Anniversary Top Ten


With the advent of this blog’s ten year anniversary, I thought it’d be fun to compile a Top Ten based on the end-of-year Top Tens for all ten years of this blog (2007-2016).  So below you’ll find what I consider to be the best movies I’ve seen that were released in the last ten years or thereabouts.  I’ve taken into consideration that certain movies I originally loved have aged better than others and that I’ve also grown to appreciate certain movies more since I originally saw them.

Ten best movies of Craig’s Movie Report

1.  Black Swan

2.  The Dark Knight

3.  Zodiac

4.  Gran Torino

5.  Let The Right One In

6.  Birdman

7.  Django Unchained

8.  The Martian

9.  Looper

10.  Pan’s Labyrinth

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Update


So what has been going on with me lately?  Movie viewing is a little slow of late…you’ll have noticed only the occasional review.  Well, we’re in the middle of gaming season in the run up to Christmas, and I’ve managed to get hold of a few titles.  These are Watchdogs 2, Gears of War 4 and I’m still ploughing through Mafia 3 … and then there’s also Recore – a game I’m not sure at this stage if I’ll go back to.  That’s not to mention the various games I’ve still yet to play or get hold of, namely Battlefield 1 and Dishonoured 2.  It’s a lot to have on one’s plate and well, games aren’t that short these days…with many being huge open world fairs that last me months.

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In other more personal news, I’m pretty busy in work and well, the day to day grind can get stressful occasionally, but I’m getting by in my own way.  With my birthday recently it’s given me a mental kick up the arse to be more positive, not dwell on the past and try and be in a better mood more often and for longer periods.  I think I do struggle with depression, and can really let it take a grip of me sometimes … but I can’t let it and have to fight against it the best I can.

GarbageIn recent weeks I’ve realised too that I’m a bit addicted to my favourite band, Garbage and I understand more than anyone this can get a tiresome and over-familiar subject to family and friends.  However I actually do enjoy everything about them … listening to their music, following their escapades on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and just enjoying the whole journey with them.  It’s a hobby for me and more than just an interest in their music, and has become a big part of my life.  I suppose meeting them back in June was the ultimate and has only gone towards making me feel closer to them as a fan.  I suppose I shouldn’t really care what others think, should I?

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Also, my annual Top Ten Movies of the year is of course on the horizon and I’ve tried my best to watch so many movies, especially some of the real big-hitters of the year.  As always, it’s going to be fun compiling a Top Ten and I think It’ll be interesting to see what I make my number 1.  I also look forward to reading other blogger’s top tens when the time comes.

Well that’s all from me for now.

Craig.

Top Ten 2015


Well dear readers, it’s finally here … following is a countdown of my Ten favourite movies I watched in 2015.  Do take into consideration some may be older than the past twelve months…

Drum roll…

10.

John Wick

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Keanu proved he still had it in the action movie stakes (and seemingly doesn’t age).  A tongue-in cheek script and stylish direction proved a simple revenge thriller done very well indeed was all I needed also.

9.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

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Studio Ghibli does it again, with a beautiful water-colour art style and an enchanting Japanese fable and heart warming characters.

8.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

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Cruise can still do the seemingly impossible and with chases, gadgets and Simon Pegg, this made for the best summer event flick of the year for me.

7.

Ex_Machina

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There is still room for genuine science-fiction with this thought-provoking study of artificial intelligence.  The sort of movie that would have made Stanley Kubrick proud.

6.

American Sniper

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Proving yet again he’s as good behind the camera as in front, Clint Eastwood delivers a powerful true story with a career best Bradley Cooper.

5.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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My introduction to Wes Anderson and one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen in a long while, and Ralph Fiennes is just sublime.

4.

Interstellar

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Mind-boggling it may be but Christopher Nolan’s space epic is full of wonder, awe and ideas that left me floored.

3.

Star Wars The Force Awakens

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It may deliver too much fan-service but sets up enough firm foundations of its own and captures the spirit of the movies missing since Jedi, that it’s difficult to fault.

2.

Inside Out

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Pixar bounce back, after slight stumbles and deliver a truly heart-warming, ideas-packed event of a movie that genuinely touched and surprised me.

1.

Birdman

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Not that director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu needed to prove his skill, yet this wondrously inventive and yet simple movie impressed and dazzled me with it’s concept and originality with a brilliant Michael Keaton as the icing on the cake.  A movie for fans who truly love movies and movie-making.


Well that was my countdown for 2015.  What were some of your favourites?  Feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll see you all in 2016.  Bye for now…

Craig.

2015 – a look back


2015

I usually like to do a blog post looking back at the year and the highlights it’s held both for me personally and on this blog as far as entertainment is concerned.  For a good portion of the year, from about March onwards I was all excited and geared up to see my favourite band, ‘Garbage’ of which I’ve already reported on here how it went seeing them at Brixton Academy in London in November – so the lead up to that was a big focus to my year.  However I did try and distract myself from this by playing various videogames and watching plenty of movies … reaching about 60 movies in total in the last twelve months (phew).  During this time my job and various other activities have kept me busy and of course I’ve enjoyed writing this blog as well.  So I’ll take a look back now and give my thoughts over the year that was 2015.

