Author

Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • Following Macaulay Culkin's Pizza Underground Cross-Country Tour — A Complete Itinerary
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 10, 2014
    The Pizza Underground/Facebook This must have been what people felt like when they first heard the toe-tappin' sounds of those long-haired beatniks from Liverpool. The musical movement that will, indubitably, define our generation has taken form. Round, hot, cheesy form: Macaulay Culkin's Velvet Underground tribute band The Pizza Underground — the monument of musical creativity that recalibrates the lyrics of classic numbers by Lou Reed and company to focus on the theme of pizza — has released its first video and announced a cross-country tour: January 24 - Brooklyn @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar w/ French Horn Rebellion, Rush Midnight, Heavenly Beat & Seasick MamaJanuary 25 - Philadelphia @ PhilaMOCA January 26 - New Brunswick @ OutworldJanuary 31 - Austin @ Breakpoint on The BoardwalkMarch 5 - San Francisco @ Neck of The WoodsMarch 6 - West Hollywood @ Whisky A Go GoMarch 7 - San Diego @ Ux31March 8 - Tijuana @ MoustacheMarch 10 - Tucson @ 191 WarehouseMarch 11 - El Paso @ The Lowbrow PalaceMarch 12 - Dallas @ Club DadaMarch 13, 14, 15 - Austin @ SXSWMarch 17 - New Orleans @ Hi-Ho LoungeMarch 18 - Mobile @ Alabama Music BoxMarch 19 - Atlanta @ Mammal GalleryMarch 20 - Raleigh @ KingsMarch 21 - Washington, DC @ Black CatMarch 22 - Brooklyn @ Baby's All Right w/ Total Slacker Culkin and his bandmates will kick off their two month- and 18 concert-long tour on Jan. 24 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, gracing states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, California, Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina — not to mention stops in Washington D.C. and Mexico — along the while. Surely it is the dream of any kazoothiast to embark on a Kerouacian journey following these polyunsaturated troubadours from start to finish... but that takes a good deal of planning and budgeting. Endeavors that a small percentage of the Pizza Underground's target demographic is willing to brave. Luckily, we have your backs. We here at Hollywood.com are lovers of Culkin, of Lou Reed, of pizza, and of the lost art of itinerary creation. We've come up with a complete fiscal guidebook for the greatest journey ever to befall humankind: following Pizza Underground across the country. How to Follow The Pizza Underground Across the Country We'll begin with universal costs: the tickets. Here are the prices for each of the shows on the Pizza Underground tour (those unlisted have not yet been announced to the public): Brooklyn @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar - FreePhiladelphia @ PhilaMOCA - $15Austin @ Breakpoint on The Boardwalk - Free, but sold outSan Francisco @ Neck of The Woods - $10 - $12West Hollywood @ Whisky A Go Go - $20San Diego @ U-31 - Not yet revealedTijuana @ Moustache - Not yet revealedTucson @ 191 Warehouse - Not yet revealedEl Paso @ The Lowbrow Palace - Not yet revealedDallas @ Club Dada - $13 - $15Austin @ SXSW - Not yet revealedNew Orleans @ Hi-Ho Lounge - $15Mobile @ Alabama Music Box - $10Atlanta @ Mammal Gallery - $10Raleigh @ Kings - $13 adv, $15 doorWashington, DC @ Black Cat - $15Brooklyn @ Baby's All Right w/ Total Slacker - Not yet revealed You'll notice we left out the New Brunswick @ Outworld venue. That is because there is no evidence that this establishment actually exists. We've tried Google. We've tried asking Jersey residents. We don't know what else to try. Still, we've included New Brunswick in our itinerary, just in case any of you have better luck in unlocking this mystery. At this point, the ticket price amounts to $121 - $127. Calculating the average price per ticket ($11 - $11.50), we can estimate a total range of $187 - $196. Let's go with $196, to be safe. So now it's time to discuss transportation. The first basic question mark concerns the long stretch between the first Austin show and the San Francisco show, otherwise known as February. Will you return home (to wherever that may be — we're going to assume Brooklyn) for the month of February, or keep course on the open road, living rogue as pizza surges through your blood? In order to fund this trip, you might want to have a steady paying job, which will entail (most likely) you to actually do it. This means February should probably be set aside for actual life routines. As such, you'll probably want to stick to your personal automobile or public transport for the Northeast shows, isolate the Breakpoint on the Boardwalk concert with a roundtrip flight to and fro' Austin, and then hit the road (or fly out to Cali) for your trip. If you're going to isolate Austin... You'll probably want to fly out from JFK, leaving on Jan 30, staying in a local hotel (for which you'll find pricing below) and flying back home on Feb 1. Right now, this will run you approximately $238. You can check a list of flight options here. Once March hits, you can proceed with your plan by either-Flying to San Francisco and traveling on land from there. Presently, a flight to San Francisco will run you about $139 ($124, if you're willing to fly into San Jose). Peruse at your leisure.-Driving to San Francisco via RV or car, and continuing on your journey in said vehicle. (The respective sections below will clue you into the fiscal plans for either method.) But you might want to skip Austin altogether.We hate to say it, but it could be worth it. First off, the show is presently sold out (although there are always ways...). But its isolated location and date could pose more of an inconvenience than anything else. Plus, you will indubitably return to the Austin area later on in your trip for the SXSW shows. Bear that in mind! Or... you can do the whole thing in one fell swoop, month-long wait-around period included.And here's how that would go down: -Rent an RVAgain, let's assume you live in Brooklyn. Odds are, if you're a fan of the Pizza Underground, you do. As such, getting to this Williamsburg venue won't be a hastle. But you will have to rent some transport for the following shows. You can go the old fashioned way, but considering the six full days of driving that you're about to embark upon, you might want to kick up the luxury just a bit: rent an RV. View Larger Map The closest Cruise America to Brooklyn would be in Roslyn, on Long Island, running you $89 a night for standard-sized RV, in addition to mileage costs of $0.34 a mile. For a 56-day trip that takes you a total of 7,606 miles, that will amount to $7,570. Then, of course, there's gas. Your RV is estimated to burn a gallon of fuel every eight miles. Gas prices vary substantially throughout our great nation, but we've factored the average per gallon cost for each of the locations you'll be visiting to be $3.22. Some quick math will lead you to a grand gas total of $3,061. Combine this with your $7,570 and you've got a grand transportation total of $10,631. That's a pretty penny, but luckily you're not alone: the RV, complete with bedroom and kitchen, comfortably sleeps five. If you can rally a full team for this trip, it'll leave everyone only spending $2,126 on this leg of the journey. Of course, this is on top of tickets (which would bring it to $2,322) and food. If you're going to isolate or eradicate Austin...If you are planning to eradicate the first Austin show from your itinerary, this changes things... for the better! First off, your stay in the residential vehicle will be substantially shorter, since you're cutting out an entire month in the process. (If we're being logical, you won't need the RV for the first three shows if you're not going to continue on straight from Jersey. Just take a car to Philly and New Brunswick.) A 20-day stay in the RV will run you $1,780, plus a mileage bill of $2,344 for the 6,897 miles you'll be driving. Tack on gas expenses of $2,776 and you've got $5,120. View Larger Map FoodNaturally, you're going to want to keep in step with the theme of your trip and only eat pizza. Since you're starting your trip in Brooklyn, we assume you'll want to stock up on your entire pizza banquet there, seeing as how the locations to which you plan on traveling will supply you with far inferior examples of what you know to be a delicacy. There are some problems with the plan:-One pizza pie, in Brooklyn, will run you an average of $15. Estimate that each person will consume one pie of pizza per day. That's 56 pies of pizza per person (realistically, you won't be able to fit all your pizza in the RV fridge, but we'll get back to that), amounting to $840 for your entire diet budget. But...-You'll need a second, third, and maybe fourth fridge. You can recycle the pizza boxes and wrap each pie in tin foil to make more space in the RV fridge, which should be stocked to the brim, but you still won't have nearly enough room for 56+ pizza pies. We know, the thought of succumbing to non-New York pizza is nightmarish, but we have a mission here.Still, you will want to limit your intake of pizza from the otherlands. We figure that, if you're ambitious, you can stuff 20 pizza pies into one of these RV fridges. That'll keep...i) one of you fed for 20 daysii) two of you fed for 10 daysiii) three of you fed for six days and the next morning's breakfastiv) four of you fed for five daysv) all five of you fed for four days Which means, of course, that you'll eventually have to stop and get more pizza. But where will you be?i) By the 20th day, you'll be... Non-Austin: Back home. Perfect plan... for you. Your friends are starving, though.Austin: In limbo, killing time between Austin and San Francisco. Restock anywhere but New Mexico (their pizza is so bad, the locals are known to throw it on roofs!), and then again in 20 days, when you'll be somewhere in Southern California (where the price is also about $15 a pie). ii) By the 10th day, you'll be...Non-Austin: Dallas. Average price = $9. That'll last you 'til home.Austin: Limbo. Restock a few times before hitting California, then again in San Francisco ($15), Austin ($12), then you're home.iii) By the sixth day, you'll be...Non-Austin: Tijuana (your guess is as good as mine). After that, Austin ($12), then Raleigh ($10), then home.Austin: Limbo, limbo, limbo, limbo, limbo... San Fran ($15), Tucson ($10), Austin ($12), Washington D.C. ($15), home.iv) By the fifth day, you'll be...Non-Austin: San Diego ($15), Dallas ($12), Atlanta ($12), home.Austin: Limbo x 7. Then San Fran ($15), Tucson ($10), Austin ($12), Raleigh ($10), home.v) By the fourth day, you'll be...Non-Austin: West Hollywood ($15), Tucson ($10), Austin ($12), Mobile ($10), Brooklyn for one last show (just grab a buffalo chicken slices at Anna Maria's on Bedford), home. -Drive your own car and stay in cheap hotelsOne last time, let's assume you live in Brooklyn. If you don't, you can come stay with me the first night. (Just don't be loud, Matt has to get up early.) After that, however, you'll need to find a place to stay in each of the cities you visit. But let's back up just a second. Considering the fact that the hotel plan would be highly unfeasible in the Austin-included route, we'll just assume that you're starting with San Fransisco for this foray. Right off the bat, you've got that pesky RV rental fee taken off your lap. There's a good chance, too, that you've got better gas mileage in your standard sedan than you would in those fuel guzzlers — let's estimate 30 miles to the gallon. That's $740 so far, which you can split with whatever passengers you're able to accumulate. And here's where the hotel prices come in: San Francisco: Redwood Inn - $89/nightWest Hollywood: Comfort Inn - $89/nightSan Diego: Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel - $64/nightTijuana: Motel 6 San Ysidro - $42/nightTucson: University Inn - $53/nightEl Paso: Ibis Juarez Consulado - $35/nightDallas: Days Inn - $33/nightAustin: Rodeway Inn - $59/night x 3 (three night event)New Orleans: Sun Suites - $39/nightMobile: Family Inns of America - $30/nightAtlanta: Masters Inn - $29/nightRaleigh: Econo Lodge Inn & Suites - $40/nightWashington D.C.: Knights Inn - $42 All together, that's $729. Add that to $740 (split between however many people with which you're traveling) and you've got your transporation total. But now we're back on food. FoodWithout a fridge, you'll be needing to make daily pizza stops: San Francisco: $15 a pieWest Hollywood: $15 a pieSan Diego: $15 a pieTijuana: ?Tucson: $10 a pieEl Paso: $12 a pieDallas: $12 a pieAustin: $12 a pieNew Orleans: $13 a pieMobile: $10 a pieAtlanta: $12 a pieRaleigh: $10 a pieWashington D.C.: $15 a pie So we've covered almost all bases. The only option unaccounted for is the fly-to-San-Francisco-and-travel-on-land-from-there option. Since you're ending up in Brooklyn, you'll probably need to finagle one of those deals where you drive somebody's car across country for them. There are people who pay you to do that. Check Craigslist. Be careful, though. SO THAT'S IT! Now you have all the information necessary to follow Macaulay Culkin's pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band across the continental United States. The dream. Bon voyage! Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: 'The Legend of Hercules' Has No Brains Whatsoever (But Man, Those Shoulders!)
