippolyta and the rest of the Amazons must group together to defeat these Nazis. This requires them to understand men and evil in a way they never had before.

I thoroughly enjoyed these episodes. I suppose I like traditional superhero narratives with good guys and bad guys facing off with little weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth that we so often see now. It’s just simple smarts and goodness facing off against Nazis!

The best shot becomes difficult because it is shot in a fairly standard way without a lot of epic moments. So, the shot I have chosen is a more subtle one. Towards the end of part 2 Hippolyta tells the girls about lying:

“I know it’s impossible for you to lie but men don’t know that.

They lie all the time”

What I love about this moment is I feel we have lost the ability to be cheeky when it comes to the sexes. Everyone is always offended by everything. Look at the uproar over a lovely notion of a women’s only Wonder Woman screening? It has to be used as some kind of feminist revenge plot by idiotic men…

Anyway, we can’t tease each other or have fun any more. It’s all cries of misogyny from women and anger over radical feminism from the men. I include myself in this group.

I love being a woman and I don’t think we are the same as men- thank goodness. It’s ok to admit differences and tease each other every now and then.

Just have fun with freakin Wonder Woman folks and chill out!