AFI’s Top 10 Movies and TV Series of 2009

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The American Film Institute have announced the official selections for the 2009 AFI Awards, nominations which include the “10 Most Outstanding Motion Pictures and TV Programs of the Year”. You can find out the top tv in both tv and movies after the jump, included in the official press release.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author’s intentions towards the films at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the “Skip it” section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.

Buy It

WATCHMEN
(Available as single-disc Theatrical Cut and 2-Disc Director’s Cut)
For the longest time the Watchmen graphic novel was said to be “unfilmable”. Obviously, that’s a nonsensical notion. If we’ve learned anything from the Super Mario Bros. movie, it’s that any property can be adapted into a film, regardless of story (or lack thereof). The real question is whether or not it can be done well. And in the case of Watchmen, director Zack Synder found himself in a lose-lose situation. The problem with adapting any comic or novel for the big screen is that, more often than not, what worked in its original medium just doesn’t translate that well to film. Thus, the only solution is to make concessions by changing various aspects of the source material. In many instances, this process has yielded positive results (V for Vendetta, the latest Harry Potter films), regardless of what the frothing hostility of certain fanboys might suggest. Watchmen though, would only suffer from these types of changes. To significantly alter the source material would be to defeat the purpose of adapting it at all. Zack Snyder was clearly aware of this, and decided (with one notable exception) to remain as faithful to Alan Moore‘s classic graphic novel as possible. While I strongly believe Snyder made the right choice, there’s no denying that the resulting film suffers from all the expected flaws that come with going down this route. The pacing is all over the place, certain twists and turns don’t carry the same weight as they do in the graphic novel, and uninitiated viewers may find themselves at a total loss as to what in the hell they’re watching. Simply put: As a movie meant to stand on its own, Watchmen is a failure. It succeeds, however, as a fascinating experiment and companion piece for those who have already read and loved the graphic novel. Likely not what the studio was hoping for, admittedly, but for people like me, it’s just about the best Watchmen film we could’ve asked for… even if, frankly, it probably shouldn’t have been made in the first place.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – Single-disc includes the theatrical cut of the film. 2-Disc includes the director’s cut with 25 minutes of additional footage, a “The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics” featurette, 30 minutes of Video Journals, a My Chemical Romance Desolation Row music video, and a digital copy of the theatrical version. Blu-ray – Includes all of the 2-Disc DVD extras, along with 2 additional featurettes (“Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes”, “Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World”), 30 minutes of Watchmen Focus Points, and a Warner Bros. Maximum Movie Mode.
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Editor’s Note: After Turner Classic Movies released their list of the 15 Most Influential Classic Movies, some people were complaining that no films were included from the last 32 years. I joked on Twitter that I would like to see a list of the ten most influential films of the last ten years, and Brendon jumped at the opportunity to create such a list. The idea is to predict what ten films from this decade would be looked at as influential in 20 years. The task is ridiculous, because its hard to predict the long term effects of the films that were released in the last decade (especially ones released in the last couple years), but Brendon did a pretty good job. It should be noted that Brendon’s list is more skewed towards advances in filmmaking and storytelling which influenced and changed the future of cinema, rather than movies that influenced the culture.

influential

Are these the ten most influential films of the last ten years? I think they might just be. Disappointingly, I really don’t like four of them. I’ve also cheated and only included English language films.

The full list will come after the break, and then after that will come the comments section for your contributions.

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In this episode of the /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley share reflections from New York Comic-Con, evaluate the merits of Andrew Niccol’s directorial/writing career, and contemplate a future full of board-game-to-movie adaptations. Special guest Steve Weintraub (AKA Frosty) from Collider joins us this evening.

Tune in next Monday night to Slashfilm’s live page at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST as we review Tom Tykwer’s The International.

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Today’s the day that the lucky people of America get Henry Selick’s Coraline in their cinemas, in both 2D and 3D flavours. Tomorrow is the day we all get to know how well it is doing.

And that’s a big question, even bigger than usual, because not only is Coraline the very first feature film from Laika productions, the entire studio has been placed into… erm… suspended animation while their financial situation is assessed. In December, pre-production was underway on their likely second film – the naffly named bluebird odyssey Jack and Ben’s Animated Adventure – and ten others were in various stages of development (Here Be Monsters and The Wall and the Wing being previously announced), but unfortunately, most of the workforce were laid off and all formal development slowed to snailish pace.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

GeekBomb: A Brief History of Stop-Motion Animation

Editor’s Note: This is the debut post by Kevin Kelly, who will be offering his expertise in geekdom in a new /Film daily blog feature called GeekBomb. Welcome Kevin to /Film!

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline opens this weekend, and it’s directed by Henry Selick, one of the few modern masters of stop-motion animation. Although he was trained as a traditional animator, he really came to fame with stop-motion, having directed The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Monkeybone. In the day and age of everything being whipped up in CGI, it’s really a testament to see people work in a medium that requires hours of tedious work on films that can take an extremely long time to produce. Which is why the Sundance opening night film Mary & Max was such a treat.

Whenever someone mentions stop-motion, most people tend to think of one of the above movies, or the equally excellent Chicken Run or Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, both co-directed by the amazing Nick Park. And just to be clear, I’m not calling Monkeybone excellent… but the stop-motion moments are pretty damned awesome. You just have to love a naughty monkey sometimes. Even though most of those films are fairly recent, stop-motion animation has been around in one form or another for more than one hundred years. Click through for the highlights and milestones of this under appreciated art form.

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I think the consensus is that movie trailers and movie title sequences used to be better – just look at the back catalogue of Alfred Hitchcock for numerous sterling examples of each, all from the oeuvre of just one director. Lately, it might be argued that title sequences have had something of a renaissance, with the work of Kyle Cooper and Imaginary Forces, but much of the great stuff has been pushed to the end of the film, as the credits roll. Witness the Pixar films, such as The Incredibles and Ratatouille and their atmospheric and engrossing final scrolls.

Of Pixar films, in fact, I recall only Monsters Inc. really having a really solid title sequence up front – but it isn’t a sequence I’m going to forget in a hurry. In fact, some of my most vivid sense memories of that film, and of how exciting, charming and awe inspiring I found it, are all tied up in my recollection of the title sequence.

Trailers, however – though not without exception – still tend to be rather formulaic affairs.

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A Magic Box From The Makers of Coraline

Over the weekend I received a mysterious package from Portland Oregon. Turns out it was from the animators and puppeteers behind the upcoming film Coraline, the first stop-animated film shot in 3D.

Based on Gaiman’s short children’s novel of the same name, Coraline is a young bored girl who discovers that bricked-up wall behind a door in her house leads to another dimension, where she has a different mother, and different father. Directed by Henry Selick, the guy behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone. the film features the voice talent of Dakota Fanning, Ian McShane, Teri Hatcher, and Keith David.

I decided to record the opening of the box on video:

[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/coralinebox.flv 460 344]

I’m not sure where the other 49 boxes will turn up, and so far it seems very random. I’ve found photos on Toycutter and despoiler.

My box contained the code “puppetlove”, which if dialed in on Coraline.com, you will get a video of director Henry Selick explaining how we look at puppets. Other boxes have included different codes, each which give access to different behind the scenes featurettes.

  • stopmotion – figures and sets
  • buttoneyes – the cast
  • moustachio A stop motion short about Bo Henry’s dancing mustache
  • armpithair Suzanne Moulton gives the puppets armpit hair
  • sweaterxxs Althea Crome knits tiny sweaters

I want to thank all team behind Coraline for the wonderful gift!

Coraline Miniatures from SIGGRAPH 2008

/Film reader Jerry K sent us photos from SIGGRAPH of miniatures on display from Henry Selick‘s adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s Coraline. As always, click to enlarge.

Behind The Scenes of Coraline

Caroline

Rotten Tomatoes got their hands on a behind the scenes featurette for Henry Selick‘s big screen 3D adaptation of Coraline.

Based on Neil Gaiman‘s short children’s novel of the same name, Coraline is a young bored girl who discovers that bricked-up wall behind a door in her house leads to another dimension, where she has a different mother, and different father. A stop-motion film produced in stereoscopic 3-D from director Henry Selick, the guy behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone.