Well, this is embarrassing. I was, like wrathofshaw going to rate the top ten movies I’d seen this year, but it would appear that I have only seen nine new movies this year (this will change, as I’m definitely seeing The Hobbit, Django Unchained and Les Miserables when they are released). In ascending order of preference, here they are:
9. Les Intouchables
This is a film that I wrestled with putting on this list. Plotwise, there is lots to be desired. The story is so sweet it verges on saccharine, and there are so many happy coincidences and the beats are rather obvious throughout the plot. But what makes this movie so special is the performances. Both Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet turn the soapy and over-inspirational dialogue into believable, powerful moments. I found myself not caring about the questionable plot once the actual events of the story got underway. I was along for a ride, and boy what a ride it was: from the opening moments of “September” by Earth Wind & Fire, I could tell I was in for a really interesting ride.
I am such a Shakespeare nerd, not to mention a Harry Potter fan. One of Shakespeare’s lesser-known tragedies, Coriolanius is the story of a military hero who is incapable of doing anything other than fighting. In true Shakespearean fashion, the body count is high by the end, and few characters are left standing . It’s a tour-de-force performance by Lord Voldemort himself, Ralph Fiennes and the sets and costumes are immaculately constructed. A thoroughly enjoyable film in a year that was full of them.
I was admittedly not expecting much going into this movie. I saw it with a few friends on cheap night and was expecting, well, cheap laughs. Add onto it the fact that Seth Macfarlane’s work is at about the same level for me at that of E.L. James, I wasn’t really going in with high hopes. I was pleasantly surprised, if not awestruck, by the quality of this movie. The storytelling was fantastic, the characters were amazingly well developed and the performaces were quite strong. I’m a huge Mila Kunis fan, and Mark Wahlberg is rising on my good list as well, and this movie only cemented those opinions.
6. The Cabin in the Woods
This is another weird movie for me. I was so excited to see this movie because I’m a huge fan of Joss Whedon’s work (more on that later and elsewhere) and the entire Whedonverse holds much intrigue and excitement for me. I love this movie on its own. I think it’s well acted, well written and just generally well crafted. I say “on its own” because there was so much hype around the release of this movie, and I feel as though a good chunk of it was undeserved. Especially the hype around “the twist.” While you’ll get no spoilers from me here, suffice it to say that I didn’t really see it as much of a twist at all. The disappointment really took me out of parts of the movie and I think that my overall enjoyment suffered because of it. I’ll have to give it a second shot at some point in the future because I really want to like this film.
5. The Hunger Games
This is an awesome example of expectations not even factoring into how I’m going to enjoy a movie. I decided to not read the books before I saw this movie, because this was the first huge movie (Twilight notwithstanding cause, come on) that I hadn’t read the source material for before I saw it. I just wanted the film to speak for itself, and it sure did. Having no idea what the world of the film would be on my way in, I was incredibly impressed with the grasp I had on it as I left the theatre. The incredible way this film builds a universe is enough for me to give it a solid thumbs up.
4. The Dark Knight Rises
What can I say? Tom Hardy is the man. And, if we’re being real, so is Michael Caine. The Dark Knight Rises is far from perfect: its storytelling is suspect, it’s about half an hour too long, Robin is in it…shall I go on? What’s remarkable about the movie is that it makes the flaws not matter. This is basically the 21st Century equivalent of The Godfather III: it is a great way to wrap up a trilogy that is quite possibly THE trilogy of our time. The way it ties up all the loose ends of the previous two (admittedly better) films in the trilogy is almost perfect, and it leaves itself open for what could be a very intriguing sequel. Good film, if not as good as it could be.
James Bond needed saving. Big time. There were rumblings of a complete overhaul a few years ago with Casino Royale, but I think we’re all pretty sure that those rumblings were silenced with Quantum of Solace. This is the best Bond movie I have seen since Goldfinger, and that’s really saying something coming from me. Daniel Craig continues to humanize Bond (which after Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal is something he desperately needs), but let’s just be honest. This is not a movie about James Bond. It’s not even a movie about M. This is a movie about Dame Judi Dench, plain and simple. In what could be her last movie ever due to macular degeneration , she certainly goes out with a bang. You have to see this.
2. Moonrise Kingdom
I am not a Wes Anderson fan. Or, I mean, I hadn’t seen any of his work before this fantastic film. I am definitely a fan now. This is a fantastic story about…well… I’m still not really sure. Love? Sure. Ambition and Competence in the workplace? It’s there too. Anderson tackles this vast range of topics with ease, and has very powerful dramatic moments mixed in with hilarious comedic beats, all place in a deliciously fictitious setting and set to offbeat score. I can’t really explain much more than I already have, you need to see it to understand it.
1. The Avengers
If you haven’t seen this yet, I don’t know what there is that I can tell you that will make you, so I’m not going to try.