Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Widerspread at the Filmore

Widespread Panic – The Fillmore - Silver Spring, MD 1/25/12

By Greg Maniha

I confess. January 25th of 2012 marked the first time I have ever seen Widespread Panic. I know, I know, let the browbeating begin, but before you start, please understand this has never been the intention. As a lifelong deadhead with 100 shows under my belt, I have wanted to see this band for a very long time now. Sometimes, one can be a music historian that lives for hearing every note and witnessing every moment they can so long as life doesn’t get in the way. Somehow, life just got in the way of my desire to see Widespread Panic. I never had much of a chance to absorb their recorded output, but the live “Light Fuse, Get Away,” “Till The Medicine Takes,” and “Don’t Tell The Band” were always welcome additions to my collection. I was in love with their take on the punk rock Grateful Dead staple, “Cream Puff War” upon first listen. Indeed, it has always made perfect sense for me to see this band in action, but they just ended up on that list of “maybe one day I’ll get a chance” bands. On January 25th, 2012 in Silver Spring, Maryland, that chance finally came in the form of the first ever all acoustic Widespread Panic “Wood” tour.

The presence of the Wood tour is, to put it mildly, unorthodox. Less than a month ago, Widespread Panic rang in the last night of their 25th year. Taking the stage on New Years Eve in North Carolina surrounded by the unique soundscape that defines them, 2012 was already pre-determined as the year of the hiatus. This is a word Panic fans do not wish to hear. The very thought of a 25 year touring outfit that has experienced success and tragedy while building one of the most loyal fanbases rock and roll has seen since The Grateful Dead taking such a thing as a hiatus is not a desired direction for the ones that love you the most, but in true Panic fashion, one more tour, even a stripped down micro 11 show tour such as the Wood tour, needed to take place.

Widespread Panic is that rare anomaly that takes every note of every composition from the first bar to the last pitch and transforms it into something unlike anything else. From the first wave of modern day jambands Widespread Panic participated in creating to the veteran statesman of the genre they remain a part of today, you will never find another band with this sound. To categorize their music as southern rock, blues, folk rock, hard rock, or a combination of the above is a fruitless effort. During this slow and graceful 25-year ascent into the jamband elder’s council, it’s the individual sound that has earned them perhaps the most generationally diverse lifelong audience. Both Phish and the Dave Matthews Band are touring juggernauts that command immense respect for their loyal audiences, but their audiences have grown with them rather than becoming them. Wayward deadheads and Allman Brothers Band fans didn’t necessarily gravitate towards Phish or DMB once they lost their musical and spiritual leader in Jerry Garcia. They were either supporters or detractors. When the community at large arbitrarily bestowed Phish as the torch carriers for his loss, the reaction was, for the most part, cool and standoffish. It was that unassuming steady buildup of Widespread Panic that ultimately won the hearts and minds of deadheads from all generations. Grateful Dead fans from the early days to the last days found an antidote for their aching soul in Widespread Panic, and they’re staying around for the duration. To be sure, Widespread Panic has much in common with the Grateful Dead, but they remain their own outfit. Like the Grateful Dead, they are one of the greatest cover bands ever assembled, but once again, this doesn’t define them. Both Widespread Panic and The Grateful Dead have the gift of turning every cover song into an original without intention. They are fans of American Music and intend to pay tribute to that which they love the most, but as an unintended side effect, their tribute becomes a piece of the signature identity. Among many artists across the spectrum of American music, Widespread Panic has covered the Grateful Dead from their origins to the present time but the only way you would ever know is familiarity with the original composition. It’s a Grateful Dead composition, but you’re hearing the Widespread Panic interpretation. From the widest range of tribute material to the formless improvisations that represent their on stage communication, Widespread Panic commands tremendous influence within the genre created over twenty years prior to their formation. The embrace and blessing from the ones that paved the way for them to help define it as a genre only adds depth to that influence.

