Archive for the ‘lists’ Tag

5 Underrated Star Cinema Movies   5 comments

Now celebrating its 20th year as the country’s premiere film outfit, Star Cinema has been delivering a lot of the most memorable movies  during the past two decades. The latter half of its 20-year production, though, mostly has been more on coming up with box office hits, as it now fills up all ten of the ten highest grossing films in the country. With that said, here are five reminders that every now and then, Star Cinema is still able to deliver quality potential films instead of the usual moneymaking ventures.

Dreamboy

05. DREAMBOY (2005)

DIRECTOR: Gilber Perez
CAST: Piolo Pascual, Bea Alonzo
PLOT: Hopeless romatic Cyd (Bea Alonzo) met three versions of the same man (Piolo Pascual), until she was in for a rude awakening.
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: It was 2005, and television is slowly taking over the cinema as the basis of celebrity popularity. With artista search happening left and right, the people weren’t particularly interested with the approach that the film did. It was brave for Star Cinema to pull off something like this during the peak of cutesy loveteams (and Piolo-Bea is an experiment pairing to say the least), and while it was not seen as total success during its time, I appreciate the risk they did with it.

My Amnesia Girl

04. MY AMNESIA GIRL (2010)

DIRECTOR: Cathy Garcia-Molina
CAST: John Lloyd Cruz, Toni Gonzaga
PLOT: When Apollo (John Lloyd Cruz) thinks that the answer to his great love is ex-girlfriend Irene (Toni Gonzaga), he finds her back only to find out she is now suffering from amnesia (or so we think).
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: Sure it was the biggest hit of 2010, and John Lloyd and Toni were robbed of Box Office King and Queen titles during that year, but let’s take some few steps back and reminisce that during the release of the first trailer, everyone already dismissed it as a 50 First Dates rip-off. And boy they were wrong. While box office receipts were always mentioned, the out of the box  approach of the film (especially during the first 40 minutes of the film) is a fresh take on Star Cinema love story standards.

Forever and a Day

03. FOREVER AND A DAY (2011)

DIRECTOR: Cathy Garcia-Molina
CAST: Sam Milby, KC Concepcion
PLOT: Strangers Eugene (Sam Milby) and Raffy (KC Concepcion) met in the lovely place of Bukidnon for different reasons. He wants a break from work; she wants to prove something to herself. Once they start to get to know each other, true secrets were revealed about Raffy.
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: By this time, Cathy Garcia Molina is already the perennial box office director that she is now, and everyone expects that she will deliver the same combination that makes all of her previous hits box office success. While this is the mere exception from the group, it’s an exception that gives her room to try other approach when handling stories, and one that’s rare to see in mainstream filmmaking.

Nasaan Ka Man

02. NASAAN KA MAN (2005)

DIRECTOR: Cholo Laurel
CAST: Claudine Barretto, Jericho Rosales, Dietehr Ocampo
PLOT: Set in the haunted and mystical city of Baguio, it tells the story of three adopted children (Rosales, Barretto, and Ocampo) who grew up under two spinster sisters (Hilda Koronel, Gloria Diaz). Life has been pretty good to all of them until Pandora’s box of their family secrets were unveiled.
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: UP graduate Cholo Laurel’s first foray into mainstream directing seemed to be a double edged sword. On one hand, this was a great debut for someone of his caliber. To be given this chance was definitely overwhelming for him. After all, its powerful storytelling (written by Ricky Lee himself), together with his direction, is a combination that made this one of the best films that year. It sucks that this did not perform too much commercially, as it was a good risk that should have paid off.

RPG Metanoia

01. RPG METANOIA (2010)

DIRECTOR: Luis Suarez
CAST: Zaijan Jaranilla, Vhong Navarro, Aga Muhlach, Eugene Domingo
PLOT: When a virus from online games started to affect society, it will be up to this generation of computer game-loving kids to save the day.
WHY IS IT UNDERRATED: Animated film fans in the country are definitely many, and this is actually more than qualified to be the first local animated 3D film we have ever produced. That alone would have made this an “event” not to miss. Add the fact that it was a part of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, and Star Cinema behind it, and I’m still not sure why it just didn’t reach its audience. Their loss, I guess, since it’s one of 2010’s best films.

Now entering their 20th year of producing and distributing local films, I hope that Star Cinema will still give focus to quality filmmaking even only every now and then. They used to do this more often, and it’s quite saddening how it has fallen way way below now. But with Erik Matti’s On the Job as one of their features this year, there’s still hope I guess.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

12 Best Nicole Kidman Performances   4 comments

It is no big secret that my favorite actress ever is Legend Nicole Kidman. It’s definitely not because we share the same name (well maybe before when I was still young), but my appreciation for Kidman as an actress has really grown over the years. Sure, she might not have the numerous Oscar nods like the Blanchetts and the Winslets, and there was a point in her career where she was considered as a box office poison (which is really stupid because her films do better in the worldwide box office and US ≠ world), but she really takes on interesting projects and directors despite compromising situations. As a matter of fact, I think she belongs solely on a category that is a movie star that is also an auteur darling. She’s an A-list star but she does more indies than commercial outings, and that’s probably one of the reasons why I love her.  As for the other reasons, here are 12 performances that will help you understand what I’m saying.

12. THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY (1996)

In one of Jane Campion’s underrated pieces, Kidman played lead character Isabelle Archer who in the midst of finding herself gets entangled in a complicated twists and turns resulting to her further  desolate life. Kidman has her way of portraying sadness in the screen quite effectively, and this is one of the complex ones. It’s quite sad that this turned out to be underwhelming to a lot of people, but I say it’s a matter of releasing it in a time not ready for it. I’ve read a lot of sudden appreciation for this film, and one of its biggest asset is that of the actors’ performances in it, including Kidman’s.

11. HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN (2012)

Kidman’s first foray into the TV movie territory is via Philip Kauffman’s Hemingway and Gellhorn with Clive Owen. While the overall response to the film was mixed, Kidman’s performance as journalist Martha Gellhorn earned good response resulting to Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG nominations. What I particularly like about this performance is that it shows Kidman’s variety in approaching characters. While she also has the physicalities in it, she also punches the emotional needs of the character effortlessly.

10. THE HOURS (2002)

On one hand, I’m glad to see that Kidman’s take on author Virginia Woolf is what paved her way to Oscar glory. It’s really a combination of the voice, the nose, and the whole physical changes that she did  that made it memorable. It’s even more impressive to learn that she shot this film at a stage in her career when her personal life is going into shambles. However, it’s a bit saddening that she won her Oscar for this, when it’s not even one of her five best performances. Yes, the train station scene was pure acting gold, but I guess I’ll have to settle with the fact that an Oscar is an Oscar no?

09. EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)

Probably one of the best career highlights that Nicole Kidman ever had was that she got to work with the great late Stanley Kubrick on his final film. While the production for the film has reached over two years in the making, it was two years worth working for. Kidman even herself wrote a letter about how much she find this film memorable and important to her saying she learned a lot from this film. And this is also one of her underrated performances, as she was magnetic all throughout in it.

08. MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (2007)

There is just something so brave about Kidman’s options that makes you ask WTF when you watch the movie, but goes on understanding why she chose to do that film by the end. That’s where Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding falls too. Probably darker than the other more obvious comedies, Kidman’s Margot exudes this vulnerability and awkwardness that translates not only to the other characters in the film but to the audience as well. Plus, you can’t take the tree climbing scene against her.

07. DOGVILLE (2003)

One of the most memorable risks that Nicole Kidman did in her career was after her Oscar win, when she was the top A-list actress in Hollywood, she opted to work with someone like Lars von Trier. Of course, we know von Trier has been tried and tested when it comes to his actresses, giving them risky roles and churning out fearless performances. And that’s exactly what we have witnessed in Nicole’s performance of Grace in the film. How she failed to nab the Cannes Best Actress that year is beyond me.

06. THE PAPERBOY (2013)

Kidman’s latest movie offering is from one of the critically panned movies of last year: Cannes entry The Paperboy by Lee Daniels. Despite the movie getting unanimous thumbs down response, what seemed to be the only silver lining in it is that of Kidman’s performance. As Charlotte Bless, the white trash who Zac Efron’s character fancies like no other, not only does she performed a telepathic sex scene with John Cusack, but she also peed on Zac. How Legend does it at 45 showed no signs of stopping for this bravura actress.

05. THE OTHERS (2001)

In a one two punch of her 2001 performances that showed her versatility as an actress, first we get to see Nicole Kidman in Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others. In the film, she played single mother Grace, who comes to so much extent of love in order to defend her children. Despite the film being of horror genre, Nicole commanded the screen showing a boatload of emotions, that of love, hope, and even confusion as the movie unravels. It’s one of those performances that just sizzled all throughout the movie.

nicole kidman

04. MOULIN ROUGE! (2001)

As for her other 2001 performance, it’s from Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar Best Picture nominee Moulin Rouge! For this, she received her first Academy Award nomination in 2001. What’s fascinating about this performance is that she did almost everything here. Sings? Check. Dances? Check. Makes us laugh? Check. Makes us cry? Check. Satine has turned out to be one of the most memorable movie characters of the last decade, and this performance is here to stay. This is a good representation of how she penetrated Hollywood, and there’s no turning back then.

03. RABBIT HOLE (2010)

For her first producing duties, Nicole Kidman chose this Tony award winning play and gave a really depressing and heartbreaking performance as Becca Corbett, the grieving mother of a child who died from an accident. While she gets a lot of Oscar scenery chewing scenes it, the Kidman in this film is annoying but sensible, open but still holds back every now and then, and it is the subtle moments in it that actually remains more with the viewers after. Also, this is her Oscar comeback, as it was her first nominations after winning eight years ago for The Hours.

02. TO DIE FOR (1995)

Before, she was simply seen as Mrs. Tom Cruise and the Aussie eye candy that he has. But all it took was a single performance that will change the way she is perceived in Hollywood. That performance came from her character as Suzanne Stone Maretto in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For. In it, she was just deliciously evil playing her comedic skills to the top. It was such a natural performance that hits right with the tone that van Sant aimed in this movie, and the result is a new found Hollywood actress, aside from her Golden Globe win that year.

01. BIRTH (2004)

And Nicole Kidman’s best performances comes from the underrated Jonathan Glazer cult classic Birth.  As Anna, Kidman plays a wife who thinks her dead husband reincarnated in the form of a ten year old boy. Kidman was just on a different level here. The intensity of her performance lingers to you all throughout. I just can’t at how intense the character was from the way it was written, but her performance just elevates in further. Plus, it featured the classic close up “theater scene” which still is one of the best acting moments I’ve ever seen in any film.

Now, let me ask you, what is/are your favorite Nicole Kidman performance/s? Pipe them in below!

By the way, the reason why I wrote this is because it is Legend’s 46th birthday today. Happy birthday to my favorite actress! 😀

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

19th Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Dressed List   2 comments

Hey everybody! The SAG Awards just happened two hours ago, but let’s get this one over and done with. After all, this was the last time this year that both TV and movie stars are honored in the same room. As for the red carpet, there’s a lot of interesting looks this time and as always, lots of colors everywhere. Some have been recycled, some were misfits, but for the most part, here are 16 personalities who were dressed to kill that night.

You can click the photos or open it in new tab to make the photos bigger.

jaimie alexander

16. JAIMIE ALEXANDER in Marc Bouwer

Nurse Jackie’s Jaimie Alexander was sexy and classic in this black Marc Buower creation that highlights her upper body in a flirty and very interesting manner.

idina menzel

15. IDINA MENZEL

Truth be told, it’s not as if Tony winner Idina Menzel needs to impress people with her red carpet appearances. But then again, she just did her homework when she appeared in this red and pink combination that highlights her impressive figure.

jane krakowski

14. JANE KRAKOWSKI in Kaufman Franco

From one Tony winner to another, Jane Krakowski was a sight to be seen in this Kaufman Franco creation that the 30 Rock star described as orangey-sherbet. Yum!

nancy o dell

13. NANCY O’DELL

While it’s the stars that are usually the people you look forward to the most, red carpet interviewers aren’t spared from dressing the part as well. That’s just what Entertainment Tonight‘s Nancy O’Dell did when she wore this aquamarine blue with impressive bead works in it.

keirnan shipka

12. KEIRNAN SHIPKA in Oscar dela Renta

It’s probably the Mad Men effect, but Keirnan Shipka is channeling the classic look in this Oscar dela Renta dress that highlights both her youthful aura and the stylish animal in her.

lea michele

11. LEA MICHELE in Valentino

See, this is the Lea Michele that suits her better. Instead of doing all the trying hard sultry looks that she’s been doing the past few years, the Glee star looks better and more comfortable when she shows her sweetheart side such as this pink Valentino gown she’s wearing.

nina dobrev

10. NINA DOBREV in Elie Saab

Having a body built that most designers would kill to dress, The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev was rocking the part in this pink Elie Saab creation that made her look edgy but cute as well.

viola davis

09. VIOLA DAVIS in Monique Lhuillier

Last year’s Best Actress winner Viola Davis’s presence was clearly a light in the room. Thank to this Monique Lhuillier creation she sported when she presented Daniel Day Lewis the Best Actor trophy.

jessica lange

08. JESSICA LANGE in J. Mendel

Who says you can’t dress the part when you’re already in your 60s? You probably haven’t seen Best Actress nominee Jessica Lange as she strutted in this J. Mendel ensemble that appropriately made her look years younger.

amanda seyfried

07. AMANDA SEYFRIED in Zac Posen

I’ve always thought of Seyfried as a boring red carpet entity. But after nailing this blue Zac Posen creation that she donned just a few hours ago, I need some serious reconsideration.

jennifer garner

06. JENNIFER GARNER in Oscar dela Renta

Despite Jennifer Garner being just a plus one of Ben Affleck last night, she’s definitely a top notch plus one. Her golden Oscar dela Renta gown might be the lucky charm for her husband’s ensemble win.

naomi watts

05. NAOMI WATTS in Marchesa

Best Actress nominee Naomi Watts was perfect in this Marchesa outfit that she partnered with soft curls and bright lipstick. She perfectly showed the soft and tender looks that made her look every inch a star.

nicole kidman

04. NICOLE KIDMAN in Vivienne Westwood

The two time nominee tonight who was Keithless was also giving early circa 2000s fierceness in this Vivienne Westwood creation that showed a slit and her current favorite trend: see throughs. Her shorter flat hair can be a hit or miss, but she handles it just like a real movie star.

jennifer lawrence

03. JENNIFER LAWRENCE in Christian Dior

Tonight’s Best Actress winner was about to skip the ceremonies due to pneumonia. Good thing that did not happen as we would have missed the opportunity to see her rock this dark blue Christian Dior gown she wore.

marion cotillard

02. MARION COTILLARD in Dior Haute Couture

It’s such a shame that Cotillard missed the Best Actress Oscar nod, as we could have seen more of how she slay the red carpet just like how she did with this blue and white combo of this Dior Haute Couture creation. Plus point to the new short bob do also fits her perfectly.

jessica chastain

01. JESSICA CHASTAIN in Alexander McQueen

And despite her not winning Best Actress tonight, Jessica Chastain tops my list of the best dressed in this fiery red Alexander McQueen that she sported. It was simple but less is definitely more as it highlighted her youthful beauty. Incidentally, Jessica Chastain also topped my SAG best dressed list last year so maybe a three-peat next year?

That’s it! Who are your best dressed list from this year’s SAG Awards?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Top Local Movies of 2012   8 comments

2012 in cinema is probably one of the most enjoyable in a while. I liked a lot of the movies that I’ve seen this year, (though maybe I really avoided the bad ones? LOL), and a lot of these films would have topped any other weaker years. On top of that, we’ve also seen a lot of impeccable performances from these films. Mind you, while I have seen 60+ local films this year, there’s a lot left still to be seen. Despite that, I feel that 2012 is one of the better years in recent Filipino cinema, and here are 12 reasons why:

Unofficially Yours

12: UNOFFICIALLY YOURS

Arguably, the best output from commercial filmmaking this year is this Cathy Garcia Molina’s relationship story between two people that sprouted from a one night stand. Molina has really mastered how to make supposedly conventional studio produced films more engaging and interesting. Also, watch out for John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin’s palpable chemistry here.

MNL 143

11. MNL 143

I’m a sucker of travel/road movies. With that said, Emerson Reyes’s first feature length film is a poignant love story of a man (Allan Paule) who’s looking for the woman of his life is something that’s easier to relate to; not the search per se, but the longing and the optimism for it to finally arrive is a familiar feeling that can resonate well to its viewers.

Requieme

10. REquieme!

Loy Arcenas’ consecutive Cinemalaya entry is a dark comedy that focuses on Swanie, a barangay captain who involves herself as a relative of a suspect in an international murder case. With a witty screenplay and Shamaine Buencamino’s effective portrayal as Swanie and breakthrough talent Anthony Falcon, the movie is definitely one of 2012’s brightest spots.

Pascalina

09. PASCALINA

This Cinema One Originals winner which was also Pam Miras’s feature debut about one’s self discovery about her monsters within is one of the surprise entries in my list. Not because it is bad, but because I liked and appreciated it better days after seeing it. Oh, and if Maria Veronica Santiago’s performance in the title role won’t charm you enough, then I don’t know what will.

Ang Nawawala

08. ANG NAWAWALA

Another first feature effort this year, this time by Marie Jamora, Ang Nawawala is bound to be a cult classic. Yes, it probably caters to a younger crowd, to those in the middle status, or to those who are into local music scene, but one universal thing that I sure can relate to is how it connects you back to yourself. Plus points for the eye candy production design and the compilation soundtrack.

Bwakaw

07. BWAKAW

The Philippines’ submission to the Oscar Foreign Language Film category this year (and its best submission in years, I must say) is this little gem by Jun Lana about an old gay man living alone with only his dog named Bwakaw, and how he tries to make the most out of his remaining days. It’s just one of the most heartfelt films of the year that makes you laugh and cry while watching. Also, Eddie Garcia’s performance is to watch for here.

Thy Womb

06. THY WOMB

Brillante Mendoza’s Venice entry this year is also the comeback vehicle of one of the Philippines’ greatest actresses to date, the Superstar Nora Aunor. I guess my favorite aspect of the film is how it showcased to us this little gem of a place called Tawi-Tawi, and how the film introduced us to its culture. That, and of course La Aunor’s towering performance in it.

Ang Paglalakbay ng Mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim

05. ANG PAGLALAKBAY NG MGA BITUIN SA GABING MADILIM

My favorite from the whole Cinema One Originals bunch this year is Arnel Mardoquio’s feature about the escape of three Muslim rebels, together with a ten year old child in the midst of the Bangsa Moro issues in Mindanao. But unlike any previous Mindanao related war-themed films, this one stands out because it’s  does not lecture you. And within this silence is where the actual emotions linger.

Give Up Tomorrow

04. GIVE UP TOMORROW

This Filipino/Spanish/American production directed by Michael Collins on what was labeled as the trial of the century in the Philippines (the involvement of  Paco Larrañaga to the disappearance of the Chiong sisters) is one film that probably triggered the most emotions while watching. The film for the most part was half maddening and half heartbreaking. But it probably contains one of my most favorite quotes of the year when Paco said “If you want to give up, give up tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, then give up tomorrow.

Aparisyon

03. APARISYON

Vincent Sandoval’s Cinemalaya entry about the secluded lives of nuns in a monastery in 1972. The film’s strength lies in its capability to build an atmosphere that was intense and arresting that once the movie hits it middle part, you just feel as if you’re a part of it. If you’re into the technical aspect, this movie also boasts of a complete top notch production values: neat production design,  applicable costumes, captivating cinematography, polished editing, and haunting score.

Graceland

02. GRACELAND

Ron Morales’s Tribeca entry about a loyal driver caught in the middle of his congressman employer’s paying of sins is as intense as one can get. Fifteen minutes in, there’s already a shooting scene. And the rest of the movie was packed with emotional punches, as it dwells with questions about one’s choices in life. Is this the correct choice? What happens when it’s not? Where do we go next? Also, Arnold Reyes’s terrific performance as the driver is a must see.

Kalayaan

01. KALAYAAN

And my top pick for local cinema this year is Adolf Alix’s Kalayaan. On the outside, it’s about a soldier solely stationed in the Kalayaan islands and a run on his daily activities, until two additional soldiers were sent there with him. The first hour of the film solely shows on the day to day routine of Julian. Rarely any dialogue was spoken in it, but the message was effectively sent. Once the credits rolled, you feel that you’ve known enough yet it will also prompt you to ask some more. Definitely my favorite film of the year!

Well that’s it! What are your favorite local movies of the year? In case you are wondering, the reason why there’s no top international picks yet is because I’m still catching up on a lot of the Oscar movies til the next two months. So I guess, you can expect my list by March.

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

2012: The Year in Lead Actresses   7 comments

2012 lead actresses

Hey there everyone! And Happy New Year once again from Tit for Tat! 😀

There’s no better way to kick off 2013 with a blog post that covers a topic awards prognosticators love the most: BEST ACTRESS. The past few days, I have been covering acting performances in local cinema, and we’ve already tackled supporting actressessupporting actors and lead actors. To complete the list, here’s my coverage of lead actress.

LEADERS OF THE PACK

There’s no better person more fitting to begin this coverage with the one and only Superstar herself Nora Aunor. After years of absence in local filmmaking scene, she is back with Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb as midwife Shaleha who wants to grant her husband’s wish of having a child. Aside from La Aunor, Gina Alajar‘s role as the matriarch in Adolf Alix’s Mater Dolorosa gives her a huge possibility to have an awards comeback as well. A pair of Kapamilya actresses can find themselves contending at different award giving bodies: Angel Locsin will definitely be nominated either for her role as the sultry Princess in Unofficially Yours though my bet is she’ll get nods  for her role as a mother who will do anything for her son in the MMFF entry One More Try. Bea Alonzo‘s most mature performance to date as the title role in Olivia Lamasan’s The Mistress can reap some nods as well. As for the fifth spot, a consecutive visit at award giving bodies is plausible for veteran actress Shamaine Buencamino, this time, for her comedic turn in Loy Arcenas’s Requieme.

MIDDLE TIER

Aside from the five names above, other noteworthy lead actress performances the past year were from Jodi Sta. Maria as the newest member of Adoracion Convent in Aparisyon, Pokwang as another mother who sacrificied as an OFW in the US in A Mother’s Story, and French actress Isabelle Huppert having the most vital role in Brillante Mendoza’s Berlin entry Captive. Vilma Santos can get in based on name status alone for her movie last year, The Healing, while Lauren Young as the psycho best friend of Maxene Magalona in Catnip can break through the awards circuit too. Other performances that gained buzz this year were Cinemalaya Best Actress winner Ama Quiambao in Diablo, Erich Gonzales who is in search of her sister in Manila in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi, Veronica Santiago who plays the charming  title role in Pascalina, LJ Reyes who resorted to being the town prostitute in Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Judy Ann Santos as the owner of the diary in Mga Mumunting Lihim.

THE REST OF THE RACE

As for the rest of the race, there’s also Anne Curtis, not as the other woman, in A Secret Affair, the pair of Fe GingGing Hyde and Glorypearl Dy trying to escape in Ang Paglalakbay ng Mga Bituin ng Gabing Madilim, Mylene Dizon as the other nun in Aparisyon, and Cinema One Originals Best Actress Mara Lopez in Palitan. There’s also the performances of Erich Gonzales as the unang aswang in Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang, Angelica Panganiban as the naive Majoy in Every Breath U Take,  and real life sisters Assunta and Alessandra de Rossi in Baybayin. Lastly, Angel Aquino can also see herself nominated either for her performance as the torn mother in Amorosa: The Revenge or as the reporter who everybody thought was dead in Biktima.

