Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Top Films: Days 91-180

Hello there! You still with me? Or maybe you recently started following along with my movie marathon. I cannot believe that it has been six months since I began this marathon way back on July 1. Not only has it been a great deal of fun to watch these films (most of them at least) but it has also been a great learning experience. This marathon has really helped me hone in on what makes films good or bad and my abilities to put those thoughts in words has, in my opinion at least, improved tremendously (just read one of my old reviews from July and see how poorly written they are).

As I did at the end of September, I complied the list of all the five star films I watched in the past three months and I’m going to continue with that quarterly pace. To restate the goal of this post, I’m looking to reflect on the top films I watched and see which of the best stood out beyond the rest. It should be a good summary of the best films of the past three months so if you don’t have time to read all 90+ reviews, you can just read about the best.

So without further ado, here are the top films I watched from October to December 2012.

Real Steel

No matter how much you may think this is Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: The Movie, it isn’t. Real Steel is much more than a line of toys turned into a movie. And while it may be a clichéd underdog story, like a certain Philadelphian boxer, it’s still a story that is told well with superb acting.

Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths as the name might hint to, is by no means a typical or normal film. Much of the film’s appeal is in its self-referential nature an a superb ensemble cast that delivers a knockout performance. Easily one of the funniest films of the year.

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas is a highly ambitious film and the sheer amount of effort that went in to this needs to be recognized. Sadly, I don’t think this will win Best Picture, it’s just not the type of film that does, but it is still entertaining and very enjoyable to watch even with a runtime just under three hours.

The Shining

Everyone, whether you are a horror fan, Kubrick fan (or not), film buff, or even just a casual moviegoer, The Shining needs to make it onto the list of movies you’ve seen. I have made a tradition of watching The Shining on Halloween for the past few years not because it’s the scariest horror film out there but because there is so much more to the genre than a frightening shock.

Rise of the Guardians

This was a bit of a flop at the box office which I find saddening. Coming from the perspective of a kid, Rise of the Guardians is a terrific film and is an experience; a place to escape for an hour and a half. It’s not the best animated film out there but I left the theater having had an enjoyable experience. This is just another example of Dreamworks catching up to Pixar in the realm of animated films.


Bond is most definitely back and better than ever before. Skyfall appeals to every die hard Bond fans while still having something there for someone who has never seen a Bond film before. Sam Mendes brings a whole lot more to this franchise than anyone has before him and has masterfully mixed the classic Bond (Connery, Moore) with the contemporary (Brosnan, Craig).

No Country for Old Men

This is by far my favorite Coen brothers film. The film just flies by even with long periods of no dialogue or sound because there is a lot of built-up tension and suspense. You become so engrossed in the story and what’s being shown on the screen that you get lost in the Texas environment and the characters that inhabit it, especially Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who is one of the best villains in film.

Big Daddy

While this film was nominated for five Razzie Awards and won one (Adam Sandler for Worst Actor), I happened to enjoy the type of humor in the film. While I agreed with criticisms of the film, for whatever reason I found myself willing to overlook the problems in plot and production quality and just wanted to be entertained.

Side By Side

Beginning to end, Side By Side is not only a technically well-made documentary, but it is also extremely informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining. Regardless of your prior knowledge or allegiance to film or digital technologies, Side By Side provides a lot of intelligent discussion from brilliant minds in the industry not only about the two mediums and the filmmaking process in general.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is everything I wanted, hoped for, and expected from a return to Middle Earth. A great and detailed story with brilliantly played characters and breathtaking cinematography. Many critics panned the film (currently at 65% on the Tomatometer, down from the high-90% ratings for The Lord of the Rings trilogy) for it’s incredibly slow pacing, but as someone who treats these films as substitutes for the books, I found the inclusion of as much detail as possible to be beneficial. And in the raging debate about the use of HFR 3D, I say give it a chance. There are some problems and it takes time to get used to but there will be moments of awe as you bask in the glorious images of Middle Earth.

The Prestige

This Christopher Nolan film about rival magicians came out just months after The Illusionist, another film investigating magic and illusions. The Prestige thanks to more practical tricks and effects and Nolan’s signature style of storytelling (read: intriguing and mysterious, yet revealing at the end) takes the crown. To any fellow magicians or just fans of great rivalry stories, The Prestige is one of the best out there.

Parental Guidance

You may look at this film and think it’s an average, run-of-the-mill family comedy but you would be oh so wrong. With Billy Crystal leading the cast I thought the film would be funny but I had no clue as to how funny it would actually be. Parental Guidance is a film that the whole family will love. Young kids, teenagers, parents, grandparents - everyone will find something to love about this film and will come out of the theater with a big smile on their faces. I know I could not stop laughing multiple times throughout the movie.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Of all the Christmas classics, It’s a Wonderful Life is probably the most well-known. But just because it’s a classic tale with a moral and standard elements doesn’t mean that it’s like many of today’s films: mostly unoriginal, remade and adapted garbage. On the contrary, classics can be like Aesop’s Fables or other fairy tales - age-old stories that you’ve grown up with your entire life. It’s a Wonderful Life is the same way, it’s a film that improves with age and familiarity.

Best ComedyParental Guidance

Best DramaCloud Atlas

Best ClassicThe Shining

Best New ReleaseSkyfall