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 10, 2014
    Summit via Everett Collection You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion. But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies. Summit via Everett Collection Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth. With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off. 1/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • The BAFTA Nominations' 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Snub Is Problematic
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 08, 2014
    Paramount via Everett Collection With so many different awards organizations announcing their nominations one after the other, it's difficult to remember how heavily to weigh each one's picks when filling out your Oscar pool sheet. Generally speaking, the BAFTAs are a fairly safe guide when it comes to the Best Picture category. Since 2008, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has accurately predicted the Academy's top winners, with (even more impressively) only two discrepancies in Best Picture nominations throughout those five years (both in 2012, interestingly enough). Looking at this latest batch of BAFTA's chief nominees — which includes... American Hustle,Captain Phillips,Gravity,Philomena,and 12 Years a Slave — we're not especially surprised by any of the films included in as much as we are a bit displaced over the absence of one of this past year's biggest titles: The Wolf of Wall Street. By now, everyone with his ear close to the conversation is predicting that Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave is a lock for the Best Picture Oscar, but the consideration rarely comes without honorable mention of Martin Scorsese's Wolf. Still, the satirical picture is far from awards fodder. Called far too "extreme" for the Academy's liking, the 3-hour tour de force of mortifying hedonism would be a far cry from an Oscar even without the competition of 12 Years. Instead, as suggested by BAFTA's list of Best Picture nods, organizations are leaning towards the safer, sweeter, more palatable, less controversial, and effectively less good spiritual counterpart to Wolf of Wall Street: American Hustle. Hustle is a fine movie all its own — it's fun, dynamic, well-acted, and does indeed feel "lived in." But it falls shy of the artistic reach represented by fellow con man epic Wolf, to which comparisons are inevitable (you can hear a terrific discussion on the matter on the latest episode of Fighting in the War Room). While we'd be hard pressed to deny David O. Russell's funny, campy, emotionally charged picture its due recognition of quality, the choice to nominate it for Best Picture over Wolf of Wall Street seems like a statement of fear: "We don't want to nominate that large, messy, outrageous picture that's got everybody all in a huff," mutters a nervous BAFTA. "But what about the one with the hair? That's sorta like Wolf of Wall Street, but cleaner. Jolly good!" The choice is a scary one, if only that it suggests the possibility that BAFTA has veered away from Wolf of Wall Street due to the volatility associated with the movie rather than due to the quality therein. By this token, would a few more Armond Whites have robbed 12 Years a Slave of its nomination? How about a few more Neil deGrasse Tysons stealing the nod from Gravity? Hopefully, the Academy will not emulate this aversion to Scorsese's movie — one that more than deserves mention, and would even take home a few trophies in a just system. Peruse the rest of BAFTA's nominations below (which also, obscenely, omit Her in the Original Screenplay category) and share your thoughts on the matter. BEST FILM12 YEARS A SLAVE Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueenAMERICAN HUSTLE Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, Jonathan GordonCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De LucaGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David HeymanPHILOMENA Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward DIRECTOR12 YEARS A SLAVE Steve McQueenAMERICAN HUSTLE David O. RussellCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Paul GreengrassGRAVITY Alfonso CuarónTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Martin Scorsese ORIGINAL SCREENPLAYAMERICAN HUSTLE Eric Warren Singer, David O. RussellBLUE JASMINE Woody AllenGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás CuarónINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Joel Coen, Ethan CoenNEBRASKA Bob Nelson ADAPTED SCREENPLAY12 YEARS A SLAVE John RidleyBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Richard LaGraveneseCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Billy RayPHILOMENA Steve Coogan, Jeff PopeTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Terence Winter LEADING ACTORBRUCE DERN NebraskaCHIWETEL EJIOFOR 12 Years a SlaveCHRISTIAN BALE American HustleLEONARDO DICAPRIO The Wolf of Wall StreetTOM HANKS Captain Phillips LEADING ACTRESSAMY ADAMS American HustleCATE BLANCHETT Blue JasmineEMMA THOMPSON Saving Mr. BanksJUDI DENCH PhilomenaSANDRA BULLOCK Gravity SUPPORTING ACTORBARKHAD ABDI Captain PhillipsBRADLEY COOPER American HustleDANIEL BRÜHL RushMATT DAMON Behind the CandelabraMICHAEL FASSBENDER 12 Years a Slave SUPPORTING ACTRESSJENNIFER LAWRENCE American HustleJULIA ROBERTS August: Osage CountyLUPITA NYONG’O 12 Years a SlaveOPRAH WINFREY The ButlerSALLY HAWKINS Blue Jasmine OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILMGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman, Jonás CuarónMANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM Justin Chadwick, Anant Singh, David M. Thompson, William NicholsonPHILOMENA Stephen Frears, Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Jeff PopeRUSH Ron Howard, Andrew Eaton, Peter MorganSAVING MR. BANKS John Lee Hancock, Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Kelly Marcel, Sue SmithTHE SELFISH GIANT: Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCERCOLIN CARBERRY (Writer), GLENN PATTERSON (Writer) Good VibrationsKELLY MARCEL (Writer) Saving Mr. BanksKIERAN EVANS (Director/Writer) Kelly + VictorPAUL WRIGHT (Director/Writer), POLLY STOKES (Producer) For Those in PerilSCOTT GRAHAM (Director/Writer) Shell FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGETHE ACT OF KILLING Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge SørensenBLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR Abdellatif Kechiche, Brahim Chioua, Vincent MaravalTHE GREAT BEAUTY Paolo Sorrentino, Nicola Giuliano, Francesca CimaMETRO MANILA Sean Ellis, Mathilde CharpentierWADJDA Haifaa Al-Mansour, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul DOCUMENTARYTHE ACT OF KILLING Joshua OppenheimerTHE ARMSTRONG LIE Alex GibneyBLACKFISH Gabriela CowperthwaiteTIM’S VERMEER Teller, Penn Jillette, Farley ZieglerWE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS Alex GibneyANIMATED FILMDESPICABLE ME 2 Chris Renaud, Pierre CoffinFROZEN Chris Buck, Jennifer LeeMONSTERS UNIVERSITY Dan Scanlon ORIGINAL MUSIC12 YEARS A SLAVE Hans ZimmerTHE BOOK THIEF John WilliamsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Henry JackmanGRAVITY Steven PriceSAVING MR. BANKS Thomas Newman CINEMATOGRAPHY12 YEARS A SLAVE Sean BobbittCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Barry AckroydGRAVITY Emmanuel LubezkiINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Bruno DelbonnelNEBRASKA Phedon Papamichael EDITING12 YEARS A SLAVE Joe WalkerCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Christopher RouseGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Mark SangerRUSH Dan Hanley, Mike HillTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Thelma Schoonmaker PRODUCTION DESIGN12 YEARS A SLAVE Adam Stockhausen, Alice BakerAMERICAN HUSTLE Judy Becker, Heather LoefflerBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Howard CummingsGRAVITY Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne WoodlardTHE GREAT GATSBY Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn COSTUME DESIGNAMERICAN HUSTLE Michael WilkinsonBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Ellen MirojnickTHE GREAT GATSBY Catherine MartinTHE INVISIBLE WOMAN Michael O’ConnorSAVING MR. BANKS Daniel Orlandi MAKE UP & HAIRAMERICAN HUSTLE Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-BellBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Kate Biscoe, Marie LarkinTHE BUTLER Debra Denson, Beverly Jo Pryor, Candace NealTHE GREAT GATSBY Maurizio Silvi, Kerry WarnTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater SOUNDALL IS LOST Richard Hymns, Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, Micah Bloomberg, Gillian ArthurCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro, Oliver TarneyGRAVITY Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri, Chris MunroINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Peter F. Kurland, Skip Lievsay, Greg OrloffRUSH Danny Hambrook, Martin Steyer, Stefan Korte, Markus Stemler, Frank Kruse SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTSGRAVITY Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould, Nikki PennyTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric ReynoldsIRON MAN 3 Bryan Grill, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Dan SudickPACIFIC RIM Hal Hickel, John Knoll, Lindy De Quattro, Nigel SumnerSTAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton, Patrick Tubach, Roger Guyett BRITISH SHORT ANIMATIONEVERYTHING I CAN SEE FROM HERE Bjorn-Erik Aschim, Friederike Nicolaus, Sam TaylorI AM TOM MOODY Ainslie HendersonSLEEPING WITH THE FISHES James Walker, Sarah Woolner, Yousif Al-Khalifa BRITISH SHORT FILMISLAND QUEEN Ben Mallaby, Nat LuurtsemaKEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES Megan Rubens, Michael Pearce, Selina LimORBIT EVER AFTER Chee-Lan Chan, Jamie Stone, Len RowlesROOM 8 James W. Griffiths, Sophie VennerSEA VIEW Anna Duffield, Jane Linfoot
  • With His NYFCC Heckling, Armond White Is No Longer a Critic, But a Bully
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 07, 2014
    D Dipasupil/Getty It throws up a red flag when you endorse Jack & Jill as a tribute to the plight of the Jewish-American family. Still, there's not necessarily anything inherently problematic about Armond White's proclivity to veer from the crowd when it comes to film criticism. Devil's advocacy can be a valuable method of finding new merit in familiar material or ideas. But White's decision to heckle, insult, and curse at 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen on Monday night at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards — behavior he might deem befitting of his infamous persona as an industry "honest voice" — represents the ugliest shade of his ostensible mission statement, and generally reprehensible behavior from any vantage point. White's illustrious track record for presenting reviews of stark contrast to those offered by the critical community has devolved into little more than a "shtick." We know so well what an Armond White review entails that we couldn't have expected him to express favor for 12 Years a Slave. Yet, eyes still rolled when White lambasted McQueen's historical picture in CityArts, finding less genuine criticism than audacious pot-stirring. Still, a particularly diplomatic force could argue for the value in this kind of review. 12 Years a Slave isn't a perfect film, and its position atop 2013's pedestal as the "sure-fire" Best Picture winner and most powerful movie about American slavery are healthy, and necessary, to question and challenge. Once you consider these facts, you might well find yourself still sitting happily in the camp of McQueen's film, but you might be glad all the more for having braved the examination rather than accepting its aplomb blindly. But heckling? Where, pray tell, is the value in that? How detrimental must White think that movies like 12 Years a Slave and How to Survive a Plague (last year's award-winning AIDS documentary, which White too heckled when it was introduced at the NYFCC by Michael Moore) are in order to justify this angry, ugly antagonism of earnest, well-meaning artists? The language that White used on Monday night was particularly offensive. Katey Rich of Vanity Fair, seated in the NYFCC audience, notes that White employed exclamations like "White liberal bulls**t" when McQueen took the stage, following what she highlights as a beautiful introductory speech by musical icon Harry Belafonte. Following this inception of the derision, White or a member of his immediate company maligned McQueen or Belafonte by shouting, "You’re a garbageman and a doorman!" — a particularly despicable epithet due to its misplaced affront to the occupations in question, as well as a formless, meaningless insult to the parties onstage. In short: not criticism. Bullying. In criticism, no matter how volatile or controversial, there is always a constructive end — that to explain why something falls short and how it might have better served its audience. In bullying, there is no constructive end. There is only the directive to hurt, shame, or dislodge from grace one's target. In other words, there is no value to it and no defense of it. And if this is the way White conducts himself, we have to imagine that his intentions fall squarely within the borders of the definition of bullying. That his reviews, no matter how eloquent they might be, are not intended as a tool in the construction of a better and more valid cinematic world, but a means to hurt and shame others, or to escalate his own grace. We're not at all sure if it's playing out the way he wants it to — we're talking about him, aren't we? — but we do feel that in his actions, Armond White absolves himself of the title of critic altogether.  Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Why Is David Lynch Directing a New 'Twin Peaks' Promo?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 06, 2014
    ABC Long before American Horror Story and Dollhouse and Lost and Carnivale and the terrible last string of Twin Peaks episodes that we don't even want to acknowledge as a part of Twin Peaks, there was Twin Peaks. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment in surrealistic television since The Twilight Zone. Maybe the finest send-up of the toxic rituals of the small screen craft since SOAP. A bounty of what might conceivably be the most imaginative field of fictional characters since The Tragedy of Hamlet. Twenty years have passed since the conclusion of our story about the sleepy lumber town with far too many skeletons stuffed in its creaky closet, and creator David Lynch is reopening the door... but we're not quite sure why, or how. Bleeding Cool has apprehended a casting call for a new Twin Peaks promo that Lynch is allegedly filming. The advertisement seeks an actress to play a diner waitress that seems to bear resemblance to the show's kind-hearted but none too infrequently underhanded character Shelly Johnson. Hot Caucasian Girl – Brunette or Redheads Only. To play waitress, 18-27. Must have an amazing body, busty, very period looking face. Regrettable connotations aside, the news is exciting, even if it precedes nothing more than a Twin Peaks Blu-ray release, as Bleeding Cool postulates. At the very least, we might see some previously unreleased footage, cast interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and the like... we may even get to hear Lynch delve into an explanation (or further muddling) of what the hell is going on in the Red Room. But letting our hopes soar sky high, there is even the chance of Lynch creating something altogether new. A new season of Twin Peaks has been rumored before, albeit all for naught, though maybe this rumbling has convinced Lynch to get back in the ring with his iconic creation. Regardless of what comes, the very idea of Lynch revisiting Twin Peaks even in the most remote of ways is exciting. At this point, we're smiling as wide as a hanging body bag. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • What Do the WGA's 2014 Nominations Mean for the Oscars?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 03, 2014
    Warner Bros. Entertainment While the Writers Guild of America might not receive as much public attention as the Academy Awards do, those shaping their Oscar pools might want to pay the  organization a bit more mind. Since the year 2000, the WGA has accurately predicted the winners of the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars 10 times each. With so much consistency living between the two circuit mainstays, it's hard not to use Friday's announcement of Writers Guild nominees to better estimate what sort of Academy results we'll see come March. Today, the WGA recognized the following 2013 screenplays for excellence in the Original and Adapted Screenplay categories: Original ScreenplayAmerican HustleBlue JasmineDallas Buyers ClubHerNebraska Adapted ScreenplayAugust: Osage CountyBefore MidnightCaptain PhillipsLone SurvivorThe Wolf of Wall Street  While we would not have bet heavily on either Dallas Buyers Club or Lone Survivor showing up on the WGA plate, the biggest surprise would have to be the absence of the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, which many have qualified as a hefty candidate for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. The absence of the New York-set character piece does not bode especially well for its Academy chances, but it does help to single out a frontrunner among the bunch of Original competitors: Her. Without Llewyn Davis in its company, Her does seem like the title to beat. Surely, Alexander Payne delivers some phenomenal material in his dry, sweet Nebraska, but the imagination and emotional severity pumped into Spike Jonze's first lone go at a feature screenplay is the kind of cinematic magic that the WGA is accustomed to recognizing. Paramount Pictures Of course, that's not to say that cynicism won't get its share of celebration this year. Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street has earned no dearth of controversy, but also no dearth of critical esteem since its release on Christmas Day. Award circuit precogs are calling the film too raucous and extreme to win Best Picture (which is a slot many are assuming will fall in the hands of 12 Years a Slave regardless), but an Adapted Screenplay win could be right on the mark for the biographical story of major league swindler Jordan Belfort, scripted by Terence Winter. The only Scorsese picture to date to earn a WGA win is The Departed, although several (including GoodFellas and Mean Streets) have been nominated before. Additionally, we see nominations in the Documentary Screenplay category: Documentary ScreenplayDirty WarsHerblock No Place on Earth Stories We Tell We Steal Secrets Click back to the Writers Guild of America website to check out all of the nominees in television and radio.
