Ranking DCEU Films

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Ranking DCEU Films List

DCEU is not at all comparable to the MCU as it is much weaker in quality. However, most of these films are pretty solid and not bad at all and I do think that the critics have been harsh to this universe from the beginning. The films have their obvious flaws such as too much seriousness and weak VFX, but they also feature some solid action, characters and interesting approaches. So without further ado, here is my ranking of all DCEU films.

 

5. Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad easily takes the last spot for me and pretty much everyone else. This film was a giant disappointment and lost potential. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn steals the show with a bunch of memorable and funny one-liners and Amanda Waller and Deadshot are also memorable characters. But the rest are underdeveloped and very forgettable, the plot is slight and the ending is mediocre with a particularly horrible villain in Enchantress.

Suicide Squad Movie Review

 

4. Justice League

Now Justice League takes the fourth spot because it is a very short, rushed affair with too many underdeveloped characters and its plot and approach are way too simplistic. Aquaman and Cyborg are quite forgettable, but the Flash is a lot of fun thanks to a solid Ezra Miller performance. Of course Superman and especially Wonder Woman and Batman are the highlights. The film is hugely entertaining, but is undone by pretty terrible, baffling CGI.

Justice League Movie Review

 

3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I really liked Batman v Superman which I honestly did not expect. Certainly the film is overlong, very dark and its third act ruined the whole film with a tendency to focus on boring, prolonged action spectacle. But the remainder of the film is actually pleasantly slow paced, more sophisticated in approach and with a particularly well established, morally complex conflict at its core. It is a very polarizing movie and I myself am more on the positive side of its reception.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie Review

 

2. Man of Steel

Man of Steel started it all – both the bad and the good when it comes to the DCEU. The first two acts feature a very interesting, cool and highly modern alien arrival science fiction approach to telling the Superman mythos and origin story, but the third act ruined everything with a giant bore of a spectacle with repetitive action after action scene. It proved to be influential on the rest of the film here for better and for worse, but it remains the second best DCEU film.

Man of Steel Movie Review

 

1. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman isn’t a great film, not by a long shot. It is terribly undone by its third act once again which rendered its powerful and realistic anti-war statement useless by adding a typical monster fight at the end and that was unfortunate. The CGI is also not great. But the character herself is very well developed thanks to Gal Gadot’s charismatic turn, the film is quite funny and charming at times and it’s overall a very well told, engaging origin story. This is an obvious, but deserved number one choice.

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Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of 2018

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Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of 2018 List

2018 is going to be a very strong year, especially for blockbusters. From major superhero outings to big book adaptations to some giant sequels, the year definitely looks promising. Here are my ten most anticipated 2018 films.

 

10. X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Certainly we’ve seen this storyline adapted before, but I am up for the second try as Jean Grey is one of the franchise’s most fascinating, powerful characters and the story is probably the biggest of all X-Men stories. I am not too excited for it, but still looking forward to it as a big fan of this franchise.

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9. Early Man

Aardman is finally back! They haven’t made a film since ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’ back in 2015 and this one is bound to be another one of their classics. Nick Park is back in the directorial chair which is great and the trailers look promising with prehistoric period and funny antics.

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8. The Predator

Shane Black did well with the Iron Man franchise as that third film is very good so that’s why I am pretty excited to see what he has in store for us with this franchise which hasn’t given us a new entry since ‘Predators’. It looks to be an old-fashioned, yet fresh new reboot.

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7. First Man

First Man is an upcoming drama focusing on the life of Neil Armstrong. It follows a fascinating time period with a lot of important developments in the world of astronomy which makes me wonder why they haven’t done this story before. But finally we are going to get it and it is being directed by Damien Chazelle who killed it with both ‘Whiplash’ and ‘La La Land’.

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6. Black Panther

Black Panther is easily my most anticipated superhero release of 2018 mainly because it is the rare non-sequel, original film. The trailers are absolutely fantastic and they made me want to see this film so badly, but the biggest hook is its African setting, interesting story and characters. It surely is going to be a different MCU film.

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5. Annihilation

This sci-fi horror film looks immensely intriguing and authentic judging by the trailers. I don’t know much about it, but I do know that it is based on a popular book and that it’s directed by Alex Garland of ‘Ex Machina’ fame and that is more than enough to make me excited for the next possible genre classic.

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4. A Wrinkle in Time

I wasn’t too thrilled with this book. I liked it, don’t get me wrong. But I didn’t love it as it is a very uneven work. However, I am looking forward to the film because it has good talent behind it and mostly owing to the big cinematic potential that this story has. The trailer looked great with excellent effects and possibly great world building.

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3. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2

If any Disney film could have a sequel, it is most certainly ‘Wreck-It Ralph’. The potential stories are endless here and I love how it is going to focus on modern time and the internet. I loved the first movie so much and I know that this one couldn’t possibly compare, but if they just give me a good enough film, I’ll be more than happy. The supposed big cameo from all Disney Princesses fuels my excitement even more.

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2. Ready Player One

I really enjoyed this book which I read a couple of years ago and it is a rare new book that is very strong, original in its story and incredibly entertaining. Of course it was always bound to be adapted owing to its huge cinematic potential and I am hoping that it does the book justice and become a new blockbuster classic. I’m not the biggest Spielberg fan though so that gives me some pause.

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1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Discounting all the controversy surrounding Dumbledore’s sexuality which maddened me too, I am still incredibly excited about this film. I am a giant Harry Potter fan so naturally every HP film is going to be my most anticipated of the year, but this one also features an incredible, truly fascinating story and great characters. The original was excellent, but I do think that this one may even be better. Let’s just hope that Rowling learned her lesson from all those angry tweets and that she does this amazing story right.

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Honorable Mentions:

Deadpool 2 – The reason why this movie is not in my top ten is because I do think that it can’t possibly be good as the original, but that one is so funny that of course I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Ant-Man and the Wasp‘Ant-Man’ was such a pleasant surprise from Marvel with likable characters and a fun heist angle to it. The sequel also looks promising and finally we are going to see the Wasp in action which is very exciting.

Avengers: Infinity War – I am not extremely excited for this giant movie as most of the others are because I was never the biggest fan of team movies, but still I can’t deny the importance of this MCU entry as it is the culmination of their entire filmography until now.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – This movie could backfire for sure, but the trailer is so good, visually spectacular and epic that it looks quite promising.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse – Finally we are going to get an adult animated film from the US and finally we are getting an animated superhero film as those are rare. The trailer for this flick is so good that it is definitely on my radar.

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Ranking Hayao Miyazaki Films

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Ranking Hayao Miyazaki Films List

Hayao Miyazaki is regarded as one of the best animation directors of all time. Many would argue that he is the very best of all time. All of that praise is deserved as he truly is an iconic, brilliant director who has never made a bad film and only a couple of his films are just okay. Most are very good or great. He helped shape Studio Ghibli as he made 9 films for the studio. Here is my ranking of all those Ghibli films as well as two non-Ghibli ones. For the ranking of all Ghibli films including all of their directors, click on this link.

 

11. The Wind Rises

There is no denying that the romance in The Wind Rises works and that the animation is absolutely gorgeous. However, everything else is very subpar. This is further proof that Miyazaki just could not make a film out of his biggest passion – aviation. This story was promising, but the script is entirely unsophisticated and it doesn’t explore its interesting themes at all leading to a disappointing bore.

The Wind Rises Movie Review

 

10. Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is one of the most overrated animated films of all time. The animation is beautiful and the film of course has a great environmental message, but I have just always found it boring to watch, overly epic, too action oriented and not emotional enough. The characterization is particularly weak here.

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

 

9. Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso is another disappointing aviation movie from Miyazaki. It is better than ‘The Wind Rises’ owing to a much more entertaining and better crafted plot, but still that third act was too comedic and the movie is just solid and never great. It is serviceable, but very forgettable when put against other director’s films.

Porco Rosso Movie Review

 

8. The Castle of Cagliostro

This film was a feature debut for Miyazaki and he did prove himself with it. Certainly it has overwhelming action in it plus the humor didn’t work all too well, but the storyline is pretty good and its mix of genres is very interesting – it is a heist, comedy, romance and mystery all in one package. The imagery is quite beautiful as well. It’s a solid film that put him on the map.

The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

 

7. Howl’s Moving Castle

Another somewhat overrated film, Howl’s Moving Castle is epic in scope and world building, gorgeous in its animation and filled with a bunch of memorable sequences and a great use of its setting and time period, but the film has too many things left unexplained and the overall affair is overly rushed and underutilized.

Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review

 

6. Kiki’s Delivery Service

This film was never meant to appeal to me. It is for children and especially girls and thus it has very limited appeal. It’s a charming, pleasantly deliberately paced and charming flick with many moving scenes, but the ending was overly bombastic and unappealing and, as I said, the film lacks universality in its approach and execution.

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5. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Now we get to the really good films. The films up to this point are weak or pretty solid, but from here on we get his best works. This environmental tale is definitely the director’s first signature film and thus incredibly influential for both him and Studio Ghibli which was still not around during that time. It has too much action once again and the supporting characters are weak, but the protagonist is great, the animation is groundbreaking in quality and the world building is splendid.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Movie Review

 

4. Ponyo

Ponyo is the film that grew on me upon second viewing as I didn’t like it quite as much the first time around. But even though it is derivative in its storyline, it is more than charming and lovable enough to compensate for that. Ponyo and Sosuke are Ghibli’s best couple and just watching them together is bound to get a smile on your face. Its colorful, sweetly simplistic animation and a great setting also help.

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3. Castle in the Sky

The very first Studio Ghibli film is also one of their best. It has its flaws, but Castle in the Sky is for the most part a phenomenal film with a wonderful adventurous story, a lovely sidekick in Captain Dola and breathtaking animation. Once again the world building is amazing and once again its ecological message is resonant.

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2. My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro is a movie for everyone unlike ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’. It’s deceptively simple, but actually sophisticated in its execution which is more slow paced and less action oriented and thus it proved groundbreaking for family films. The characters are very endearing, the animation is stunning and it’s just such a charming, childlike, wondrous film that is difficult to resist.

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1. Spirited Away

Of course there is no denying the fact that Spirited Away is the best film that Hayao Miyazaki has ever made. The character development is fantastic with Chihiro being one of the best film characters of all time, the story is epic, the world building is spectacular and the film is so meticulously detailed that you can watch it over and over again and still find something new to admire. It is also very rich in themes and character growth. Spirited Away is not only the crown jewel of Miyazaki’s filmography, but also one of the very best that animation has to offer.

Spirited Away Movie Review

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Best and Worst Films from January 2018

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Best and Worst Films from January 2018

 

 

Best Films from January 2018:

 

3. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

I have seen a lot of pretty good films during the first month of this year, but only a couple of truly great ones so only ‘Kedi’ gets an honorable mention. As for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, it truly surprised me how great it is. It is the ultimate ménage a trois film which deals with that subject subtly and in a sophisticated manner with very well developed characters and a fascinating real life story.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Movie Review

 

2. A Fantastic Woman

A Fantastic Woman is also the ultimate film, this time around when concerning films about transgender people. This Chilean drama is beautifully directed by Sebastian Lelio and phenomenally acted by fantastic Daniela Vega. It’s a difficult watch for sure, but also an essential one as it showcases just how horrible lives can be for trans women.

A Fantastic Woman Movie Review

 

1. Gold Diggers of 1933

And the best film I’ve seen in January is easily this musical masterpiece. Gold Diggers of 1933 is such an underrated, spectacular film which juggles its tone beautifully going from very funny to sexy to entertaining to hauntingly dark even. Remember My Forgotten Man is such a devastating number whereas We’re in the Money is the catchy highlight. The characters are a lot of fun, the production design is simply groundbreaking in quality and the movie is consequently a quintessential 1930s musical.

Gold Diggers of 1933 Movie Review

 

Worst Films from January 2018:

 

3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

I have unfortunately seen a lot of pretty mediocre movies in January so making this list was rather difficult. ‘Wayne’s World’ and ‘The Tin Drum’ did not make it eventually, but what did make it is this Star Wars animated flick which is easily the worst in its entire franchise. It has some fine scenes and a good villain, but the action is overwhelming, the characterization is horrible and the animation is pretty atrocious. This one is just for the hardcore SW fans.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie Review

 

2. The Square

This Swedish drama is probably the most disappointing film I watched all month. I expected a clever and sophisticated tackling of art museums and its curators, but unfortunately this ended up being a misfire from Ruben Ostlund with too many annoying scenes that are weird just for the sake of being weird. It is an overly ambitious film that is never as smart as it thinks it is.

The Square Movie Review

 

1. Get Out Your Handkerchiefs

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs easily takes the number one spot as the only truly bad film on this list. Unlike ‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’, this is a poorly made ménage a trois film which doesn’t have any point to it whatsoever, it is never funny and its characters learn absolutely nothing leading to a senseless waste of time and an entirely undeserved Oscar winner.

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs Movie Review

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Ranking 1970s Foreign Oscar Winners

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Ranking 1970s Foreign Oscar Winners List

The seventies proved to be the worst decade when it comes to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Most of these movies are either overrated or even not well regarded at all today and even dated. Only four of them are solid with six being weak or downright bad. Here is my ranking of all ten of these movies.

 

10. Amarcord

Loud, pretentious and pointless, Amarcord is one of the worst films from Fellini which really says a lot. It showcases all of his worst tendencies such as obsession with sex and vulgarity. Watching this movie seemed as if I was seeing a work that came from a teenager instead of an adult man how immature it is. It thus easily takes the last spot here.

Amarcord Movie Review

 

9. Get Out Your Handkerchiefs

Pointless is the key word on this list as you will see it pop up many times later as well. This French film is just pointless as its characters learn absolutely nothing and all of the film was thus a waste of time. It is one of the worst menage a trois films which started promisingly, but became increasingly silly and sexist afterwards.

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs Movie Review

 

8. The Tin Drum

This is probably the most disappointing film on this list. I expected a good movie, but what I got was a mediocre, pointless story with extremely excessive runtime and an incredibly unlikable central character. Some scenes such as the beginning are very good, but the sex scene is not only unrealistic but also plain uncomfortable.

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7. Day for Night

Day for Night is basically a French soap opera with way too many characters of which none are even remotely likable or memorable. The storyline is soapy and silly, most of the scenes are annoying and I just never cared for this film at all. It bored me to death and it truly is immensely overrated.

Day for Night Review

 

6. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

This is by far the most overrated film on this uninspired list. It is a typical Luis Bunuel film which relies very little on plot and makes no sense at all. Some scenes definitely did work and were interesting, but most are either annoying or pointless leading to a boring movie that is weird for the sake of being weird.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Movie Review

 

5. The Garden of the Finzi Continis

The Garden of the Finzi Continis is certainly well made and filmed, but it is easily the most forgettable movie on this entire list which really says a lot. The plot was never a material for a film at all, the characters are all very dull and the film is very boring leading to an undeserved Oscar winner.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Movie Review

 

4. Madame Rosa

The first solid film on this list is just solid and never great, but certainly not bad. Simone Signoret gave a powerhouse, memorable performance in a great role and some scenes are quite moving, but unfortunately most of the film was overly melodramatic and it deals with its subject matter in a very unsubtle manner.

Madame Rosa Movie Review

 

3. Black and White in Color

This Ivorian film deals with a similar subject matter and again it executes it in a very unsubtle manner. The war scenes here are the highlights and the racism part was unsophisticated and the weaker one. This is not a great film, but it is perfectly solid with a couple of excellent and effective sequences.

Black and White in Color Movie Review

 

2. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

This Italian film gives us a very interesting angle to a crime flick which I respected a lot. It’s original and very intriguing. It is technically not great, it has its unbelievable scenes and is overall a lot potential for greatness, but it’s still a very solid movie which has some interesting things to say.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion Movie Review

 

1. Dersu Uzala

Quite familiar and most definitely overlong, Dersu Uzala is still a pretty good Japanese-Soviet co-production which benefits from a strong friendship at the core of the film. It is a slow film, but very well directed and especially well shot with excellent scenery, sound and atmosphere. I liked this film quite a bit and it easily takes the number one spot on this weak list even though it is far from great.

Dersu Uzala Movie Review

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Top Ten Studio Ghibli Characters

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Top Ten Studio Ghibli Characters List

Studio Ghibli is a masterful studio that is known for their quality animation, environmental stories and great scores. However, they also feature a bunch of unforgettable characters who made these films the classics that they are. They are known for strong heroines, but also some interesting men as well as children and creatures too. Here are my ten picks for Ghibli’s greatest characters with six honorable mentions.

 

10. Anna Sasaki

The protagonist of When Marnie Was There is Anna. Yes, Marnie is an essential, wonderful character in the film, but Anna is the better and more important one. She proved to be very relatable to me owing to her unfriendly, honest and introverted nature and this film is great for being a great character study with her taking the biggest focus. Such a well written character.

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9. Muta/Renaldo Moon

The above character is serious, but this one is exactly the opposite. Muta is an absolutely hilarious sidekick who steals the show in The Cat Returns which is actually a very funny film mostly thanks to his funny presence. He has a phenomenal, amusing backstory, but the highlight was seeing him get angry for being called fat. He truly is a funny, but sweet cat too.

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8. Shizuku Tsukishima

Whisper of the Heart’s protagonist is this teenage girl. Certainly her boyfriend is great as well, but she is the biggest reason why this film works so well. She doesn’t know what she is going to do with her life and what she is going to study which is the opposite from Seiji. A realistic and complex girl, she is hugely relatable to me personally as she experiences the same fears too.

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7. Taeko

Everything I said above also applies to Taeko as she too is the protagonist of Only Yesterday and again the reason why the film is so fantastic. She is not a teen, but a grown woman and her troubles are thus all the more powerful. The film showcases her wonderful personality and her whole life throughout present as well as those terrific flashback scenes.

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6. Shige

This list is well balanced between funny and serious characters and here we have the former. Shige is a granny in very underrated My Neighbors the Yamadas and she basically holds the entire family together as the wisest and most adult person there. But she also makes mistakes as evidenced by some very funny scenarios. She is wonderful and strong, but hilarious too.

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5. Seita and Setsuko

Grave of the Fireflies is an extremely tragic, devastating to watch film but that is not only because of its subject matter, but also owing to terrific characterization of its two main characters. Seita and Setsuko are wonderful together and so lovable. She is very endearing and he is a great brother to her. They are so likable that their eventual doom is thus all the more tragic.

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4. Captain Dola

The main characters in Castle in the Sky are actually pretty bland if I am to be honest. However, Captain Dola is anything but as this crazy old woman obsessed with riches and treasure. She is an elderly female pirate which in and of itself is unique and badass, but her many hilarious lines steal the show here. She is hilarious, but also caring toward her family and friends.

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3. Ponyo and Sosuke

I decided to put duos on my list as usually the couples are inseparable and thus should be counted together. That is certainly the case for Ponyo and Sosuke who are Studio Ghibli’s power couple. He is wonderful and she is very endearing. Together they make a wonderful pair and the reason why Ponyo is so charming and childlike lies in their stupendous relationship.

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2. Yubaba

There are a lot of unforgettable, terrific characters in Spirited Away, but Yubaba is certainly one of the standouts. Zeniba as her good sister is great too, but Yubaba’s villainous antics steal the show. She is a cartoony villain, but a great one owing to excellent development and especially look and powers. She controls the whole spirit world and is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

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1. Chihiro

Speaking of Spirited Away, its protagonist takes this highest spot as the best Studio Ghibli character and also one of the finest main characters in the history of cinema as a whole. Chihiro is a realistic kid. She is at first bratty and annoying, but later she becomes a better person and this film is the ultimate hero’s journey as well as character study as her progress is portrayed in a subtle, believable manner. Everyone can relate to her and she is the strong, necessary human element in this big, imaginative fantasy world. This is a clichéd, but obvious and right choice for number one.

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Honorable Mentions:

Satsuki and Mei – These two sisters are childish, but again very realistic. Their sisterly bond is great and their exploration of the forest and eventual family drama is so well portrayed.

