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My Favorite Films of 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2019 by bookofdread

As I am wont to do at the end of the year I organize my favorite films into a list. 2018 was a bleak year and many of the films on this list reflect that. There were also some bright spots, but I felt film as a whole lacked in a way I don’t think it has since the late 90’s. Of all my favorite filmmakers only the Coen Brothers and Orson Welles released a film this year. But there were a lot of good works by good filmmakers, and some pleasant turns by filmmakers whose films I wasn’t the biggest fan of in the past. Without further delay, here are my 20 most enjoyed films of 2018.

20. Venom – Reuben Fleischer

Venom played like a big budget Cronenberg body horror comedy, with out paying to much attention to the actual science of the stuff. It was hoot of a romance and slapstick physical comedy where a good monster bites bad guys heads off. What’s not to like?

19. Assassination Nation – Sam Levinson

A chilling portrait of a near future, Sam Levinson’s satire scared the shit out of me. Imagine if a town like Twin Peaks dirty laundry all hit the fan at the same keystroke. It is a brilliant, if somewhat ham-fisted, takedown of our modern culture.

18. Bad Times At The El Royale – Drew Goddard

Bad Times is about as good as Tarantino-lite can get. Much like Romain Gavras The World Is Yours, Bad Times At The El Royale uses an ensemble of likeable hoods and groovy tunes to guide us through a pulpy narrative. What Gavras films is lacking that El Royal has is moral center and MVP Darlene Sweet. The last two minutes of this film is perfect.

17. A Quiet Place – John Krasinski

Working from a suspense filled premise, John Krasinski shows ample control guiding this tense thriller that had me on the fence until we see the awesome monsters. Not the best horror film of the year, but a very good one.

16. Vice – Adam McKay

A polarizing look at a man who sought power and gained it. I was surprised that I came out of this film with a more humanized view of Cheney even if it was somewhat morally compromised. I loved the scene where he demands the whole of intelligence briefings whether confirmed or not. It had me believing that nearly anyone in those circumstances would develop a crippling paranoia about the world. That said, the guy is still a Dick.

15. The Night Comes For Us – Timo Tjahjanto

This is the most brutal film of the year, (but not the most Metal, that’s Mandy). The Night Come For Us is action adrenaline straight to your cerebellum. The meat plant scene alone is worth your time but the whole thing just burns like whiskey. I can’t wait to see what this guy does next.

14. Sorry To Bother You – Boots Riley

Most years you get no satires this year we got 4! That’s what happens when people are unhappy. Sorry to Bother You might be the roughest of them, using a horse dick for a hammer to nail it’s points home. This is what the future looks like. Be afraid.

13. The Favourite – Yorgos Lanthimos

I hated the Lobster. So I skipped the Killing of A Sacred Deer. But now I will certainly go back to it, because I loved The Favourte. It was hilarious. Colman, Weisz and Stone are spectacular. I left wanting more.

12. The Other Side Of The Wind – Orson Welles

How lucky are we Bob Murawski and Netflix (and so many others) saw this through to completion? It was worth the wait. Film is rarely as alive and experimental as it was in this movie, and every time I see it, Welles is further revealed to me. Like looking back in time into the mind of an artist at peak power.

11. The House With A Clock In Its Walls – Eli Roth

I have never been a fan of Eli Roth’s films, but this one is the adaptation of a book I loved as a child. So, I was curious. He nailed it and even improved the material. It’s a great and scary spooktacular film for kids and adults. It would have placed even higher on the list if I hadn’t felt the lead was miscast. In the books he is overweight which I felt would have lent even more empathy to his character but I still loved the film.

10. Anna and the Apocalypse – John McPhail

Anna and the Apocalypse is a blast. I really didn’t think I had room for another zombie movie in my life then this Scottish Christmas end-times musical comes into my life and…well, what I’m trying to say is more like this please.

9. Apostle – Gareth Evans

Apostle is like a Clive Barker circa Books of Blood era story with a third act from the director of The Raid. Dan ‘muthafuckin’ Stevens cements himself as a genre icon between this and The Guest. I’m sure he has many more great roles to come. Apostle is a truly great turn by Evans, who had established himself as an action filmmaker into horror territory, creating a film whose specificity is thrilling.

