Article By: Dan Clark
Crafting my Top 10 list at the end of the year is one of the things I most look forward to. Sure it’s arbitrary and shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone, but I enjoy it just the same. There were hundreds upon hundreds of films that came out every year. With busy lives and limited hours in the day it’s impossible to catch them all so everyone’s movie experience each year will be different. Personally this has been a great year as I watched a countless amount of awesome films. Withering it down to ten was quite a challenge. After a lot of thought, questioning of life choices, consolations with my movie therapist, and coin flipping I have come up with my Top 10 Films of the year. If you disagree with any of my picks (And honestly why wouldn’t you?) feel free to sound off in the comment section below.
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, and Leonardo DiCaprio
Quick Take: This is a late entry for me, and one I haven’t had the chance to write a full review on so I’ll keep it short. Simply put, Tarantino continues to be one of my favorite directors out there today. When he releases a film you know it’s going to be unlike anything you have watched that year. Django Unchained did not disappoint and gave me everything I could ask for in a Tarantino Western meshed with Blaxploitation.
Directed By: Rian Johnson
Written By: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt
Quick Take: Rian Johnson has quickly become a writer/director to be reckoned with. His third feature length film Looper is his best thus far. Your reaction to Looper says as much about you as it does about the movie. Johnson did what great Science Fiction should and uses a fantastical concept to address a real moral quandary. This was a breath a fresh air to the Science Fiction genre, which had become rather stale.
Directed By: Maiwenn
Written By: Maiwenn, Emmanuelle Bercot
Starring: Karin Viard, Joey Starr and Marina Foïs
Quick Take: Polisse is a French film about Juvenile protection division of the French police. It takes stories you would find on episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and treats it with the sensibilities and tone of The Wire. That made it a movie right up my alley. It dealt with horrific situations, like child molestation, and showed everyone it effects. There was also this dark comedic aspect as the officers attempt to find ways to cope with such a stressful workplace.
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams
Quick Take:Paul Thomas Anderson is one of our greatest directors working today, and The Master will go down as further proof. Anderson created a movie that lives to make you feel uncomfortable. It is packed with some of the marvelous performances, amazing cinematography, and my favorite score of the year. Anderson had tons of talent to work with and he puts everything to good use.
Directed By: Ang Lee
Written By: David Magee, Yann Martel
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, and Adil Hussain
Quick Take: Life of Pie is simultaneously one of the most uplifting movies of the year and one of the bleakest. Ang Lee brought a novel to life that many deemed unfilmable. Though I never read the book just watching the movie makes me understand where that theory comes from. Its imagery and immigration are unlike anything I have experienced. The discussion around a movie is typically in regards to its content or execution. Life of Pie helps facilitate discussion about life and our deepest beliefs.
Directed By: Joss Whedon
Written By: Zak Penn, Joss Whedon,
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson
Quick Take: The Avengers was the comic book movie that enjoyed being a comic book movie. Sure it had issues, like a paper thin plot, what sit lacked in nuance it made up for in Hulk Smashing! I often forget that a movie can be nothing more than a good time, and that’s not a bad thing. To be fair The Avengers wasn’t just action set piece after action set piece. The character interactions where perfect with Whedon showing us again his classic knack for witty dialogue. Who knows where the Marvel films will go from here, or if they will ever reach this type of success again. For now we can at least enjoy what they accomplished thus far.
Directed By: Marius Holst
Written By: Lars Saabye Christensen, Dennis Magnusson, Eric Schmid
Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Benjamin Helstad and Kristoffer Joner
Quick Take: King of Devil’s Island is a movie I hear almost no one talking about. Perhaps it because its officially a 2011 release. I included it on my Top 10, because it was not available for the majority of US audiences until this year. It told the story of a home for delinquent young boys located at Bastoy Island during the early 20th century. It’s a story about friendship, loyalty, and the sacrifice needed when fighting against tyranny. The film is chilling with an atmosphere that absorbs you into is foggy world. You begin to yearn for escape from this barren wasteland just as much as the misbegotten souls who are forced to live there.
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Written By: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, and Judi Dench
Quick Take: Skyfall has nearly everything you want in a great Bond movie. It starts with a great Bond, my personal favorite, who does more with the character than anyone before. For the first time we see Bond become a truly broken man. Javier Bardem is fantastic as the slimy villain, and Judi Dench rounds out the superb cast. The action is thrilling and looks absolutely fantastic. You can see the fingerprints of other franchise films all over Skyfall. Unlike other Bond films however, it takes what others have done before and does it even better. For the first time in a long time Bond is showing all others how its done.
Directed By: Ben Affleck
Written By: Chris Terrio, Joshuah Bearman
Starring: Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman
Quick Take: Remember when Ben Affleck was nothing more than a punch-line? His transition to director has been the best thing for his career. With his third film Affleck has ventured out of Boston and onto the world stage telling a strange but true story. Affleck was great at crafting scenes that provided pure tension. He captured this time in almost every way. Argo also has plenty of comedic moments. Balancing the funny and the freighting can become a jumbled mess. Your head can start spinning trying to figure out the way you are supposed to feel. I never had that issue with Argo as the comedic moments gave me a much needed break to catch my breath.
Directed By: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Written By: Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan
Starring: Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan and Taner Birsel
Quick Take: There are certain years when my number one film is easy to pick. This year the choice required a lot of thought. When everything was settled the film I choose was one that stayed with me more than any other. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia was haunting with its imagery. Moments like police cars slowly snaking through the barren hill mountainside became memorizing portraits of seclusion. Nuri Bilge Ceylan frames each shot perfectly telling us so much when nearly no words are spoken. Conversations that began as happenstance start to shape the films moral backbone. It is a film about truth and the power it holds. There are very few films that take their time and allow you to think. One Upon a Time in Anatolia requires you to. It is not a movie you watch. It is a movie you experience.
Honorable Mentions: Moonrise Kingdom, The Dark Knight Rises, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Bernie, and Fat Kid Rules the World