Steven graduated Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, focusing on film studies, journalism and theatre arts. Dubbed a "prolific" writer by Hollywood icon Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, V, The Bionic Woman, Alien Nation), Steven has been honored by the Arkansas College Media Association for his story writing prowess. He has also received recognition for his dramatic writing from the Eerie, Shriekfest and Screamfest horror film festivals. Publications include: Carroll County News, Saline Courier, Forum, Echo and Moroch.
10 days and counting until the unveiling of the 2013 Oscar Nominations, and speculation is rampant on which films are worthy of being nominated for an Academy Award. If the Golden Globe nominations are any indication, movies including "Lincoln," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Argo," "Les Miserables," "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Hyde Park on the Hudson" are likely to have their say in February.
I am not one of those film critics who discount mainstream motion pictures, animated features, blockbusters and comedies from award consideration. I'm also not one of those journalistic clones singing the praises of "Zero Dark Thirty," yet another film along the lines of "United 93" (2006), that profits off the tragic events surrounding September 11, 2001. Shame on you Hollywood.
With that in mind, here is the list (in no particular order) of my picks for the best movies of 2012.
"The Vow" -- Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum star in the story of a married couple who have their lives turned upside down after Paige (McAdams) loses her memory in a car accident. This is a wonderfully crafted narrative and by far the love story to see from 2012.
"Friends with Kids" -- Best friends Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) embark on an elaborate platonic relationship, which includes having a child, so that they can avoid the chaos that ensues in traditional romantic relationships. This is a sweet, smart and witty look at conventional and untraditional relationships in the 2000s. It's a real and extremely funny look at what men and women go through when it comes to love, family and friendship. I absolutely adore this movie.
"The Hunger Games" -- Another book turned film, "Hunger Games" stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. Katniss must participate in a televised fight to the death with children from the 12 Districts of Panem after she volunteers to take her younger sister's place. This is a modern epic complete with action, romance and brilliant storytelling. Katniss and "The Hunger Games" should serve as an excellent heir apparent to Harry Potter and Twilight.
"Bernie" -- Jack Black is outstanding as the loveable but murderous mortician Benie Tiede. Bernie's friendship and romance with a much older woman named Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) leads to murder when the relationship turns to one of servitude for the hapless Bernie. This film is dark, disturbing and tragically funny. "Bernie" is one deliciously guilty pleasure.
"The Avengers" -- Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Captain America (Chris Evans), four of Earth's mightiest heroes, unite to thwart the plans of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army. This is light years beyond the quintessential superhero movie, as Marvel flexed its super-powered muscles and took in over $1 billion worldwide. The story is well-crafted, the special effects are second to none and the performances are deep and genuine. Perhaps, the best motion picture of the superhero genre.
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" -- Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy star as British retirees relocating to a lavish new hotel in India that turns out to be less than luxurious. This is a charming tear jerker with a fantastic ensemble cast and lots of laughs.
"Ted" -- A little boy's teddy bear comes to life after he makes a Christmas wish. John (Mark Wahlberg) and his bear Ted (Seth MacFarlane) continue to live together as adults, and both have to contend with the evolving relationship between John and his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). Hands down the funniest film of last summer.
"The Dark Knight Rises" -- The final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy finds the Caped Crusader (Christian Bale) teaming with Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) to stop the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy) from destroying Gotham City. One of the best Batman films and a true contender for film of the year regardless of genre.
"Seven Psychopaths" -- Charlie (Woody Harrelson) is a ruthless gangster who sets out to exact revenge against those responsible for kidnapping his dog. The movie had me laughing and rolling in the aisles, and Sam Rockwell's performance as psychopath Billy is both hilarious and disturbing. Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken also star and are equally brilliant.
"Wreck-It Ralph" -- In this delightful animated comedy, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is a bad guy in the video game world. Desperate to be a good guy, Ralph goes turbo in hopes of winning a medal to prove himself. Along the way, he helps young Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) and saves the day -- becoming a real hero. This movie is the best animated film since "Despicable Me" (2010). With little in the way of expectations going in, I was blown away by both the story, acting and numerous nostalgic nods to video games of the last 30 years.