This is the second half of a two-part blog, so if you haven’t checked out part 1 yet, give it a look-see here: My Year in Review, part 1.


My year, my favorite stuff of the year, and more

“…And there you have The Facts of Life.”
With the good comes the bad. We lost some greats in 2012 like Ray Bradbury, Dave Brubeck, and Neil Armstrong, but unfortunately, not one damn Kardashian or Jersey Shore cast member. In fact, members of both clans are breeding! Whitney Houston also died this year, only a decade after her career. 2012 gave us plenty of deadly gun violence and subsequent gun control debates, neither of which I care to touch on… not now, anyway. It also gave us #YOLO, but I haven’t heard that one much lately, so hopefully everyone who used that stupid phrase has already died. From zombie outbreaks to butthole tattooers to swinger orgies gone wrong, my home state of Florida again led the way in crazy. Superstorm Sandy sucked. So did the ridiculous amount of Republican presidential debates. I have half a mind to just list all the cooky GOP candidates in this “things that sucked” blurb, but I’ll move on.

You know what else sucks for a lot of people? High school—

Movie Spotlight #4


Full of nods to American literature, 80s tunes, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is a pretty great little coming of age tale in the vein of ADVENTURELAND and the best John Hughes movies. The film, directed and adapted by Stephen Chbosky from his own semi-autobiographical 1999 novel, is an angsty look at the ups and downs of family, friendship, and high school. You don’t need to have experienced the same trials and tribulations of the lead trio to relate to them; at worst, you grew up with folks just like them. I really loved the book—read it earlier this year—and like it, I hope this charming, spirited adaptation finds an audience as time passes. The flick stars Logan Lehrman, playing much more subdued than his d’Artagnan from this year’s 3D (?) steampunk-y (?) version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS, Emma Watson, in her first real growns-up role since Hermoine Granger, and a rising star who gave one of my favorite performances this year as her step brother—




Ezra Miller, the wicked lead in last year’s underrated and underseen WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, shined as Patrick, the Dr. Frank-N-Furter-portraying wiseass “Nothing” in this year’s underrated and underseen THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

I got fell hard for Jennifer Lawrence playing her first real adult role as the irrationally spontaneous, aggressive yet vulnerable Tiffany to Bradley Cooper’s bipolar Patrick in David O. Russell’s crazy-cancels-crazy rom-dramedy, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Tom Hardy (INCEPTION, WARRIOR) had another good year with strong performances in LAWLESS and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, where he killed it as the chaos-causing monster who broke the bat, Bane. He owned this role, and elevated a character who I couldn’t care less about in the comics to one of the best onscreen Bat-villains to date. Anne Hathaway’s equally-show-stealing portrayal of Selina Kyle/Catwoman is deserving of mention here, too.

Another villainous turn that should be noted is Javier Bardem in SKYFALL. The Oscar-winner’s performance as the ex-agent-gone-rogue Silva is somewhere between his ruthless Anton Chigurh character from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and Nolan’s methodical Joker from THE DARK KNIGHT, and certainly the most memorable Bond villain in some time.

My favorite acting performance of the year is Joaquin Phoenix’s PTSD-suffering loner Freddie Quell from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology allegory, THE MASTER. His posture, mannerisms, facial ticks—dude absolutely killed it in this movie. Every scene he shares with Philip Seymour Hoffman is dynamite, and I can’t go without noting how incredibly great Hoffman was in the film as well.

One other that can’t go without mention was from a French film I saw called HOLY MOTORS. The lead actor in it is named Dennis Lavant, and I think he may have given the best performance of the year. It was a masterclass on range. The film was also crazy, and challenging, and one that I’m still digesting several months later.

How’d I get to see an unreleased film like HOLY MOTORS, you ask?

“That’s Fantastic!”
Fantastic FestIn September I was fortunate enough to attend Fantastic Fest, an 8-day film festival put on by the greatest cinema chain on the planet, The Alamo Drafthouse, in Austin, Texas. A giant thanks to my very good friend, Paper Street Pictures president Aaron Koontz, for offering me his extra press badge to the fest as an early wedding gift. And what a gift it was. I never did get around to recapping the event on here, but some of the highlights included: watching 84-year-old Martin Landau tumble off the Q&A stage at the FRANKENWEENIE 3D opening night premiere, grabbing a few highly-coveted Mondo prints for me and a couple friends (Mondo actually has a part-time booth at the South Lamar location!), reconnecting with an old college mate of mine, networking with some cool industry folk, and of course, seeing a lot of incredible films. The festival, living up to its name, was packed with fantastic features like I DECLARE WAR, UNIT 7, and COMBAT GIRLS, and equally fantastic shorts like LEGEND, LE LAC NOIR, and THE SLEEPOVER.