TotoroTotoro is only an honorable mention for me owing to his small role in the film, but he surely steals the show in the small screen time he got. He’s cute, sweet and with iconic design.

Lin – I love Lin so much! She appears little in this masterpiece of a film, but she helps Chihiro so much and is such a wonderful, great friend to her.

Haru YoshiokaHaru is the central character in The Cat Returns and although somewhat typical, her journey is again a great character study and she is a very likable girl.

Baron Humbert von GikkingenThe Baron had to be somewhere on this list as the major presence from the aforementioned film. He appeared in ‘Whisper of the Heart’ too and deserved a spin-off film how interesting his story is. I loved his cool, debonair attitude and look.

Lord CobTales from Earthsea might not be a great movie, but it has one terrific thing in it and that is Lord Cob who is such a powerful villain as this strong, menacing and cool sorcerer.

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Ranking Studio Ghibli Films

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Ranking Studio Ghibli Films List

Studio Ghibli is one of my favorite animation studios, up there with Walt Disney Animation Studios. Their films are beloved across the world, but actually quite underrated as they should be appreciated on a global level just as Disney movies are. Most of these films are great or very good and none are bad which is a huge testament to their high quality work. Whether tackling serious drama or fantasy worlds, these films usually deal with the themes of environmentalism and family but all are original, unique worlds in their own right. Without further ado, here is my ranking of all twenty Studio Ghibli films.

 

20. From Up on Poppy Hill

I have to say that this period piece is Ghibli’s worst and thus it takes the last spot. It is far from a bad film of course as the animation is as great as usual for this studio, some scenes are quite sweet and the score is beautiful to behold, but the movie is just uninteresting in its Japanese historicisms and not particularly engaging to follow. The characters are also weak and the overall story is incredibly sappy and reminiscent of soap operas.

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19. The Wind Rises

This is another period piece and another quite disappointing effort. The Wind Rises is basically a passion project for writer-director Hayao Miyazaki, but unfortunately he never really made a great film based on his aviation hobby and this one is a further proof of that. I really liked the romance and the animation is spectacular, but the film is overlong with bland characters and it doesn’t utilize on its great premise at all. It’s one of the dullest animated films out there.

The Wind Rises Movie Review

 

18. Princess Mononoke

I know that this one is going to be controversial, but I just do not care for Princess Mononoke. Certainly its environmental message is respectable, but Ghibli made much better environmental films in the past. It is well animated and epic, but it has too much action, not enough dialogue or strong characterization and it is just a pretty boring, overrated film which is never as deep as it thinks it is.

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

 

17. Tales from Earthsea

I actually do not hate Tales from Earthsea like so many people and critics do. It is far from a bad film and is overall much better than the previous three entries on this list. In this underrated film we got problematic direction from Goro Miyazaki and very bad pacing. The story is also awfully rushed in its second half. However, the action scenes are terrific, the film is admirably dark in tone plus it features an excellent, menacing villain in Lord Cob.

Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

 

16. Porco Rosso

This aviation film is better than The Wind Rises, but still a disappointing effort from Miyazaki. The characters and the romance are memorable and the film is interesting in its story and locations. It is very well made and frequently endearing, but the third act is overly silly, the film struggled with its shifts in tone throughout the whole runtime and it is just a pretty messy film in most areas.

Porco Rosso Movie Review

 

15. Howl’s Moving Castle

I loved the historical period in this film as well as the magical elements. The attention to detail is stunning here and the world building is absolutely magnificent and so epic. But the film leaves too many questions unanswered and too many characters underutilized. The action is also quite overwhelming. It is a very solid, frequently admirable effort, but a flawed, very overrated film in the end.

Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review

 

14. Kiki’s Delivery Service

Most of the things I said about the above entry also applies to this one. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a solid, but still very overrated Ghibli flick which is so well scored and animated per usual with a refreshing emphasis on leisurely pace than action and with a good metaphor and charming characters. But it remains a film that is great for kids and especially for girls, but not particularly interesting for adults. The third act is also ridiculously climactic and bombastic.

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13. Pom Poko

And with Pom Poko, we now have arrived to the really good and not just solid films. The middle section in Pom Poko drags, the film might be too weird at times and the narration is overwhelming, but this remains a rich, moving tale of environmentalism with very likable, charming characters, such a well crafted plot and such an emotionally rewarding third act that is the highlight of the entire film.

Pom Poko Movie Review

 

12. The Secret World of Arrietty

Arrietty is a film that improves quite a bit upon second viewing. It is still far from deep or sophisticated as the plot demands and the inclusion of a villain is very silly as this serious film did not need her at all, but I really liked the main romance, the animation is charming and detailed and the movie has a bunch of memorable set pieces and sequences with a very moving ending.

The Secret World of Arrietty Movie Review

 

11. Ponyo

Some of the character design is odd in this flick and the unoriginality of its storyline is evident from the beginning, but Miyazaki still added enough of his own fresh ideas into Ponyo to make it his own film. The animation is very charming and the overall story is sweet and cozy, but it is its main characters who are the selling point here and their wonderful relationship which is the heart and soul of the film.