8. Avengers: Infinity War – Anthony and Joe Russo

Here it is. This is the film where they would define Thanos, the threat for the decade old MCU. Would they drop that ball? No they would not. Thanos reasoning is justified and his justification reasonable, despite his lack of morality. It is the rare film that portrays only the ascent to power and not the fall of despot. In that it cuts the narrative off when Thanos is at his peak power it is unique.

7. Annihilation – Alex Garland

Annihilation is the best adaptation of The Color Out Of Space, despite deviating from the source material through several iterations. It feels Carpeter-esque, with echoes of both Assault on Precinct 13 and The Thing, (and The Fog), but the fact that it is a women-on a mission update of a Lovecraftian classic and a meditation on past trauma as transformation makes it a new classic.

6. First Reformed – Paul Schrader

Don’t feel bad Ethan Hawke. Choose hope.

5. Paddington 2 – Paul King

This film is so earnest and sweet and full of brilliant visual gags I had a hard time not being caught up in Paddington’s perfect worldview. Look for the good in people and you will find it.

4. Alpha – Albert Hughes

A coming of age/man vs nature story the likes of which we rarely see, let alone one this good. This film is Albert Hughes masterpiece. The storytelling is so visual and the design and performance by Kodi Smit-McPhee so flawless. Alpha is a beautiful tale for people of all ages.

3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Joel and Ethan Coen

It’s no surprise this film is on my list but it is a surprise how good it is, even coming from masters like the Coens. Buster Scruggs uses the six tales that comprise its runtime like biblical parables, warning of all the perils of the world. It is a harsh world, with death being right around the corner for all the sad characters the Coens summon to torment. This is the most thoughtful film of the year, though, it can be a bit bleak, seeing the universe through the Coens filter of near-nihilsm.

2. Mandy – Panos Cosmatos

Mandy is a paperback fantasy novel cover come to life. It is a distillation of the romantic with in a revenge film and one of many high-water-marks for Nicolas Cage. Its unique world building and sound and visual design make it an immersive cinematic experience.

1. Sense8: Amor Vincit Omnia – Lana Wachowski

This was the most emotionally invested I was in a film all year. At two and a half hours the finale of Sense8 was more than a TV movie, it was kinetic, emotional, humane filmmaking of the highest order and I think Lana Wachowski is treasure to planet Earth. Whatever she does next might save the world.


Happy 2019!


The Silver Key

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2018 by bookofdread

I made some music and have shared it. Follow the link:

The Silver Key


My Top Films of 2017

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2017 by bookofdread

Well, it’s my favorite time of year, time to rank my favorite new movies! I love these lists because they speak to the taste of other cinephiles and I like to see what other people love as much as I like to sort through my own taste and pick favorites! I wish I could have seen Phantom Thread and The Post before I made this list but, well, I haven’t.

Here we go!


25. Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse – Lucas Feigelfeld


Lukas Figelfeld’s Hagazussa is no Witch copycat. It is very much it’s own tale, steeped in the lore of Bavaria. Moody and gross, psychedelic and crunchy, this gnarly tale is a brand new horror classic and I can’t wait for Figelfeld’s next effort.

24. Blade Runner 2049 – Denis Villenueve


Blade Runner 2049 is slow and ponderous just like Blade Runner. It is a poetic film and a bit of a dirge, but I always love a good existential rumination on humanity. Roger Deakins cinematography borders on supernatural.

23. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 – James Gunn


While not as funny as GOTG Vol 1, Vol 2 is a great sequel that builds natural relationships out of these characters and watching them go is blast. Gunn wears his heart on his sleeve with the best of them, and Kurt Russell is a joy both as a charmer and a vile intergalactic deadbeat dad. I look forward to seeing what Gunn does with Adam Warlock.

22. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Martin McDonagh


Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell are in rare form in this powder keg of Americana. A meaty slice of truth delivered in a pulpy package that is alternately thrilling and hilarious.

21. A Cure For Wellness – Gore Verbinski


I found Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness just what the doctor ordered. They don’t really make them like this anymore. It’s a hundred million dollar hammer film set in an asylum and featuring some of the most sumptuous imagery of the year. I loved it.

