Sunday, January 30, 2011

Henry Cavill Cast as the New Superman


In a rare moment of sanity, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have cast actor Henry Cavill to play Superman/Clark Kent in the upcoming Superman film directed by Zack Snyder.

According to SuperheroHype, Cavill won the role after recently wrapping production on The Cold Light of Day and stars in the film Immortals, which will be released this fall.  Cavill is perhaps best known as Charles Rowland on the recent Showtime TV series The Tudors and also appeared in such films as Stardust, Tristan + Isolde and the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo.

Personally, I'm just glad that they cast someone who can actually act, as opposed to recent rumors that the wooden Joe Manganiello from True Blood under serious consideration for the role.  I would've liked to have seen previous Superman Brandon Routh get another shot with a better script, but Cavill should be stellar in the role so no complaints.

So how about Emily Blunt for Lois Lane?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #47

If any mainstream comic is flying under the radar at the moment, it's probably Justice Society of America.  Over the past few months, the new creative team of writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Scott Kolins have been trying their best to breathe new life into this series in the storyline "Supertown."

It started when Scythe, a super-powered terrorist (Yeah, think about that, Department of Homeland Security) destroyed most of the new DC Universe city of Monument Point, located thirty miles outside of Washington, D.C.  The JSA shows up to stop Scythe, getting the original Green Lantern paralyzed in the process, but eventually they manage to subdue him.  But instead of simply walking away and moving on to the next supervillain slugfest, the original Flash declares that the team is staying until they can get the devastated city back on its collective feet.

It's certainly a different direction for the world's first superhero team and the Flash in particular, who is stepping up and calling the shots for a very refreshing change.  Of course, there are some complications thrown in to make Monument Point's road to recovery even harder.  The main one is a new supervillain called Dr. Chaos, a bad guy who sounds like he's a weird genetic hybrid of Dr. Evil and Professor Chaos, but he's giving the heroes some much needed menace.  Decked out in a vintage doctor's mirror headband, of all things, the clever Dr. Chaos is proceeding down his "To Do" list (Yes, he has an actual "To Do" list) that includes threatening the JSA, killing JSA member Lightning, killing the Mayor of Monument Point and blackmailing JSA member Mr. Terrific.

Guggenheim's apparent plan to give the Justice Society some genuine threats, something they haven't had since Gog appeared in the "The Kingdom Come" storyline, is paying off so far.  The team is fractured, wounded and struggling to keep up with an enemy smarter than they are, especially with Mr. Terrific losing I.Q. points by the hour.  It's compelling stuff, and the kinetic art by Scott Kolins combined with some stylish coloring by Mike Atiyeh only adds to the impact of everything taking place.  The latest issue ends with a classic "Uh-Oh" cliffhanger of the JSA having to face both Dr. Chaos and Scythe at once, so it looks like the team's beatdown is far from over...and as a reader, I couldn't be more glad about that.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Challenger Disaster: 25 Years Later


Exactly twenty-five years ago today on January 28, 1986, the American space program suffered one of its greatest losses when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into STS-51-L, the twenty-fifth shuttle mission, killing all seven crew members.

I first learned about the disaster in my junior year at Medina Senior High School when several classes were called into the library to watch the news reports on a television wheeled out on a cart.  In what became one of the defining moments of Generation X, we were bombarded over and over again with the recorded footage of what we thought at the time was an explosion but was actually rapid disintegration producing a giant ball of vapor and gases.  Obviously, the tone was set for a very dark day, which was capped off when we went home later and watched President Reagan as he addressed the nation about the disaster on TV instead of giving his scheduled State of the Union address.

Until that day, my interest in space and the shuttle program had been minimal at best.  I would see footage from various missions every so often when my parents were watching the news, but casually shrugged them off in a typical teenager way.  The next day, however, my parents got me a copy of The Plain Dealer newspaper out of Cleveland and I practically devoured the front section which had detailed coverage of the disaster.  I still have that same entire newspaper today.

My interest in space exploration and astronomy continued when my family visited the Kennedy Space Center during one of our trips to Orlando, Florida.  I brought back a number of souvenirs, including a great hardcover book on NASA's history and a picture of the Challenger crew (as shown above) that currently hangs in my basement writing room.  And being a Star Trek fan, I was very glad to see this dedication at the beginning of the November 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home...


And of course, I was overjoyed when after what seemed like forever at the time, NASA finally resumed shuttle launches with the "Return to Flight" on September 29, 1988 with the Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-26 mission.  I would end up following shuttle missions for a number of years afterward, saddened once more with the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, but glad to see Discovery return us to space again in 2005.  I'll be there on February 24th, April 19th and June 28th for the final missions of Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis respectively, and I'll be there to see where we go next.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Okay, the Human Torch is Dead...Now What?


Yes, for the two of you who follow mainstream comics and somehow still haven't heard by now, even though every media outlet already spoiled Fantastic Four #587 two days ago, the Human Torch is dead.  Or at the very least in Princess Bride terms, he's mostly dead.

As part of the Fantastic Four's 50th anniversary year, Marvel has decided that the best way to celebrate such a momentous occasion for the characters was to kill one of them off.  Oh, and do it in a very special format by not revealing the final cover and releasing the issue in a mysterious polybag.  You know, the way DC Comics did it back in 1992 with the death of Superman in Superman (vol.2) #75.

Even then in the grungy nineties, comics fans knew Superman's death wasn't going to last.  DC Comics, kill off their flagship hero (No...Not you, Batman) and then leave him dead?  Forever?  Not hardly, especially with the TV series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman waiting in the wings.  But to their credit, DC played the premise out in the "Funeral for a Friend" storyline before finally bringing the Man of Steel back in the "Reign of the Supermen."  These were some truly entertaining comics that are still fondly remembered to this day.

So here we are, almost twenty years later, and it's the Human Torch's turn.  Next month sees the release of Fantastic Four #588, which is being hyped as the series' "final issue."  From the teaser provided by Marvel Comics earlier today, we see that the Torch's second-best friend (after the Thing, presumably) Spider-Man will show up to console nephew Franklin Richards, while niece Valeria will be working on finding a replacement, there are at least four things on the FF's ThreatDown list, and someone who is very probably Mr. Fantastic is in dire need of some 5-Hour Energy drinks and cucumber slices for his eyes.

After that, Fantastic Four will be relaunched in March as the more vaguely-titled FF, which either refers to the recently-created Future Foundation or (Galactus help us) the return of the Fantastic Force.  The current creative team of writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Steve Epting will continue on FF for the foreseeable future.  (Hmmm...Maybe that's what FF stands for...)  But considering Marvel's love affair of renumbering books for anniversary issues, you certainly can smell another potential retitling and renumbering in a year's time when Fantastic Four #600 is due.

Will the Human Torch return for issue #600, then?  Maybekindasortapossiblyprobably.  It's hard to not be cynical about this sort of thing, especially where Marvel and DC Comics are concerned, but it would be nice if we could be spared a "Human Torch: Reborn" storyline for at least five to ten years.  However, there was talk back in August of Fox studios planning a Fantastic Four movie reboot, including some casting rumors, so you can't see Marvel leaving Johnny Storm in the ground if that actually happens.

Until it comes time for the Torch's resurrection, though, it's Flame Off.  Here's hoping that Marvel makes the most of this latest game-changer...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

INCEPTION Backlash Continues in the 83rd Academy Awards


I'm beginning to think that Hollywood really doesn't like Christopher Nolan.

After the Hollywood Foreign Press stiffed his film Inception at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards in favor of The Social Network, now comes the announcement that Nolan isn't even nominated for the Best Director award even though Inception is nominated for Best Picture.  It doesn't matter if the film has an 86% Certified Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it doesn't matter that the film is currently ranked #8 on IMDb's Top 250 Movies of all time list, and it certainly doesn't matter that the film has grossed over $823 million worldwide according to Box Office Mojo.  No, all that matters is that Darren Aronofsky's direction of Natalie Portman's repeated attempts at masturbating in Black Swan were more worthy of an award than Christopher Nolan's direction of Joseph Gordon-Levitt fighting a dude in a zero-gravity hotel corridor.

Hmmm...Too bitter?  Maybe, but take a look at the 2011 Academy Award nominations that came out today and judge for yourself.

Apart from the Nolan snub, do you see any acting nominations for anyone from Inception?  No Leonardo DiCaprio, no Joseph Gordon-Levitt, no Marion Cotillard, no Tom Hardy, no anyone.  Nolan does get a Best Original Screenplay nod...somehow...but most of the film's eight award nominations are in technical categories.

And there are other bizarre oversights as well.  Toy Story 3 gets a Best Picture nomination but the superior How to Train Your Dragon doesn't.  Hereafter and Iron Man 2 get Best Visual Effects nominations but Tron: Legacy and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World don't.  True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld only gets a Best Supporting Actress nomination even though she's the film's lead actress.  Daft Punk fails to get a Best Original Score nod for Tron: Legacy.  And even the overrated Black Swan failed to get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Mila Kunis, even though she's far better in the film than Best Actress nominee Natalie Portman.

Let's just hope we start hearing Edith Piaf's "Non, je ne regrette rien" and wake up from this ridiculous dream...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

FRINGE and TWIN PEAKS Share the Same TV Universe


Oh, Fringe...I am really going to miss you if you end up becoming the latest victim of the Friday Night Death Slot.

For a show that started off blatantly ripping off episodes of The X-Files, Fringe finally found its voice halfway through its second season when the creators started focusing on their own mythology involving an alternate Earth.  Since then, the show has become one fun and insane rollercoaster ride and one of the best science-fiction series currently on television.


One more piece of Fringe's brilliance occured in tonight's episode, "The Firefly," when occasionally-high mad scientist Dr. Walter Bishop, played to perfection by John Noble, gave a shout-out to none other than Dr. Lawrence Jacoby from the classic series Twin Peaks.  After donning a pair of glasses with 3-D colored lenses, Walter is told that they look good, to which he replies:  "Yes...They were sent to me by a Dr. Jacoby from Washington State."  The town of Twin Peaks, where Dr. Jacoby operated as the resident psychiatrist, was located in the state of Washington.

This, of course, means that Fringe and Twin Peaks now share the same TV universe, however unofficial or official it actually is.  So, Walter...How about setting aside all that Observer and Walternate nonsense aside just long enough to rescue Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Dale Cooper from the Black Lodge?  If anyone can, it's probably you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Doctor Who: The Sontaran Series 6 Situation


SONTAR-Whaaaaa???

After Doctor Who Executive Producers Piers Wenger told Crave Online that there would be a focus on new monsters in Series Six in response to a question about classic monsters returning, it seems at least one classic monster has a stratagem in place for their return appearance...The Sontarans.

The spud-headed clone warriors were last seen as part of the major alien alliance in the Series Five episode "The Pandorica Opens" and according to Doctor Who TV, were recently photographed at an outdoor filming location for what is believed to be Episode Seven of the upcoming series.  The pictures above only show one Sontaran, so it's not known if there will be others or if this means that the alien alliance will also be returning. 

This news follows on persistent rumors that the Cybermen will be returning as well, only these will be the traditional Mondasian Cybermen not seen in Doctor Who since "Silver Nemesis" in 1988.  Curiously, these rumors suggest the Cybermen will also be in Episode Seven, so either that's not the case or there's a reformed alien alliance of some sort.

Monday, January 17, 2011

James Bond Gets CARTE BLANCHE in Summer 2011

While waiting for Daniel Craig to finally return to the big screen as James Bond in November 2012, Bond fans can spend some time this summer with a new OO7 novel by Jeffery Deaver titled Carte Blanche.

While speaking at the 2011 Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature in Dubai, Deaver revealed the novel's title and cover art, formerly under the secretive Project X.  According to CommanderBond.Net, Carte Blanche will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK on 26 May 2011 (2 days prior to Ian Fleming’s birthday) and in the US by Simon & Schuster on June 14.

And look, there's even a handy press release:

The new James Bond book, due to be published later this year and written by best-selling thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, is to be called Carte Blanche. Its title and cover artwork are unveiled today (Monday 17th January), at a special launch event at the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai.

Like Fleming, Jeffery Deaver takes inspiration from exotic locations around the world, and after visiting Dubai for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature last year he decided to set part of Carte Blanche in the United Arab Emirates City.

Carte Blanche is due to be published by Hodder and Stoughton in the UK, a few days before Fleming’s birthday, on 26th May 2011. It has been commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.
Jeffery Deaver comments, “I’m really excited about being back in Dubai. It is an inspirational and awe-inspiring city and makes a perfect Bond location—especially for a novel that pushes our hero to new extremes.”

Regarding the book’s title, Deaver added, “In the world of espionage, giving an agent carte blanche on a mission comes with an enormous amount of trust and constantly tests both personal and professional judgement. Part of the nonstop suspense in the novel is the looming question of what is acceptable in matters of national and international security. Are there lines that even James Bond should not cross?”

Unlike the most recent James Bond book, Sebastian Faulks’ period piece Devil May Care, Jeffery Deaver’s Bond will have a contemporary setting. As part of his latest assignment, the modern-day secret agent travels with Emirates Airline and spends a number of thrilling hours in Dubai both meeting up with an old friend and tracking a very disturbing villain.

The novel’s setting encompasses Deira and Port Saeed, and the history of the Emirates provides an exciting backdrop for some heart-stopping action.

Bond is renowned for visiting the most exotic and glamorous of cities and this is the first time Dubai has featured in a James Bond novel.

Jeffery Deaver will be making a special appearance at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, on Tuesday 18th January, when he will be speaking about his love of Bond and his experience of writing Carte Blanche.

Carte Blanche also features Fleming’s favourite car – a Bentley. Historically, Bond owned three Bentley cars in the course of the fourteen original novels written by Ian Fleming and, bringing the plot completely up to date, Bond drives a Bentley Continental GT in the new book.

Jeffery Deaver has written 28 novels and sold more than 20 million books worldwide. He is best known for his Kathryn Dance and Lincoln Rhyme books, most notably The Bone Collector, which was adapted for film in 1999, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Before becoming a full-time author, Deaver was a journalist, like Fleming, and attorney. He started writing suspense novels on the long commute to and from his office on Wall Street. His books are now translated into 25 languages and he lives in North Carolina.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Should the U.S. Government Subsidize Time Travel Research?


Okay, the way you hear many politicians going on about the United States budget on various news shows and whatnot, we really shouldn't be spending federal tax dollars on...well...anything.  But as we all know, no matter who's in executive or legislative power, we're still going to find a way to keep on spending no matter what.  We're Americans...We love to buy stuff. 

So presuming America finds another way to get its credit card limits raised again or cuts out something obviously useless like Medicare coverage or Social Security payments, should that new source of funds go toward time-travel research?  Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution ponders that very question, in an article titled Should we subsidize or tax research into time travel?  His reasoning:

I believe no one understands the underlying science much at all.  But there is some chance that the old science fiction movies are correct and that by time-traveling you alter the course of history, thereby obliterating the universe we used to have.  I'll count that as a net negative, while noting there is some chance we end up with a better universe.

On the plus side, the human race will die out anyway.  Time travel seems to yield a fairly safe haven.  As disaster approaches, keep going back in time a few days, or decades, and that asteroid will never hit you.  This is especially appealing if you are transporting back a body (upload?) which is programmed to be more or less immortal and you can take the technology with you, so as to keep on going back as time progresses.

On one side: immortal life for many of the last humans and thus immortality for the human race.  And with time they may learn how to thwart the asteriod.(sic)  On the other side: some probability of swapping universes.

There are certainly those issues of national security to consider.  After all, if time travel was possible, we could go back in time and prevent things like JFK's assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing, or the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center.  Not to mention it would be an effective deterrent against future aggressive actions against our country, which could be rewritten and erased in some sort of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey fashion.  If you thought that bombing someone with a nuclear weapon was effective at keeping them from invading you, imagine what preventing their leaders from being born could do.

Oh, and don't forget the economic advantages as well.  That 777-point drop of the Dow Jones market in September of 2008?  Prevented with a stock trading software patch.  Bernie Madoff's investment scandal?  Can't happen in Madoff gets hit by that car that missed him when he was sixteen.  Hell, funding time travel research will pay for itself in no time.

Okay, sure, there may some questions we need to answer.  Do we really want to give our government the ability to erase people from history?  Or change the historical outcomes of other nations?  Or alter the results of our own elections?  Or tell Sarah Palin not to do that interview with Katie Couric?  Definitely things that need proper consideration.

But think about one thing...If we don't start funding time travel research, what will happen to America if other countries start funding it themselves...?

(Cue the Doctor Who cliffhanger sting music)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No GHOSTBUSTERS III Without Bill Murray as Venkman


It seems that unless Bill Murray signs on, Ghostbusters III is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

An article posted on Deadline yesterday by Mike Fleming claims that returning director Ivan Reitman and Sony Pictures have no idea if Bill Murray is on board after receiving the proposed script.  If he doesn't sign on, the studio will reportedly not make the film.

Quoting an insider, Fleming adds, "The studio won't even think about forward on a $150 million film unless Bill has a closed deal and a commitment.  It's too huge a risk to do any meaningful prep, hoping he shows up."

Murray's Dr. Peter Venkman is easily the most popular Ghostbuster, so it's not hard to see the film not going forward if he passes on the project.  On the plus side, though, it sounds as if Sigourney Weaver is game for returning as Venkman's love interest, Dana Barrett.  In an interview last month for Entertainment Weekly, Weaver mentioned that Murray told her they were going to go ahead with Ghostbusters III, but that she wasn't sure about that.  She added, however, "But I’ve talked to Ivan Reitman.  He definitely wants to do it.  There was a script that was being rewritten as of about a year ago.  The one thing I said is that I’ll do it if Oscar, my little son, can be a Ghostbuster, and I think he liked that idea."

Ghostbusters: The Next Generation?  Make it so.

Friday, January 7, 2011

DOCTOR WHO's River Song Reveals Spoilers to Craig Ferguson


Craig Ferguson, host of CBS' The Late, Late Show, reached out again last night to what has to be a growing amount of viewers that are also Doctor Who fans by finally airing his now-legendary musical rendition of the Doctor Who theme that he was unable to show last November.  The cold open was to be featured as part of "Doctor Who Night," which featured an appearance by current Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, but was unable to be shown because rights to use the theme music had not been properly cleared with the BBC.  Thankfully, though, the cold open not-so-mysteriously leaked onto the Internets a couple of weeks later and received quite a bit of love from Whovians worldwide.

And as if that wasn't enough to make a Whovian's aunt giddy, there was also an appearance by none other than Alex Kingston, the actress who plays the enigmatic River Song...



Kingston was introduced with a great clip from the Doctor Who episode "The Big Bang," where River chides the Eleventh Doctor about wearing a fez and then, with the help of companion Amy Pond, proceeds to blast the fez out of existence with a energy pistol.  From there, Kingston and Ferguson bantered about such topics as Kingston's curly hair and a rather cheeky and flirtatious digression on Rampant Rabbits.

Eventually, the interview returned to Doctor Who, where Kingston mentioned that the production team have normally been able to work in secret away from prying Whovians, but ended up being found during the show's recent filming in Utah.  When asked about which Doctor she grew up, Kingston smiled and said she "loved Jon Pertwee," who portrayed the Third Doctor from 1970 to 1974.   She also managed to work in her "Spoilers" catchphrase into the conversation and confirmed that the upcoming Series Six will examine who River Song really is.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Someone Finally Tells Alan Moore to STFU


I wondered if this would ever happen...and it finally has.

In his latest "Where The Hell Am I?" column posted yesterday on Comic Book Resources, titled "The Year I Stopped Caring About Alan Moore," Scalped and Wolverine writer Jason Aaron says the words I've been wondering if someone in the comics community would ever have the stones to publicly say -- "Go fuck yourself, Alan Moore."

Over the past few years, Moore has been particularly cranky and disrespectful to the current crop of comics professionals, mostly because none of them (at least in his mind) have managed to produce a creative product that equals or even surpasses works such as his Watchmen series with Dave Gibbons.  In his CBR column, Aaron cites this interview of Moore on Bleeding Cool by Adi Tantimedh as a reason for dropping the big Fuck You bomb, particularly these quotes:

"When Dave Gibbons phoned me up, he assured me that these prequels and sequels would be handled by ‘the industry's top-flight talents'.  Now, I don't think that the contemporary industry actually has a ‘top-flight' of talent.  I don't think it's even got a middle-flight or a bottom-flight of talent…"

"At the end of the day, if they haven't got any properties that are valuable enough, but they have got these ‘top-flight industry creators' that are ready to produce these prequels and sequels to Watchmen, well this is probably a radical idea, but could they not get one of the ‘top-flight industry creators' to come up with an idea of their own?  Why are DC Comics trying to exploit a comic book that I wrote 25 years ago if they have got anything?  Sure they ought to have had an equivalent idea since?  I could ask about why Marvel Comics are churning out or planning to bring out my ancient Marvelman stories, which are even older, if they had a viable idea of their own in the quarter-century since I wrote those works.  I mean, surely that would be a much easier solution than all of this clandestine stuff?  Just simply get some of your top-flight talent to put out a book that the wider public outside of the comics field find as interesting or as appealing as the stuff that I wrote 25 years ago.  It shouldn't be too big an ask, should it?  I wouldn't have thought so.  And it would solve an awful lot of problems.  They must have one creator, surely, in the entire American industry that could do equivalent work to something I did 25 years ago.  It would be insulting to think that there weren't."

Now, I realize these are comics professionals and as such, most try to stay above these sorts of petty insults, but you would think someone with a modicum of testosterone would have stepped up long before now and called Moore on his arrogant smacktalk against their artistic creativity.  The thought of a legendary creator past his prime who intentionally avoids working in mainstream comics, whether justified or not, offering up derogatory opinions on today's creators working in the mainstream, seems inherently ridiculous.  As far as I'm concerned, What Was shouldn't be judging the validity of What Is, unless What Was actually makes an effort to contribute to What Is.

So good for you, Mr. Aaron, for standing up and having the guts to say what needed to be said.  It seems your column is already getting your peers to weigh in...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Doctor's Daughter--Errrrr, Fiancée

In what has to be the Worst Day Ever for David Tennant's smitten fans, British tabloid The Sun has announced that the 39-year-old former Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who has become engaged to girlfriend Georgia Moffett.

Moffett, 26, is the daughter of former Fifth Doctor Peter Davison (whom Tennant grew up watching on Doctor Who) and met Tennant while starring in the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Daughter," in which she played Jenny, a female offspring cloned from the Doctor's DNA.  If the marriage goes through as planned, this means that two former Doctors will officially become related to one another.

And perhaps most disturbingly, it also means the Doctor's daughter will become his wife.  You just have to wonder what Professor River Song thinks about that...

Monday, January 3, 2011

DAMN Good Movies -- My Top 10 Movies of 2010


Another year has ended, a new one just begun, so I thought I'd pass along a few random thoughts about my personal favorite films of 2010.  For those of you not familiar with my typical disclaimer, this list only contains films I actually managed to see in theaters, so if you don't see your favorite here, that's probably why.

1.  Inception -- It seems to have become somewhat fashionable to bash Inception now that some time has passed and various bloggers and message board posters want to show how smart they are by poking at plot holes in the story.  The thing is, though, this Christopher Nolan film is still the most impressive film to come out of 2010.  Regardless of flaws, no one managed to develop a fantastic new playground the way Nolan did, incorporating elements from such films as The Matrix and On Her Majesty's Secret Service to stunning effect.  Say what you want, Internet, but this is the movie that deserves Best Picture come Oscar time.

2.  True Grit -- At long last, someone finally came along and justified the reason for remaking older films, which unfortunately means that we'll probably see a lot more of them now instead of coming up with something new.  Ethan and Joel Coen directed a superb film here and actually created a remake that was better than the original starring John Wayne.  Jeff Bridges turns in another great performance as Wayne's Rooster Cogburn character, but the true star of this film has to be newcomer Hailee Steinfeld.  Don't be surprised if she at least lands a Best Actress nomination.

3.  How to Train Your Dragon -- One of the biggest surprises of the year, this terrific DreamWorks animated film blew its competitors away and should be a lock of Best Animated Film unless excessive sentimentality for Toy Story kicks in come voting time.  The idea of dragon-fighting Vikings with Scottish voices sounds ridiculous, but Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson sell the concept so brilliantly and naturally.  Some wonderfully directed sequences and great character design, especially with Toothless, make this one a classic that will be long remembered.

4.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World -- Yeah, it was another Michael Cera movie with Michael Cera stretching as an actor to be...Michael Cera once again.  The difference is, though, that a mad genius like Edgar Wright directed this quirky movie and made it something more than just an offbeat independent film.  There's a real love for the generation that grew up playing Nintendo videogames with their 8 bit soundtracks that shines through and superhero actors like Chris Evans and Brandon Routh embracing the cheest villainy of their Evil Ex characters just make this a fun movie to watch.

5.  Toy Story 3 -- Although this is arguably the weakest of the trilogy ("The Toy Story Trilogy...weird), it still packs a hell of a punch for sentimentalists.  Seeing grown-up Andy handing off Woody, Buzz and the other toys to the next generation rips right at the heartstrings, the way Disney films used to do once upon a time.  This film could easily have been phoned in to make $200 million in box office, but thankfully Pixar makes a considerable effort to have the toys go out with an ending they truly deserve.

6.  Tron: Legacy -- I have no way to prove it, but I'm pretty sure this movie was made especially for me and me alone.  Sure, there are other fans of the original Tron from 1982, but how many of them imagined a direct 28-year sequel that actually included Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner as their original characters?  Still, I have trouble understanding why Disney made this film rely so heavily on the original without re-releasing the original back into theaters or on a new Blu-Ray release to get Tron N00bs up to speed.  If nothing else, though, it was all worth it just for Daft Punk's crack-addictive soundtrack.

7.  Iron Man 2 -- Ah, what could have been.  After Robert Downey, Jr. blew fanboys away with his portrayal of Tony Stark in the first film, hopes were understandably high for the sequel.  Sadly, Drunk Iron Man was as uncomfortable to watch here as Drunk Superman was in Superman III and the lively pacing from the first film was sorely missed from the second.  Director Jon Favreau recently announced that he won't be directing the third film, which I'm thinking is probably a good thing at this point.

8.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 -- Camping, camping, camping, camping, camping, camping.  The really sad thing is, this film adaptation is actually an inprovement on the first half of the final book.  Some great scenes here and there, but they're spread too far apart to make the film work like it should.  Fingers crossed for Part 2, though, which could potentially end up redeeming films six and seven and salvage the overall film saga.

9.  Alice in Wonderland -- Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland certainly sound like a match made in creative heaven and thankfully, Burton mostly comes through.  Unfortunately, he produces something that desperately wants to be Lewis Carroll but isn't, although the results are no less interesting.  He does manage, though, to find a future star in Mia Wasikowska and traditional Burton composer Danny Elfman turns in one of his best scores in ages.

10.  Kick-Ass -- Ranking up there with Scott Pilgrim in terms of sheer fun, the adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr's comics series Kick-Ass also improves on the original source material.  Even months later, it holds up well on rewatching and will probably be considered a cult classic somewhere down the line.  Nicolas Cage was stellar channeling a disturbed Adam West as Big Daddy, but the real heart of the movie has to be Chloe Moretz stealing every scene she's in as Hit-Girl.