SPECIAL: The Best Movies of 2015

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chris Luckett

Last year, in my Best Movies of 2014 article, I commented on how weak a year we’d had. If only I’d known what 2015 would be like!

For the first time since I launched The Apple Box in 2011, I don’t have 25 movies to strongly recommend. I’ve always said the only movies that deserve to be on a “Best of the Year” list are 4½- and 5-star films, and standing by that, that leaves me with 17. Just 17 movies last year, out of the nearly 150 that I saw, were good enough to write home about.

There were far more average or mediocre movies compared to great ones last year, but that doesn’t mean 2015 was a wash, by any means. These 17 movies, in fact, feel all the more special by being surrounded by weaker fare than usual. These films reminded us all that no matter how bad a year’s cinematic crop, there will always be brilliant movies. Continue reading

BAFTA AWARDS 2016: The Winners

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Chris Luckett

There are dozens of movie awards shows, and dozens more that don’t even have broadcasted ceremonies. While the Academy Awards may be considered the pinnacle here, every country has their equivalent, and arguably no country’s comes as close to Oscar’s prestige as the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards.

In the wake of Valentine’s Day yesterday, many missed the late-night headlines of the winners at last night’s awards ceremony, generally considered to be the best prognosticator of the eventual winners of the Oscars (if you take the Guilds out of the equation). Curious about what to put down for your Oscar pool next week? Until my final predictions are posted, these results may be your best bets. Continue reading

RANKED: Quentin Tarantino

Photo: Press Association 2014

Photo: Press Association 2014

“If you’re gonna compare a Hanzo sword, you compare it to every other sword ever made that wasn’t made by Hattori Hanzo.”

Chris Luckett

When Quentin Tarantino wrote the above line for Kill Bill (or what would eventually be bisected into Kill Bill, Vol. 2), it very eloquently summed up the problem with discussing Tarantino and his movies.

At that point in time, Tarantino had done what no writer-director had managed, be they Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, or Orson Welles: he’d made five perfect films in a row. Moreover, he’d only made five movies by that point, and they were all 5-star films.

Even today, after his streak has slipped and his career lacks the lustrous sheen it still had a decade ago, he’s one of the toughest directors to bring up in comparison to other directors (because he so boldly does his own thing every time, even when flopping), let along when discussing which Tarantino work is best.

When it comes to his worst, though, there’s a pretty unanimous consensus… Continue reading

REVIEW: The Hateful Eight

Photo: The Weinstein Company

Photo: The Weinstein Company

Chris Luckett

The ‘90s birthed the careers of a generation of immensely skilled directors. And for whatever reason, when it’s come time for them to make their eighth or ninth movies, each director has repackaged earlier movies of theirs into new originals. Moreover, each of these “victory lap” movies usually have been amazing works of art in their own right, despite covering established territory.

Take David Fincher’s The Social Network. Or Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Even Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was an incredibly strong film on Nolan’s CV, despite being his third Batman movie. The Hateful Eight is the ninth movie directed by Quentin Tarantino (or eighth, if you count the Kill Bills as one film, like Tarantino does) and it’s a wonderful mash-up of earlier works that holds its own against its brethren. Continue reading