  • Fend Off January Depression with These Feel-Good Movies from 2013
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 02, 2014
    20th Century Fox via Everett Collection I appreciate November. I love a good July. May? I'll take 10 of 'em! But there is no synodic period that I detest more than January. Kicking off every year with a clammy reminder of our extant failures and a piercing underline of forthcoming stresses, January is one month through which many of us can use some psychological padding. As such, we usher in a new wave of movies to distract us from our living traumas and maybe inject a few instances of delight into our conscious thought. Unfortunately, January doesn't even have the common decency to release any good films. With the exception of Her, hitting national theaters on Jan. 10, this month doesn't have a particularly attractive cinematic slate. As such, we play the catch-up game — holiday films still in theaters, summer releases just hitting DVD, Netflix picks you barely heard of the first time around. But as January is such a delicate time for so many of us, we'd be wise to choose the films most conducive to our psychological state. This is a time for feel-good movies. As fabulous a piece of film as it is, you might not be able to handle 12 Years a Slave when you're struggling with our own emotional fragility and are seeking a feature with which to unwind during dinner. Inside Llewyn Davis might be a tremendous work of art, but it's not going to do you any favors in the serotonin department. Luckily, 2013 gave us plenty of flicks that were both high in quality and in their propensity to provoke smiles. Here are a few suggestions, separated by the exact sort of feel-goodery they instill... FOR LAUGHTERCarefree, comedic feel-gooderyThe most base and primal breed of feel-goodery comes in the form of comedy. Not romantic comedy or dramatic comedy or coming-of-age comedy... just plain "for the LOLz" comedy. Sometimes, the only emotional weight a movie needs to foster is its ability to incur laughs. So, if you're feeling particularly somber and need to float some extra oxygen up to the brain, here are a few movies that made us laugh the hardest in '13: The HeatHumor of the boisterous sort — slapstick, insults, outrageous situations, Albino people. Not a lot of weight, although the unlikely friendship arc grounds it in some substance. Not too much, though, don't worry. This Is the EndDescribed as "the closest thing 2013 gave us to Ghostbusters" by Da7e Gonzales on the latest episode of Fighting in the War Room (worth a listen for some terrific 2013 movie suggestions), the apocalypse comedy from Seth Rogen and company does have something to say about friendships and social groups... but that won't get in the way of its employment as a distraction from your real life woes. It's a DisasterAnother apocalypse comedy, with even more (at least on the surface) to say about friends and relationships! But all of the ostensibly weighty material — divorce, breakups, infidelity, death — is handled with feather weight. Delightful from beginning to end. Computer ChessThis little-seen oddball mockumentary is the funniest movie I've seen all year. Set at the dawn of intelligent electronics age in the 1980s, we see weirdos take to an annual convention compete with one another in the design of the premier chess-playing computer device. It does not sound particularly interesting, maybe, but is insistently riotous. [*Note: The World's End, while a fun and funny movie, is excluded from this "feel good" list because it is a far more depressing story than many of us can handle in the throes of January.] Fox Searchlight via Everett Collection FOR TEARSSweet, sentimental feel-goodery Sometimes, the release of depressive chemicals via your tear ducts is exactly what you need to make for a more relaxing evening. We don't mean Act of Killing-style tears (although that movie is more likely to actually to trigger an emotional response via your digestive tract), but tears of the soft, sweet, regrettably sentimental variety. FrozenA Disney animated story about the tenable bonds of sisterly affection, being your own hero, and accepting and loving who you are regardless of what society has to say about it? The movie is more than likely to touch on something important to you. NebraskaAlexander Payne's latest film might not exactly make you bawl, but there's a good chance you'll grow misty at watching a sad sack son reluctantly bond with his increasingly senile father as they make a spontaneous trip to the former's Nebraska hometown. The Kings of SummerIn-family issues and introductions to love are approached in the coming-of-age dramedy that is as funny as it is sweet. The movie might even convince you to call the parent you've been fighting with, or reminisce over some of the dumb things you did with your best pal in middle school. FOR CAMARADERIE"You're not alone" feel-goodery Sometimes, all we really need to feel better is to know that we're not alone — that other people (fictional characters or otherwise) are going through the same perils that we are, and are coming out of their messes all right. Frances Ha2013's forerunner in the speaking-to-a-generation game. The titular Frances is every one of us aimless 20-somethings (especially those living in New York). She wants to channel her passions, maintain her cherished but one-sided best friendship with roommate Sophie, and find herself. It's an emotional ride, but one from which you'll walk away feeling a bit more validated. Enough SaidIn a new relationship? Going through a breakup? Single? Married? Enough Said seems to understand each of these unique, funny, sweet, sad experiences quite well. Always real, but never too heavy! The Spectacular NowThis is a risky one, because it packs quite an emotional punch when it cuts to the core of teenaged everyman Sutter (Miles Teller) and his festering self-hatred. But the character's experience with facing and conquering his demons might instill a new sense of self-worth in those who relate all too well to his plight. [*Note: Before Midnight is just as earnest a portrayal of romantic relationships as Enough Said, but if you're in a delicate position, that third act will tear you apart.] Magnolia Pictures via Everett Collection FOR INSPIRATION"The world is full of beauty" feel-goodery Okay. You've had your laughs. You've had your cries. You've learned that there are others out there like you. Time to get INSPIRED. Short Term 12The powerhouse of the troupe. This movie will get to you, and in a way that won't spare any pangs. But in the end, there's something really touching, beautiful, and uplifting about Short Term 12. Perseverance and partnerships are venerated in this must-see (maybe after you stockpile your mental state with a few comedies, though). 20 Feet from StardomYou, too, can achieve your dreams... or at least come relatively close, as this energetic documentary about back-up singers teaches us. The Way Way BackSmaller scale inspiration: break out of your shell. Get a summer job. Learn how to swim. Meet Sam Rockwell. AND THE RESTMiscellaneous feel-gooderyNot really laughers, tear-jerkers, calls to arms, or particularly relatable... but generally pleasant movies of remarkable quality. Prince AvalanchePaul Rudd (with a mustache) and Emile Hirsch do highway repair in the wake of a massive forest fire. Meanwhile, they talk about stuff. Sex, poetry, nonsense. Lots of fun. Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012An odd movie, and one that is contingent on your enjoyment of a douchey Michael Cera. But it's an interesting, and visually sharp, ride. Room 237Do you like movies? Wanna watch a movie about movies? Well, here you go! Hope these help! Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Ranking Every Movie I Saw in 2013
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 31, 2013
