SEE Argo, the terrific film adaptation of the true story behind a daring rescue of six Americans during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980.  It’s easy to see how this film, which perfectly blends action, suspense and humor, was awarded Best Picture.  The attention to historic detail is equally impressive, and you really have to wonder how Ben Affleck didn’t get at least nominated for Best Director having guided such a beautiful project to conclusion.

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Argo, Ben Affleck
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SEE Skyfall, the outstanding latest film in the James Bond franchise.  Driven by powerfully personal performances by Daniel Craig and the incomparable Judi Dench, Skyfall serves as both homage to classic Bond and a continuation of the remarkably relevant update of the classic spy hero.  With Javier Bardem creating a memorable villain, and superior supporting performances from Naomi Harris and Ben Whishaw, Bond has NEVER been surrounded by so much talent.  Everything about this film, from Adele’s Oscar-worthy theme song to Thomas Newman’s percussive take on the Bond score, is first rate.

SKIP Red Dawn, the pointless reboot of the ‘80s cult classic about a group of high school age freedom fighters who mount an armed resistance to the land based invasion of America.  The update has none of the gritty underdog charm of the original, and instead relies on a Transformers-like endless series of random shooting and explosions.  The only thing worse than the random shooting and explosions is when they stop for a few minutes and the characters speak.  Skip this worthless piece of shit and go rewatch the original instead.

SEE Wreck It Ralph, the very charming animated film that features great vocal performances from John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch.  While the idea of video game characters come to life borrows a bit from Toy Story, there are certainly worse places to mine for inspiration and the resulting picture is funny, exciting and heartwarming with plenty of video game homages to pick up on.  A great family film.

SKIP Alex Cross.  Remember what you thought when you heard Tyler Perry was replacing the great Morgan Freeman as this character?  You were right.  OK, to be fair, Perry isn’t awful, but the film is, and without Freeman’s tremendous gravitas, it’s almost as if the filmmakers were afraid to try to make a serious mystery crime thriller, opting instead of a much-too-action heavy cops and killers flick.  Swing and a miss.