Oh, this should be interesting.

As many of you know, we’re upon the 100th Anniversary of Charlie Chaplin appearing in film. As you also already know, he’s one of the most iconic entertainers of all time. In any medium. He’s just as relevant today as he ever was – maybe moreso, in terms of full-fledged influence and all-encompassing importance. In short, he is a Titan of Humanity.

But here’s the thing: I don’t really care.

OK, that’s a little misleading. I respect Chaplin’s contributions to the medium and profession I love. I just don’t revere him like I probably should. I saw a couple of his films in college. I enjoyed them. I’ve felt no need to revisit or seek out more. On the same side of the die, I also respect and admire the Silent Film Era…but I’m not really much of a silent film guy. I’m an appreciator, but hardly a fan. Though I will admit a throbbing pleasure for all things THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI.

I digress.

Use your words to tell me why I should care more, why I’m very stupid, why I should have my Film Nerd card revoked. Convince me that I should worship Chaplin in the way you do. I am up for having my mind tweaked in this regard.

Let me know by Noon PST this Wednesday 30 January, either in the comments here or on Twitter (@DrGMLaTulippe). I realize that’s short notice, but you’re short people. Neener.



Here’s a question I get asked a lot:

“Geoff, you’re a handsome, muscular genius. How does one know if they’re good enough to make it as a professional screenwriter? What’s the point at which one should give up if it’s clear that they’re not?”

Well thank you, Questionably Complimentary Reader I Made Up Solely for the Purposes of this Blog Post! How nice of you.

Let’s start off with the bad shit, OK?

A full 99.999% of you reading this right now will never make it as a screenwriter. You will never sell a script. You will never rewrite an existing script. More than likely, you will never even get within a thousand miles of either. Screenwriting something that’s really hard to do, and it’s something that’s even harder to do well, and it takes a talent that’s equal parts innate and developed, and almost no one who attempts the craft starts out with the former, making the latter moot.

I’m often called all kinds of names – “arrogant dickhead” seems to be the most common – for saying that to aspiring writers, but that’s OK. I have no problem being the messenger who gets shot. Because I don’t say it out of conceit or authority or ill will. I say it because it’s math, plain and simple. The same 99.999% of you (with some statistically insignificant wiggle room to account for the change in medium) will never become a pop star, or sell a million-dollar painting, or perform on Broadway or write a bestselling novel. Just like I won’t. And before you jump into screenwriting or take your efforts at all seriously, you should know that. The deck is stacked against you like a pebble trying to roll uphill (mixed metaphors!).

Here’s the real bitch of it, as many of you already know and so many more of you are going to find out: you’re never going to know if you’re one of the 0.001% who IS good enough to make it unless you try. And trying demands that you work very, very hard for (probably) a very, very long time. So there it is, writers: your future is the ultimate Catch-22. You will more than likely toil relentlessly for absolutely no tangible result.

Welcome to art.

Now that that’s out of the way, can I say something else? All of that stuff I said up there? You know, where I was being a conceited dickhead and stepping all over your dreams? If you ARE going to be that one writer, ALL of that should above should make you GIDDY. You should be CLAPPING. And instead of being wracked with discouragement and self-doubt, you should be flush with motivation.

A lot of pro writers think that the best way to encourage aspiring writers is to coddle them, to cushion them with pure encouragement and a “you can do anything you put your mind to” brand of self-actualization. And I’m not sorry to tell you that that’s absolute bullshit. Are you turned off by the above statistics? Do you find it too daunting to relegate yourself to the knowledge that you have a literary Everest to climb? If so, writing will always be a hobby for you – perhaps less, but in no way, shape or form more. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that. What do they say? Writers write. You will continue to write, and you will always be a writer. No one can take that away from you.

For the rest of you, use the above statistics to kill yourself, every single day, to evolve into the best writer that you can possibly be. Put as much pressure on yourself as you can to beat the odds. Drive yourself to learn more, to write better, to tell stories that people HAVE to hear. Believe that with every twitchy fiber that strings you together. Because there is, quite literally, no other way.

That fine line between Determinationism and Delusionism (I’ve decided those are two states of being, and it’s my blog, and I get to make up words accordingly for no other reason than I like the way they sound) is the line you have to learn to walk. Because here’s the thing that not too many other people will bother telling you: there’s no guidebook for when you’ve tried hard enough that you can look in the mirror and say, “It’s time to stop attempting to be a professional writer today. It’s time to hang up the typewriter. Also, I don’t use a typewriter and hanging one up would be a serious fool’s errand, and I’ve now gone from being honest with myself to being schizophrenic, so let’s wrap this up.”

No one can really be told to concede. You know when you watch AMERICAN IDOL during the audition rounds, and there are those clueless assholes there without a shred of talent or ability, dead-convinced that they’re going to “make it”, and it’s just that OTHER PEOPLE don’t understand them, or are haters, or are jealous, etc etc etc? Yeah, there are writers of the same breed. LOTS of them. And just like you can’t tell some people that they’re more Frank Stallone than Frank Sinatra, you can’t tell some writers they suck. It’s pointless. It goes in one ear and out the other. It’s half admirable, half hilarious.

Those people practice the ancient philosophy of Delusionism. What’s really crazy is that every writer NEEDS some of that delusion to succeed – the key word there being “some”. When you’re starting out, how else could you describe the process of convincing yourself that you’re good enough to try this without you or anyone else actually knowing if that’s the case? The trick is finding the right middle ground, where you know how fucked you are but still believe in yourself enough to try to unfuck things.

To properly unfuck things, those who practice Determinationism are aware that *just* writing and *just* learning can only take you so far. You have to make an effort. You’ve gotta get your work to people who know what they’re doing and aren’t afraid to be graphically honest with you about the quality of your work. You eventually have to put yourself in proximity to those people – and others – who will be in a position to PAY you for said work, assuming you actually get it to a level that warrants payment. And after all that, you have to resign yourself to the fact that, when it’s all said and done, your success or failure boomerangs back to how talented you are. And having that level of honesty with yourself takes BALLS. Pretend we’re not talking about writing – what if one of your best friends said to you, “Yeah, I’m thinking about dedicating a significant portion of my life to a practice that has a nearly 100% rate of failure. Keep your couch open for me just in case.”

And yet…here we are, and this is what it takes. The determination to be the best and the delusion to believe it’s all going to work out for you. Pretty grand, right?

You know when you’re good enough to be a professional screenwriter? When someone pays you to write screenplays. Period. Up until then, it’s a mind-numbing process of trial and error and writing and waiting and hoping and wishing. When does it make sense to give up on all that? That’s not something I or anyone else can ever tell you. Have you spent years sending out scripts, never really making any headway, never getting any traction? Are you ruining your life, financially, emotionally and spiritually? Are you putting your friends and your family through hell and harming them financially, emotionally and spiritually? I mean, yeah, that’s probably a pretty good sign you’re not cut out for this. In addition, if you ever get to the point where you find yourself telling people that you’re misunderstood or that Hollywood is too incestuous and closed off and that shit isn’t fair and no one’s willing to give you a fair shot or whatever other canned idiocy you use to drug yourself…you’ve cascaded past being delusional and have entered the realm of Unholy Douchery. God help you.

But you can’t be told. That is a whore of an unfortunate truth, but it’s a well-grizzled whore nonetheless.

Now, for the rest of you still with me? You’ve either ignored or come to terms with all of the previous. In that case…throw yourself into this fiasco with everything you’ve got. Push yourself to be better than the best, to see what others don’t see, to find the truths and places where no one else is even looking.

Because what I really wanted to say today is this: one of you reading this blog today IS going to make it. You ARE going to be a screenwriter. You WILL beat the math. And I can’t wait to find out which one of you has been hiding your tightrope-walking prowess from the rest of us.

(Guru-level motivation!)


I’m doing a podcast, ya’ll.

It started, as many important and irreplaceable things do (I say those things counting on the alien civilization that digs up this blog post in a trillion years thinking of our little experiment fondly), as something of a lark. In a nutshell, Scott Beggs – Managing Editor of Film School Rejects, who lives in Germany – and I just wanted a really good reason to hang out and talk. And, “Hey, let’s Skype every now and then,” was a little too gay for the both of us.

One day Scott wrote and said, “Why couldn’t we do a podcast together?” And I thought, “I can’t really think of a good reason not to. Why can’t we?” I’d previously been a guest on Reject Radio, which Scott was bringing to a conclusion, and he wanted to do something a little different. I was looking for that little something extra to not only expand my presence in the world to Lex Luthor extremes, but also to keep my creative juices flowing week to week. A podcast seemed like a great way to foist my particular brand of lunacy upon the world. With Scott there to edit out all the stuff that might get me arrested.

So what is The Broken Projector?

You might regard the title of this piece as some sort of dark, brooding pretentiousness. You’d be right about the third one – sounds like a bad black box theater show in the bowels of the East Village. But allow me to disavow you of the dark/brooding part. Indeed. this is the way I think about myself – quite comically – as a thinker and a writer. Broken. Fractured. Scattered. In odd working order.

I’ve no interest in being conventional – though sometimes my interests happen to run along that path. I’ve no interest in being interested in just one thing, though I reserve the right to lock onto something I care about. I’ve no interest in the polished, the perfect or the organized, though in many ways, like many people, I often strive for some semblance of all.

And that’s what’s great about the Podcast – with a few core ideas, we wanted this podcast to be whatever the fuck we wanted it to be. We wanted to be free to discuss anything we were interested in at the moment or anything that we’d been mulling over for ages. We wanted to blather on about movies and television and actors and directors and writers and writing and cinematography and marketing and festivals and, at the end of the day, what we love MOST about being in a theater. We wanted to discuss shit we were interested in in a way that YOU’D be interested in. We especially wanted to take things you would NEVER be interested in and interest you – and vice versa. And since we’ve both got our heads screwed on…slightly askew, well, what better metaphor than a malfunctioning moviebox?

It’s designed to be a podcast where we could have our cake and eat it too. We are going to be the first people ever to have cake and eat it, because it is criminally fucking stupid to have all this cake lying around that you can’t eat. What’s the point in getting cake if you’re going to let it get stale and molded? Are you a moron? EAT YOUR CAKE.

At the end of the day, it’s commiseration and dissention, essentially. We’d love for you to pick up your iPod or switch us on at work and be looking forward, week in and week out, to hearing something that you totally agree with or had no idea existed or hate with such fervency that you just HAVE to send us an email telling us what cocks we are. We want to be part of your weekly media landscape. but not because we’re the only film-centric podcast out there – we ain’t by a longshot. And not because we’re better at this than everyone else – we aren’t. Rather, it’s because we think we have a unique view on the world of entertainment and we think you’ll enjoy it. And maybe we’re shooting for the moon a little there, but we’ll take that chance.

For me personally, outside of the chance to vomit out my opinions on the world of film and television, I wanted to have a little corner of the world, much like this website, that could be used as a resource for burgeoning writers. There are a LOT of other screenwriting podcasts out there, and you should listen to any and all of them to find out what you dig. That in mind, The Broken Projector is not just the only podcast that has Internationally Known Screenwriter Dr. Geoff LaTulippe as a co-host, but it’s also the ONLY podcast you’re reading about right now. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s the power of the thing you’re currently doing.

The kicker – and this is what I get most excited about: we don’t want this to *just* be our podcast – we want it to be yours too. On the Official Page of the Broken Projector Podcast, in the top right corner amongst a bunch of social networking icons (we’re part of the Internet!), you’ll see a little question mark (which looks like this – ? – in case you’re a fucking idiot). That’s the “Ask Us Anything” button. Click it. And ask us anything. And we mean it. We want your thoughts, we want your questions, we want your rants, we want your feedback. We want your participation. We are the guys that will LET YOU EAT CAKE, for Christ’s sake! Patronize us!

So check us out when you get a chance. I can almost guarantee there will be something there for you. And if not, you should probably reexamine things. All the things.

I shall end this nonsense by asking you a favor. PLEASE go to our page on iTunes (here’s the link on the ‘Net if you don’t have access to the actual iTunes program at the moment), subscribe to the show, give it a listen, and then rate us. It will help. We will be happy. And at the end of the day, it’ll just mean more goddamn cake for everyone.



Full admission: a few days ago this was going to be a much, much different kind of post. One that I’d much, MUCH rather write. Because this shit infuriates me. I wanted nothing less than a complete disemboweling of a field of veritable swine.

Instead – thanks to my levelheaded lawyer and the desire to turn this absolute shitshow into some kind of positive – we’re going to take this in a different direction. You and I are going to make a wrong situation right and make this world, in some infinitesimally small way, better for writers. As opposed to, you know, burning down the whole fucking thing. And let’s cut to the quick. There’s no reason to draw this out, as there’s very little gray area here.

Some background, and I’m going to be purposefully vague here to protect identities for legal and moral reasons:

An aspiring screenwriter friend of mine who lives in a foreign country wrote me last week with some troubling news. She’d met a fellow aspiring writer (hereforeartthou known as “Writer”) who had representation in Los Angeles – a manager who was working on their behalf from afar. A miracle! How many writers abroad are able to get representation anywhere, much less the hub of the film universe, Los Angeles? Especially when they’d never even BEEN to Los Angeles? This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime stories: Writer writes script, sends it out to prospective agents and managers on a wing and a prayer, and lands representation right smack in the Mecca of the industry.

Except, as you’ve probably guessed, that was not the case. As my friend dug deeper, she peeled away the layers of a story we’re all too familiar with.

As Writer continued, it was clear that something was terribly fucked.  Originally, Writer had sent out its script to the world and heard back from this “management company”, which of course offered a myriad of services that these small installations pretend to focus on when they don’t actually know what they’re doing – management, distribution, production, coverage; you name a facet of the industry, they claim to be able to provide you with access to it (RED FLAG). They offered to represent Writer, but they had terms. First of all, there was a contract to sign. Then, they had some financial stipulations (RED FLAG). One of the more questionable aspects was that Writer was to pay for coverage/notes for any script they submit (RED FLAG). Another facet of the agreement was that Writer would pay a monthly retainer to the company (RED FLAG) that would cover all manner of “administrative costs” (RED FLAG), “representation costs” (RED FLAG) and “postage concerns” (RED FLAG RED FLAG RED FLAG).

Writer, feeling (appropriately) that something was amiss here, started doing a little research. Writer scoured Google, finding several threads on several film and screenwriting-centric sites/message boards about this very company and their shady practices – warnings just like the one you’re reading now. Sufficiently disturbed, Writer brought up these discussions to its potential new manager. The manager responded rudely and forcefully (RED FLAG) that this was “the way business is done” (HOLYFUCKINGREDFLAG) and that Writer had a deal on the table that they could either take or leave (RED FLAG). As an added bonus, the manager made the claim that the monthly fees were pocket change to them – they certainly didn’t NEED to be in business with Writer (RRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD FFFFFFFFFFFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGG).

Writer had a long talk with itself. The money was something it couldn’t really afford on the regular. The manager’s tone and pitch seemed iffy. The evidence from other aspiring writers that abounded on the Internet made it seem as though this company wasn’t reputable.

But what were Writer’s other options? They liked Writer’s writing. They were one of the only, if not THE only, companies to respond to Writer. And though it was costly…can you really put a price on HAVING representation? IN LOS ANGELES?

So Writer made the decision a lot of us might have made – it signed with the manager.

Over the next three years, Writer forked over $120 PER MONTH in fees to the manager, dubbed a “retainer for services”, that were charged in addition to the 10% commission the company would receive from any of Writer’s paying jobs (RED FLAG). The manager claimed to have been submitting Writers scripts for consideration at various industry outlets, though Writer found this difficult to verify and the Manager was never clear as to who their contacts were within the industry or to whom Writer’s work had actually been submitted (RED FLAG). Each time Writer was asked to do a rewrite of their work based on the manager’s notes, they incurred FURTHER fees for coverage (RED FLAG). Lastly, Writer was charged on several occasions between $500-850 for the manager to pitch their material at various networking events, festivals and conferences (JESUSGODDAMNMOTHERFUCKINGCHRIST). In said three years, Writer never had direct contact with industry professionals outside the management company (RED FLAG). Also over the course of the said three years, all of Writer’s questions, objections and complaints were met with the same response: “This is just the way business is done.” (GGGGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH).

I think you all get the picture by now. And though the basic principles that I’m about to lay out for you have been previous laid out over and over and over, time and time again, they’re worth repeating. Because they are universal. And they are true. And they SHOULD BE FOLLOWED AT ALL TIMES, WITHOUT EXCEPTION. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS. THESE ARE EXCEPTIONLESS.





(Note to Industry Pros Who Aren’t Scumbags: Please feel free to add to these in the Comments; these are merely the most important points off the top of my head without belaboring the point. Thanks.)

As a practical example, I am lucky enough to have entered into a business relationship with both Mosaic (one of the largest management/production companies) and the William Morris Endeavor Agency (one of the largest agencies). I pay each of them 10% from any money I make from any writing project on which they represent me. In the case of Mosaic, if I ever get paid for writing services on a project that originates from the company, they do not take 10% and they become producers. In addition, I pay my lawyer 5% of every project on which they broker the deal.

That’s it. It’s no simpler and no more complicated than the above. And THAT is how business is ACTUALLY done. Any writer working with ethical, reputable representation will tell you exactly the same. Therein, anyone operating OUTSIDE these confines is, in my opinion, operating unethically and disreputably. And anyone who operates outside the above should be absolutely and positively avoided like the plague – because they will not be working FOR YOU. They will be working FOR THEMSELVES IN SPITE OF YOU. That is an incredibly important distinction to always remember.

And what about my friend’s friend? Well, they’re spoken of as the faceless, all-encompassing “Writer” for many reasons, not the least of which is that this could be almost any of the aspiring out there. The Aspiring Writer is not stupid, is not willfully ignorant, is not even necessarily naive. They are excited and hopeful and absolutely dying to matter. Like anyone working their way into a particular profession, it takes time to figure out the playing field and how to navigate it. And part of the process of doing so entails making mistakes, some more painful than others. There’s nothing more gratifying than hearing that someone likes your work. Couple that with having (seemingly) no other options, and that can be a recipe for a terribly unfortunate decision, however understandable through hindsight.

And a lot of times that’s where this ends – with an unfortunate story that leaves us all feeling angry and vengeful and probably more than a little sad, unable to do little more than commiserate.

Not this time.

I have been in contact with Writer, and I have told it all the same things that I’ve said in this post. I’ve offered my thoughts and advice and perhaps some direction for the future. I also promised to try to help if I could, and that’s where I’d like YOU, my industry friends, to come along for the ride.

If you’re a writer or an agent or a manager or a producer or a studio exec or anyone involved with the creative thrust of the industry, help Writer out. We can’t get Writer’s money back, but we can help put Writer on the right path. If you can read one or both of Writer’s scripts and give notes, or you can read them and pass them along to your other contacts, or you’re willing to offer advice or counseling or anything within the realm of your professional landscape, get in touch with me. I’m not saying that Writer needs a handout or that you should promise representation or that you should offer Writer money – I’m saying that Writer deserves the foot in the door that they never got in the first place. Think of helping this Writer as, philosophically, helping ALL the Writers.

Additionally, help spread the word. Already been spreading the word? Awesome. Keep at it. This unacceptable fleecing of amateur artists is something that has to stop. Call out these bastards. Warn your friends and colleagues as to the pitfalls of dealing with ANYONE in this industry who isn’t above board. Help them to establish relationships with those who are.

Start with Writer. It’s as good a time as any.

And thanks.


The typical disclaimer bullshit: This is a list of my favorite movies of the year. The ones I enjoyed watching or affected me the most. That is my sole criteria: entertainment value, in one form or another.

Also: I still have these movies left to see which, based on critical praise, friendly recommendation and personal excitement, have the potential to make the list: CLOUD ATLAS, PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, FLIGHT, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, LES MIS, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. Others that have an outside shot that I’m just not that excited to see, but will at some point: HOLY MOTORS, AMOUR. Thus, please consider this list as I do: a living, breathing document that is subject to change. In other words, yes, it’s basically as important as The Constitution.


Nearly Goddamn Made the Top Ten:

HUNGER GAMES: Didn’t read the book, so I had no baggage to bring in with me. Just loved it. I will not get started on Jennifer Lawrence because I’m afraid the discussion will become inappropriate.

MAGIC MIKE: A Person: “Hey Geoff? Did you know that one of your favorite movies of 2012 will be about male strippers? And it won’t  even be a comedy!” Me: “Who are you? Nevermind – just go fuck yourself, because you’re very stupid.” – A conversation I could have had at the end of 2011, in which I would have, in fact, been the very stupid one.

ZERO DARK THIRTY: Probably the best-made movie of the year, all things considered. And it was great; just didn’t stick with me, though. And I thought it would.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK: Very much DID stick with me, but what also stuck with me is that it somewhat – and only somewhat, just barely crossing the line – turned mental illness into a bit of a cartoon. Thought it could have been just a TAD more honest. But still great. Also contained the Movie Moment of the year that I enjoyed most. SPOILER WARNING: I do not think this movie had a happy ending. I think this movie ended with a bunch of broken people thinking they’d fixed themselves, and reveling in the short moment where they still had that illusion. Very bittersweet. And wonderful. END SPOILERS

Requires Special Mention:

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER: This is movie #11, and I SO BADLY wanted to bump another Lincoln-themed movie off my list to get it on there, just to piss you off. But that would have been lying. Still, this movie was about as fun as anything I watched all year, and I loved the hell out of it. I heard a lot of people bawl, “Oh, but it took itself SO SERIOUSLY.” The fuck it did. It had fun with the fact that the characters IN THE STORY took it seriously, which is what is supposed to happen in a movie like this. I firmly believe that most people predetermined they were going to hate this before they even got to the theater, and thus the wave of self-fulfilling prophecies in the critical reaction. Don’t listen to that noise. This is an anachronistic fairy tale joyride.

INDIE GAME: This just very recently carved an incredibly special place in my heart, immediately recalling the classic KING OF KONG. Though I know comparatively very little about indie gaming (or gaming in general, these days), I found myself transported back to the months, weeks and days before GOING THE DISTANCE was released, and the profound nervous excitement you feel when you’ve given a chunk of your soul away for mass consumption. It was a terrific time in my life and it was a lovely experience to revisit with the talented, troubled, infinitely interesting artists in this film. A real gem. Check it out.


10. LINCOLN (Stephen Spielberg, Tony Kushner)

I mean, it’s so easy to make a historical drama a deafeningly boring slog, and too often, writers and directors seem all to happy to take that road. Which makes it all the more thrilling that Spielberg and Kushner didn’t. It’s tough work to take a shitload of talking and make it interesting, but Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis deserve buckets of credit for creating a little bit of quiet calamity to keep the narrative rolling. Where WAR HORSE was all saccharine and visuals, LINCOLN has a real, beating heart to go along with a cold, sometimes even bleak aesthetic…which works perfectly with the story. Kushner deserves a lot of credit as well for having the balls to not only make the script pop with dialogue, but make it often FUNNY. This one really surprised me.

9. CABIN IN THE WOODS (Drew Goddard, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon)

You know you’re in for something really special about two minutes into this movie when there’s an asinine, totally awesome jump scare JUST TO INTRODUCE THE TITLE OF THE FILM. It’s a terrific nod to the fact that Goddard and Whedon knew exactly what they were doing with this deconstruction of everything they love and hate about the genre. And it’s that duality that makes this especially astute – the tongue-in-cheek admission that these guys (and, of course, the audience) secretly love everything they hate about the horror genre, at least to some degree. It’s why we keep going back. Also, the Just Another Day at the Office attitude of Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins – PERFECTLY cast here, and that can’t be said enough – even when the whole charade is going to shit is goddamned brilliant.

8. 21 JUMP STREET (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Michael Bacall, Jonah Hill)

The surprise of the year for me. Not that I didn’t think it was going to be good after watching the first trailer, but I didn’t think I would enjoy it near as much as I did. I saw this three times at the theater, the second and third times just because I was excited to introduce it to someone else. And that was the magic trick it pulled this year – it got me to get in friends’ faces and say, “Yeah, I know what you think it’s going to be, but it’s NOT, and you will laugh your ass off.” And then every one of them did. So I rest my case.

7. DJANGO UNCHAINED (Quentin Tarantino)

I feel like enough has been written about this movie by other, smarter people, so I’ll just leave it at this: I didn’t think it was quite as good as INGLORIOUS BASTERDS on the whole, but it had moments of such ridiculous elevation that I couldn’t help but cheer. That’s a keeper, in my book. Also, I don’t think Foxx gets enough credit in this role. There are other actors who could have brought something substantial to be sure, but I don’t think there’s anyone else who could have brought down the hammer with the raw complexity that Foxx did. It’s a real accomplishment.

6. MOONRISE KINGDOM (Wes Anderson)

I’ve started to worry about the way I react to Wes Anderson films. I was not a big fan of THE LIFE AQUATIC or THE DARJEELING LIMITED, though his style has always smoothed out the rough for me. That said, I consider THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS to be a perpetually stunning achievement, and in my own mind it’s going to be very tough for any other movie in Anderson’s future catalogue to live up. It’s unfair, but that’s the way it is. That’s why I was so thrilled to completely fall in love with MOONRISE. It’s as wonderful a love letter to childhood as you’ll find out there. And this may sound strange, but it’s true: while watching, I couldn’t shake the notion that this was Wes Anderson giving us his version of the graphic novel that he never published.  I found myself transfixed by the whole affair. What more can you ask for?

5. THE MASTER (Paul Thomas Anderson)

I can totally understand if you were underwhelmed by this film. I can totally understand if you thought it was boring or pointless or that the story never ended up going anywhere. I will not argue with you. I just didn’t see it that way at all. I found it mesmerizing in the philosophical questions it posed about how troubled people evolve, break down, and then either heal or keep slowly dying. Who is the sick one in this relationship, truly – is it Freddie? Is it Lancaster? Is it Peggy? Who IS The Master? This is far, FAR from the black-and-white evisceration of cult many expected it to be; more, it’s a rumination on just how many ways it’s possible for a human being to go off the rails. And I don’t even think it’s a contest: Joaquin Phoenix gives the performance of his career, not just of the year. It’s like PTA had a remote control that twisted his skeletal structure on cue. Terrific stuff.

4. KILL LIST (Ben Wheatley, Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump)

There are plenty of “weird” movies out there that leave you hanging on simply because there’s an element to the story that’s being teased, and you start to feel like you’re only going to get something out of the experience once that tease is finally revealed. Because the rest of the movie suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. And then the tease ends up sucking as well. That is the antithesis of KILL LIST, which ran me over like a tank earlier this year. Yes, it spends plenty of its set-up hinting at some kind of sinister undercurrent. It also bothered to have a concurrent narrative to keep you interested while you’re wondering what’s going on in the background. And just when you think the whole “hitman on his last job” thing is going to carry the plot…well, hold onto your dick (or your vagina…though I think that doesn’t work with the metaphor I’ve already committed to). Funny, irreverent, horrifying and, most importantly, SMART.

3. THE RAID (Gareth Evans)

Um, so…I heard there were people complaining that there was no narrative here. That there was no “story” to latch onto. If you’re one of those people, kill yourself. First of all, you’re wrong – just because the story was a simple Hero on a Quest platform doesn’t mean it didn’t work, and second…what the fuck more do you need? This isn’t just a throwaway firecracker of a movie you turn off your brain for. If you turned off your brain, you missed a lot of shit, because this bastard moves FAST. It’s quite simply the best action movie in years. The silat style of martial arts is batshit insane and it lends itself to a great action director very, very well; luckily, Gareth Evans is that director. Also, lots of guns and explosions. It’s pure mayhem from beginning to end, and I can’t remember the last movie that had me clapping on the edge of my seat so consistently. Do NOT see this movie after taking meth. You will explode.

2. THE AVENGERS (Joss Whedon, Joss Whedon and Zak Penn)

The perfect Summer movie. Absolutely on par with THE DARK KNIGHT as the best superhero movie ever, no matter how different they are at their core. This is what happens when people CARE about $200M franchise films. This is what happens when a director RESPECTS THE SCRIPT FIRST, knowing that the writing and character development are going to drive the narrative, not the special effects. Remember what I said before about having no baggage going into a movie because I’d skipped the source material? Same here, and to even greater effect. I never read the Marvel comics this universe is based on. I only know what Marvel’s been setting up through their films since 2008, and I dig it. If this is just the first big step in the process, I can’t wait to see where this shit goes. I don’t have the hangups of expectation or canon to hold me down. I was just free to enjoy, and enjoy I did. Perfect entertainment on every level, and the most awesome treatment ever of my beloved Hulk.

1. LOOPER (Rian Johnson)

OK, so you remember back when I joy-vomited about THE AVENGERS? Well, also remember the part from that where I was gushing over directors who respected their scripts? I think it’s no accident that eight out of my ten favorite films of the year were directed by the same person who either wrote or co-wrote the script. When that happens, there’s no disconnect, no misunderstanding of the material, just one person who understands innately WHY they want the film to be what they want it to be. And there is no clearer example of this than LOOPER, which seamlessly combines science fiction and bucolic suspense in a way exactly no one was asking for, but very clearly needed. Are there plot holes? OK, super. Have fun pointing them out to someone who cares. All I know is that I FELT this movie more than any other this year. Rian Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Motherfucking Hero Child Actor Pierce Gagnon (seriously, WHERE DID THIS FUCKING SUPERHUMAN KID COME FROM????????) drew me into a dystopian nightmare that I was terrified to have to eventually leave. It’s gritty, it’s darkly funny, it’s actiony, it’s beautiful…but perhaps more than anything else, it’s thoughtful. It’s got a gigantic beating heart at its core for ALL it’s characters, even (and perhaps especially) the most flawed ones. Just an epic achievement that I love more and more with each viewing.

As per normal, this was fun. And as per normal, I await your slings and arrows.