20. Vidar The Vampire – Thomas Aske Berg and Fredrik Waldeland


VampyrVidar is a breath of blasphemous fresh air. With little regard to political correctness and a crucifix up the ass of the stuffy old church, Vidar the Vampire skewers social and religious hypocrisies. Lucio Fulci would blush at the set-pieces and Romero would clap them on the back for scathing satire. Not one for the prudish, but if you have a sense of humor I highly recommend it.

19. Blood Money – Lucky McKee


Essentially a remake of the Treasure Of Sierra Madre with kids on a camping trip and a crazy sniper, Blood Money is nihilism in film form. It’s a black comedy that never pauses for laughs, but the whole shitshow is a riot if  you have a misanthropic streak like me. McKee continues to spellbind with his editing and use of music but it’s the ending that really stuck with me. Dark shit man.

18. Mom and Dad – Brian Taylor


Mom and Dad looks like a Tobe Hooper film and sounds like George Romero movie with the tempo turned up a smidge, but not to silly 28 Days Later levels. Delivering on a bonkers promise like this is tricky, but Taylor lands it completely. Bound to please crowds  young and old, though your favorite characters may depend on how old you are. See this one when you can!

17. Get Out – Jordan Peele

Get Out by Jay Shaw

Existential dread by way of racial metaphor. Jordan Peele took Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner into Richard Matheson territory and the results are astounding. The script alone should win the Oscar, but Peele’s masterful modulation of tone is staggering.

16. Lady  Macbeth – William Oldroyd


Florence Pugh is a villainess for the ages in William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth. Pugh has a gravitational pull in the film that none can escape and the viewer can’t turn away as her misdeeds turn to crimes turn to atrocity. An elegant and gorgeous horror film, mean spirited and bleak, and also poetic and stark. I cannot say why it stuck with me so, but I have not been able to shake it.

15. Brawl In Cell Block 99 – S. Craig Zahler


Following up the stellar Bone Tomahawk with Cell Block 99, Zahler cements himself as our current greatest cinematic purveyor of pain. The beatings and injuries delivered in this film are so grotesque and brutal metal bands will be writing songs about it for decades. BICB99 isn’t just pain porn, in fact, it is the careful contextualization of the character and events that get the audience on Vince Vaughn’s side, so that whatever violence he need dole out, it seems justified. Zahler’s next is Dragged Across Concrete starring Vaughn and Mel Gibson and I am waiting with baited breath.

14. Raw – Julia Ducournau


This movie features the strangest thing I’ve ever cheered at in a movie. A complete story, it will play differently the second time you see it. The performances are bravura and the music—oooooohhhhh- I love the music! Great bloody film. More like this please.

13. Thor: Ragnarok – Taika Waititi


How does Marvel keep it fresh? They hire Taika Waititi, that’s how, one of the funniest guys on Earth. He steals the movie from The Hulk, as a rockman. He steals the movie! This is the funniest film I saw all year. A charmer.

12. Alien: Covenant – Ridley Scott


Hoo-Boy, I loved Alien: Covenant! It’s a kind of high dollar adaptation of The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, after Prometheus Mountains Of Madness. Walter Vs. David is some of the headiest stuff all year (sorry Blade Runner 2049), and the scene where David takes out the… well I won’t spoil it here, but woah. Also, David walking around looking like a Jedi is fun. I really hope Ridley gets to finish this story out with one more film(or three).

11. The Evil Within – Andrew Getty


Andrew Getty worked on The Evil Within until he died from an ulcer exacerbated by heart-disease and meth amphetamine use. And still he made a legitimately frightening horror film that should stand the test of time. The characters are well acted and the premise is a Fulciesque spin into nightmare logic where killing kids and animals makes one smarter. The outrageous practical effects are amazing and terrifying. I understand why we don’t get more films like this but we should be in awe and wonder when we do get one of these pure looks into the imagination of a madman.

10. The Last Jedi – Rian Johnson


While not everything I dreamed, (hence not the #1 spot), The Last Jedi was fresh and fun enough for me to love it as a cool new Star Wars adventure. It paid of the vivid characters from the last film and gave Luke and Leia one last great adventure.