January – March

I started off the year with the enjoyable but not amazing ‘Maleficent’, enjoying Angelina Jolie’s turn as the iconic evil sorceress.  The first high point though for me was ‘True Detective’, which I’d borrowed off a friend … season one with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson which turned out to be riveting.  For some reason however I didn’t get around to season 2.  Then we came to the very impressive ‘Ex_Machina’ … my first taste of true science fiction this year that would turn out to be a great year for the genre.  I also very much loved ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and found it a breath of fresh air and endlessly inventive.  The Oscar’s overshadowed much of February and it was good to see Eddie Redmayne picking up a statue for his turn as Stephen Hawkins in ‘The Theory of Everything’.  Also Birdman picking up best picture was it would turn out, marvellous considering it’s one of my favourite movies of the year.

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I borrowed the much hyped but beyond the gorgeous visuals, disappointing ‘The Order 1886’ for the PS4 and thought it was a fun game that failed to reach it’s full potential.  Still worth it for the story and the graphics, especially if you can rent it or get it cheap …just don’t pay full price.  Then I experienced the underwhelming cash-grab that was ‘The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part One’ … which I’m hoping proves a better experience when I finally see Part Two.  A pleasant surprise however was the Sean Penn thriller ‘Gunman’, coming from the creators of Taken I was half expecting another poorly conceived rip-off of that classic movie … but no, this was hard-hitting action packed and well acted.

April – June

One of my major highlights for the year as far as games was concerned was the indie title ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’ …a superb, fiendish old school puzzle-platformer that was really addictive, had a beautiful Studio Ghibli-like art style and a large world to explore and get lost in.  I also enjoyed the comedy road movie ‘Identity Thief’, discovering the entertaining Melissa McCarthy for the first time.

Around this time I noticed I had reached a milestone, that of writing this blog for 8 years…wow.  I wrote a post reflecting on this and how I was feeling at the time.  I went through various observations of my life, work, dealing with depression that comes and goes to this day, and of the satisfaction this blog and my hobbies have given me when times haven’t been ideal.  I do venting and such from time to time as readers on here will be aware and hope you can excuse some of the more negative ponderings in between the movie reviews and gaming impressions.  Anyway on with the show…

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‘John Wick’ turned out to be nearly everything I could want in a John Woo inspired action thriller and Keanu Reeves was back on blistering form.  Kevin Costner’s thriller ‘3 Days To Kill’ turned out rather poor and finally getting around to seeing ‘Donnie Brasco’, mob drama with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp was equally underwhelming.  Garbage’s new single and collaboration with singer Brian Aubert ‘The Chemicals’ left me with mixed feelings for a long while, and although I don’t consider the track amongst the band’s best work – it’s really grown on me over the last few months.  Nicholas Cage vehicle ‘Joe’ proved very interesting however and was one of his better recent performances, and Tim Burton’s subdued ‘Big Eyes’ proved decent if fairly lightweight for that particular director.

Also during April I was gifted with finally seeing the remarkable ‘Birdman’, from the increasingly impressive director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, The Revenant) and also proved a unique return for Michael Keaton.  On the gaming front I got my teeth into the PS4 version of ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ and the much hyped ‘The Witcher 3’ on Xbox One …er, two games I still haven’t finished.  TV offered up the Breaking Bad spin-off ‘Better Call Saul’ which proved highly entertaining and I can’t wait for season 2.  The biggest disappointment around this time however was the news that ‘The Following’, one of my favourite shows was to be cancelled after the current season ended.  I was gutted but at least the final season 3 turned out to be excellent.

The summer blockbuster season kicked off in fine form in June with the exhilarating ‘Mad Max Fury Road’ which despite me not loving as much as some of my friends, I still got a kick out of.  E3 also dominated the gaming calendar around this time with plenty of exciting announcements for both the PS4 and the Xbox One.  Brit spy-spoof ‘Kingsmen: The Secret Service’ had it’s moments but didn’t impress me all that much … and Project Almanac was a fun yet forgettable time travel drama.

July – September

‘Terminator Genisys’ was one of the most purely ‘fun’ movies of the year and ticked many of my Terminator fan-boy boxes.  I don’t really care what others think of that movie.  ‘The Babadook’ also proved a refreshing horror movie that dealt with psychological trauma and the stresses of being a single mother with intelligence.  Around that time I also checked out ‘It Follows’ which was probably one of my horror movie highlights of the year.  Studio Ghibli animation ‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya’ also proved heart warming, magical and captivating just how a Studio Ghibli movie should be … and ‘Chappie’ was a highly enjoyable sci-fi actioner that once again made me a big fan of director Neil Blomkamp.   ‘Still Alice’ was a powerful story of one woman’s battle with Alzheimer’s and Julianne Moore rightly deserved her Oscar nod.

