This acclaimed black and white road trip dramedy will warm your heart. An aging father (Bruce Dern) thinks he’s won a magazine sweepstakes. His son (Will Forte from Saturday Night Live) agrees to drive him to Nebraska to claim his prize. Don’t let the “R” language rating scare you off from the Academy Award nominated Nebraska.
Anne of Green Gables (1985) This family-friendly movie based on the novels boasts great performances (including one by Megan Follows) and is filled with tender moments, comedic events, and heartwarming dramas. Anne is an orphan adopted into a farm family whose lives are enriched with the addition of the energetic redhead. Anne’s adventures as she grows up are worth a look. Two movies continue the tale: Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987) and Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story (2000).
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010) R So nice to watch “grown-up movies” without special effects. The stories are character driven. For more about the movie, check out reviews from the Los Angeles Times and The New York Daily News. Written and directed by Woody Allen. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, Gemma Jones, and Naomi Watts.
Win Win (2011) R If you’re tired of (but still love) violent action movies filled with car chases and computer-generated special effects, cleanse your “movie palate” with this dramedy starring Paul Giamatti, best known for his Oscar nominated performance in 2004’s Sideways (a California wine country picture that won 94 film awards). Giamatti’s character is a small town attorney and part-time high school wrestling coach without enough business to make a living for his small family. He sees an opportunity for steady income through a shady business decision to control the funds of a client, but he still feels conflicted and wants to do the right thing. When the grandson of his client comes into town to escape a life connected to his drug-rehabbed mother, the worried attorney sees another win/win situation to help a teenager and support the wrestling team at the same time. This film is not your usual “R” rated comedy and would be suitable for most mature teens. There are subtle messages against smoking, and the film is mostly optimistic about life. Writer/director Thomas McCarthy has two more character-driven films with good performances—The Station Agent (2003) and The Visitor (2008). Both star individuals defined by their loneliness who are seeking happiness. All three of these films that McCarthy has both written and directed are “certified fresh” at Rotten Tomatoes.
Inception (2010) PG-13 This futuristic thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio operates on the premise that your mind can be hijacked while you are sleeping and your thoughts can be both stolen or changed by dream invasion. This film earned almost $300 million at the box office to prove how worthy it is, but the film falls flat for me (check out Rotten Tomatoes to see what the critics think). Although the special effects are dramatic (and Oscar worthy), the plot is confusing and character development is ignored. Director Christopher Nolan’s talents are much better displayed in the Batman film The Dark Knight (2008) starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger or in his groundbreaking film Memento (2000) which is told from a backwards point of view.
The Town (2010) R The official tagline for this film: Welcome to the Bank Robbery Capital of America. Using a strong Boston accent that he first embraced in Good Will Hunting (1997), Ben Affleck directed and co-wrote this bank robbery drama that he stars in with Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker - 2009). The FBI agent tracking down the robbers is Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and female love interests are played by Blake Lively of TV’s Gossip Girl and Rebecca Hall. More subplots involve struggles for power, the desire to make a better life, and the importance of family, loyalty and friendship. The Town gets a high rating of 94% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) PG-13 Pilgrim (Michael Cera from Juno and Superbad) plays bass guitar in a Toronto garage band. He’s dating a high school girl, but meets his dream girl, Ramona Flowers, a punky American girl closer to his own age. The story is told as an allegory of life as a video game, complete with extra lives and the need to out-fight one’s enemies. Scott soon finds out he must defeat Ramona’s 7 evil exes before they can date. Not just another teen movie, the movie appeals to a much wider range of fans. Watch for an uncredited appearance by Thomas Jane (The Punisher) as one of the Vegan Police. One of the writers of this film (Edgar Wright) also co-wrote the clever zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead (2004). Bryan Lee O'Malley wrote the graphic novels the movie was based on.