    Universal via Everett Collection Every movie I saw in 2013, ranked from worst to best: 112. IDENTITY THIEFThe first comedy movie to not make me laugh once. 111. SAVING MR. BANKSInsulting, manipulative, dishonest, and unkind, with occasional song breaks. 110. SCARY MOVIE 5These movies have gotten much worse since we were 13. 109. GETAWAYINT. RACECAR. NIGHT. Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez crash into stuff. 108. GROWN UPS 2So much vomiting, so many homophobic jokes, so little plot. 107. I GIVE IT A YEARAn ugly, loveless rom-com that isn't clever enough to be satire. 106. DEAD MAN DOWNAll I remember is a whole lot of dark alleyways. 105. A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN IIIThe best part is the closing credits (I'm not being flip, they're actually kind of fun). 104. MOVIE 43Bad offensive joke after bad offensive joke after bad offensive joke... 103. WINNIE MANDELADesperately important story turned into a desperately dull movie. 102. TWICE BORNNo summary available due to lack of anything interesting happening in this movie. 101. R.I.P.D.Somebody forgot to give Ryan Reynolds any jokes. New Line Cinema via Everett Collection 100. THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONEThis movie could have been funny if Wonderstone wasn't such a d**k. 99. ONLY GOD FORGIVESInteresting in the moments when it's not shoving its unpleasantness down your throat. 98. MAN OF STEELSetup: cerebral reinvention of Superman. Payoff: mass property damage. 97. CARRIEBeat-by-beat remake without any of the original's spirit. 96. THE TO DO LISTUncomfortably raunchy and mean. Thank God for Bill Hader. 95. KICK-ASS 2More Mean Girls shtick would have benefited this weak sequel. 94. PHANTOMI'm not sure this was actually a finished movie. 93. WRONGObnoxiously nonsensical, but not without its share of laughs. 92. THE SMURFS 2Mostly cloying, but Neil Patrick Harris is incurably watchable. 91. HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS Dumb. 90. JOBSBoring. 89. NOW YOU SEE MEPossibly the worst ending in a 2013 movie, but a few bits of fun along the way. 88. WE'RE THE MILLERS[Pop culture reference] 87. RED 2John Malkovich's facial contortions save this from total failure. 86. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS It hsa a few pros, but is mostly one giant... well, you know. 85. RIDDICKSurprisingly intriguing, when it isn't being deplorably sexist. 84. FREE BIRDSEh, turkeys are kinda funny. 83. PRISONERS Thankfully, scenes of Hugh Jackman yelling are intercut with the far superior scenes of Jake Gyllenhaal yelling. 82. WHITE REINDEER Any minute now, this movie is going to reveal its inner glory! Any minute now! 81. EVIL DEAD A better horror flick than the original! But still mostly forgettable. Vertical Entertainment 80. GBFMostly charming, undone by its "safe" and "classy" ending. 79. THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALISTIt's kind of hard to get past how boring the title is. 78. DESPICABLE ME 2 Lots of minions. People like minions, right? 77. JOHN DIES AT THE END Not nearly as weird as it thinks it is or wants to be. 76. 2 GUNSHey, wait a minute, this movie is kinda funny! ... Not that funny, but kinda. 75. SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES MEI like to call this movie Click Offerman. 74. WHITE HOUSE DOWNWould be more fun if we were ready to laugh about terrorism. 73. AT ANY PRICEBoooriii— HOLY S**T WHERE THE F**K DID THAT COME FROM?! 72. BAD MILONot quite up to par with your expectations for the "Ken Marino has a demon in his butt" synopsis. 71. MONSTERS UNIVERSITYLackluster prequel, nice to look at, big band music. 70. THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES In its audacity, this silly amalgam of YA tropes can actually be a lot of fun. 69. THE CONJURING Fascinating subplots about the exorcism industry would be better served at the head of the film. 68. PEEPLESThere's a joke about wristwatches that I still think about. 67. SIDE EFFECTSSoderbergh's farewell caper doesn't have as much fun as its loony plot would demand. 66. ELYSIUMBroad and clumsy, but how wrong can you go with Bald Matt Damon? 65. OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFULIt works with Dark Side of the Moon. 64. THE COUNSELORThe book was better. Wait, this wasn't a book? Well it should have been. 63. IN A WORLD...A fun, biting look at an unappreciated industry! ... until it dissolves into mild genericism. 62. THE LONE RANGER Oh come on, you didn't love the William Tell climax? 61. THE WOLVERINENot always engaging, but at least it's about something. Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection 60. WARM BODIESNot really about anything, but at least it's engaging. 59. THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWNUndeniably powerful, but feels like it could use a few more revisions. 58. ENDER'S GAMESpace Camp: The Movie! (Slightly less expensive than actual space camp.) 57. PACIFIC RIMMonsters vs. robots aside, there's a riveting world constructed in the backdrop of this sci-fi epic. 56. ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUESThe battle royale does not disappoint. 55. YOU'RE NEXTThe fun, swift hook isn't nearly as interesting as the great character work that it replaces. 54. THE WAY WAY BACKI, too, long to get life advice from a waterpark-dwelling Sam Rockwell. 53. SOME VELVET MORNINGEven if you see the twist coming, the chemistry here is impeccable. 52. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIREShut up, Peeta, I'm trying to watch all the good parts of this movie. 51. 20 FEET FROM STARDOMA story that deserves a little more spirit and energy than it is given in this documentary. 50. DON JONNo. 50 on "Best Movies" list, No. 1 on "Best Trailers." 49. THE ROCKETA feel-good kids' adventure substantiated by the gravities of war. Wins in both areas. 48. CRYSTAL FAIRY & THE MAGICAL CACTUS AND 2012Beautifully shot, interestingly written, impressively acted. 47. MUD Yes, we all loved The Goonies, and we all loved David Wooderson, so... 46. CUTIE AND THE BOXER A vivid struggle that is equal parts artistically, martially, and internally based. Engrossing all the way. 45. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Tom Hanks' best performance in ages in a dramatic thriller that feels real (for obvious reasons). 44. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG As a Legend of Zelda fan, this movie's world awakened something in me. 43. FRUITVALE STATIONThis character story is at odds with its out-universe goal, but Michael B. Jordan is unforgettable. 42. BEFORE MIDNIGHTI'm still not sure how I feel about that ending, but it was good to catch up wit Jesse and Celine. 41. DARK TOUCHEverything that Carrie could have been. A shocking fantasy about human pains. Walt Disney Co via Everett Collection 40. THOR: THE DARK WORLDMore Chris O'Dowd. 39. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLORIntellectually stimulating, but doesn't hit all its emotional marks. 38. THE WORLD'S ENDI've been saying "Gooey Wooey Egg Man" for months. 37. THE GREAT GATSBYLights! Music! Pizzazz! Moxy! The bee's knees! The cat's pajamas! 36. ENOUGH SAIDBest TV drama's male lead + best TV comedy's female lead = quite a charming romantic dramedy. 35. SIGHTSEERSWell, this is rather amusi— HOLY S**T WHERE THE F**K DID THAT COME FROM?! 34. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINESNot sure if the "three stories" approach makes for the most powerful character work, but it's an enchanting ride. 33. THE WE AND THE I A bus full of inner-city high school kids turns into a magical kingdom thanks to Gondry's dreamy edge. 32. NEWLYWEEDSA love triangle with marijuana as the third party. Weighty, but never overly so, and funny throughout. 31. GRAVITY. . . 30. PRINCE AVALANCHE Heh heh, look at Paul Rudd's mustache. 29. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Yes, we all loved the 'ludes scene. Very, very much. 28. ALL IS LOSTRobert Redford, you still got that same oomph. You too, ocean. 27. SAVING LINCOLN The weirdest, goofiest, funniest biopic about Abraham Lincoln ever. 26. THE KINGS OF SUMMER Kids run away, live in the woods, grow up, make jokes. Always a charming endeavor. 25. AMERICAN HUSTLE Little more than a cartoon, but an emotionally explosive and riotous one at that. 24. THE HEAT Melissa McCarthy insisting on stepping out of a moving car earns a full five minutes of laughter alone. 