9. mother! – Darren Aronofsky


Now we look in to the heart of the madman that is Darren Aronofsky. Ever since Requiem For A Dream I’ve felt he was pulling his punches a little, (not to say his films aren’t still rough as all get out), but mother! is holding nothing back. Not his religious upbringing, not his history with women, nothing. As nakedly revealing as Woody Allen’s Manhattan, mother is a horror film none will soon forget. Remember, the woman in the flames in the opening shot…

8. Professor Marston And The Wonder Women – Angela Robinson


An incredibly heartfelt and sexy telling of the story that inspired Wonder Women and a tale of polyamory told with out a judgmental angle. A film that defines dominant and submissive roles and consent wrapped up in a beautiful love story. Rebecca Hall is incredible.

7. Bodied – Joseph Khan


The most politically incorrect film of the ‘woke’ era. I love how Khan and writer Alex Larsen tackle the formalism and propriety of a politically correct society and then shows the hypocrisy in trying. While the characters can (and do) say whatever they want, it isn’t without consequence. Bodied is invigorating cinema and will pump your blood up.

6. The Lost City Of Z – James Gray


Enthralling storytelling about adventurer, mapmaker Percy Fawcett. Like discovering another planet. Gray’s filmic approach imbues the journey with wonder and danger. A transporting experience that leaves you wanting to discover more!

5. Brigsby Bear – Kyle Mooney


If you had told me last year that my favorite Mark Hamill film of the year was not going to be The Last Jedi, I might have been sad. But then I didn’t know about Brigsby Bear. If you haven’t seen it the less said the better, but Brigsby Bear is a life affirming film with lots of fuck words, and a lot more heart. This is the cuddly american ‘Why don’t you play in hell’, and left me with many of the same feelings about doing whatever it takes to get together with friends and make a movie. See Brigsby Bear, you won’t regret it.

4. Twin Peaks: The Return – David Lynch


“I am the FBI.”

3. Dunkirk – Christopher Nolan


With Dunkirk, Nolan has made his masterpiece. His flirtations with time have yielded differing results but with his land-sea-air device, he has made a clear delineation for the timelines, and when they converge the effect is absolutely thrilling. Avant garde cinema blockbuster. No one does it quite like him.

2. The Florida Project – Sean Baker


A magical ride through a less than magic kingdom, Sean Baker made the most human film of the hear in  The Florida Project. The adventures of Mooney and co are the most fun you’ll have all year, but worry you will about her welfare. It helps to have angels like Willem Dafoe around. When the credits roll on this one I believe anything could be possible for Mooney and her friend.

1.The Shape Of Water – Guillermo Del Toro


The Shape Of Water is the summation of Guillermo Del Toro’s craft. Lyrical, haunting, romantic, sweet, and at times grim and cold, fishy and mean, but always poetry. When The Asset stands up and Michael Shannon looks at him and says “You are a god…” Is the righteous fist pump of the year. Nothing left me feeling as awesome this year as this film.

Top 25 Films of 2016

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2017 by bookofdread

Unlike many who posit best of lists at the end of the year, I assume no objectivity, and these aren’t the BEST films of the year. These are my favorites, and all of them are films I think are worth returning to in the future. The Witch is on last years list, and I haven’t seen Scorsese’s Silence yet, or I’m sure it would make this list. Some of the titles haven’t been released yet. Nevertheless, these were my 25 favorite films of 2016.


25. Battledream Chronicle – Alain Bidard

A sweeping, thrilling animated sci-fi epic, anchored by two strong female characters make the first ever feature film from Martinique a unique creature to behold. Bidard’s visual sense brings hand drawn animation into the twenty-first century, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.


24. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Gareth Edwards

Rogue One really thrilled me with visual panache and iconography. The Michael Giachinno score was suitably spectacular and I had a grand time in the Star Wars sandbox. (I liked it much more than The Force Awakens.)


23. Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (The Director’s Cut) – Zack Snyder

It wasn’t until after I saw the actual cut of the film did I see what Snyder was up to re-making The Last Temptation of Christ with super-heroes. He throws together the biggest of DC’s universe shaking events with aplomb, and most of it not only sticks, it thrills. Best of all, Wonder Woman and her kick ass theme light my smile every time they appear.


