<p>Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio celebrate the fact that they made a truly stupendous Martin Scorsese movie, and well they should.</p>

Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio celebrate the fact that they made a truly stupendous Martin Scorsese movie, and well they should.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Top Ten Films of 2013: Outer space, financial foul play, and broken hearts

From microbudgets to megablockbusters, we've had a great year of movies

One of the things I've come to expect in the fifteen years I've been making top ten lists online is that every year, someone will argue with me about what it actually means to pick ten films to represent a year. Are these the "best" films of the year? Are they my "favorite" films of the year? Is there a difference between the two things as far as I'm concerned? Should there be? What movies qualify? What movies don't?

Since we've introduced letter grades here on HitFix, it also introduces the variable that people believe any film I give the highest rating automatically has a place on my personal end of the year list. I disagree, and the reasons I disagree probably say a lot about the way I view the discussion of film in general. A letter grade is, to my mind, a way of saying how well it feels like the film accomplished its particular goals. But there are times I might find that over the course a year, a B+ film becomes something that I watch repeatedly, that connects for me on all sorts of personal levels, and so that film ends up in my top ten, while a beautifully executed film that impresses me across the board might slide further down just because it's not something I find myself revisiting, no matter how well it works. The end of the year is not about me telling you, authoritatively, that there are only ten films that we are allowed to treat with respect and any argument is wrong. That's ridiculous. This is a time to share thoughts on the things we love, the things that matter to us about movies, and if you get upset about my list, then I would suggest you are reading into it a purpose that simply isn't there.

Read Full Post
<p>Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel seem just as surprised as we were at how many times the world ended on the list of the ten runners-up for our favorite films of 2013.</p>

Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel seem just as surprised as we were at how many times the world ended on the list of the ten runners-up for our favorite films of 2013.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Scarlett Johansson, Superman, and three different ends of the world in our Runners-up for 2013

We 're exhausted from looking back, and we're only halfway through

Tomorrow night, I'll be posting my final top ten list for 2013. I've seen somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 new films this year, both theatrical releases and festival screenings, and picking ten that represent the full breadth of that year is flat-out impossible.

Even pushing the list out to 20 is incredibly difficult. Every single film on this list is a film that made my year better, more interesting, more entertaining, more surreal, or more hilarious. These are ten films that I would be proud to have on the top ten list, and that could easily have landed there in another year. And if pushed, I could come up with another ten on top of these two that were also equally good, including movies like Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim," which is already in heavy rotation in my house thanks to the way my kids watch and rewatch the things they love the most, or movies like David O. Russell's "American Hustle," which I thought was beautifully performed and wickedly funny, or even films like Shane Caruth's ferociously independent vision "Upstream Color," a brain-bending game that turns out to be deeply emotional.

Read Full Post
<p>Will Ferrell and David Koechner both chose the same hero, so I&nbsp;think that means they're going to have to fight to the death now.</p>

Will Ferrell and David Koechner both chose the same hero, so I think that means they're going to have to fight to the death now.

Credit: HitFix

We ask the cast of 'Anchorman 2' to decide which Avenger each of them would be

Guess who picked the Black Widow

This past weekend, I went to New York to sit down with the entire ensemble cast of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," which seems fitting. I've had a long history not only with all the various players like Will Ferrell, David Koechner, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd, but also with "Anchorman" itself.

The first time I wrote about it, it wasn't even in production yet. It was a script that was in turnaround, and Dreamworks was trying to get rid of it, something that still confounds me now. You can read my set visit report for the first film from a full decade ago, and one of my favorite interviews I ran at Ain't It Cool was with Adam McKay, Ferrell, and Koechner in a room together. It was pure chaos, and I loved it.

When we sat down this time, there was a feeling of celebration. After all, the first film almost didn't happen, and now here they all are a decade later making a highly-anticipated sequel. It's got to be a great feeling, and I just wanted to play a little instead of digging for scoops or trying to get something deep out of them.

Read Full Post
<p>Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner all return for 'Anchorman 2:&nbsp;The Legend Continues'</p>

Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner all return for 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: 'Anchorman 2' actually smuggles in some smart satire amidst all the silly

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
The long-rumored sequel takes a hard look at the face of modern news

Adam McKay might be one of the strangest guys making mainstream comedy right now, and one of the things that I dearly love about his work is that the more success he has, the weirder he allows himself to be. He and Will Ferrell have built a lovely filmography out of making a series of films together that seem to be divorcing themselves more completely from reality each time out.

As a result, when you look at "Anchorman" next to "Anchorman 2," you can see that there's been an evolution between the two, and how you feel about the film is going to depend largely on how you feel about a movie that doesn't seem terribly interested in any sort of traditional structure and that resolutely refuses to take anything seriously. Even when it seems like the movie is starting to tip into some weird maudlin territory regarding the relationship between Ron (Ferrell) and his young son Walter, it's all just a chance to rip on the Hollywood cliche of making comedies about how every working father is neglectful and stupid, especially ones that work hard at their jobs.

Read Full Post
<p>Shia LaBeouf may have shot his own directorial ambitions in the foot today. At least he's in a Lars Von Trier film. Maybe they can compare notes on career suicide.</p>

Shia LaBeouf may have shot his own directorial ambitions in the foot today. At least he's in a Lars Von Trier film. Maybe they can compare notes on career suicide.

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Shia LaBeouf pulls short film from Internet after charges of plagiarism emerge

The sad thing is he may have had a point

What was he thinking?

That is the one question I'm going to want answered with Shia LaBeouf finally makes some sort of comment on the bizarre story that's been unfolding today. If you haven't been following it, the day began with people linking to a short film that originally played at the Cannes Film Festival this past May. I guess no one who was at Cannes is a Daniel Clowes fan, though, because there was nary a whisper afterwards about any sort of issues that there might be with the film that Shia made.

Now, though, thanks to the fact that plagiarism is nearly impossible to get away with in the age of the Internet, in less than 24 hours, LaBeouf has had to lock the film behind a password because the connection was instantly made between his film, "HowardCantour.com," and a comic by Clowes, best known as the creator of "Ghost World," called "Justin M. Damiano." I really like Clowes, but I'm no authority on his work. Still, when BuzzFeed ran the short film past Clowes today, they did it because they were surprised he wasn't credited on the film. What seemed like an odd oversight at first became something more when Clowes replied.

Read Full Post
<p>Seen here in 'Hesher,' Gordon-Levitt seems pretty much ideal to bring Gaiman's iconic lead character to life.</p>

Seen here in 'Hesher,' Gordon-Levitt seems pretty much ideal to bring Gaiman's iconic lead character to life.

Credit: Newmarket Films

Joseph Gordon-Levitt set to dream up Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' with David Goyer

This just got reeeeeeeeeeally interesting

"Sandman" is heading to theaters with Joseph Gordon-Levitt producing, directing and starring in the film, and with David Goyer co-producing, in a story that was first reported in November and then seemingly confirmed according to a report just published, and if that actually happens, it's going to be a really interesting ending to a long and difficult development process for Neil Gaiman's landmark comic series.

The first time I met Neil Gaiman was to discuss his work writing the English-language script for "Princess Mononoke," but most of our conversation was about "Sandman" and the long, ugly string of near-misses that happened on the film. When I was at Ain't It Cool, I wrote a piece about Bill Farmer's adaptation that was in development at that point, and I consider it a bullet dodged that the studio didn't end up making it. That piece got Neil's attention, and he told me how skeptical he was that anyone was going to be able to crack it as a movie.

Read Full Post
<p>Reunited, and it feels so good.</p>

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum get a handful of trouble in red-band '22 Jump Street' trailer

Can the sequel surprise audiences like the first film did?

One of the things that made "21 Jump Street" such a pleasant surprise as a movie was the way everyone bet against it the moment it was announced. After all, it's not like the show was a beloved classic. Under the creative guidance of Chris Miller and Phil Lord, though, it became something much stranger and funnier than anyone could have guessed.

Now they've got to beat the sequel curse. Comedies especially seem to have a terrible time with sequels, and I think part of that is because we laugh at things that we don't see coming. Surprise is certainly part of the equation when it comes to what makes audiences laugh, and with a sequel, that gets exponentially harder, especially if you bring back things from the first film that worked. The script for "22 Jump Street," though, is a very clever riff on sequels in much the same way that the first film was a riff on the idea of rebooting old TV shows, and you can hear a little bit of that from Nick Offerman in the first red-band trailer for the film, which just went up this morning.

Read Full Post
<p>Surprisingly, Thorin actually smiles like this once in 'The Hobbit:&nbsp;The Desolation Of Smaug'</p>

Surprisingly, Thorin actually smiles like this once in 'The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug'

Credit: HitFix

Richard Armitage discusses the rising darkness in Thorin for 'Desolation of Smaug'

The dwarf who would be king is struggling these days

Here's something I like about Richard Armitage: I don't get any sense that he has any interest in or illusions about being a movie star.

Instead, like most of the people Peter Jackson casts in his "Lord Of The Rings" films, Armitage strikes me as a character actor who doesn't mind vanishing into the make-up he wears as Thorin Oakenshield. My kids are huge fans of both of the "Hobbit" movies so far, and if they ended up in the same elevator with Armitage, they'd never know it was him. The transformation is that complete.

This is my second time chatting with him about the series, and what struck me this time is how much Thorin is already teetering on losing his battle with the rising darkness within him. Unlike Bilbo, who is battling the influence of the One Ring that he found, Thorin's darkness is completely generated from within. There is a madness that seems to set in around the vast mountains of money waiting for him in Erebor, and the closer Thorin gets to fulfilling what he sees as his destiny, the more he seems willing to do anything to anyone to make it happen.

Read Full Post
<p>Will War Machine take Iron Man's place in 'Avengers:&nbsp;Age Of Ultron,' or will he play some other role in the upcoming mega-sequel?</p>

Will War Machine take Iron Man's place in 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' or will he play some other role in the upcoming mega-sequel?

Credit: Marvel Studios

CONFIRMED: Don Cheadle will suit up again as War Machine for 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron'

Will this be his final time wearing the armor?

It seems weird to me to think that "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" is getting ready to shoot, but of course it is. After all, they plan to be in theaters for the summer of 2015, and if they shoot this spring, they'll have about a year of post-production to bring the gargantuan production to life.

And trust me… this one's going to make the first film look like "Stranger Than Paradise" by comparison.

As we enter this home stretch, there will be some big announcements coming about cast, and I'm curious to see how well the film protects some of its biggest secrets. Bleeding Cool reported a rumor today that Rhodey (Don Cheadle) will play a part in the film, and HitFix can confirm that Col. Rhodes, aka War Machine, has a key role in the conflict with Ultron that is the main focus of the sequel.

Read Full Post
<p>Martin Freeman may be playing a darker version of Bilbo than we're used to, but he was in good spirits when we sat down to discuss 'The Hobbit:&nbsp;The&nbsp;Desolation Of Smaug'</p>

Martin Freeman may be playing a darker version of Bilbo than we're used to, but he was in good spirits when we sat down to discuss 'The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug'

Credit: HitFix

Martin Freeman talks about being a more capable Bilbo in 'The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug'

Our second go-round with Bilbo deals with the way he's evolving

There have been several reviews for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" that criticize the film because they feel like Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins gets lost in the film.

While I'm not sure I agree, I can see why that would frustrate. After all, Bilbo is the Hobbit that the title refers to, and ultimately, this is him telling the story of his adventures in book form. It definitely makes the structure of the film tricker, because there are so many things that happen in these films that Bilbo is not present to witness that you have to wonder when he finally heard all of these details and how he remembered all of them so vividly to write them down.

What I like about Freeman's take on Bilbo is that it really isn't what I expected. After all, when Freeman played Arthur Dent in "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy," he played him as the complaining, vaguely incompetent Arthur that we all know and love. With Bilbo, though, there's a very different character emerging over the course of the films than what I expected.

Read Full Post