Onstage at the Fillmore Silver Spring, the stage setup resembles a southern back porch more than a concert. The furniture alone looks older than the band and audience alike. The appearance of amplification is present but with minimal appearance. It almost seems as if the intention is to create a calming effect on the truly excited and well-travelled audience that shows no signs of remaining calm once the band takes the stage. Despite the best efforts of Widespread Panic, the Wood tour has begun with the energy of a rock and roll event.

When Vocalist and Guitarist John Bell finally took the stage armed with his mandolin, the enthusiasm deafens his introduction. Many have waited for the tour few will attend and nothing is going to minimize the joy of the lucky few. The overall theme of the performance was the combination of that back porch jam complete with western saloon piano, a campfire gathering, and a jam spectacular with a rock and roll heart. It’s clear upon the opening notes of “Ain’t Life Grand” that this acoustic performance will be a rebellious spike in your drink and a new incarnation of Widespread Panic. “Blue Indian” had John Bell switching to guitar as bassist Dave Schools effortlessly provided the backbone with a smile. Guitarist Jimmy Herring has never played acoustic with Widespread Panic prior to this tour, but he couldn’t sound more at home as he took the lead with his virtuoso abilities. “Coach” gave us the lead vocals of drummer Todd Nance along with the continued back porch session theme while the JJ Cale composed “Ride Me High” brought keyboardist John “Jo-Jo” Herman into the lead vocal spotlight with a jamrock psychedelic extravaganza. Unplugged or not, the improvisation and dance took center stage by this point. “Ride Me High” transitioned into mellow rocker “C Brown” complete with a delightfully tacky 70s light show that briefly changed the shirt of Dave Schools into an over the top pattern explosion complete with giant collar. This is what 70s mellow rock should have sounded like when it first surfaced on the American landscape. The campfire gathering resurfaced with “Old Joe” while the psychedelic ambience returned with the combination of “Party At Your Mamas House” and “Stop Breaking Down Blues.” “Jack” served as a sensual slow burn that channeled the spirit of gone but not forgotten guitarist Michael Houser while the Rolling Stones influenced “Makes Sense To Me” showcased the low thump of Dave Schools accompanied by the percussion of Domingo S. Oritz before building up to a melodic piano lead by Jo-Jo. We’re now halfway through the entire Silver Spring run with one more set to go before it’s a piece of history.

The opening of the second set continued the slow burn with blues driven “Let’s Get This Show On The Road.” This transitioned into the percussion centered slow train rhythm of “Shut Up And Drive” complete with Farfisa solo by Jo-Jo. “Tickle The Truth” conjured up a minor key dominated flamenco lead by Jimmy Herring held together by a crowd-pleasing Dave Schools moment to cherish. The somber minor keys were replaced by the upbeat “True To My Nature” that held on to the moment through a “Space Wrangler” which appeared to be the drinking anthem for the night in the eyes of the audience. The most emotional moment of the evening surfaced with the classic Neil Young penned “Don’t Be Denied.” The entire audience hung on to every lyric as John Bell told the original story about a boy who’s father walked out on him, faced school bullying alone, found a kindred spirit in music, and became a legend. It’s a story so many musicians can tell and Widespread Panic conveyed it as beautifully as one could ever expect. After the crowd favorite “Airplane,” came the debut of the John Lennon anthem “The Ballad Of John and Yoko” followed by the combination of “Mercy” and the set closing “Imitation Leather Shoes.” The triple encore block began with “Trouble” before returning to the legendary Neil Young featuring a sweet slide solo by John Bell with “Are You Ready For The Country?” Finally, the evening capped on a note of high energy with the up-tempo blues of the Jerry Joseph penned “Climb To Safety.”

Part back porch jam, part campfire gathering, and part psychedelic embrace, Widespread Panic delivered enough heart and soul to endure even a yearlong hiatus. The next task is to actually attempt to endure it, and 2013 cannot surface fast enough.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Guns N' Roses announce NYC club dates.

You may be able to count the people who liked Chinese Democracy one hand, but it would still be a pretty cool thing to see Axl and whoever he brings along in a club setting. This press releases just hit the internet. thought i'd share.

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 30, 2012) – Seminal rock icons, Guns N’ Roses, are set to invade New York during fashion week with a series of intimate shows then continue with additional stops through the northeast, announced today. Six shows confirmed so far including the historic return to The Ritz (now Webster Hall), 24 years after the filming of their heralded “Live At The Ritz” – the MTV concert continues to be one of the most sought after trades in bootleg circles. For the Webster Hall date, GN’R will celebrate their return by reclaiming the venue as The Ritz with signage and the name appearing on the marquee. The New York takeover in February marks the first time the band will appear at Roseland and Terminal 5, beginning on February 10, 2012. Full list of dates below.

Ticket presale on Tuesday, January 31 at 10:00am ET for the NY run, public on-sale is Wednesday, February 1. Chicago, Silver Spring and Atlantic City presale is Wednesday, February 1 at 10:00am EST, with public on-sale Friday, February 3. Tickets and VIP packages for all six dates will be available at gunsnroses.com.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 oscar nominations

Best Picture

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Best Actor

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Best Actress

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best Original Screenplay

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

Best Adapted Screenplay

Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, and Nat Faxon, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, Moneyball
Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best Animated Film

A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

Best Foreign Language Film

Bullhead (Belgium)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)

Best Cinematography

The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Art Direction

The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
War Horse

Costume Design

The Artist
Jane Eyre

Documentary Feature

Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Documentary Short

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Film Editing

The Artist, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Kevin Tent
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker
Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen


Albert Nobbs, Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston, and Matthew W. Mungle
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk, and Yolanda Toussieng
The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)

The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams

Music (Original Song)
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from Rio, Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, and Siedah Garrett

Short Film (Animated)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

Short Film (Live Action)

The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

Sound Editing

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Sound Mixing

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Friday, January 20, 2012

UPCOMING RELEASE: Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball (Columbia)

Out March 6th in the U.S., named after the song he wrote eulogizing the demolition of the original Giants Stadium during his multi-night farewell stand at the sorely missed East Rutherford mecca. Its produced by the guy who brought us Candlebox, but don't let that quash your excitement for the Boss's return upon the tragic loss of Clarence Clemons. It sounds like a pretty cool record, with members of the E Street Band, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and famed alt-rock journeyman drummer Matt Chamberlain guesting. -Ed.

01 We Take Care of Our Own
02 Easy Money
03 Shackled and Down
04 Jack of All Trades
05 Death to My Hometown
06 This Depression
07 Wrecking Ball
08 You’ve Got It
09 Rocky Ground
10 Land of Hope and Dreams
11 We Are Alive
12 Swallowed Up (Bonus Track)
13 American Land (Bonus Track)

First single "We Take Care Of Our Own"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

brad's top 5 villains

let's face it, any action, superhero, sci fi, etc movie is only as good at its villains. If your protagonist isn't charismatic or threading enough the story will not click. The real trick to a good villain though, is getting your audience to like them.. just a little. these are 5 of the villains i love to hate.

5) Hans Gruber from Die Hard

Ruthless, charming funny and whip smart, alan rickman's Hnas Gruber in the first Die Hard movie is everything most james bond villains want to be but aren't. his punchy one liners and sense of aggravation are what i really dig. I still love it when he says "you asked for a miracle, i give you the F.B.I"

4) Boba Fett from Star Wars

Boba may have gone out like punk, but their was something mysterious and creepy about him that drew me and thousands of other fans to the character. his mercenary ways were the perfect foil to han solo's smuggler and he seemed more of a rebel than Darth Vader... Simply put he was cool and looked cool doing it.

3) Herr Starr from the Preacher comic

it's hard not to feel a little sorry for our german friend after seeing what he goes through over the course of the series, but all that he endures never distracts his resolve. You kind of root for him after a while. it's one of the reasons why i love Preacher so much. The bad guys are the underdogs.

2) The Governor from the Walking Dead comic

The governor is a character of such evil and viscousness you can't help to want to see what he will do next. When this character finally makes it to the tv show, it has the potential to change tv. it could be that iconic of a performance. Experiencing a character like this is fun in fiction, if you met one in real life you'd' be absolutely terrified.