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10. My Neighbors the Yamadas

My Neighbors the Yamadas fully deserves this spot in the middle of my list as probably the studio’s most underappreciated flick. Certainly its narrative is uneven and some scenes are less interesting than others, but this is a wonderful family dramedy with a beautiful exploration of familial relationships, highly endearing characters, memorable scenarios and such a sweet, strong humor that fuels the film to even bigger heights.

My Neighbors the Yamadas Movie Review

 

9. The Cat Returns

The Cat Returns is another very underrated anime. It surely is simplistic and way too short, but so good nonetheless being one of my childhood favorites. It serves as such an interesting spin-off to ‘Whisper of the Heart’, but it is a much different film than its predecessor as it is a fantasy flick and a wonderful one at that. So childlike, sweet, charming with highly memorable and amusing characters, the film is also incredibly entertaining and also frequently hilarious.

The Cat Returns Movie Review

 

8. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

This sprawling fairy tale might be long but phenomenal nevertheless. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya surely was a return to form for Studio Ghibli as it features not only terrific, subtle storytelling, but also such a beautiful ending, well developed characters and a great score. However, its biggest selling point is its animation. The watercolor painting style is incredibly authentic and beautiful here leading to one of the best looking animations ever.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Movie Review

 

7. Castle in the Sky

As the very first Ghibli film, Castle in the Sky might be lowly placed, but that is only because the competition is highly fierce here. The main characters here are weak, but the villain is excellent and Captain Dola is such a wonderful, goofy sidekick. The movie is such a grand, epic adventure which has everything future Ghibli films tried to replicate but mostly less successfully – beautiful animation, score and ecological message. This truly was a fantastic start for a killer studio.

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6. When Marnie Was There

The latest (and hopefully not the last) Studio Ghibli film gets a very high sixth spot on my list. I know that many would disagree with this placement, but I simply adore this film which is beautifully animated and with such unforgettable, beautiful imagery. It deals with some very mature themes, the protagonist is very relatable to me and the overall story is very mysterious and involving with such a stupendous reveal at the end.

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5. My Neighbor Totoro

My Neighbor Totoro of course is an undisputed classic that gave us a very different, groundbreaking formula for a children’s film. There are no villains here and almost no conflict, not to mention no action whatsoever. But what we get instead is a gentle, sweet slice of life story with lovable characters, gorgeous animation and many heartwarming and highly memorable scenes. It is a wonderful fantasy drama that every child and parent should see.

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4. Only Yesterday

Only Yesterday’s ending touched me a lot with its song choice, high emotion and heartwarming imagery, but the entire film is great as well. This is the kind of dramas I love – a very thematically rich, sophisticated story with such a well developed, realistic main character. Beautifully animated, directed and scored, Only Yesterday’s highlights are its dialogue and script which both work in tandem to deliver one outstanding, clever and very relatable story.

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3. Whisper of the Heart

With one of the best heroines in animation, a meticulous attention to detail and such a wonderful use of one of my favorite songs, Whisper of the Heart is another sophisticated, deep and moving drama which this time around deals with teenagers and in a phenomenal manner. You cannot get a better animated drama than this one as this film spoke to me on a highly personal level with a big amount of relatable conversations and truthful observations.

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

 

2. Grave of the Fireflies

Once my number one pick but now delegated to the second spot, Grave of the Fireflies still remains an undisputed masterpiece in the world of animation. Isao Takahata is one of my favorite anime directors and here he made a classic anti-war film which features an excellent build up and a great sibling relationship at the center of the film that all lead to such a tragic, devastating ending that shook me to the core. This film deserves its status as one of the most heartbreaking films of all time.

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1. Spirited Away

Artistically animated, smartly written and featuring one of the best scores in film history, Spirited Away also features a stellar script and such brilliant world building. Hayao Miyazaki has created an entire wonderful world here full of crazy, memorable or goofy creatures and a lot of intriguing places so beautifully explored too. The characterization is amazing as the protagonist goes through a life-changing journey that is impactful and just perfectly crafted on every level. Tonally diverse, but always fascinating and simply magical, Spirited Away is one of the most unforgettable cinematic experiences you can have and not only the best Studio Ghibli film of them all, but also one of the best animated as well as one of the overall best films of all time.

Spirited Away Movie Review

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Ranking Wallace and Gromit Films List

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Ranking Wallace and Gromit Films List

Wallace and Gromit is the series of four short films, one feature film and one spin-off film starring the titular old man and his smart dog pal. This Aardman duo created by Nick Park is one of the best in the history of animation and almost all of these films feature noir-ish atmosphere and approach, superb humor, stunning stop-motion animation and incredibly endearing characters. I am here ranking all six of these films, but five of them are almost of the similar quality as they are all so great so ranking them was tough. Surely they all need to be seen.

 

6. A Grand Day Out

As the first Wallace and Gromit film, A Grand Day Out features their typical brand of British humor, superb animation and a wonderful story that relies more on adventure instead of mystery this time around. I loved the moon sequences and the emphasis on cheese. However, this is easily the weakest film on this list and the only one which is just good and not great owing to a lack of memorable action, character interactions and dialogue.

A Grand Day Out Review

 

5. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Wallace and Gromit’s only feature film may be placed too low, but that is only because the short films are overall better executed and with more memorable and moody storylines. But this is still a very strong film with a particularly effective spoof of classic horror movies all the while having very good humor and excellent interactions between its wonderful main duo. The animation of course is spectacular in its high attention to detail.

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4. A Matter of Loaf and Death

This short is the series’ last and although it isn’t appreciated as much as the earlier ones, it is just as good as they are, though lacking in suspense a bit. I absolutely loved Piella Bakewell who is such a terrific, fun female villain. The story is very engaging and this is in my opinion the most entertaining film on this list. It also has a couple of very funny lines, mostly by Wallace, and one adorable female dog.

A Matter of Loaf and Death Review

 

3. A Close Shave

A Close Shave is the second Oscar winner for the series and overall third for the studio and deservedly so as the film is so great. It features a couple of very dark sequences with the prison scene being particularly heartbreaking. But it is as great as it is mostly thanks to its robotic dog villain who is genuinely creepy, very menacing and overall strong and capable. He posed some serious threat to our lovable protagonists.

A Close Shave Review

 

2. Shaun the Sheep Movie

Shaun the Sheep was introduced in the aforementioned film and he almost stole the show there how amusing and endearing he is. It is thus not a surprise that he influenced a TV series and eventually he got himself this Oscar-nominated feature film treatment. The results were more than stellar – the animation is fantastic, the humor is wonderful and the film is such a wonderfully old-fashioned, brilliant slapstick comedy influenced by the style of 1920s silents.

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1. The Wrong Trousers

Of course the first spot goes to this animated classic. The Wrong Trousers is a terrific film which deservedly won an Academy Award. It finds the duo at their best and their relationship is so well put to test here with a couple of heartbreaking as well as heartwarming moments. The film is a terrific mystery/noir experience with one of the best villains in the history of animation – Feathers McGraw. This penguin is incredibly creepy, some scenes here so menacing and he is without a doubt incredibly effective as this deceptively cute, yet smart bad guy. All of these films are mostly great, but this one takes the cake as the best and most unforgettable one.

The Wrong Trousers Review

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Ranking Star Wars Films

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Ranking Star Wars Films

Star Wars is a very uneven franchise. For every truly great movie, we get just an okay one. The prequel trilogy is for the most part not great, the original trilogy is very good, but somewhat overrated and the new trilogy is surprisingly good. This is my personal list so here are a couple of surprises. Even though some entries here are mediocre, most are quite good and overall it is an overhyped, but entertaining and interesting franchise which grows on me with every subsequent viewing. So without further ado, here are all the SW films so far ranked from worst to best:

 

10. The Clone Wars

Yes, the only animated film in the franchise gets the worst spot which is pretty unanimous ranking for almost everyone. It isn’t a horrible film as it has a very cool villain and some fun action scenes, but still the action is overwhelming and the film is very mediocre in all of these departments – writing, acting, characterization and script. Its animation is its worst aspect though as the human faces look absolutely horrible.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie Review

 

9. Attack of the Clones

Again this one also has some good aspects such as that lightsaber duel between Yoda and Dooku which is excellent and the special effects are reliably terrific, but it is easily the worst live-action Star Wars film of all time as here we get to spend the most time with Anakin/Hayden Christensen. His performance is awful, but the dialogue is the worst here as it is laughably bad plus his romance with Padme is so terrible.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones Movie Review

 

8. The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace definitely has a bunch of excellent sequences with the highlights being the thrilling pod race sequence and the duel between the two Jedi and Darth Maul is beautifully choreographed. But Jar-Jar Binks sucks all life out of this film as he truly is one atrocious and very annoying creation. The film is endearing, but overly childish and with pretty mediocre humor as well.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Movie Review

 

7. Rogue One

Some of the action in Rogue One is excellent, the first half is quite fun and the acting is very good. However, even though it is very well made, it is easily the most overrated Star Wars movie which is basically just an action war film with non-stop spectacle and rarely anything more than that. For those who like that, it must be great. But for me, it was rather dull plus I found the character development pretty mediocre and thus the emotional scenes left me in the cold.

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6. The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens definitely is a very familiar film and a rehash of ‘A New Hope’. It relies too much on nostalgia and is implausible in some plot points. But there is no denying how well made it is and how wonderfully traditional in its thrills it is. I like all of the new characters quite a bit, the action is excellent, the effects are great too and the film is a lot of fun to watch. It is old-fashioned for better and for worse.

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5. Revenge of the Sith

Revenge of the Sith is plagued by once again terrible dialogue and weak action, but this is infinitely better than the previous two entries in the prequel trilogy and it’s easily the most underrated Star Wars film of them all. There is something operatic and epic in its story of good guy gone bad, there is something spectacular in its beautifully realized action scenes and of course the entire third act is so emotional and just powerful in all the right ways. It succeeds as such a good, affecting prequel to the original trilogy that it renders its two predecessors entirely pointless.

 

4. Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi is, along with ‘The Phantom Menace’, the most childish entry in this entire franchise. Some of it is wonderfully childlike, but some of it is still too childish and thus feeling too different from its predecessors. But the Ewoks are still very endearing, I really liked the action here and of course that third act is emotionally rewarding and immensely powerful.

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3. A New Hope

A New Hope is where this whole phenomenon started and it has everything I like and dislike about Star Wars in it. The characters are iconic and excellent, I loved their interactions, the humor is terrific and most of the action is memorable. Of course Darth Vader steals the show as such an iconic villain that he is. But still the action is so overwhelming here that some of it, especially the third act, was rather boring to me. And I am just not a fan of aerial fights as I am more of a lightsaber duel guy.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Movie Review

 

2. The Last Jedi

This placement might seem controversial to many people, but I don’t care as The Last Jedi is such a terrific, hugely misunderstood film. It is uneven at times and it has its small flaws, but the story is so great that it renders those flaws unimportant. I loved Snoke, Ray and especially Rose who is such a wonderful new addition to this roster of characters. But the movie is great because it finally gives us something new and doesn’t just rehash old ideas like its predecessor. A lot of the things and status quo were changed here and I appreciated its boldness so much. Rian Johnson is the one responsible for the greatness of this film in my opinion.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

 

1. The Empire Strikes Back

And the number one goes to The Empire Strikes Back which is a very cliched, but obvious choice as no other Star Wars film can possibly compare to its greatness. It is the first truly serious Star Wars film which eventually influenced the film above. It features excellent dialogue and a willingness to go into dramatic instead of action-oriented territory. Its twist is great, but those calmer scenes with Yoda are the highlights as he is such a fantastic character. I loved the action, I loved the scenes with Leia and Han and I admired the film for being less childish and more mature and slower paced. It isn’t just the best Star Wars movie, but it’s also one of the finest blockbusters as well as sequels of all time.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Movie Review

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Ranking 1990s Animated Short Oscar Winners

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Ranking 1990s Animated Short Oscar Winners

This decade actually proved out to be one of the best when it comes to the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film category and that I did not expect at all. Only two films here are not particularly good, but the rest eight of them are all either very good or simply fantastic. And the mix of family friendly and artistic films here is quite welcome. So here is my ranking of all ten winners from the nineties:

 

10. Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase

This one easily takes the last spot on my list as the only film I found barely passable and never anything more than that. Certainly the animation consisting of paintings morphing into one another is artistic and accomplished, but the film is dull for those not well acquainted with art and is the one film here with the most limited appeal.

Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase Review

9. Manipulation

Manipulation is solid with a couple of amusing and well executed scenes, but there is no denying the unoriginality of its premise. I’ve seen cartoons like this many times before 1991 and the film just isn’t fun or funny enough to be truly memorable.

Manipulation Review

 

8. Quest

This is where we get to good stuff and I mean really good stuff as evidenced by Quest’s very low placement whereas it would have been much higher in most previous decades. Certainly its ending is overly tragic and the film is slow, but its alien, weird atmosphere is constantly palpable and even creepy with both animation and sound design being fantastic.

Quest Review

 

7. Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts is one of Aardman’s earlier films and thus one of their more flawed efforts. The voice casting is odd and the film is never funny enough. However, the premise with the animals talking about their zoo life experience is very authentic and amusingly, smartly executed with a lot of interesting, diverse points delivered.Creature Comforts Review

 

6. The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea is too straightforward and with particularly annoying, unnecessary narration. But it is a very competent film adaptation of this famous literary work with particularly polished and artistic animation. There are literally hundreds moments here that are worthy of becoming wallpapers.

The Old Man and the Sea Review

 

5. Bunny

The animation in Bunny isn’t all that great, but the character design is very good. The film is a very clever metaphor for death and particularly the afterlife and its final scene is bound to affect anyone emotionally. It is a very sophisticated, but above all else mature and very heartwarming love story.Bunny Review

 

4. Bob’s Birthday

Again this film has weaker animation, but everything else is so great that it doesn’t matter all that much. Its sitcom approach and scenario is beautifully executed and in a very original manner, but its stellar humor and particularly its mature themes of middle-age problems and tiredness resonate strongly.Bob's Birthday

 

3. A Close Shave

A Close Shave isn’t the best Wallace and Gromit short, but it is still a great one. Here we got introduced to Shaun the Sheep and he is simply wonderful. The villain is very competent, the main characters are reliably great and there are a lot of superb moments to be had here with the prison scene being the most heartbreaking. I also loved its action and also humor.

A Close Shave Review

 

2. Geri’s Game

This acclaimed Pixar short is definitely one of their best, if not their very best. The premise is remarkably original and painfully relatable for older people, the animation is groundbreaking for its time and it is just so wonderful, funny and yet very sad at the same time watching this old man play chess with himself. Once again Pixar does strong emotion really well.Geri's Game

 

1. The Wrong Trousers

Wallace and Gromit take the number one spot this time around. This is the better of the two shorts that got Oscars in this decade. ‘A Close Shave’ is also great, but this one is slightly better and more memorable. Not to mention much creepier as Feathers McGraw remains one of the most memorable and menacing cartoon villains. It never forgets to be funny and sweet, but its noir-like atmosphere and intense crime/thriller scenes make it a very interesting, tonally diverse animated short.

The Wrong Trousers Review

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