22. When Black Birds Fly – Jimmy ScreamerClauz

More than any film I saw this year, When Black Birds Fly felt very transgressive. It’s shocking, political, blasphemous, crude, and nihilistic. Yet, the entire enterprise gives one hope for art. The whole picture is framed as a piece of propaganda for a strange future church. More than anything, it reminded me of Eraserhead in its conflagration of suburban “Heaven” and the hellish world of color on the other side of the wall. Not for the faint of heart. This film will offend you.


21. The Autopsy Of Jane Doe – Andre Ovredal

A brilliant narrative device and a pair (trio?) of stellar performances made this morgue tale one of the most frightening stories of the year. After seeing this film, a cat toy with a bell in it scared the shit out of me.


20. Blood Father – Jean-Francois Richet

Mel Gibson returns to form in this hugely entertaining blood feast. We need more like this.


19. Scherzo Diabolico – Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Bogliano returns with his blackest film yet, a comedy. With each precise musical cue and turn of the screw I kept asking myself, “Am I supposed to be laughing at this?”


18. Terror 5 – Sebastian Rotstein and Federico Rotstein

Terror 5 is the rare horror omnibus that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Each segment is strong on their own, but added together it reaches kind of political Fulci-esque climax that hit me in the feels. I was ready to rage against the machine as the dead take the city.


17. Split – M. Night Shyamalan

I can’t say anything about this film, because you haven’t seen it yet, but James McAvoy gives a performance for the ages, and Anya Taylor-Joy also turns in stellar work in Shyamalan’s best film in over a decade.


16. Last Girl Standing – Benjamin R. Moody

The cleverest American film of the year kept me guessing until I was rooting for the story to go where it did. A fine script and taut editing make Last Girl Standing sharp as The Hunter’s knife.


15. American Honey – Andrea Arnold

This riveting look at youth in Middle America left me breathless. The cinematic equivalent of getting in a van and going, wind in your hair, music up loud.


14. The Neon Demon – Nicholas Winding-Refn

The Neon Demon is an intoxicating cocktail of images and music that DEMANDS to be seen on the big screen. I felt like I was going to fall into the screen.


13. Everybody Wants Some!! – Richard Linklater

As only a mild fan of Linklater I was very surprised when he turned out what happens to be my favorite of his films. Everybody Wants Some is both specific and general in the anecdotes it uses to show formative days for these baseball players. Revisiting the weekend before college was a real fucking treat.


12. Hail, Caesar! – Joel and Ethan Coen

It was a good year for films with exclamation points in the title. Hail, Caesar is a fine throwback film, a classic film about a classic era, and stupendously funny. No film this year can claim such an electrifying ensemble.


11. Be My Cat: A Film For Anne – Adrian Tofei

This Romanian found footage film is some kind of marvel. Starring, written by and directed by Tofei, Be My Cat is based on a one-man show he created called “Monster”. The film, a strange slasher by way of portfolio piece to Anne Hathaway, is a new kind of brilliant. I was unnerved, but hooted and howled in laughter at his sick little film.


10. The Shallows – Jaume Collet-Serra

I love the “aquatic terror” genre, so I was already in the bag for this to begin with. I wasn’t ready for it to be a masterpiece of the genre. We are all running from this metaphorical shark at one point or another and circumstance wont free us, only our belief in our self, and a little faith.


9. Eyes Of My Mother – Nicholas Pesce

Along with The Driller Killer, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer, Eyes Of My Mother, attempts to create empathy and deconstruct psychotic behavior. It is a beautiful chilling portrait, the best horror film of the year.


8. The Handmaiden – Chan-Wook Park

The hottest film I have ever seen. Erotic and sleazy, refined and crude, The Handmaiden has it all ways and then some. Bells have never sounded so heavenly.


7. Elle – Paul Verhoeven

The world’s greatest provocateur hasn’t lost his touch. Elle’s constantly shifting moral perspective makes it a work of the highest sophistication, and Isabelle Huppert gives an all-timer of a performance.


6. The Nice Guys – Shane Black

Shane Black has been distilling the buddy comedy for decades now, and The Nice Guys might be the purest batch of the bunch. Exhilarating and hilarious Black is the best Hollywood has to offer at this type of entertainment.


5. Hacksaw Ridge – Mel Gibson

Another violent film about faith, Hacksaw Ridge is moving filmmaking. Gibson’s hand is so strong here; we see that we are losing filmmakers like him. There aren’t many who have so strong a voice and the tools to use it. Welcome back, Mel.


