Category Archives: Opinion

Editor’s Note: Scaling back, changing approach and preparing for shutdown

This site has been such a significant creative outlet, and the past eight months were incredibly exciting and immensely fulfilling. Unfortunately, however, MovieMinis likely won’t last.

Running this site during my senior year at college has been difficult. The inconsistency of content — and the inability to publicize that content as strategically as I would’ve liked — has resulted in a flat, stunted and almost non-existent readership. A lack of readership means that there won’t be enough money to renew my WordPress business plan. And as I search for jobs post-graduation, I won’t be able to commit to the monstrous task of turning this site into something profitable before the plan runs out in August.

Considering the situation, MovieMinis will be scaling back and changing its approach for the remainder of its existence. We will no longer post any news content and the category will be taken off the front page. Reviews will be the main focus of the site, but there will still be projects and lists here and there.

Rather than continue to try to make this a serious film website, it will revert to being a film blog, which means adopting the approach and format of a film blog. That means that I will become the main source of content, and that it will mainly be about the reviews.

I love every single writer that contributed to this website over the past eight months. I am so grateful for them and beyond honored by their contributions. Growing with them as writers and friends has been a highlight of this year and the last. Spending hours putting together the MovieMini Awards was a hilarious and painful journey that I’m glad I had with them.

Many of them will still contribute in some capacity. But it will no longer be a “team” per se. I want this blog to be a platform for them to write and show off their writing, so their contributions are welcome for as long as MovieMinis still exits, but we won’t necessarily be rallying together as a “staff.” In fact, there won’t be a “staff” anymore — only a set of contributors.

And like I mentioned before, the business plan runs out in August. Unless this site gets enough readers in that time to make enough money not only to renew it, but to warrant further time and effort put into it, I won’t renew it. I don’t know what happens to a site when the plan is not renewed. But, after that, I will be going back to a basic free blog for personal reviews and projects. I might even switch over to another platform, such as Medium.

While readership has been almost non-existent, there are certainly those of you who tuned in for a lot of our content. So, I want to say thank you. Writing is an art form, a form of personal and creative expression. It takes a lot of energy to “write something.” But when someone reads it, when even one person reads it, it means something. If you’re reading this and have tuned into our content before — and even to the people not reading this who have tuned into our content — thank you. You have helped make these eight months mean something.

 

Featured image via Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies — The Champions

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

After a month of intense, nail-biting competition, we finally have the winners in our four brackets for the March Madness of Movies.

Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century

Peter Jackson won the Best Director Oscar for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That film has cemented itself in cinematic history as one of the best epics, one of the best fantasy films.

But, more recently, we got another cinematic landmark, this time in the action genre (while also in the fantasy realm). Mad Max: Fury Road is essentially a two hour action scene. That it works, that it feels like a full movie with thematic heft — let alone the fact that the action is masterful — is a testament to how truly astonishing George Miller’s directing job was.

Winner: George Miller — Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Superhero Villains of the 21st Century

Black Panther‘s Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) will be long remembered. What he means as a character, as a villain, within a film that, itself, means so much, transcends cinema.

But there’s just something different, however, about The Dark Knight‘s The Joker (Heath Ledger). The master of mad dogs, The Joker is a villain of chaos, a terrorist who causes you to cower and to flee before you really have reason to. His visage is iconocraphic, a remnant of a harrowing time of fear in our a real world.

Winner: The Joker — The Dark Knight

Best A24 Films

This was the closest matchup in the entire competition. We needed a tiebreaking vote between Moonlight and Lady Bird, and the vote took up an entire day with it coming down to the final one.

At the end of the day, Moonlight came out on top. As the Best Picture winner that defied everyone, it sits as our champion in this bracket triumphantly.

Winner: Moonlight

Best Cinematography Since 2010

Sorry Roger Deakins. You got your Oscar for Blade Runner 2049, but we couldn’t give you the win here.

Hoyte van Hoytema won quite easily for Her, a sci-fi love story that is far more tender, vulnerable and powerful precisely because of how van Hoytema’s photography evokes a lonely, beautiful world.

Winner: Hoyte van Hoytema — Her

Featured image via Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies — The Final Matchups

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century

The last results offered us the winners of each subcategory — Ryan Coogler took best superhero directing for Black Panther, Peter Jackson took best franchise directing for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, George Miller took best original/prestige/non-franchise studio directing for Mad Max: Fury Road and Pete Docter and Bob Peterson took best animated directing for Up.

Those four finalists offered us fascinating matchups as the subcategories were pitted against each other for the first time. Coogler took on Jackson and Miller took on Docter and Peterson. While Coogler was able to take down the goliath that was Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight, he couldn’t best the Oscar winner Peter Jackson, whose achievement with The Lord of the Rings final film continues to hold strong.

And in the bizarre matchup of Miller vs. Docter/Peterson, animation just couldn’t quite compete, as Up was pummeled by Fury Road.

Now for the final matchup — two absolute epics, handled masterfully by their directors. While only one won the Oscar, there are plenty of arguments out there that the other should’ve as well.

Best Superhero Villains of the 21st Century

This final matchup is not much of a surprise. With the way seeding and layout ended up, the paths were clearly laid out for the two contenders. That’s no disrespect to any of the other contenders. Both Magnetos of the two X-Men trilogies were always going to have strong showings. Bane, from The Dark Knight Rises, surprised many with both seeding and performance.

But it was inevitably going to come down to Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) from Black Panther and The Joker (Heath Ledger) from The Dark Knight — Marvel’s best villain and DC’s best villain. The strengths of the two are a bit different. While Jordan’s performance isn’t necessarily outstanding — remember, this bracket is judged on performance, writing and directing of the character — the writing and directing, in the backstory and themes that Killmonger’s journey evokes, are nearly unparalleled. With The Joker, Ledger’s performance is, quite obviously, the standout. The dialogue is brilliant, and the choice of a lack of backstory and the ways in which Christopher Nolan visual frames The Joker are superb. But Ledger’s performance is one of the best, of any character of all time.

Best A24 Films

Similarly to the bracket above, the paths were clear for our two finalists. They simply had to traverse those paths. What the matchups prior to this final were meant to represent was the ridiculously briliant resume of A24 and how, in almost any matchup in any round, it was incredibly hard to decide between films. Had the other two finalists, 20th Century Women and Ex Machina, been pitted against one another, it would’ve been another extremely tight matchup.

But here we are, with the expected Moonlight vs. Lady Bird, the two landmark A24 films that have found a place in cinema’s history so quickly. And as was the case with this bracket, these two will be nearly impossible to choose between.

Best Cinematography Since 2010

While big budget directing was rather up in the air, this bracket might’ve been even more so. We do have our two top seeds, but they both had to battle hard to get to this point and could’ve easily been knocked out for other contenders that would’ve made for a fascinating finale.

Look at the two of the final four that didn’t make it — Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk, who lost a tie-breaking vote, and Mihai Malaimare Jr. for The Master, who lost by one vote. These are two cinematographers who, with this film, offered stunning iconography, specifically in 70mm film.

But we have Hoyte van Hoytema for Her and Roger Deakins for Blade Runner 2049, and it’s an equally as stunning matchup, but with digital lensing. Arguably, this matchup feels a bit more right than any other would have. In the finale, we have Roger Deakins, one of the best cinematographers of all time, and Hoyte van Hoytema, a DP who is quickly rising to that status.

Stay tuned for the championship results, which will be posted this week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via A24/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century — Round 3

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

This final four is a bit different than the rest of the brackets. While “Best Superhero Villains” did have subcategories, the entries from each were mixed from the beginning. With “Best Big Budget Directing,” the subcategories were laid out as the four sections of the brackets, so these final four are the winners of their specific subcategories.

In the superhero directing subcategory, Ryan Coogler came out on top for his direction of Black Panther, upsetting Christopher Nolan’s work on The Dark Knight, which many thought deserved a Best Director nomination ten years ago. While there was some heated disagreement among the staff, and while the vote was very tight, it’s difficult to say that Coogler isn’t deserving. He bested both of the Russo brothers outings in the MCU before taking on and taking down Nolan. Ryan Coogler is our official winner of the best superhero directing subcategory.

In the franchise directing subcategory, #1 seed Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King easily beat #2 seed Matt Reeves for War for the Planet of the Apes. As the only person in this bracket to have won the Best Director Oscar — four other contenders (in another subcategory) were nominated — this was expected. Peter Jackson is our official winner of the best franchise directing subcategory.

In the original/prestige/non-franchise studio directing subcategory, George Miller beat Christopher Nolan (Inception) for a second time, after beating Nolan’s Dunkirk direction last round, to earn a spot in the final four. That leaves Nolan, the director with the most entries in this bracket, entirely out of the top four. But it is quite hard to argue against Miller’s efforts for Mad Max: Fury Road, one of the best action films of all time. And after #1 seed David Fincher was knocked out in the first round, Miller was the highest seed left. George Miller is our official winner of the best original/prestige/non-franchise studio directing subcategory. (We know that Mad Max is a franchise, but Fury Road is a slightly separated story, the only film of the series released in the 21st century and more tonally consistent with the entries of the subcategory.)

In the animated directing subcategory, Up stepped forward as the clear favorite. After Pixar dominated the entries with six, it was clear that it was going to come down to a Pixar film. The only question was which one. And after Up beat WALL-E and Toy Story 3 didn’t make it to the Elite Eight, it all seemed wrapped up. Pete Docter and Bob Peterson are our official winners of the best animated directing subcategory.

Now for the fun part, the mixing of the subcategories. Ryan Coogler will have some terribly tough competition in Peter Jackson. And how fun of a matchup is Mad Max: Fury Road vs. Up? We bet you never put those two in the same sentence.

Stay tuned for the round 4 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via Marvel/New Line Cinema/Pixar/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best A24 Films — Round 3

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

“Best A24 Films” is yet another of our brackets where the final four aren’t simply the four #1 seeds. There was no world where Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight doesn’t make it to here. And while Room was a Best Picture nominee and The Lobster is a cult favorite, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird made too heavy of an impact to be taken down by anything.

And that’s appropriate. When one thinks of A24, they likely go straight to Moonlight and Lady Bird as the best two. Even A24 themselves took such offense to the idea of those two films being pitted against each other in the first round of a Twitter A24 bracket that they tweeted out in opposition from their official account.

In regard to the bottom right of the bracket, The Florida Project firmly earned its #1 seed and Good Time is a very popular film among our staff. They both posed serious threats to Ex Machina, but Alex Garland’s feature debut film pushed through. In truth, Ex Machina won A24 one of its first Oscars and was a key film in defining the company’s brand.

The bottom left of the bracket offered a lovely surprise. While it was a #2 seed, 20th Century Women could’ve easily lost out to #1 seed A Ghost Story or other fan favorites like The Witch and Under the Skin. Mike Mills’ film, however, assuredly earned a final four spot.

But it may all be for naught, as both 20th Century Women and Ex Machina will have trouble making it passed Moonlight and Lady Bird. If any film could, it would likely be Ex Machina, so we’ll simply have to wait for the votes.

Stay tuned for the round 4 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via A24.

March Madness of Movies: Best Superhero Villains of the 21st Century — Round 3

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

Two of the four finalists were near guarantees to make it from the very beginning — Heath Ledger’s The Joker from The Dark Knight and Ian McKellen’s Magneto from the first X-Men trilogy. Ledger had some admiral contenders in Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin from Spider-Man and Michael Fassbender’s version of Magneto from the second X-Men trilogy. But truly, no one stood a chance. McKellen was less of a sure thing. Whether he had come up against Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent/Two Face from The Dark Knight or, his eventual competitor, Jason Lee’s Syndrome from The Incredibles, there was an off chance that personal preference might’ve taken him down.

But the two made it through, and will now take on each other. The Joker is, surely, the stronger contender, but McKellen’s Magneto is the strongest competition that he’s come up against.

On the other side of the bracket, the battle between Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger was expected — Loki being the old favorite and Killmonger being the new favorite. While there was a shot for Loki to hold onto that love that he earned years ago and make it through, the votes tipped heavily to Black Panther‘s Killmonger, an absolutely worthy final four entry.

The villain he’ll face, Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, started of this bracket by surprisingly earning a #1 seed. There was always an opportunity for him to fall, whether that be to the recently beloved Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming or the previous brilliant webslinger antagonist, Doc Ock, from Spider-Man 2. But Bane advanced confidently. Yet, he’ll have a massive mountain to climb in the face of Killmonger.

At this point, we’ve lost representation from the “other” group of villains, while retaining entries from the MCU, DC and the X-Men films. And if the favorites make it through to the finals, it’ll be the classic Marvel vs. DC battle we’ve all come to know quite well.

Stay tuned for the round 4 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via Marvel/20th Century Fox/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best Cinematography Since 2010 — Round 3

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

The final four of Best Cinematography Since 2010 is here and we have two fascinating matchups. While Emmanuel Lubezki had four entries with GravityBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)The Tree of Life and The Revenant, he did not make it through. Bradford Young, who entered with ArrivalA Most Violent Year and Mother of George, also did not make it.

Roger Deakins had three entries and squeaked through for his Oscar winning work on Blade Runner 2049. He will face off against the oldest (not that any of these are actually old) cinematography in Mihai Malaimare Jr. for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. These are two absolute titans, two #1 seeds in a battle that could rather easily go either way.

The other battle is both bad news and good news for its contenders, as Hoyte van Hoytema will compete against himself in a cinematography matchup of Her vs. Dunkirk. The bad news is that he’ll knock his own work out, but the good news is that he’s guaranteed a spot in the finally. And, much like the other matchup, this one is nearly impossible to predict — though it is a fight between a #1 and #2 seed, instead of two #1 seeds, meaning that the slight, slight edge is with van Hoytema’s lensing for Spike Jonze’s Her. Although, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is a much larger canvas.

It will be interesting to see what the finale ends up being. Will it be a battle of 2017 Best Cinematography nominees? Will it be a battle between the oldest contenders? Will it be a battle of the 70mm films? Will it be a battle of the artificial intelligence sci-fi pictures?

Stay tuned for the round 4 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, April 6!

 

Featured image via Annapurna/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best A24 Films — Round 2

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

While every other bracket had some kind of outside seed make it into the elite eight, “Best A24 Films” stuck to the script with every #1 seed and #2 seed advancing through round 2.

But this is not say that that’s bad or boring in any way. On the contrary, this makes this upcoming round as hard as it could possibly be, contenders nearly impossible to decide between.

As a top eight, of sorts, of A24, these films are unbelievable. From Oscar winners to indie gems to near arthouse experiments, these eight films are about as strong as it gets from a studio, especially from such a young one.

#1 seed Moonlight has, expectedly, made it this far, and will face off against #2 seed Swiss Army Man. While Moonlight did win Best Picture, Swiss Army Man was its own kind of transformative film, at least for a few on staff.

#1 seed Lady Bird has also, expectedly, made it to round 3, and will take on #2 seed The Lobster. If there’s ever an indie name to cheer on, it’s eccentric writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos — that is, unless he’s facing off against Greta Gerwig. Either film will be a worthy choice.

#1 seed A Ghost Story held on through two rounds, but now faces its toughest challenge in Mike Mills’ absolutely lovely and sublime #2 seed 20th Century Women. Can the strength of Greta Gerwig not only help Lady Bird, but also 20th Century Women?

And finally, #1 seed The Florida Project will compete against #2 seed Ex Machina. In regard to material, these two films could not be more different, so it seems like this one will likely come down to taste.

Hopefully, the results of the next round will not be too painful.

Stay tuned for the round 3 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, March 30!

 

Featured image via A24.

March Madness of Movies: Best Superhero Villains of the 21st Century — Round 2

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

While five The Dark Knight trilogy villains worked their way into round 2, only 2 now remain in #1 seeds The Joker (Heath Ledger) and Bane (Tom Hardy) from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, respectively. #4 seed Scarecrow from the entire trilogy and #3 seed Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins were eliminated at the hands of MCU heavyweights #1 seed Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) from Black Panther and #2 seed Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from The Avengers (and other MCU films). Those two heavyweights will now face each other in what is, essentially, the decider of the best MCU villain.

The previously mentioned #1 seed Bane will compete against the #2 seed Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) from Spider-Man 2 — both physical beasts with fascinating stories behind them. #1 seed The Joker will go head-to-head with #2 seed Magneto (the Michael Fassbender version) from the new X-Men trilogy. While the absence of a backstory makes The Joker so frightening and effective, it’s the tragic, heartbreaking backstory of the younger version of Magneto that elicits so much empathy for him, despite his cruel actions.

The final matchup will be #1 seed Magneto (the Ian McKellen version) from the original X-Men trilogy vs. #3 seed Buddy Pine/Syndrome (voiced by the hilarious Jason Lee) from The Incredibles. While Magneto still has the backstory, his older version is plenty of fun to watch, as is Syndrome. Both hit on the larger-than-life characters while never feeling cheap.

The spread of contenders remaining feels just about right. This bracket is made up of villains from the MCU, DC films, X-Men films and any other superhero villains, and there is prominent representation of each of those subcategories in the elite eight. There is even potential for there to still be representation of each in the next round.

Stay tuned for the round 3 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, March 30!

 

Featured image via Marvel/20th Century Fox/Pixar/Warner Bros.

March Madness of Movies: Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century — Round 2

These matchups were vote on by the MovieMinis Staff.

There were very few surprises this round, and the competition is starting to shape up and become really difficult to work through.

In the superhero directing subcategory, the best of Marvel and the best of DC have now come to face each other, with #1 seed Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight taking on #2 seed Ryan Coogler for Black Panther. Will the next votes lean toward the more recent cultural phenomenon or will they look back on the near all-time classic crime epic from a decade ago?

In the franchise directing subcategory, it’s the battle of the acronyms: #1 seed Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King vs. #2 seed Matt Reeves for War for the Planet of the Apes. Both are epics of the highest order.

In the prestige/original/non-franchise studio directing subcategory, #2 seed George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road comes up against Christopher Nolan yet again. Miller just beat #6 seed Nolan for Dunkirk and will now face #4 seed Nolan for Inception. Can he triumph yet again against this generation’s most popular director?

Finally, in the animated directing subcategory, two Pixar giants will go toe-to-toe: #1 seeds Pete Docter and Bob Peterson for Up vs. #3 seed Brad Bird for The Incredibles. These directors already made it by some huge Pixar contenders, so this matchup will be even tougher to consider.

The winners of these battles will then move on to a rather interesting part of this bracket, the part where subcategories end and contenders blend. Winners of subcategories will be crowned only to face the other winners in the final four. But who will those winners end up being?

Stay tuned for the round 3 results, which will be posted next week on Friday, March 30!

 

Featured image via Marvel/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.

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