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As I rolled into August I got around to seeing some very good movies such as ‘American Sniper’ which proved very powerful, and ‘Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation’ which was again another very exciting entry in the franchise.  Then we came to another great sci-fi drama in the name of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ which although at times confusing was full of wonder and amazing ideas backed up by amazing visuals.  ‘The Gift’ also turned out to be a surprising and very well acted psychological drama with a brilliantly complex Jason Bateman, whilst Iranian vampire drama ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ proved visually striking but lacking in pretty much everything else.  Liam Neeson vehicle  ‘Run All Night’ also sadly showed that this gifted actor had found himself stuck in a rut of forgettable thrillers.

Although late to the party, I thought ‘The Conjuring’ was one of the best horrors I had seen in a long while, and Disney remake ‘Cinderella’ proved suitably enchanting whilst offering little new.  Crime thriller ‘The Drop’ seemed a suitable swansong for the late James Gondolfini (sob) whilst ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’ was fun but lacked that special ‘something’ to stand out in a crowded superhero market place.

October – December

As autumn and winter rolled around, disaster flick ‘San Andreas’ turned out to be a very enjoyable CGI-packed vehicle for Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson, and on TV some of my favourite shows came back, namely ‘Homeland’, ‘The Returned’, ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Fargo’, which have all proved excellent this season.  Dinosaur sequel ‘Jurassic World’ was a lot of fun and one of the better entries in the popular franchise, whilst Guillermo Del Toro’s gorgeous looking ‘Crimson Peak’ was one of my biggest disappointments of 2015 as I had hoped it would be another masterpiece by this talented director rather than the uninvolving style over substance it turned out as.  Thankfully Kevin Bacon thriller ‘Cop Car’ turned out quite the breath of fresh air and is well worth checking out.

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November was for me, dominated by both seeing ‘Garbage’ and turning 40 (!!).  They were amazing live and I highly recommend you check them out for yourself if you get the chance.  I also visited London with my brother and pretty much that whole week will stay with me for a long time to come.  I hope to see the band again next year but don’t know if that will happen for sure yet.  Fingers crossed!  Yet I did get around to seeing a couple of movies as well, such as the intense, Oscar winning drama ‘Whiplash’ and entertaining animation ‘Minions’.  Yet one of the major highlights and probably my gaming experience of the year was finally getting my hands on ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ which was sheer gaming joy from start to finish and one of the best looking games yet on Xbox One.

So we come to December and much of this was focused on the imminent release of ‘Star Wars The Force Awakens’ which thankfully turned out a fantastic experience.  However aside from this movie I checked out comedy spy spoof ‘Spy’ with an again enjoyable Melissa McCarthy and ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ which proved enjoyable and visually impressive, but let down by a confusing plot.  I also finally managed to see Pixar animation ‘Inside Out’ which blew me away and was one of their best efforts yet.  Other than that ‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’ is one of the best entries in the franchise yet, with Victorian London a great setting full of atmosphere.


So there you have it, 2015 all done and dusted.  So what is left to say?  My end of Year Top Ten will be revealed on New Year’s Eve (this Thursday) and I’m already looking forward to compiling it.  There have been some amazing movies this year with some pleasant surprises.  My gaming calendar has been a bit underwhelming with only a small handful of titles truly impressing, but I am hoping 2016 fairs better.

For now though I’ll leave you waiting in anticipation for what I’ll crown my favourite movie of the year…

Building up to my annual Top Ten


countdown

It’s drawing closer to that time of year once again on this blog where I list my Top Ten movies of the year.  As a movie fan who doesn’t get to see everything that is released in one year, I have to pick from those movies I personally got to check out, some of which are left overs I didn’t get around to the previous year.  So in the upcoming list you may see titles that you may have seen on last year’s best of lists.  It can’t be helped and to stick rigidly to release dates would mean some movies just wouldn’t get mentioned at all.

I think this year so far has been the year of the indie movie and movies that have affected me on a more emotional level.  I’ve forgiven some movies that have had plot or acting issues if they have had that special emotional impact … and it’s something few movies, even the most hyped seem to do.  Big blockbuster titles have faired poorly compared to more deeper, character driven movies, and I’ve tried to focus on story and direction and atmosphere over CGI and bike chases (not that there isn’t room for that).  I’ve been tougher I think this year, and only a handful of movies have earned that converted 5 /5 from me … whilst others have been difficult to critique as their positives and negatives have had a different effect on me based on how I think about them.  Horror for example has again been a bit of a let down with hyped movies not fully delivering.  So again, it been about turning away from favourite genres, and looking for something that resonates deeper, lingers in the brain and has a stronger impact, even months after seeing it.

This year’s Top Ten is going to be difficult to compile and I’m still trying to see some of the most talked about movies before I finally compile it.  So roll on December 31st … and then all will be revealed.

Until then, wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope Santa or your loved ones get you something nice!