4. The Hunt For The Wilderpeople – Taika Waititi

What a life affirming film. There’s nothing like it. I really can’t compare it to anything. It reminds you to take life by the balls and have a laugh with it. I left this movie absolutely on a cloud.


3. Colossal – Nacho Vigalando

How does this movie even exist? The premise is so crazy that it would take a razor sharp mind like Vigalando’s to make it work. And work it does. It delivers that kind of magic Spielberg would produce on the regular in the eighties. Everything is note perfect, including the on the nose subtext. Vigalando is one of the best filmmakers in the world.


2. La La Land – Damien Chazelle

I’m no cynic. This film was like a drug. I loved the songs and the use of imagery together. It was a film I felt more than I watched and I was drunk in it for two hours. I feel it’s a new classic, which while borrowing from the past lends newness to the genre.


1. Nova Seed – Nick DiLiberto

I cannot say enough how much I love Nova Seed. Completely written directed and animated by DiLiberto, Nova Seed is as close to peering into a single imagination as can be. A throwback to early 80’s adult animated classics; Nova Seed exists in a genre the last entry of which may have been Don Bluth’s Titan A.E. I saw Nova Seed twice during Fantastic Fest, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. See this film!

Top films of 2015

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 21, 2016 by bookofdread

Top 20 films of 2015

20. Curtain – Hernri Jarron-Maccrae

I loved this little demon tale. Like an early Clive Barker story, Curtain executes deft world building then drops the characters in the drain.


19. Maps To The Stars – David Cronenberg

Cronenberg’s first film shot in Hollywood is also his cruelest. Julianne Moore was never better.


18. Baskin – Can Evrenol

Like a Lucio Fulci film directed by Clive Barker, this pitch black Verhovian satire will leave you seething at the bloodshed and licking your lips for more.


17. Embers – Claire Carre

A heady sci-fi trip in which people have lost their long term memory leaves us with some of the most heart wrenching cinema of the year.


16. Follow – Owen Egerton

To anyone who has ever had a love one threaten to leave you behind, Follow is a literate psychologically sound thriller that backs up your psycho exes most horrible promises.


15. High Rise – Ben Wheatley

Hillarious and dark, years ago this spot would have belonged to Cronenberg, but Wheatley has become our preeminent satirist. Loads of psychedelic fun.


14. Bone Tomahawk – Craig S. Zahler

Kurt Russell leads a stellar cast in this rare western horror. More like this please.


13. Ant-Man – Peyton Reed

Marvel keeps the stakes small and the laughs big. Micro photography shows us the inside of a dirty bathtub like never before.


12. Crimson Peak – Guillermo Del Toro

GDT makes a cautionary tale about beautiful liars aimed at tween hearts. As beautiful a Hammer film as anyone could wish to make, Crimson Peak is another gorgeous Del Toro experience.


11. Furious 7 – James Wan

James Wan’s Road Warrior.


10. Beasts Of No Nation – Cary Fukanaga

A tour de force by Idris Elba cements this beast of a film.


9. T. I. M. – Rolf Van Eijk

The most Spielbergian film on this list and this list actually features a film by Spielberg. T.I.M. is maybe the best boy and his robot film ever.


8. Bridge Of Spies – Steven Spielberg

Spielberg shows the USA the moral high ground we should maintain as a nation.


7. Love – Gaspar Noe

The Maggot Brain scene alone is mind blowing. Nearly the sexiest film I’ve ever seen.


6. Tikkun – Avishai Sivan

Indescribable. Like an Israeli Lynch film, Tikkun will leave you changed on the other side. A film about holding on loosely to your faith without letting go.


5. Tangerine – Sean Baker

I never had more fun hanging out with characters this year. Special credit to James Ransone who is becoming the best unknown in the biz.


4. Sicario – Denis Villenueve

As scary as this film is, the real thing is worse.


3. The Witch – Robert Eggars

Best horror film of the decade.


2. Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller

Miller shows he is one of the greatest filmmakers alive with a work that advances everything from gender roles to the filmic language.


1. The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino explores Americas bloody embarrassing history in this Agatha Christie by way of John Carpenter western.


My Top Films Of 2014

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2015 by bookofdread

No apologies. I haven’t seen everything. Here goes.

25. John Wick


John Wick is a fully realized action world with kick-ass characters and great stunts. Plus, who doesn’t love Keanu, the guy is a damn treasure.

24. Noah


Darren Aronofsky pushed all his chips in on this psychedelic bible trip. Is it what they teach in Sunday school? No, but, it was an amazingly realized original vision. I loved it.

23. Cheap Thrills


“It’s been cool partying with you Craig…” Never has the sentence “I’d do anything for my family.”, seemed quite as sick as after seeing this film.

22. In Order Of Disappearance


Snowy poetry and the goofiest villain of the year. This film made me laugh the most as I watched it’s tragedy unfold.

21. Automata


The most moving film about robots I’ve yet seen.

20. Open Windows


Your computer and telephone are watching you and there is nothing you can do about it.

19. Captain America: The Winter Soldier


The most adult and morally grey film Marvel has made, which makes it all the more badass that Cap is on the side of what’s right instead of toeing the party line.

18. Freefall


This film breaks all the narrative rules and instead shows you sights you never imagined. Never.

17. The Tribe


This film keeps you out but has you looking as close as possible. Also, absolutely the best ending of the year.

16. Late Phases


Late Phases is the kind of meditation on masculinity and what it means to grow old that rarely surfaces anymore. Think of it as 10 to Midnight, with werewolves.

15. Tusk


Tusk is everything a movie should be. Funny, authentic, romantic, silly, gory and strange. I’ll never hear that Kleenex box drumbeat from “Tusk” the same again.

14. The Raid 2


This movie is too long and convoluted but rises to this spot on the merit of its final hour. The action pieces in this film are the best the world has to offer.

13. Snowpiercer


The back of the train working with the front of the train to keep us all in line is a potent symbol and I’m glad there is a film, (starring Captain America, no less!), that gives words to this struggle.

12. Gone Girl


Did for marriage what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean.

11. The Zero Theorem


Does it mean anything if it all means nothing? Also, best use of Radiohead in any film ever.

10. Nightcrawler


Lou Bloom scares me. That’s why he’s real. He’s looking back at you in the mirror right now, knowing you could do a little better for yourself if only you were more motivated.

9. Under The Skin


An interstellar predator learns the human condition. It’s like the inverse of Springbreakers. Instead of humans growing cold and murderous the cold and murderous grow human.

It’s the Iron Giant of evil bitch films.

8. Let Us Prey


A Carpenteresque police thriller that keeps it coming until the final second. Violent and mean, this film is hard and as cool as they come.

7. Enemy


Second best ending of the year, and second and third best Jake Gyllenhaal performances. This is a film I’ll watch again and again.

6. Cold In July


Don’t show this to your basic bitch girlfriend. This is a film about men, bad men, and the worst men. Riveting.

5. All Cheerleaders Die


Nearly as cool as a teen horror comedy can be, this film is bloody, and sexy and so much fun.

4. Tokyo Tribe


Better than you ever dreamed a Japanese rap musical about warring gangs would ever be by a power of one thousand. This film left me feeling so happy I cannot explain!

3. The Guest


The Concept. The Soundtrack. Dan “muthafuckin'” Stevens.

2. Guardians Of The Galaxy


“Oh Boo Hoo! Everybody has got dead people! It’s no excuse!” This film is great precisely because it is a film in which a crew of self-interested crooks learn to give a crap about something other than themselves. And it’s a high concept fantasy with a pop soundtrack. Pulp Fiction in space.

1. The Tale Of Princess Kaguya


It took Isao Takahata eight years to adapt a fable hundreds of years old that tells the story of a princess who races through life at an accelerated speed. The effect is one of the most mesmerizing experiences I’ve ever had with a film. This film truly carried me through a spectrum of emotions and set me safely and happily on my feet again after we were through flying. A masterpiece, and in contention for the greatest animated film ever made.

Looking forward to many more great films in 2015!

My Top 20 Films of 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 4, 2014 by bookofdread

Here it is. These are my favorite films of the year, not the best. Films that either got my blood up or made me feel queasy or happy or feel something at all. These are films I feel should be seen in a cinema and with others. I loved all of these movies, and though there were a few films I missed this year, I can’t imagine many would have cracked this list, (Unseen Coens film aside…). So, without further interruption…


20. This Is The End – Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg



This film surprised me by being a full on horror comedy. I love that. Also, between this and Wolf of Wall Street, I think Jonah Hill must be just awful. I love him.


19. Oz: The Great And Powerful – Sam Raimi



This film is a hell of a theatrical experience in 3D and includes one of the most ingeniously satisfying non-violent resolutions I have ever seen in a film. The subtext about the perceived threats of our superiors is rich and carefully realized. This film is much more than a children’s film. It builds upon and honors Baum’s work and the Judy Garland classic. I loved it.


18. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Francis Lawrence



This is a handsome film with a silly plot and a very sexy Jennifer Lawrence. Hey if they want to make Rage Against The Machine movies for teen girls that are this good a powerful, (mostly thanks Lawrence’s steadfast direction and Jennifer Lawrence being that rare talent that exists waaaaaaay above the material), I’ll keep watching em’!


17. Thor: The Dark World  – Alan Taylor



This is the last title on the list with a colon in its name. This is the best Star Wars film I’ve seen since Return of the Jedi. Also, don’t you just fucking LOVE Tom Hiddleston?


16. Sightseers – Ben Wheatley



If you don’t think this film is hilarious, don’t talk to me.


15. Why Don’t You Play In Hell? – Sion Sono



If you love making films, then you love playing in hell, and this film is a love letter to you.


14. Frances Ha – Noah Baumbach



I want to have my own place someday. This seemingly small victory is a major triumph in the hands of Gerwig and Baumbach. Frances is a hero for saving herself and I fucking love it.


13. Upstream Color – Shane Carruth



Oblique and beautiful, like David Lynch speaking through a Terrence Malick film.


12. Riddick – David Twohy




I love that Diesel owns his own superhero and that he and Twohy are making sci-fi Conan movies. More please.


11. Kiss Of The Damned – Xan Cassavetes



This is how you do sexy vampires. Also, could you find more beautiful women than the women in this film? Amazing.


10. Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron



Too scary or it would be higher on the list.


9. Computer Chess – Andrew Bujalski



The swinger scene. “You can stay, or not stay.” This film is like a fucking time machine.


8. Only God Forgives – Nicholas Winding Refn



It’s crazy how overrated I found Drive and how underrated I find this film. Kristen Scott-Thomas is THE reason to love this film. She’s my favorite screen villain this year.


7. Blue Jasmine – Woody Allen



Wow, Cate Blanchett. Just Wow. Woody’s still got game.


6. The Conjuring – James Wan



This is the true coming of age as a filmmaker for Mr. Wan. The Conjuring is his first GREAT film and it evokes classic horror films without aping anything visually. This film is maybe the most old-school film on my list that’s exactly why it’s as high as it is. This is like watching a film of another era. Best zero body count horror film since Poltergeist.


5. Pacific Rim – Guillermo Del Toro



What is it with Mexican directors and showing us things never seen before in a cinema? Between this and Gravity the language of film has been heavily revised in the last year. Now lets see a movie with both kinds of visuals in the same film.


4. Iron Man Three – Shane Black



Is this a pro drone or anti-drone film? You decide.


3. Stoker – Chan Wook-Park



Holy Shit this is the most beautiful film of the year. Stoker sports a stellar story, incredible performances and absolutely riveting cinematography, editing and music. This film cast a spell over me from which I did not want to wake.


2. The Wolf Of Wall Street – Martin Scorsese



How do you even make this fucking movie? A condemnation of the evils of greed that let’s it’s Lex Luthor’s off light, just like the really real world. Get ‘em Marty.


1. The World’s End – Edgar Wright



This film is Mr. Wright and Mr. Pegg’s MASTERPIECE. The shading of character and dialogue and plot and editing are so confident, so forward thinking, so sophisticated that most viewers were bowled over by it. The film is even funnier in subsequent viewings because you know we get to tell the network to fuck off. Everyone gets what he or she deserves. The film is pro robot and anti-hive. It’s an amazing work of science fiction, which will grow better with age like fine wine and John Carpenter films. That this genius is now making a Marvel film about Ant-Man is insane to me and I can’t wait to see what that looks like.


It’s been a great year. I’ll Have a list up soon of my most anticipated films of 2014!


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