1) The Joker from Dark Knight

I have always loved Jack Nicholson's Joker, but it was Heath Ledger that truly owns the character now. It is a shame we only had one movie with him as the joker. I would love to have seen where he went next. heath really tapped into something primal in the human psyche. There is part of us that wishes we could be just as brazen and chaotic. we can live vicariously here and none gets hurt. one of the saddest lines in film is when the joker says to batman "you and I are going to be doing this forever" because we will never get see what might have been.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Widespread Panic "Wood" tour begins

The Widespread Panic “Wood” tour begins.

Let’s start with the good news. 2011 brought along with it the 25th anniversary of jamband pioneers Widespread Panic. Indeed, the jamband genre as we know it today is in no small part the result of Widespread Panic paving the way. It goes without saying that The Grateful Dead are perhaps the undisputed kings of this decades old laboratory experiment, but the first modern day jamband soldiers such as Widespread Panic, Phish, Aquarium Rescue Unit, and Blues Traveler (just to name a few) didn’t exactly start after the Grateful Dead lost Jerry Garcia and called it a day. These bands were already thriving as the Grateful Dead touring juggernaut was still in full swing and sharing the same audience in many cases. Now, one of the modern day pioneers has 25 years under their belt with no signs of slowing down even in the wake of the painful loss of founding member and guitar artisan Michael Houser. With Aquarium Rescue Unit veteran and jamband guitar god Jimmy Herring carrying the torch for Michael, Widespread Panic continues their unstoppable live creativity. Of course, the bad news is that 2012 is going to be the year of the hiatus for Widespread Panic. If you’re one that lives for the next Panic gathering, wherever it may be, this is certainly not what one would call happy news, that being said, they’re not quite done for the year just yet.

Before the 2012 hiatus begins, Widespread Panic will embark on the 11 date, 4 city “Wood” tour. If you don’t already have tickets, good luck. This is a tough ticket to acquire. After 25 years of activity, Widespread Panic will hit the road for their first acoustic performances. One can only imagine the now familiar electric material re-imagined in a stripped down intimate acoustic format. Many will be travelling from across the continent to the opening show at the new Fillmore Auditorium in Silver Spring, MD for the start of this mini tour. If you don’t have tickets for any of the sold out Wood tour shows and have a nice travel budget, you can always head to Mexico for the only scheduled electric shows in 2012. Sandwiched between the Atlanta and Denver shows is the 4 night Panic En La Playa on the Mayan Riviera in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Similar to the Wood tour as their acoustic debut, Panic En La Playa will be the Mexico debut for Widespread Panic. Whether you’re attending the Wood tour or the Panic En La Playa, 2012 is an exciting time to be a Widespread Panic fan even in the face of a long hiatus. The Wood tour begins on January 24th, 2012.

1/24-25/12 – The Fillmore – Silver Spring, MD
1/27-29/12 – The Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA
1/31/12-2/3/12 – Panic En La Playa – Puerto Morelos, Mexico
2/10-12/12 – The Fillmore – Denver, CO
2/17-19/12 – Belly Up – Aspen, CO

By Greg Maniha

Monday, January 9, 2012

what i'd like to see (it's hard not to be cynical)

as polarized as america has become politically, there is one thing those from both side of the isle can agree on. It's hard not to be cynical. Liberals are are disillusioned with obama, and conservatives are still trying to come to grips with bush's excessive spending and the crumbling of the economy under a system they have to defend. As we enter another election year you will hear time and time again from both sides how important this election is. every election for the past 20 years has been billed as "the most important EVER!!!!", and that is true to, a point, because every election has the potential to effect the future. But the time has come to not rely on politicians or the free market to save us. Instead we need to dig with in ourselves to return to common sense. This is what i'd like to see from both parties.


1) Unite - stop bickering over little things and see the big picture. In the war over public opinion numbers count and you can accomplish more as a united front then you can as segmented groups.

2) Lay off Obama (just a little) - He's not perfect by any means, but you have to respect the mess he inherited. how anyone would want to com into such a mess is beyond me and i respect him for taking up the job. the anger you direct at obama would be better served aimed at the power structure that keeps his hands tied.

3) Grow some balls already! - when will the democrats realize they could win the battle for the hearts and minds of America if they fought harder and took more risks? America doesn't like weak politicians, so throw down and kick up some dust.


1) Stop appealing to the lesser angels of your base - it's time to take a hard look in the mirror and accept that trying to win over racists, bigots and religious zealots does a disservice to the well meaning, more moderate joe six packs out there who actually do have their hearts in the right place. Guys, get rid of the wackos. You know it's time.

2) Stop coddling the rich - it's not punishing the achievers to ask the rich (both individuals and corporations) to pay their fair share. when the top 1% of the country has so much wealth it is not class warfare to ask them to pay a little more. it is a moral imperative. Middle class republicans please put your horatio alger books back on the shelf. the sad truth is most of you will never be rich

3) Stop acting like ignorance is a virtue - Do you honestly think that denying science does any of us any good? religion and science can go hand to hand. To argue that little tidbit shows a pathetic lack of foresight that is deeply frightening. And demonizing intellectuals moves us backward not forward. to compete in the modern, ever-changing world you better make nice with scientific advancement and technology, or we really will be a third world country and the free market of ideas you all praise will be a thing of the past.

- Brad Filicky

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Brad's top 10 albums of 2011

music that touches me emotionally is always my favorite. You can argue that there were better records out this year than awolnation or the sucker punch soundtrack, but they both reached me in a way that girls or tuneyards.

10) Fleet Foxes - helplessness blues

my number 10 album was also one of my bigger disappointments. helplessness blues is a damn fin album, but i expected it to be my number 1. as beautiful as these songs are they didn't have the power of their debut. Still better than 90% of the stuff out there.

9) Foster The People - torches

Pumped Up Kicks was almost as unavoidable this year as rolling in the deep, and i didn't mind at all. Perhaps the most cheery and catchy songs about a school shooting ever. the rest of the album didn't disappoint and their appearance on SNL was a highlight.

8) Yuck - Yuck

Yuck sound like a 90's band. i love the 90s. it's not rocket science to predict that this would make my top 10. Now i just need to see them live.

7) Sucker Punch - soundtrack

Granted i wouldn't have liked this soundtrack as much had i not seen the movie, but i spent a lot of time with this record this year and it hasn't gotten old.

6) Radiohead - king of limbs

although i'm not as big a fan of radiohead's electronic experimentation as i am of their earlier guitar rock, i am always amazed how creative they can be. King of limbs id no exception.

5) Black Keys - el camino

I love this band. hometown heroes that have done good. on el camino the black keys took a more classic rock turn to surprisingly refreshing results. they can do no wrong.

4) TV On The Radio - nine types of light

it's been a rough year for tv on the radio having lost their bass player to cancer soon after this album was released. in my mind this album is their masterpiece.

3) Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

it's been a while since a foo fighters album made an impression on me, but wasting light was the sound of a band recharged. it's good to see a band this deep in their career can make an album this good.

2) AWOLNATION - megalithic symphony

i first heard the song Sail in the middle of the night in a car heading back to New Jersey from Ohio the day of my father's funeral. it mad an impression by hitting me at the rich time. i found the rest of the album just as good. a mix of anger, catchiness and wannabe hipster swagger.

1) Tori Amos - night of hunters

i got engaged this year at a tori amos concert.This album has been the soundtrack to my new life with my fiancé and i will always cherish the hours we've spent listening to this album. a truly epic statement from tori and an obvious choice for my number 1 album.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

brad's most anticipated movies of 2012

It seems like the movies i'm looking forward to most this year are all geek movies. what can i say? these nerd approved movies are the ones i'm most excited about. and yes.. i am very excited for the Hobbit, but it didn't map my top 5.. Sorry Peter Jackson.

5) Skyfall

I'm excited to see Skyfall because the franchise has had a much needed boost in the form of new 007 Daniel Criag. the fate of the franchise was in doubt due to legal wranglings, but holiday season 2012 will see the return of mr shaken not stirred.

4) The Amazing Spiderman

Despite my belief that Spiderman doesn't need a reboot, i have high hopes for this film. The lizard is a spider villain that deserves his moment in the spotlight and i enjoyed andrew garfield's performance in The Social network. Just don't mess it up!

3) The Avengers

This is almost assured to be good. All the lead up movies have been good and Joss Whedon is a genius in my book. As far as entertainment goes this seems like a safe bet.

2) Django Unchained

Quentin Tarrantino's take on the spaghetti western. This opens on Christmas day and i will be there with bells on.

1) Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan has made possibly the best superhero movie of all time with The Dark Knight. I can't wait to see what he does with the third film in the trilogy. i love trolling the web for any news, rumors, clips and viral marketing for this. July seems so far away.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

brad's top 10 movies of 2011

2011 was a pretty solid year for mainstream movies. From x-men to bridesmaids to harry potter, audiences got more for their entertainment dollar at the local multiplex. these 10 movies were my personal faces..

10) Midnight in Paris

I like woody allen's recent films mainly for his ability to poke fun at intellectual upper class that have been his biggest supporters. it's nice to see that he doesn't take himself as seriously as others do. Plus it is always nice for artist to make a statement that these times aren't so bad for quality art. add to that solid performance from his cast and midnight in paris is a nice perspective on how we view nostalgia.

9) Bridesmaids

is there anyone out there who didn't like this movie? even my 80 year old mother loved it. funny, real, with characters that were likable.. proof that Hollywood can get it right. if you didn't think kristin wiig is a star, you do now.

8) Captain America

The secret for a great superhero movie is that the director and screenwriter must like the character and have a sublet mix of respect and irreverence to the characters origins and their must be a strong villain. Captain America had all of this. It was a crowd pleaser without being too cheesy and had a retro 1940s setting that looked fresh and not to cgi'd. just try to not have fun watching this film.

7) Super 8

i loved Super 8 because it reminded me of movies i loved as a kid. JJ abrams treated his subject and the set of filming itself with the wonder that i felt when i first started liking movies.. it always helps when a filmmaker exudes a true love of film.

6) attack the block

if super 8 reminded me of films i loved when i was a child, attack the block reminds me of movies i loved when i was in Jr high. hip, a little scary and full of attitude, attack the block stepped out of the mid 80s.. it's like the last 25 years never happened. it's a beautiful thing and one of the coolest films to come out of england in a long time.

5) bellflower

it is so hard to find original art these days. it's all been done. then see Bellflower. one of the most original indie films i've seen in a while. full of foreboding, personal apocalypses and a slow descent into madness, this is a film that will stay with you.

4) The Descendants

A charming indie drama with a lot of heart and a stand out performance from george clooney. it is movies like this that enforce my belief that films are the modern day literature. The Descendants examines human relations in an honest and humane way. A small window into a family that we can all relate to.

3) Drive

everything about the story in drive is cliche, but the execution was perfect film making.. expertly paced and beautifully shot, drive is a moody crime drama that stands with the best of michael mann. The violent can be graceful.

2) X-men First Class

Most people didn't like x-men last stand. i felt it was ok, but it didn't leave me too excited for x-men first class. Needless to say i was blown away. I think this is in the top 10 best superhero movies ever made. a great performance by michael fassbender, crowd pleasing cameos and a cold war plot that was believable this film delivered on more counts than i though possible.

1) Sucker Punch

i know i'm one of the few people who would put this on their list , let alone their number 1 movie. I have mad respect for zach snyder. he is the first post video game filmmaker and his aesthetic is visually stunning. his movies are more than empty popcorn flicks. they are state of the art geek cool. Sucker Punch was the most fun i had at the movies all year and met my expectations. i hope Zach explores more original ideas in his future films.