Just as it began, Fantastic Fest also closed with a big studio picture premiere, the lifeless, shelved-for-two-years remake of RED DAWN, which was probably the worst film I saw all year. As mediocre as it was, the after party/closing party of the festival, which had a North Korean prison camp theme, more than made up for it. They bussed everyone a few blocks away to an American Legion outpost, and let me tell you, it is surreal to see a colonial-style building draped with commie propaganda and North Korean flags. At the party, Aaron and I talked up Film Critic Hulk, the Badass Digest contributor who inspired my most well-received blog post to date, and some of the folks who made our favorite documentary of the year—



From the guys who made a previous Fantastic Fest darling, BEST WORST MOVIE, comes this touching look at several neighbors in the sleepy town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts who go all out for Halloween. THE AMERICAN SCREAM follows three dedicated families, each weirder than the last, who devote a good chunk of their lives to the art of “home haunts,” homemade haunted houses. It’s a great, entertaining little documentary that “uncovers the triumphs and tragedies that come with carrying the blackened banner of true Halloween spirit,” and leaves you with a Do what you love message. Seek this one out; it’s definitely worth a watch. On the subject of horror—

More Viral-ness.
I’m a big fan of’s ‘After Hours’ bits. They were gracious enough to give us a whopping twelve new episodes this year, and I think this one was my favorite of the bunch:

Speaking of horror tropes—



The uber-meta film, written by frequent Buffy and Angel collaborators Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, takes a lot of the horror movie conventions you love and a lot of the ones you hate, flips them on their ear, then penetrates said ear without permission or lubrication. If you saw any of the trailers, you know the movie takes a unique turn early on. It’s just the first of many. Without spoiling anything too major, the cabin visitors’ story seems to be nearing an end around the 1-hour mark when a red phone rings. That ringing, in a way, was an alarm sounding that the batshit crazy second half was beginning. It’s not necessarily a tonal shift a la FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, but the movie certainly does kick it up a notch, and loses a few viewers and critics in the process. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS actually achieves what a handful of other self-aware horror films have tried to, but more than just going after the tropes, it plays on the point of why we watch and need horror movies to begin with. This one’s stuck with me since the first time I saw it. It has a few scenes that are all-timers, ones that I’ll be referencing for years to come.

With CABIN, that other movie he did, and the much-anticipated S.H.I.E.L.D. show he’s currently adapting for the Disney-owned ABC Network, Mr. Whedon would get my vote for Geek Person of the Year. And it’s hard to argue that this isn’t the Geek Story of the Year—

Mickey Mouse owns my entire childhood!
disney-star-warsOn Halloween Day, it was reported that the Walt Disney company was set to purchase LucasFilm Ltd. for a cool 4.05 billion dollars. If you remember when the news broke, it nearly crashed social media. I particularly enjoyed some of the puns that dominated the Twitter machine that day, like “Lilo and Sith,” “When You Wish Upon a Death Star,” and “Swiss Family Rogue Squadron.” Some fanboys went crazy, but I definitely think the pros far outweigh the cons. George Lucas letting go of the reins is actually a good thing. Think of the potential here — a Star Wars theme park (or several), and crossovers with the Marvel Universe (just the thought of Jedi representation on the Guardians of the Galaxy gives me a geek boner). I, for one, don’t care much about seeing Episodes 7-9 on the big screen. There is so much more they could do in that universe. Skip ahead and do Han and Leia’s kids’ story, or jump way back and tell an Old Republic tale, or give us that bounty hunter-centric TV series the beard has teased for years. Maybe we’ll get all of it; the mouse house likes money, so they’ll be pushing forward a whole slate of Star Wars universe films in the near future.

You know what else Disney owns?
Marvel Comics.

You know what’s a big Marvel Comics property?
The Avengers.

You see where this is going?
I would hope so.

Looking back on it, this has been a pretty damn good year for film. We got a lot of ambitious, often great non-sequel/non-remake flicks like ARGO, CLOUD ATLAS, DJANGO UNCHAINED, MOONRISE KINGDOM, THE RAID: REDEMPTION, and THE GREY, and a strong crop of genre films like LOOPER and SOUND OF MY VOICE. It was also another huge year for comic book movies, with 3 of the top 6 highest grossing films in 2012 being based on comics: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, and—


The Avengers

We geeks live in prosperous times. With profitable franchise anchors like IRON MAN, THOR, and CAPTAIN AMERICA, Marvel Studios successfully built toward the ultimate superhero team-up movie. That this nerd wet dream actually happened, and turned out to be such a fun, crowd-pleasing flick is itself a miracle. Joss Whedon found a way to balance a lot of strong personalities, and gave us more true-to-the-characters interactions than anyone could ask for. I still get geeked thinking about some of the superhero interplay I’ve been waiting ages to see on film. Most years, I can recall my best theater experience (GRINDHOUSE in 2007), and my initial viewing of THE AVENGERS wins that honor hands down this year. I saw the film three times in the theater (can’t tell you the last time I’ve done that), and each occasion, whether it was a midday showing or a few weeks into its theatrical run, everyone, including me, still ripped into applause multiple times—for the whip-around scene of the team assembled for the first time, and especially at Hulk’s ragdoll’ing of Loki, which got roars every time. Yes, you could nitpick this movie to death. It’s not even close to being the best film of the year, but I’ll be damned if it’s not the most entertaining one. It’s definitely my favorite. I couldn’t be happier with it, and for its success. Bring on Phase Two!

Looking Ahead…
2013 will be another big year for me. I have so many projects in the works with Con Artist Entertainment that are coming to fruition, our podcast network continues to expand, and I got a nice, big European honeymoon on the horizon. Can’t wait for it all. I plan to share a lot of it with you through a great deal more posts on here. Big thanks to everyone who’s followed, read, shared, and encouraged this blog. 2012’s been great, but I’m only getting started. In the immortal words of Jack Burton, “Gimme your best shot, 2013. I can take it.”

And scene. There you have it. Lots of words.
Thanks so much for taking the time, gang.

  1. Excellent assessment. And I was a Marvel geek back in the stone age when Stan Lee was a little guy. Congratulations on marrying the spectacular woman of your dreams. Looks like so many great things are coming to you in 2013!!

  2. John says:

    Worst Film? What did u think of Looper?

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