Well, I guess I should say the best films I saw - Here's my take on this years best, my top 10 in no particular order:
Thank you Kristen Wiig for making me laugh harder than I thought possible this summer. 4 times. YEP, I saw this 4 times. Once by myself and then 3 times dragging various folks I could talk into it along for the ride. Witty, twisted, with pathos and some moments of outright brilliance, I can't imagine how it could have been better.
2. The King's Speech (technically this came out last year but I didn't see it until after the first of the year)
Excellent, brilliant acting, beautifully written, wonderful story, which takes the time to be historically accurate. One of the best films I have seen in a really long time.
3. The Rabbit Hole
Even though I wanted to see this film for a while, I avoided it for a few weeks because I was worried it would be too depressing. Although it certainly has it's fair share of sadness and difficulty, it a totally redeeming ride of a film. I felt like the film was a nice catharsis for people going through various types of grief. Beautifully acted, I loved both Eckhart and Kidman as well as a great performance by Miles Teller. Highly recommend it.
4. The Future
This is a little gem of a film. Miranda July is has created a film that manages to be both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. In a treatment which could fall on it's face because it might be too heavy, too depressing, too cheesy, too quirky, or too pat, it doesn't become "too" anything, but rather it is just the right mixture of whimsical musings and meandering philosophical yearning with some satisfying results. It's kind of magical and manages to be positive while pondering some pretty big questions of existence, love, time, and the big existential questions. Tricky and sublime.
5. Young Adult
This was amazingly good in a really kind of sardonic way. Theron is barely likable - but plays this role like a genius. She's stunning and gorgeous in some of her shots, and then shows her age for us while she's laying in bed with a hangover. Salvaging herself from our complete dis-like of her character when she reveals she has trichinosis as we watch her pluck her ever perfectly blonde hairs out by their roots and store them in a little pile of sadness. She's the girl we loved to hate in high school, pretty and perfect and smart to boot. Now grown up and living away from her hometown Mavis can't quite get over her high school boyfriend. Which is something quite a few women can relate to. But what's interesting her is that we figure out what she really can't get over is well...herself. She misses being the princess of the high school. The big fish in the little pond and going back to her hometown is as much about trying to regain a sense of her power as the "it" girl as it is about the boyfriend or anything else. As much as we might not like to I think almost anyone can see a little of ourselves in Mavis. 30 and 40 somethings hanging on to our youth in a sort of arrested development. In the end Mavis learns something important about herself - actually lots of important things, and if we're paying attention we might learn something too. Of course, to keep things from being too neatly sewn up, in the end, we still can't help but think Mavis is too good for her hometown anyway. And though she grows...she never totally gets over herself either. I liked that it didn't have a happy tied up in ribbons ending. The film says a lot about pop culture and what happens when you realize your life isn't going to be a fairytale. But not in a sad way...just in a truthful way.
6. Happy Thank you More Please
1. It made me really really really happy
2. It made me feel good about...well, pretty much everything and everyone
3. It gave me hope in the best possible way
7. Martha Marcy May Marlene
A compelling taut psycholgical thriller that never get's boring, even if we are smacked by the abrupt ending. There's a lot to like about this - interesting structure, contemplative and wound, great photography, and compelling issues. Tense. Excellent exploration of psychological illness and the dynamics of group think while still managing to tackle some questions about the nature of reality and morality. Simply gorgeous lush photography too.
I've seen this three times. Look, it's not for everyone. But I really love it. I think Sofia Coppola is a genius. The pacing of this film is langorous and wonderful. Dorff is excellent, Fanning is fabulous and Pontius is kind of playing a version of himself here, but the best version of himself and adds some great touches to the over-all mood. It's an art piece of a film and I adore it. We spend time pondering what gives life meaning and we come out with some pretty good results.
9. The Guard
This is pure excellence. Dead funny, witty and awesome. A well acted piece of british brilliance I LOVED.
10. Tree of Life
It's poetic and visually gorgeous. It's challenging, but not unduly so. It has an emotional resonance which I thought was astounding. How is the director able to convey so much with little dialogue? The characters emotions are so true, you really do feel that they capture real people having real emotions. It's epic. In the sense that it attempts to capture everything from the creation to death to birth to all the big existential questions of life. And yet, it's quiet. It is soft and visual. It's a visual journey that you just let go, and let wash over you like waves. Every frame, every shot, is a little piece of art in and of itself.