23. DRINKING BUDDIESNever dips too low on the emotional spectrum, but stays real and fresh in the face of the rom-com genre. 22. UPSTREAM COLORA difficult, confusing, harrowing thinker. 21. STOKER Somehow both effectively haunting and deliciously fun. Room 237: the movie/Facebook 20. ROOM 237 Less a doting tribute to The Shining or Kubrick than it is to movie-lovers and their bottomless well of theories. 19. BLUE JASMINE Each party fires on all cylinders in Woody Allen's Streetcar gem, Sally Hawkins especially. 18. S#X ACTSThe sadness of this story of our youth's desperate obsession with and reliance on sex is its authenticity. 17. IRON MAN 3 The first true action comedy in Marvel's line of films shows how much fun superhero movies can really be. 16. ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW Take notes, John Dies at the End. THIS is one weird f**king movie. 15. NEBRASKA Father vs. son, past vs. present, dreams vs. reality. Everything here is touching, funny, and inviting. 14. PAIN & GAIN Michael Bay talks a long, hard look in the mirror with this biting send-up of everything his other movies represent. 13. THIS IS THE ENDFar more interesting and insightful than it will get credit for being, This Is the End uses a literal apocalypse and no dearth of d**k jokes to deconstruct tenets of friendship and social politics. 12. THE ACT OF KILLING While this documentary would benefit from restructuring, the power of its message (especially its final few monents, not to mention the "anonymous"-heavy credits) is painfully resonant. 11. FROZENOffering the magic and whimsy you'll remember from time-honored Disney classics, but so much more in the way of its message, Frozen might very well be the most magnificent and meaningful animated feature yet to spring from Walt's legacy. 10. COMPUTER CHESSIt doesn't have much to say about the human condition (beyond maybe highlighting our propensity for arrogance and self-directed delusion). It doesn't tell a story that'll stick with you for very long. But Computer Chess reigns supreme as, far and away, the funniest movie of 2013. 9. SPRING BREAKERS A dark, wicked, wholly upsetting reflection of the toxic direction in which we might be headed. And James Franco gives a tour-de-force of a performance with his demonic scoutmaster Alien. 8. IT'S A DISASTER An intelligent, meticulously directed farce about group politics and conflicting personal philosophies, executed to near perfection thanks to the rhythmic participation of a more than capable cast.  7. 12 YEARS A SLAVEAn unprecedented masterpiece that sings the traumas not only of Solomon Northrup, a free man captured and sold into slavery, but in his fellow sufferers as well. For my money, the true anchor of the story is in Lupita Nyong'o's Patsey, whose suffering is unlike anything we've seen managed on the big screen in years. 6. HER With so much to say about such tremendous topics, Her manages to still dive so deep into the heart of its story: the pangs of love in the wake of the inevitable fallibilities of romantic relationships. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson alike give dynamic performances, and Spike Jonze mystifies us with his strange, cold, all-too-familiar world. A24 via Everett Collection 5. THE SPECTACULAR NOWThis is one of those movies you try to convince yourself to inch out of your top 10, or five, for fear of being seen as juvenile. ButThe Spectacular Now hits such genuine notes with Miles Teller's Sutter, climaxing at a moment where you'll recognize an angst so true to life and so criminally absent from most movies about the journey toward self-love. IFC Films 4. FRANCES HA Months and months after my first encounter with it, this deceptively simple film sticks in my head, reminding me that its every artful beat is riddled with emotional weight and ironic humor alike. Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach give us the a New York movie to rival Annie Hall, zooming in and out of the perspective of the young women and men who occupy, and drown within, today's version of the biggest, most stupefying city in the world.  CBS Films 3. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVISSadness, coldness, loneliness, failure... such wonderful things when handled by filmmakers like the Coen Brothers. Padding this antithesis of triumph with some of the most beautiful, somber music you'll hear all year, Inside Llewyn Davis makes us fall in love all over again with the very idea of the artistic struggle. Touchstone Pictures via Everett Collection 2. THE WIND RISESHayao Miyazaki's final movie doesn't pass judgment on its hero, a man so devoted to his work (building weapons) that he neglects his wife, sister, and friends. It doesn't endorse these choices either. Instead, it hones in on the passions of its hero/antihero, challenging us to sympathize with a fellow whose only desire is to do his job while we lament his sacrifices. More even than Gravity does the frequently airborne animated picture induce dizzy spells as we connect with the conglomerate of colorful, intriguing characters in this grim but dainty biography. Cinedigm via Everett Collection 1. SHORT TERM 12 There are so few flaws to highlight in The Wind Rises, Inside Llewyn Davis, Frances Ha, and the other entries on this top 10 list. What separates Short Term 12 is not a complete lack of error, but in an umatched spirit for the telling of its story. The movie wants us to feel the pains of counselor Grace (Brie Larson) and the disavantaged children for whom she cares, highlighting abused Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) and orphan Marcus (Keith Stanfield). It also wants us to feel the hope that it brings to these characters in their plight to overcome the hands they have been dealt. Every emotion in this movie carries through with such force. For those of us who know any of these trials personally, they ring tremendously true. For others, they work to invite you into this sad but hopeful world. We've been gifted with a ton of exemplary cinematic works this year, but nothing sticks with me more than this tearful, heartrending masterpiece.  Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 2013 in Fantasy: Categorizing the Supernatural Films of the Year
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 27, 2013
    Warner Bros. We're done with vampires. Done! But our craving for the paranormal wages on, so Hollywood is charged with injecting a slew of other otherworldly elements into its cinematic output. Throughout 2013, we've seen a wide variety of fantasy and science-fiction creatures, worlds, and principles take form in our favorite (and… less appreciated) movies. Take a gander at what the year has brought us in the way of the supernatural: MOVIES THAT FEATURE THE USE OF MAGIC47 RoninBeautiful CreaturesEpicFrozenHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThe Lone RangerThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesOz the Great and PowerfulThe Smurfs 2Thor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT FEATURE THE USE OF FICTIONAL SCIENCE OR TECHNOLOGYCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Despicable Me 2ElysiumG.I. Joe: RetaliationIron Man 3John Dies at the EndMan of SteelMovie 43Pacific RimStar Trek into DarknessThor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT FEATURE COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES Iron Man 3Man of SteelMovie 43Thor: The Dark WorldThe Wolverine MOVIES THAT FEATURE ALIENSAfter EarthDark SkiesEnder's GameEscape from Planet EarthEuropa ReportThe HostMan of SteelOblivionPacific RimRiddickStar Trek into DarknessThe World's End MOVIES THAT FEATURE GHOSTSAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesThe ConjuringA Haunted HouseThe Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of GeorgiaInsidious Chapter 2MamaSafe HavenScary Movie 5 MOVIES THAT FEATURE ZOMBIESJohn Dies at the EndWarm BodiesWorld War Z MOVIES THAT FEATURE WITCHES47 RoninBeautiful CreaturesHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersOz the Great and Powerful MOVIES THAT FEATURE WIZARDSThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones MOVIES THAT FEATURE DEMONS47 RoninHell BabyThe Last Exorcism Part IIThe Lone RangerThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesThis Is the End MOVIES THAT FEATURE WEREWOLVESAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesThe Lone Ranger (original cut)The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones MOVIES THAT FEATURE VAMPIRES (OH, I GUESS WE'RE NOT DONE WITH THEM...)ByzantiumThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones MOVIES THAT FEATURE MYTHICAL OR MYTHOLOGICAL FIGURESAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT FEATURE A RACE OF MONOCHROMATIC, LIKE-MINDED CREATURESDespicable Me 2EpicThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThe Smurfs 2World War Z MOVIES THAT FEATURE POSSESSION AND/OR BODY SNATCHINGThe ConjuringEvil DeadG.I. Joe: RetaliationHell BabyThe HostInsidious Chapter 2The Last Exorcism Part IIThis Is the EndThe World's End MOVIES THAT FEATURE ARTIFICIALLY INTELLIGENT BEINGSOblivionThe World's End MOVIES THAT FEATURE GENETIC ENGINEERINGDespicable Me 2The Hunger Games: Catching FireIron Man 3Scary Movie 5Star Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT FEATURE TIME TRAVELAbout TimeFree BirdsJohn Dies at the End MOVIES THAT FEATURE TELEPORTATION, WORMHOLES, OR ANY OF THAT OTHER NONSENSEJohn Dies at the EndStar Trek into DarknessThor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT TAKE PLACE IN ALTERNATE REALMSEpicThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugJohn Dies at the EndMonsters UniversityOz the Great and PowerfulThe Smurfs 2Thor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT TAKE PLACE ON OTHER PLANETS OR MOONSAfter EarthEuropa ReportMan of SteelRiddickStar Trek into DarknessThor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT TAKE PLACE IN OUTER SPACEElysiumEnder’s GameEuropa ReportFree BirdsGravityMan of SteelRiddickStar Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT TAKE PLACE IN THE FUTUREAfter EarthElysiumThe Hunger Games: Catching FireOblivionPacific RimThe PurgeStar Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT FEATURE THE APOCALYPSE OR "POST-APOCALYPSE"After EarthThe Hunger Games: Catching FireIt's a DisasterOblivionPacific RimThis Is the EndThe World's End MOVIES THAT FEATURE AN AFTERLIFEThe ConjuringInsidious Chapter 2R.I.P.D.This Is the End MOVIES THAT FEATURE WHATEVER THE F**K HAPPENS IN UPSTREAM COLORUpstream Color MOVIES BASED ON FAIRY TALESHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersJack the Giant Slayer MOVIES IN WHICH A YOUNG WOMAN WHO THINKS SHE IS MORTAL FINDS OUT THAT SHE ISN'T AND MUST RISE TO THE OCCASION TO STOP A DASTARDLY FORCE OF EVILHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones MOVIES THAT FEATURE TALKING ANIMALSThe CroodsEpicThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugOz the Great and PowerfulScary Movie 5TurboWalking with Dinosaurs MOVIES THAT FEATURE TALKING INANIMATE OBJECTSCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2FrozenOz the Great and PowerfulPlanes MOVIES THAT FEATURE "MIND-MELDING"Pacific RimStar Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT FEATURE THE USE OF TELEKINESISBeautiful CreaturesCarrieDark Touch MOVIES THAT FEATURE LARGE ORGANIZATIONS DEVOTED TO FANTASTICAL OR SCI-FI CAUSESDespicable Me 2Ender's GameEscape from Planet EarthEscape from TomorrowJack the Giant SlayerMonsters UniversityThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesR.I.P.D.Star Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT FEATURE PROPHECIESByzantiumThe Hobbit: Desolation of SmaugThe Lone RangerThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesThis Is the End MOVIES THAT USE THE NAME "RONIN"47 RoninEpic MOVIES THAT I DIDN'T SEE BUT THAT I'M SURE FALL INTO A FEW OF THESE CATEGORIESPercy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Christmas Movie Alternatives: What to Watch Instead of the Holiday Classics
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 23, 2013
    MGM via Everett Collection Christmas movies aren't for everybody. Yes, they might offer the odd sparkle of good will or reminder to appreciate all that you have, but the onslaught of these films might start to feel like overkill. Still, you might find it difficult to find non-holiday-themed alternatives to the Christmas staples that your friends and family members will be enjoying this week. But we've got a few suggestions... Your father is glued to his living room arm chair, drinking in the wholesome enchantments of Miracle on 34th Street. But you can watch...For that spell-binding courtroom drama: 12 Angry Men.For another movie that will teach you the value of blind faith: Soul Surfer.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Miracle. Your mother is enjoying network television's annual broadcast of the feel-good fantasy It's a Wonderful Life. But you can watch...For that "angels sent from above for the good of one man" story: The Heavenly Kid.For another movie that includes a scene about people freaking out in a bank: Dog Day Afternoon.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Life Is Beautiful. Your baby brother is beaming over the innocent glories of the Laurel and Hardy adventure Babes in Toyland. But you can watch...For that fantastical journey through a realm of imagination: Any and all of the Lord of the Rings movies.For another movie about two bumbling pals just trying to make it in this crazy world: Dumb and Dumber.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Babe. Your precocious little sister is smirking knowingly at the myriad jokes in A Christmas Story. But you can watch...For that saccharine recollection of a simpler, sweeter time: GoodFellas.For another movie that sends condemns the dangers of firearms: Pocahontas.For just something that sounds kinda similar: The Philadelphia Story. Your young cousin is reveling in the earnest ecstasies of Rankin Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But you can watch...For that charmingly shoddy animation: ParaNorman.For another movie that showcases misfits learning to believe in themselves: Pitch Perfect.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Reindeer Games... does that still count as a Christmas movie? Fine, Funny Games. Happy now? Your aunt is reveling in childhood nostalgia with a viewing of Frosty the Snowman. But you can watch...For that spirited fairy tale magic that brings inanimate creations to life: Short Circuit.For another movie about a high-stakes countdown to early mortality: 25th Hour.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Frost/Nixon. Your uncle is getting a little too effusive about the family's well-worn VHS copy of A Christmas Carol. But you can watch...For that rhythmic and rhyming rendezvous that only T. Geisel can offer to you: Horton Hears a Who.For another movie that thaws the frozen heart of a baddie: Schindler's List (or Despicable Me, for lighter fare).For just something that sounds kinda similar: The Carol Burnett Show. Your grandpa is reliving his old World War II days with White Christmas. But you can watch...For that rally-to-save-the-small-town-fixture tale: Be Kind Rewind.For another movie about nebbishy entertainers on a rousing road trip adventure: Some Like It Hot.For just something that sounds kinda similar: White Chicks. Your spouse has had a little too much eggnog and is, for some ungodly reason, waching The Polar Express. But you can watch...For that horrifying trip down the uncanny valley: The Adventures of Tintin.For another movie that... you know what? I can't get past how freaky the people in this movie look: Mars Needs Moms.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Pineapple Express. And finally, your best friend has stopped by and commandeered the basement TV to enjoy Jingle All the Way. But you can watch...For that testament to the evils of materialism: The Bling Ring.For another movie that showcases the softer side of Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Kid & I.For just something that sounds kinda similar: The Way We Were. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //