Great Cinema: 19 family picks for the best movie ever

great-cinimaMarch 6, 2017 — Ask your family to pick their favorite movie of all time, and if they can do it, you’re bound to get a variety of selections from several different genres. At a recent family get together, I posed that exact question, and although none of us chose the same movie, there are definite patterns that emerged, including movies from the David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino film libraries.

It’s not easy to narrow your favorite movie down to ONE, so I thank my family for participating. It’s also a lot more difficult than picking the worst movie of all time, which we did back in September.

Casablanca. My Dad’s choice for favorite shows up on many “best” lists. Casablanca, released in November 1942, tells the story of an American bar owner (Humphrey Bogart) in Morocco during the early days of World War II, and the woman who broke his heart (Ingrid Bergman). The Bogie/Bergman classic is one of my faves, too, and has given us some of the best quotable lines ever: “We’ll always have Paris,” “Here’s looking at you kid,” “Round up the usual suspects”, and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” That’s just a few quotable mentions, which is impressive for a 75-year-old film.

My Fair Lady. My Mom passed away two years ago, but I can safely say her favorite was the musical classic from the 1960s My Fair Lady. She loved the music and the story, and of course, Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle. Her favorite scene by far was when Professor Higgins, played by Rex Harrison, takes Eliza to a horse race to test her newly acquired language skills. All is well at first as he glows with pride, but it soon turns to embarrassment when Eliza slips back into Cockney while cheering on the horse. Sure, Mom thought it the language was “fresh”, but she laughed just the same.

Moonstruck. My sister, Linda’s favorite is the charming Moonstruck from 1987. The romantic comedy stars Cher and Nicholas Cage in the lead roles, as the couple that fall in love while the widow Loretta (Cher) waits for her fiancé (Danny Aiello), to come back from Sicily, where he is visiting his dying mother. It’s an enchanting, but funny story that uses an incredibly gorgeous moon as the backdrop. Nominated for six Academy Awards, it won three of them, including Best Actress and Supporting Actress for Cher and Olympia Dukakis, along with Best Screenplay.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. My brother-in-law, Roland’s pick is the great American western starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It’s hard to get behind criminals in a movie, but Director George Roy Hill made these train robbers delightful enough to cheer for. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Butch Cassidy (Newman) and Sundance (Redford) on the run from the sheriff and his posse, trying to escape the country with Sundance’s love interest (Katherine Ross). It was the top grossing movie of the year in 1969, and is the 34th top-grossing movie of all time.

Notorious. Alfred Hitchcock’s spine tingling Notorious is tops my list. Cary Grant stars opposite a very creepy Claude Raines and Ingrid Bergman (their second mention on the list). Bergman plays the woman the FBI hires to get the goods on Nazis who they believe is planning something big in South America right after WWII. Grant falls in love with Bergman’s character, the girl with the tainted past, and he is often as cruel and he is romantic with her. There are so many thrillingly tense scenes and fine performances in this movie, it’s easily one of the cleverest scripts ever written.

The Matrix. Alas, the first one on the list that I haven’t seen all the way through is my brother-in-law, Rex’s pick, The Matrix. Obviously, Rex, doesn’t share my problem with understanding technology or sci-fi films. The Matrix starred Keanu Reeves, who lives in dystopian future where reality is simulated and known as “the Matrix”. Reeves plays Thomas Anderson, a computer programmer, who is also a hacker known as “Neo”. After he discovers the truth about “the Matrix”, he rebels, of course. The movie has been called one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, and I apologize that I can’t give it the credit it likely deserves.

Gone with the Wind. My sister, Patti’s pick is Gone With the Wind, which is on my top ten favorites list. There’s no greater heroine than Scarlett O’Hara. She may have been a spoiled young woman, but she also maneuvered her way through the challenges of the Civil War with brilliance. She was definitely the mentally strongest in her family and in the story. Despite its four-hour length, Patti can be swept in this saga every time it’s on television. I share her genes, so we’re a lot alike in that regard. I even traveled to see it at the theater on the big screen.

Saving Private Ryan. The World War II epic, Saving Private Ryan, is my cousin David’s favorite pick. The 1998 film directed by Stephen Spielberg tells the story four brothers in the Ryan family, all in Europe fighting the war. Three of the four brothers are killed in action, and the fourth is missing in action when a squad sets out to find him and send him home to his grieving family. The movie opens the morning of June 6, 1944, during the Normandy invasion, and said to be the most intense and realistic 27 minutes on film, which makes it difficult to watch. It’s also been deemed by the Library of Congress to be “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

Gladiator. The 2000 epic historical drama Gladiator is my brother David’s pick for best movie ever. Starring Russell Crowe, who plays a Roman general named Maximus. Maximus is betrayed when the Emperor murders his father to seize the thrown and all hell breaks loose. David considers this not only the best movie ever, but also the most entertaining, as well. And I’d have to agree it would be on my top fifteen list, at least. Crowe picked up a Best Actor Oscar for his efforts, and the film also won Best Picture and several other category awards that year. Gladiator has also been credited with sparking interest in other films and stories centered on the ancient Greek and Roman culture.

Fargo. If you’re picking the best pictures, you’re bound to have a film show up on the list by Joel and Ethan Coen. My nephew Rick’s choice for best picture ever is Fargo. The 1996 dark comedy crime film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where the brothers won the Best Director award. The story focuses on a supposed true crime, but I’m not sure if that has ever been proven. There is a lot of fact vs. fiction surrounding this film. The entire cast is incredible, but it’s Coen Brothers’ regular Frances McDormand who steals the show. She also won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the quirky Police Chief with the perfect North Dakota accent.

Magnolia. My niece Lauren selected another film on the list I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing…yet. The ensemble drama Magnolia is her choice for best movie ever. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who has quite an impressive resume, the story is described as “a mosaic of interrelated characters in search of happiness, forgiveness and meaning.” Magnolia may have struggled at the box office, but received plenty of critical acclaim. Many people who have experienced it say that there is no other film in history that has made them think, feel or question a film like Magnolia.

Anything in the David Lynch Library. My nephew, Ryan doesn’t profess to be the world’s biggest movie fan, and it take a lot to make him notice. However, he does give special mention to anything in the David Lynch collection. From Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive to The Elephant Man and everything in between, including the television show, Twin Peaks, David Lynch is able to make Ryan stop, look and listen.

2001: A Space Odyssey. My son, Charlie’s pick is the third film on the list I didn’t see and the second I didn’t understand. It’s a 1968 sci-fi film epic written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, also one of his favorites. When released in ’68, the film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, who didn’t know what to make of its space imagery, classical music and little dialogue. Since then, it’s grown in popularity and has a cult following. Like The Matrix, I tried to enjoy it, but the plot was completely over my head. I still question if there really was a plot at all. Honestly, I’ve never gotten through the entire movie; the music, which is fantastic, always lulls me to sleep.

Blue Velvet. David Lynch’s sophomore effort gets the favorite picture vote from my niece, Leigh. Unfortunately, it’s another movie I didn’t see in its entirety because I don’t understand it, and therefore can’t do it justice. The 1986 mystery film had Lynch blending psychological horror with film noir, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Like most of his films, however, it seemed to gain more attention and a cult following as time passed. Blue Velvet starred Kyle McLaughlin and Isabella Rossellini, and in 2008, the American Film Institute named it one of the greatest American mystery films ever made.

Old School. Finally, a flat out comedy on the list, chosen by my nephew, Adam. The 1993 comedy starring the usual suspects Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson focuses on three middle-aged college friends who attempt to recapture the glory days by opening up a fraternity house near their “old school”. You get the rest. I’d be willing to bet that Adam’s choice has the widest viewership out of any other movie on this list. As the tagline suggests, the film is “all of the fun of college, but none of the education.” Ain’t that the truth.

Pulp Fiction. Like Coen Brothers, I’d be surprised to put together a list like this without Quentin Tarantino. My nephew, Macey’s pick, is the first mention of a Tarantino film, and he chose Pulp Fiction. This movie was my first taste of Tarantino, and I’d left the theater thinking it was one of the most interesting cinematic experiences ever. With so many odd characters like Honey Bunny and Pumpkin, and so many crazy stories intertwined, the 1994 black comedy, crime film was a breath of fresh air. It also revitalized the career of John Travolta.

Whiplash. The movie from 2014 is latest movie on the list and the choice of best movie ever from my niece, Carly. Interesting choice, for sure, and extremely intense. Whiplash tells the story of an ambitious jazz student and his abusive instructor at a music conservatory school in New York. It stars J.K. Simmons (the instructor) and Miles Teller (the student), and was the opening film at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It earned Simmons a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and plenty of critical acclaim. Prior, he had been known, at least to me, as that Farmer’s Insurance guy.

A Dark Knight. Did you think we’d get through the entire list without a superhero crime thriller? A Dark Knight is my nephew, David’s choice for best movie ever. The 2008 movie was written and directed by Christopher Nolan and stared Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as The Joker. Right after filming Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose, and that may have garnered a lot of attention for the film, as well. Ledger was also posthumously awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work a year later. It’s the darkest of the Batman movies for sure, and quite an interesting adaptation of the comic book hero.

Reservoir Dogs. My nephew Jack’s pick is the second mention of Quentin Tarantino on the list, the crime thriller Reservoir Dogs. The epitome of the classic cult film, the 1992 movie was named the greatest independent film of all time by Empire Film Magazine. The story and film has even been ripped off by Bollywood and remade as Kaante, in 2002. It’s violent and bloody, with an interesting 70s soundtrack piped in. Let’s just say that these days, I can’t hear the song “Stuck in the Middle with You,” without picturing a horrendous torture scene along with it.

Jane’s World: The 10 Best Movies of All Time

February 20, 2017 – I’ve wanted to put together this list for a long time, but had trouble narrowing it down to only 10. So, in honor of the Academy Awards — I’ve decided to pass on award show but not the movies — here’s a list of what would be considered the top ten movies of all time if I ran the world:


10. Muriel’s Wedding/Betsy’s Wedding – Yes, we have a tie and not because I’m too lazy to pick one, but because both wedding themed movies are equally good for different reasons. Muriel’s Wedding is a unique Australian film that introduced two of today’s finer actresses to American audiences. Toni Collette plays the socially inept Muriel, a girl willing to go to extremes to get married, and Rachel Griffiths, of Six Feet Under and Brothers and Sisters fame, plays her best friend. Muriel’s Wedding is a better movie than the other as far as the script and storyline, but Anthony LaPaglia’s hilarious Stevie D and Madeline Kahn’s wonderfully modest mother of the bride in Betsy’s wedding deserve a special mention and shouldn’t be missed.

9. Airplane! – I love comedies as much as the next guy, but normally slapstick isn’t my thing. Airplane, however, defies those rules and is hands down the best comedy ever made. It’s definitely the king of all disaster spoofs, which paved the way for many more to come – some wonderfully good and some dreadfully bad. Airplane also has to be the most quotable movie of all time, and perhaps even the most viewed. I dare you to find someone who hasn’t seen it. Better yet, without it we wouldn’t know the comic genius of Leslie Neilson, or the Naked Gun movies, which deserve special mention because it gave us another truly quotable line, “Hey, that’s Enrico Palazzo!”

8. Gone with the Wind – There’s no greater heroine than Katie Scarlett O’Hara. She may have been a spoiled young woman, but she also brilliantly maneuvered her way through the challenges of the Civil War. She was definitely the mentally strongest character in her family, and in the story. Sure, there are plenty of wonderful performances in the film, but all pale in comparison to Vivian Leigh’s Scarlett. Despite its four-hour length, I can get swept in this saga every time it’s on television, and have even traveled to the theater to see it on the big screen. This film swept the Oscars in 1939, winning Best Picture, Best Actor for Clark Gable, Best Actress for Leigh and Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, to name a few.

7. Imitation of Life – The earlier version with Claudette Colbert is good and closer to the original story, but the 1959 film with Lana Turner and Sandra Dee is so full of wonderful drama, it has to be crowned as the queen of all tear-jerkers. Based on a 1933 Fannie Hurst novel of the same name, the story seems almost modern as two single mothers, one black and one white, struggle to raise their daughters alone, until they find each other and combine efforts. The drama occurs when the black daughter, who often passes as white, decides to lie about her roots and completely deny where she came from, which breaks her mother’s heart. Good Hollywood stuff, and if you plan to watch, have plenty of tissues on hand. The film was nominated for two Oscars for Best Actress for Juanita Moore and Best Supporting Actress for Susan Kohner.

6. Raiders of the Lost Ark – Of all the action movies out there, this is one of the best. When my friends and I first saw this as a new release back in 1981, we loved it so much we stayed to watch it again at the next showing. Of course, it was back in the day when you could get away with that sort of thing. I adore this movie for many reasons, but mostly because it’s not your typical “blood fest” action movie, but rather it entertains with a compelling storyline and great performances that captivate you from the beginning. In other words, it’s a thrilling movie that the whole family can enjoy. And watching the handsome Harrison Ford as the dashing and debonair Indiana Jones isn’t bad, either. The movie won four Oscars for Best Art Direction, Editing, Visual Effects and Sound.

5. When Harry Met Sally – A witty script, a fine cast and a timeless soundtrack all combine to make When Harry Met Sally the best romantic comedy of all time. Plus it asks the age-old question can men and women be just friends, or does sexual attraction always get in the way? The movie features Meg Ryan at her absolute best and Billy Crystal, who’s always funny in each role he chooses. Kudos to the supporting cast, Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, who play it well as their best friends who coax them along and try to show them they really do belong together. This film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

4. Ordinary People – Robert Redford’s masterpiece, Ordinary People, may be the movie that had the most impact on me at that point of my young life. I was still a teenager when I saw this heart wrenching drama of a family trying to cope with the death of one of their own, and a son desperately trying to forgive himself, and gain his mother’s love. In addition, the film featured Mary Tyler Moore as I had never seen her before, playing the cold, distant mother, who worried too much about what her society friends thought, and was incapable of showing her younger son that she cared. Timothy Hutton won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this role, his first, and Redford won for Best Director. The film also won for Best Picture.

3. Charade – Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant are a perfect combination in this fun Hitchcock like classic, despite their 25-year age difference. Supposedly Grant wanted it written in to the script, which is as thrilling as it is funny and charming, that Hepburn’s character is pursuing him rather than vice versa because he felt odd about the age difference. Charade earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, and was remade albeit poorly as “The Truth About Charlie” with Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton. But don’t waste your time. See the original.

2. The Big Chill – What happens when old college friends get together for the funeral of one of their own? Great music and conversation and plenty of surprising twists and turns. I especially love the storyline between William Hurt, who plays a former radio psychologist, and Meg Tilly, the young girlfriend of the deceased friend. The rest of cast is also superb and features Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Mary Kay Place, Jo Beth Williams, Tom Berenger and Jeff Goldblum. It also was the first film appearance by a young Kevin Costner, but his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. The film earned Best Picture and Best Actress (Glenn Close) nominations.

1. Notorious – Alfred Hitchcock’s spine tingling Notorious is tops on the list. Cary Grant stars opposite a very creepy Claude Raines and Ingrid Bergman, the woman the FBI hires to get the goods on Nazis they believe are planning something in South America after WWII. Grant falls in love with Bergman’s character, the girl with the tainted past, and he is often as cruel and he is romantic with her. There are so many thrillingly tense scenes and fine performances in this movie, there is no better. Not only is it the most romantic movie of all time, with just enough ups and downs along the way that make for good drama, but it’s also has one of the cleverest scripts ever written. Grant is a fine actor, and Bergman is luminous.

P.S. Special mention goes to the following, which made the initial list and had to be cut to narrow it ten, a painfully difficult task: Annie Hall, Amelie, The Big Lebowski, The Graduate, Groundhog Day, A Hard Day’s Night, Casablanca, Terms of Endearment, Thelma and Louise, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, many of which were featured on TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar this month.

‘Tis the Season

Hollywood movie red carpet background and city

Hollywood movie red carpet background and city

January 6, 2017 – Hollywood award season kicks off Sunday night, honoring the best performances of 2016.

While I don’t get caught up in celebrity gossip, read trashy rags, consider myself edgy enough to enjoy TMZ, and despise it when celebrities spew forth their political views, I do get weak in the knees over the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Awards. It may seem trivial when you consider everything happening in the world, but we all need an escape – and mine is the movies.

Just like the actual holiday season, however, this award season snuck up on me, leaving me unprepared. I haven’t seen any of the nominated films for 2016 because I’ve spent more entertainment time with my Netflix subscription than visiting theaters.

My saving grace – the season begins with the Golden Globes, which recognizes excellence in both film and television, so I have it half covered. I still have time to redeem myself before the Academy Awards on February 26, when I hope to be worthy to celebrate the film industry in style.

Looks like I’ll be spending the rest of January and most of February at the movies.

Love Letters

shopDecember 9, 2016 – When you think of Jimmy Stewart and Christmas, no doubt It’s a Wonderful Life springs to mind. The heartwarming holiday classic is still widely watched and relevant today.

However, six years before, in 1940, Stewart starred in The Shop Around the Corner, a lesser-known movie that is often overlooked, possibly because it doesn’t follow the traditional holiday formula, or it because wasn’t directed by Frank Capra. It does, however, take place during the holiday season and come to its touching conclusion on Christmas Eve.

As a fan of old movies, I‘m ashamed to say I discovered this gem only six years ago when I caught it on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) one night. For almost two hours, I was caught up in snappy, quick-witted dialogue (something lost in today’s movies), romance and intrigue (it takes place in a gift shop in Budapest), and the glamorous style of that era (I adore the suits and hats women used to wear every day).

Stewart’s plays Mr. Kralik, a character much like the one he’s played in It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or any of his other films. He’s made a career out of playing the humble good guy and he does so brilliantly. His co-star is the equally talented Margaret Sullavan, an actor I’m not too familiar with, but who’s made plenty of movies according to IMDB. Together they play two bickering co-workers who can barely stand to be in the same room, yet unknowingly are falling in love by mail as each other’s secret pen pal.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because Nora Ephron borrowed it for her screenplay, You’ve Got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I liked Ephron’s version, but now that I’ve seen the original, I realize there is no comparison. Check out the comparison in the video clip below. If if you want to catch the movie in its entirety, TCM is running it this month on December 15, at 8 p.m.

Faire Impression

ren-faire-coverNovember 18, 2016 – Last month, I took a trip back in time and visited the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

As a first time visitor, I had expectations but tried to keep an open mind after hearing stories from people who either enjoyed or despised the experience. Faire workers, for example, dress in period costume. I expected that. Referred to as actors, they wander through the grounds unable to be pulled out of character, much like the Buckingham Palace guards when faced with a Lucy Ricardo in the crowd. Wenches pour drinks and sing lewd songs; poets recite bawdy poetry and then apologize for it; and street performers juggle knives, swords and other objects, and wrestle in lots of mud.


One of the many interesting oddities you’ll come across at the faire.

The impressive four men, who acted as common villagers walking through town, for example, had a rather lengthy conversation about “displeasing the King and serving at his pleasure.” They didn’t miss a beat and included me in the conversation as I followed them for several minutes. However, the musicians mesmerized me most, as they entertained with the likes of Greensleeves, Scarborough Fair, and a few modern classics made to sound as if they belong in the middle ages. From the guitars and harmonicas, to hurdy gurdys and fiddles, they enchanted the crowd with their serenade.


Ladies singing in the Town Square.

With this blog post in mind, I wanted to ask questions, especially of the four men I followed, but decided not to. The actors would have cooperated, or else they face a fine, so I did my best to learn what I could by paying attention and eavesdropping. Many of the workers camp on the faire grounds during the 10-week season, some even travelling from faire to faire. Those on the national circuit are also mostly pagans, but I’m not sure if that means they are a part of the well-known motorcycle club or they practice paganism, the nature-worshipping religion. Finally, the people who work the booths and sell their wares are independent business owners, known as boothies.


One of the boothies selling her wares.

Here’s what I didn’t expect. The crowd lines up at least an hour before the faire opens, and the majority of visitors dress in costume. I expected some to dress for the occasion, but I didn’t expect to be the minority. I had ample time to ask this group questions as we waited together, and here’s what I learned:

  • Many of them (old and young alike) are season ticket holders and frequent visitors to the faire.
  • Since I was dressed in 21st century clothing, I am a “Mundane” or ordinary person.
  • People who attend dressed in costume are known as playtrons. (Just a hunch, I’ll bet they also play Dungeons and Dragons).
  • Playtrons enjoy interactions with the actors, but it’s frowned upon during the scripted events. However, that doesn’t always stop them, and it could be difficult at times to tell one from the other.
  • The faire has an actual theme, recreating a village from 1500s England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. When I referred to something as Victorian, a few hard-nosed playtrons glared at me in disgust. Other events, they told me recreate Victorian and Edwardian eras, but “official” Renaissance Faires are only Elizabethan.
  • The idea for the faire began in California in the early 1960s when a teacher created a living history exhibit in her backyard as a high school project for her students. The idea caught on and has been active ever since.

Entertaining the King and Queen in the Town Square.

I’m not ready to become a playtron, but I did enjoy my time at the faire as a mere Mundane, and I’d visit again. The village is set in a wooded area, with stunning foliage against the backdrop of a bright blue sky, making it the perfect autumn experience.

If you decide to give it a try and plan to dress in costume, wear sensible shoes. My Fitbit clocked nearly 20,000 steps that day!

It’s that time of year again, Charlie Brown

hth5352817_1October 7, 2016 – Good grief! Walking through the mall last night I noticed that the newsstand is well stocked with 2017 calendars—already.

Front and center was the Peanuts Wall Calendar, which I buy my son each Christmas because he loves the Peanuts as much as I do. He’s 32 now, but it’s still tradition.

It’s too early to pick one up now, and the last few years I’ve taken a more lazy route and ordered one for each of us from Amazon, but it got me thinking. Charlie Brown season is upon us, too. Soon we’ll see promos for television specials like “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

It’ll be here before we know it. And that’s fine with me.

Best Picture nominations leave me numb

downloadJanuary 15, 2016 – Yesterday, the Oscar nominations were announced.

What once kicked off a month and a half of genuine excitement and a race to see all of the films nominated for Best Picture, has me scratching my head, wondering why I am not familiar with these titles. I may not get to the movies as often as I have in the past, but I’m still a member of the Philadelphia Film Society and I try to stay informed.

Let’s take a look at the eight nominees up for Best Picture, a category that no longer focuses on the obscure films, expanding to include those that appeal to general audiences, as well. However, these films feel obscure to me.

Bridge of Spies
Starring Oscar darling Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by a team that includes Ethan and Joel Coen, this film should have generated a lot of buzz. Alas, in my world, it has not. Released in October, the espionage thriller tells the story of a U.S. pilot sentenced to 10 years in prison after his U-2 spy plane is shot down during the Cold War. Hard to believe I never heard of it.

Mad Max: Fury Road
It’s understandable that this post-apocalyptic action film passed me by. It’s not the type I’m drawn to; futuristic films are always painted in doom and gloom and I don’t see the entertainment value in that. Since when is this type of film a sequel or a remake no less, nominated for Best Picture? It may appeal to the masses, but it doesn’t appeal to me.

The Revenant is one of only two films on the nomination list that I’ve seen advertised. Leonardo DiCaprio is fresh off a win for Best Actor at the Golden Globes last week and is probably a sure pick for the Oscar, according to may critics. The story is inspired by true events and is generating lots of positive reviews, especially for the scene where DiCaprio’s character is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead. It’s also being hailed for its cinematography. It’s likely to win the Oscar for Best Picture, as well, mimicking its win at the Golden Globes. All of this sounds positive, yet I have no desire to see it.

If I wasn’t certain “The Revenant” would win Best Picture, I would bet that the Oscar would go to “Spotlight”, the story of the Boston newspaper reporters who uncovered the decades-long cover up of abuse by the Catholic Church. Hollywood loves to make loud political statements, and when they do, they typically get plenty of critical praise. The way the church handled the scandal was horrible to say the least and the guilty deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but this is another example of what is not entertainment to me. Critics are singing the praises of the cast, though, which includes Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams.

The Martian
The Martian is the other movie I’ve seen advertised, yet had no desire to see. Matt Damon leads a cast that also includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels in the story about an astronaut presumed dead and left behind by his crew on a manned mission to Mars. I’m not a sci-fi fan but admit the movie sounds like a rip-roaring comedy, doesn’t it? Why else would it have just won Best Picture in the Comedy category at the Golden Globes?

The Big Short
I had just returned home from spending New Year’s weekend at the Jersey Shore when my son told me he saw a good movie called “The Big Short”. It was the first I had heard of it. When I asked him what it was about, he said it focused on the housing credit bubble that took place earlier in the 2000s. Yikes! Aside from solid actors like Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, this is another film that holds little appeal. I worked in the mortgage industry and watched this collapse first hand, losing my job in the process. Now that’s entertainment!

Straight from the headlines of the past few years, “Room” tells the story of the bond between a mother and child after they escape from the enclosed surroundings that the son has known for his entire life. Brie Larson, who stars as the mother, is a relatively unknown actress who just took home the Golden Globe for her performance. I may add this to my must see list since critics say it’s touching and deeply moving, focusing on the bond between mother and son, and the son’s wonderful discovery of the world outside of captivity. Sounds promising.

“Brooklyn” tells the story of an Irish immigrant to travels Brooklyn in the 1950s. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as the young girl who is lured by the promise of a better life in America. Critics’ reviews and comments from those who enjoyed the film make me want to place this one a must see list, as well.

There you have it. Two out of eight films appeal to me, which means that neither of them have a chance at the big prize. There may be no point in watching the Oscars this year.