Stan Voit: Many movies stand out on my ‘best’ list

Jan. 28, 2013 @ 12:01 AM

I don’t go to the movies very often, and when I do I am selective about it. I am not a snob about films. I just figure if I am going to go, I want it to be to see something of quality, not “Texas Chainsaw 3D” or the “Twilight” saga.

I always try to see the likely best-picture nominees for the Academy Awards. I read reviews of the movies, especially those of Roger Ebert, the best film critic around. I do not always agree with his assessments, but he examines a movie and breaks it down better than anybody. Even if I see one he liked and I don’t, I still can find and appreciate the reason he may have given it a high rating.

This is all by way of saying that as we approach the Oscars coming up in February, I have seen just about all the ones with the most nominations. I have seen the obscure ones, the popular ones, the ones that came and went quickly. I saw one I was sure would be recognized but wasn’t.

So what’s my favorite? Hard to say. Here are the ones I particularly liked and recommend you catch either in theaters or when they are released for pay per view or DVD.

• “Life of Pi”: What a wonderful movie. We saw it in 3-D which is very effective. It’s a fantasy about a teenager marooned on a boat with a tiger and their co-existence over the seas until he is rescued. It is a spiritual film, a moving story. It’s rated PG and I think would be wonderful viewing for kids of all ages. They’ll marvel at the special effects and the story. You will too.

• “Silver Linings Playbook”: I saw this one by myself and liked it so much I took Bonnie and saw it again. It is the best acted movie of the year. It’s funny, witty, full of sharp dialogue and family drama. Nothing excites me more than great writing, whether in a news story, a book, or on screen. This is great writing.

• “Beasts of the Southern Wild”: A low-budget sleeper made with unknown actors in Louisiana. A great story of simple people battling an oncoming storm, while a father who’s dying makes sure his 5-year-old daughter understands what it takes to survive. It’s showing at Downtown West in Knoxville, a great movie theater. Thanks, Regal, for keeping this theater open and specializing in small, quirkly, offbeat and quiet movies that don’t necessarily appeal to wide audiences.

• “Zero Dark Thirty”: The 21⁄2 hour film about the killing of bin Laden, the first two-thirds consumed with how they found him, the final third with the raid on the house where they got him. It’s not a documentary, so how true it is in the storytelling is irrelevant. This is gripping work, and it’ll keep you riveted to the screen. See it.

• “Les Miserables”: Wonderful. The music stays with you for days — weeks — after you see it. Don’t like musicals? I understand. But you’ll like this. Guarantee it. It’s a story easy to follow, and the music is overwhelmingly and haunting. Older kids will like it as well.

• “Argo”: Good, but not my favorite of the nominees. Ben Affleck took too many liberties with the real story, and that spoiled it for me. The Iranians chasing the plane down the runway while the hostages escape — over the top. Still, good acting and worth seeing.

• “Lincoln”: My favorite of the ones I saw. Great writing, which is always paramount for me. Marvelous acting. Historically accurate — or at least close to it. Nobody today has ever heard Lincoln’s voice. It’s not recorded. Daniel Day-Lewis surely comes close to it. This is how movies should be made.

I was disappointed that “Bernie”didn’t get recognized. This was a great movie, based on a story story of a Texas funeral home worker who befriends and kills a rich widow. Jack Black is funny and sympathetic and deserved a nomination. It’s out on DVD now. Rent it and see if I’m right.

Guilty pleasure? “Skyfall,” the James Bond movie. What a lot of fun and excitement. I enjoyed it from start to finish.

I an so glad to have the Pigeon Forge movie theater as an option. It saves trips to Knoxville. I wish it booked more of the good movies instead of the shlocky ones. Still, when it does have one I want to see, that’s where I head.

— Stan Voit is editor of The Mountain Press. Call him at 428-0748, ext.,217, or email to