That’s it. Who are your bets this year? Are you excited for the coming award giving bodies? I sure am! 🙂

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

13 Best Filipino Horror Movies of the Last 12 Years   6 comments

Halloween is right around the corner, and though the primary purpose of All Saints Day is to recognize those who are already there up with Him in the heavens, majority of those who await Halloween season are in for the horror stories that come during this period. Horror themed stories, shows, and movies seem to be a hit here in the Philippines, and with Asia being the region that produces the best horror films, the country has produced its fair share of horror themed films.

So for those who are looking for a Halloween themed movie playlist to marathon these next few days, here are thirteen titles that I  consider as the best of the best of the last twelve years and can recommend to you:

Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Maricel Soriano, Mika dela Cruz, Derek Ramsay
Story and Screenplay: Chito S. Roño, Aloy Adlawan, Chris Martinez
Release Date: April 11, 2009

While I’m no big fan of the over the top yet unpolished CGI effects in this one, I’m still pretty amused with the storytelling in the first two-thirds of the film. It focused on the different sayings, rituals, and legends from the Southern provinces of the country. I remember our helper telling me that she has experienced some of the scenes featured in the film like the group of black pigs that will suddenly block your way when traveling late at night which supposed to reincarantion of a group of aswangs. Doppelgangers were also present,  in the film, as well as the legends involving seeing a big submarine in a small creek or the simple sundo concept from the dead. If anything, this is the scary part of learning the rich culture of some parts in the country.

Director: Jose Javier Reyes
Stars: Rica Peralejo, Marvin Agustin, Dingdong Dantes
Story and Screenplay: Jose Javier Reyes
Release Date: December 25, 2003

This one is very reminiscent of that Keanu Reeves’s starrer The Gift about a woman’s psychic abilities. In here, Sara (Peralejo) has shown signs of possessing that gift of knowing if something bad will happen. The first sign of it will be a nose bleed which she has experienced way back when she was still a child. What I find creepy about this is that I experience nose bleed in a very frequent manner, so I somehow got paranoid after seeing this one. The film also benefits from having slick effects, cinematography, editing, and sound.


Director: Yam Laranas
Stars: Rhian Ramos, Marvian Agustin, Carmina Villaroel
Story and Screenplay: Yam Laranas, Aloy Adlawan
Release Date: November 30, 2011

The Road is one of those psychological thrillers more than your typical straight out horror film. With that said, it is very engaging and captivating enough to stay all through out the film. While there are particular loopholes within the storytelling of the film, its lavish technical effects make up for it. Also, watch out for Carmina Villaroel’s performance who was so good here and deserved some awards mention for her portrayal in the movie.

Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Vilma Santos, Janice de Belen, Pokwang
Story and Screenplay: Chito S. Roño
Release Date: July 25, 2012

The Healing certainly fits the bill of those Chito Roño horror film formula. However, with that said, this one goes deep into the Filipino habit of depending on healers for help. This one poses the man of science vs. man of faith concept that has been one of the age old questions that has every been asked. Also, among all of his past horror flicks, this one is the goriest and fits right up the crazy story that it presented in the movie.


Director: Richard Somes
Stars: Mark Anthony Fernandez, Tanya Garcia, Elizabeth Ororpesa
Story and Screenplay: Joven Tan
Release Date: December 25, 2005

After an eight year hiatus, in 2005, the Filipino film franchise Shake, Rattle, and Roll is back and has become the longest horror trilogy in Philippine cinema. While films in the series has been a hit or miss, there are still few solid gems in it like this one directed by Richard Somes. Lihim ng San Joaquin  is about a young newly-wed couple played by Mark Anthony Fernandez and Tanya Garcia who transfers into this rural town that is known to be inhabited by a manananggal and attracts all the men there and kills them one by one. This is a real breath of fresh air in terms of storytelling and production skills.


Director: Bobi Bonifacio
Stars: Maricel Soriano, Albert Martinez, Meryll Soriano
Story and Screenplay: Juan Miguel Sevilla, Bobi Bonifacio
Release Date: November 3, 2006

Numbalikdiwa has a richly interesting concept, probably one of the cleverest in recent years. The horror is not in your face; it’s more of something that will creep you out when you think about it. Here’s an interesting definition of what numbalikdiwa is as taken from the movie’s official blog site: An ancient, macabre ritual where the dead assumes the body of a living person. Like cannibalism, it involves the ingestion of the deceased’s ground meat andbones as part of the ritual. With the help of the Sasigloho, an ancient tribal deity, the dead assumes the identity of the living and continues to live his/her life accordingly, granting near immortality to the one who practices it. And yes, after seeing the film, I laid off eating any grilled street foods.

Director: Jerrold Tarog
Stars: Kathryn Bernardo, Louise delos Reyes, Sam Concepcion
Story and Screenplay: Maribel Ilag, Jerrold Tarog
Release Date: December 25, 2011

The 13th batch of the SR&R episode is one of its best. The first one, while bordering on fantasy territory, has good production values. The third one is relevant and also excellent. However, the best is the second one entitled Parola. Not only does it brag of a rich storytelling, it is also a perfect throwback to the early heydays of the said franchise. It represents the type of horror that Filipino moviegoers love, and it also contains exemplary production skills to boot. Definitely one of the best the whole series has ever produced.


Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Danilo Barrios, Vhong Navarro, Spencer Reyes
Story and Screenplay: Chito S. Roño, Roy Iglesias
Release Date: January 1, 2003

Probably one of the most prominent entries during its Metro Manila Film Festival batch, the follow up to the Spirit Warriors movie franchise is also the better movie between the two. I like how the movie has incorporated an interesting story to tackle referring to the “shortcut” that the spirits go to when they want to go to the world of the mortals. It also included a backstory at the start of the film that was shot perfectly in Vigan. I don’t see this in a lot of horror films list, but its inclusion is definitely merited here.

Director: Yam Laranas
Stars: Richard Gutierrez, Angel Locsin, Iza Calzado
Story and Screenplay: Roy Iglesias, Yam Laranas
Release Date: December 25, 2004

Sigaw is more popularly known as the horror flick that got an international version. But even with that distinction, I still prefer the original version about the bachelor who lives in an old building whose history seems to catch up with the present tenants. I feel that this is one of the underrated horror flicks of the past decade. People seem to catch on its appreciation with the film later on and not during its actual showing. And come on, a bloody Iza Calzado staring at your face? While Iza was every inch beautiful albeit the blood in her face, if that does not give you enough chills, then I don’t know what will.

Director: Richard Somes
Stars: Ronnie Lazaro, Tetchie Agbayani, Joel Torre
Story and Screenplay: Richard Somes, Dwight Gaston
Release Date: December 3, 2008

The Best Picture winner during the 2008 Cinema One Originals, Yanggaw definitely leans on its approach to manage the fight in you. With that said, the concept of a transforming aswang is something that is so popular and rich in this country’s culture, and that alone already deserves a slot in this list. The production design and cinematography, among all things, were also top notch. And lastly, the acting of the three actors (Ronnie Lazaro, Tetchie Agabayani, Joel Torre) is very convincing for that there’s no option left but to be swept along the whole ride.

Director: Jerrold Tarog
Stars: Carla Abellana, Sid Lucero, Nash Aguas
Story and Screenplay: Rona Lean Sales
Release Date: December 3, 2010

Another one from the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise, Punerarya follows the story of Diane (Carla Abellana) who home tutors two kids from the street’s funeral parlor. Unbeknownst to her, the family is hiding deep secrets that Diane unfortunately learned. The problem now is how she can escape unscathed from them. There are so many things that’s so commendable in this episode. Tarog’s approach in the direction is the primary reason for this episode to work, though. That, and Carla Abellana’s performance as the heroine  in the film. It definitely is deserving of the title as one of best Shake, Rattle, and Roll episodes of all time.

Director: Enrico Santos
Stars: Jodi Sta. Maria, Barbie Sabino, Gianna Cutler
Story and Screenplay: Joel Mercado
Release Date: July 14, 2010

Paa is the second episode in the five-parter Cinco (Duh. LOL). This one tackles a revengeful ghost of a young kid who visits the mother of her classmate. It was then revealed in the end what the connection of the mother (played perfectly by Jodi Sta. Maria) was to the untamed ghost. I think that this episode in particular is very underrated. The direction and approach was top notch, and the short length time of the episode worked well in its favor. The editing was also sharp, and Jodi Sta. Maria was more than capable in the lead role. My favorite scene perhaps was the end part with the montage, where everything was revealed. This is one of the few films that gets better and stands the test of time.

Director: Chito S. Roño
Stars: Kris Aquino, Lotlot de Leon, Jay Manalo
Story and Screenplay: Chito S. Roño, Roy Iglesias
Release Date: September 15, 2004

But of course, what’s a horror film list without Feng Shui? Chito Roño’s flick that showed how the fate of people depend on the Chinese ornament called bagua, and how one’s luck and demise are affected by it. Whether your creeped out by the “May uwi si Nanay… si Nanay… sa bahay” chant, the connection of one’s horoscope to the cause of your death, the scene where Alice (de Leon) comes across an image of the Lotus Feet holding a bloody and dead version of herself, or just by Kris Aquino’s kunot noo approach to show that she’s scared, there are no other reasons why this won’t be the top horror film of the last 12 years. 

How about you? What are some of your favorite local horror films? Do you feel there’s something that’s missing on the list? Or do you think there’s an undeserving entry here? Pipe them in below the Comments section.

10 Female Rivalries in Entertainment   24 comments

Just this week, the whole Hollywood was buzzing about the announcement of the remake of the 1962 classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. The bad news is that we don’t need a remake of this. After all, both Better Davis and Joan Crawford nailed iconic performances of sisters Jane and Blanch in this acting masterpiece. The good news is that Walter Hill has received personal blessing from the family of the late Robert Aldrich to do the remake. Now the next question begs on who will play the sisters. While there are no reported cast members yet, everyone is coming up with their own pairs with the combination of Glenn Close, Jessica Lange, and Meryl Streep topping the forums.

Now this led me to a very interesting topic that never fails to make noise when it comes to public opinions and online discussions. Time and again, it has been mentioned that there’s always a stereotype when it comes to female and showbusiness. While men weren’t subjected to any rivalries and petty issues, women were always downgraded into catfights and rivalries in terms of awards, recognition, and other achievements.  Here are ten examples of female pairings that will always elicit response from the people.

1. BETTE DAVIS and JOAN CRAWFORD

There’s no better way than to start the countdown with the two lead stars of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. While the movie delivered expectations of the crowd in terms of acting intensity, it was very obvious that the strength of the two leads’ performances was based from the fact that they really dislike each other. And when I say really, they really really do. This came to a point that the situation was out of hand and even director Aldrich can’t do anything about it. During one scene where the character of Bette physically abuses Joan, the shooting came to a halt as Bette’s kicks were too realistic that Joan Crawford needed some head stitches. In return, on scenes that require Bette carrying handicapped Joan, the latter will put big heavy stones inside the pockets of her costume causing Bette back aches after the shoot. Talk about a very intense shooting.

TRIVIA: When the Oscar nominations were announced that year, only Bette Davis was nominated for Best Actress. This made Joan Crawford mad, and she contacted Bette’s co-nominee and eventual winner Anne Bancroft that she’ll receive the trophy in behalf of her if she wins. Now in one of the biggest Oscar legends ever, it was said that after Bancroft was announced the winner, Crawford passed by Davis backstage and mentioned “Excuse me, but I have an Oscar to accept.”

2. MARICEL SORIANO and SHARON CUNETA

Aside from Vilma and Nora, Maricel Soriano and Sharon Cuneta are the two other perennial “stars” of Philippine showbusiness. Maricel was tagged as the Diamond Star while Sharon is also known as the Megastar. Both are the box office queens of the 80s though the primary difference was that Maricel is a Regal Queen while Shawie hails from Viva. In the 90s, both moved on to be more serious actresses headlining in award winning films. The rivalry doesn’t seem to die down especially during times where in both actresses happen to release movies in the same year such as the 2003 Metro Manila Film Festival where Sharon was a part of Crying Ladies and Maricel as a part of Filipinas. During the Gabi ng Parangal that year, Maricel bagged the Best Actress plum while Shawie won the Audience Choice for Best Actress.

TRIVIA: Despite fans rallying and bashing each other in public forums, Shawie and Marya have nothing but good words and praises for each other especially when the Diamond Star guested on Megastar’s Sunday talk show Sharon. As a matter of fact, they have been on the same TV station for decades now when both belonged to ABSCBN up to now where they are both TV5 talents. Another thing they have in common is that both headlined a Mano Po movie; Maricel was at the first Mano Po playing the character of icy sister Vera Go while Shawie headlines the sixth installment playing tycoon Melinda Uy.

3. MARIAH CAREY and WHITNEY HOUSTON

They were touted as some of the greatest voices the music industry ever heard. While Whitney was the first one to emerge into the limelight being at the top of her prime as early as the mid-80s, comparisons started after Mariah debuted in the 90s with Vision of Love. Back then, everyone was saying that Mariah was one of the most refreshing voices ever heard. and that she was here to stay. However, Whitney captured and regained the hearts of many when she belted out her iconic I Will Always Love You and that kept the rivalry alive. While fans are arguing with each other on whether who’s the better one, the rivalry gained waves again when the two collaborated on the Oscar nominated soundtrack When You Believe from The Prince of Egypt. Both Mariah and Whitney shut off the rumors and even performed the single at the Oscars in 1999. Mariah was even one of the first who tweeted her condolences when Whitney left us February of this year calling her “one of the greatest voices on earth.”

TRIVIA: One of the most memorable moments in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards was in 1998 when Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston presented the Best Male Video category. The biggest surprise came because when Mariah appeared from the left side and Whitney from the stairs, they were wearing the same dress. Both were surprised but moreso, prepared for the situation with Mariah removing her train to reveal a skimpy look. This makes a remarkable VMA moment.

4. ANNETTE BENING and HILARY SWANK

Now this one is more of an Oscar rivalry. In 1999, the Best Actress trophy is between two actresses. The first one is an ingénue in a very revealing and challenging role that gave her lots of breakthrough notices. The other one comes from the perceived Best Picture frontrunner that seems to sweep the four major categories. What works for the second contender’s chance is that her husband, a Hollywood legend, is receiving the Thalberg award that same night, and with her possibly winning the trophy, it will be a moment Oscar finds hard to resist. The Globes awarded the first one while the SAGS went for the second one. When the envelope was opened, it was the newbie who triumphed over the other actress paving the way for a Hilary Swank victory. In 2004, a part two of the rivalry happened. This time, they switched conditions when Annette was nominated for a small indie film while Hilary was in the Best Picture frontrunner.  Both won the Globes (Swank won for Drama while Bening won for Musical/Comedy), with Swank also getting the SAG. When the Oscar was announced, Hilary won again Round 2 vs. Annette. Probably a case of bad timing or just her luck?

TRIVIA: We got a glimpse of an Annette-Hilary Round 3 in 2010 at the SAGs. That year, Annette Bening was nominated for her turn as the more aggressive lesbian woman in a female relationship in The Kids Are All Right while Hilary was cited for her turn as lawyer Betty Ann Waters in the biopic “Conviction.”This time, neither of them got the trophy as Natalie Portman prevailed for Black Swan.

5. ANGEL LOCSIN and MARIAN RIVERA

Angel Locsin was GMA’s biggest star. She gets the best projects one after the other. She is considered as the station’s most prized possession. However, a misunderstanding on her next project started rumors that Angel is transferring station. The rumors were proven correct and she was seen on the rival station sooner. On the other station, the search for the next big star started and literally hundreds of their talents auditioned to take the throne. The lucky winner was Marian Rivera who is now the most prized talent of GMA 7. At first, it’s as if the station aims to make Angel feel regret by giving Marian a remake of a previous Angel project.  Both obviously gained something from the rivalry as Marian’s fame skyrocketed and she was given star treatment in her station while Angel became a box office movie star, Best Actress wins, and an International Emmy nomination to boot.

TRIVIA: There seems to be no issues between the two actresses when it comes to their personal feelings with each other. As a matter of fact, Angel’s next film is with Marian’s boyfriend Dingdong Dantes. As for the widely contested FHM Sexiest Women list, in the seven year span that they both made it to the list (from 2006-2012), Angel ranked higher in four years (2006, 2007, 2010, 2012) while Marian topped Angel on the remaining three years (2008, 2009, 2011).

6. ANGELINA JOLIE and JENNIFER ANISTON

Now this one does not need any explanation at all. Bottom line is while Brad and Jennifer were married, Brad fell for Angeline while shooting Mr. and Mrs. Smith. After then, years and years of nonstop invasion of fabricated stories and rumors that never seems to end invade the lives of the three involved. What’s sad about the issue is that people put the blame between Jennifer and Angelina and leave Brad less worried on who caused the issue.

TRIVIA: Ever since the issue broke out in 2005, it wasn’t until in 2009 where Pitt, Jolie, and Aniston met ways in an event. The Oscars that year nominated both Brad and Angelina as Best Actor and Best Actress for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Changeling respectively. Meanwhile, Aniston was a presenter for Best Animated Feature wherein Angelina’s Kung Fu Panda was nominated. While Aniston was presenting with Jack Black, the cameras panned several times to Brangelina where they were caught laughing to Jennifer’s banters.

7. NORA AUNOR and VILMA SANTOS

Philippine’s greatest and longest rivalry belongs to none other than Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. They are two of the greatest thespians in the history of Philippine cinema history. Ate Guy is more known with the way her eyes act even without battling a single word. La Aunor’s eyes act from the soul and they reach a mile faster than a bullet. This made Nora the “Superstar” for everyone. Vilma’s advantage, on the other hand, is her line delivery. Once she starts speaking, it leaves a lasting effect on you. Also, Vilma’s singing dancing and hosting talents labeled her as the “Star for all Seasons.” Since then, they were pitted for awards, box office titles, and their fans are some of the most loyal ones that were still present up until now.

TRIVIA: While both of them have received numerous acting trophies one after the other, the greatest acting award rivalry that happened was in 1982 when Nora was up for Himala while Vilma was nommed for Relasyon. Ate Guy won the MMFF Best Actress that year, while Vilma swept the FAP, FAMAS, and Urian leading to the first ever grandslam in the history of Philippine award giving bodies. Decades later, CNN proclaimed Nora’s Himala as the Best Asian Film. The last time that Nora and Vilma were up for awards consideration at the same time was in 2004 when Nora gained traction as the lawyer in Naglalayag while Vilma as the Chinese matriarch in Mano Po 3. Vilma won at the PMPC Star Awards that year, but neither won the Luna and the Urian. This year shapes up to be a comeback as Nora stars in Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb while Vilma is in Chito Rono’s The Healing. Funny thing though is that the name of the healer that Vilma consults in The Healing is Elsa which is the name of Nora Aunor’s fake healer character in the iconic Himala.

8. BRITNEY SPEARS and CHRISTINA AGUILERA

In 1999, while the bubblegum pop era is slowly emerging, it was full of boybands that cater to the ladies. There seems to be no one that caters to the young boys. In April of 1999, there emerge Britney Spears. Britney was like the life-size Barbie that young girls idolize and young boys fantasize. She was sexy and a great dancer and her songs are very much addictive. Four months later, another young blonde singer emerged by the name of Christina Aguilera. While she was also as innocent as one can get, her first single Genie in a Bottle speaks volumes on a more liberated pattern. After discovering that both were alumni of the Mickey Mouse club, the rivalry started and it was probably the biggest rivalry of their time. Not only singles and music videos were compared, even rival endorsements get them. When Pepsi got Britney, Coca Cola signed up Christina. The biggest surprise that year happened at the Grammys Awards when both were nominated for Best New Artist. Britney and Macy Gray were the frontruners but when the envelope was opened (right after Britney’s performance which usually signals that she’ll win), it was Christina Aguilera’s name that was announced as the winner. Both Britney and Christina shut off rumors about the rivalry by appearing on stage at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards introducing the late Whitney Houston. Time and again, they have nothing but sweet messages for each other in interviews and reports.

TRIVIA: Thirteen years since their first appearance, both Britney and Christina are walking the same pattern again as they get head to head as judges in reality signing competition. It is Christina’s third season as a coach in the NBC hit The Voice while it is Britney’s first season as a panelist in Fox’s X Factor. This will surely heat up rivalry between the fans of the two.

9. CLAUDINE BARRETTO and JUDY ANN SANTOS

It is said that the offspring of the Nora-Vilma rivalry is that of Claudine and Judai’s. Judy Ann is touted as the next Nora, the maka-masa actress whose eyes speak volumes. Claudine is said to be the next Vilma whose great line deliveries fit any genre with such finesse. It didn’t help that Nora starred with Judy Ann in the 1997 film “Babae” while Claudine starred as Vilma’s eldest daughter in “Anak” in 2000. Both were also ABSCBN’s queens of primetime television and the station’s royalties up until Claudine transferred stations in 2009. This opened new rivalries between the fans of the two as ABSCBN announced Judy Ann as the sole face of the 60 Years of Soap Opera. However, both Claudine and Judai are friends with each other especially since they have moved on now to be serious asset actresses of their generation.

TRIVIA: In the field of awards recognition, there was only one year in local award giving body history where Judai and Claudine faced off against each other for Best Actress. It was in 2004 when Claudine was nominated for her portrayal of the fearless, independent OFW in Olivia Lamasan’s Milan. Judy Ann took notice for her performance as the title role of the wild sultry provocative woman in Joel Lamangan’s Sabel. Claudine beat Judai both at the FAMAS and the Luna awards that year while it was Judai who got the coveted Urian trophy. Since then, they haven’t competed for any film award consideration.

10. MARCIA CROSS and TERI HATCHER

In probably one of the biggest stories of 2005, one supposedly short and relaxing Vanity Fair cover shoot turned out to be a very controversial and emotional one. Because of the surprising success since the launch of Desperate Housewives in 2004, the ladies have been the most in-demand actresses during that time. Interviews, pictorials, endorsements have been running left and right for the stars of this ABC comedy Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, and Nicolette Sheridan. When the Housewives Vanity Fair issue hit the stands, there was a sign in the cover that mentioned “You wouldn’t believe what it took just to get this photo!” This kept Hollywood rumormongers buzzing and finding out small details until it was finally exposed. According to reports, before the start of the shoot, ABC already warned the Vanity Fair staff to not put Teri in the middle of the photo and to not let her be the first one to choose wardrobe. But when the shoot started, Teri wore the red swimsuit (since she already contacted the stylist days in advance which fumed up co-star Eva Longoria complaining to the producers) and was placed in the middle of the photo which sent co-star Marcia Cross all fired up. Cross picked up her bathrobe and refused to shoot unless Teri will change positions. This led to Teri being demoted to the side photo and Nicolette Sheridan replacing her in the middle.  Then a video of a crying Teri walking out of the set was seen via Entertainment Tonight. As you may know, the cover was a fold up and both Felicity and Marcia weren’t visible if you look at it in the news stands. When asked about the issue earlier this year in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, creator Marc Cherry didn’t deny that there were really tension during the set but it was exaggerated. Marcia commented that this entire time people thought of her as the show’s bitch but she really wasn’t. As of this time, a staff mentioned that it’s really the end for them as Teri had an issue with the three other Housewives (Felicity, Eva, Marcia) and they haven’t been on any speaking terms since 2010.

TRIVIA: During the 2005 Emmy Awards, it was co-incidentally Teri and Marcia as the perceived frontrunners for the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. While both Teri and Marcia submitted their attention grabbing episodes, it wasn’t clear who will be proclaimed as the winner. When Conan O’Brien opened the envelope, it was a big surprise when he called the other nominated Housewife a.k.a Felicity Huffman’s name as the winner. Many people speculated that many voters were turned off with the tension between Marcia and Teri which prompted them to vote for the least attention grabbing housewife which happened to be Mrs. William H. Macy.

Are you excited about the remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Which teams are you a part of? And who do you think needs to be included here?