I probably could have made a top thirty for the year if I were (more of) a crazy person, and gone to yammer even more about movies from the year that I loved, but I've got to show restraint once in awhile or nothing will ever get done and we'll be counting down last year straight through the end of this year. As is I feel lousy for leaving in the cold a couple of coulda-been's - namely Raul Ruiz's Mysteries of Lisbon and Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre and Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff and Leon Ford's Griff the Invisible and Hong-jin Na's The Yellow Sea and... see? I could keep going but I need to stop myself. Let's see what made the first half of our top 20! They're good! I like them!
Margaret (directed by Kenneth Lonergan) -- Like a sprawling novel, this movie has no interest in not following any of the twenty thousand strands that make up our titular heroine and egads does "heroine" seem like too small a word to contain this girl. She's as maddening as she is decent as she is selfish as she is intelligent, and on. The movie's a bit of a mess but so is she, and dulling down any of their sharp edges would have made either of them far less fascinating creatures. (original review)
Bridesmaids (directed by Paul Feig) -- What felt sloppy here the first time through (the film is kinda long) gets more and more forgiven with repeat viewings... and speaking of repeat viewings, I have watched this four times since it came out on DVD. And I can't imagine it will let up any time soon. I'll be laughing at the sight of Kristen Wiig punching a giant fucking cookie on my death-bed, fingers crossed.
13 Assassins (directed by Takashi Miike) -- Not that any human being is capable of keeping up with Takashi Miike's output, but out of the dozen or so that I have seen this is his best film since Audition and might even top that, and if you know of my affections for Audition then you know this is love. The slow as molasses build is some of his most restrained classical work and then comes the epic forty-five-minutes-or-so battle royale that takes the film to wild roaring-in-your-seat heights. (original review)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (directed by David Fincher) -- So much better than the Swedish version, with a far more interesting Lisbeth out of Rooney Mara than I ever got from Noomi Rapace. How Fincher managed to make me enraptured by material I was bored by the first go-through I might never comprehend. He's firing on all cylinders and every recycled tidbit somehow feels alive and icy and hard and sexy and new in his hands. (original review)
Contagion (directed by Steven Soderbergh) -- The night I watched this movie I tweeted that I was buying a giant bottle of Purell as soon as I could, and every morning and every night since then when I douse my hands in it while riding on the subway I think of this movie, and I shudder. (original review)
Weekend (directed by Andrew Haigh) -- A pitch perfect little romance that manages to feel genuine while also packing some heat - when's the last time a straight love story managed that trick? I usually run screaming from what passes for queer cinema these days but if there were more Weekends out there waiting for me, well what a blessing that would be. (original review)
The Muppets (directed by James Bobin) -- I don't think there was a movie that I sat with a stupider giant grin on my face from start to finish more than I did during The Muppets. Oh wait, I was simultaneously crying the entire time, i can't forget that. Basically I'm incapable of being fair-minded where Kermit & Co are concerned, but Bobin and Segel and everybody involved could have messed it up, they could have misstepped, and they did not. Total joy. (original review)
Hanna (directed by Joe Wright) - I'm as shocked as anybody that Hanna comes it at number thirteen on this list, but it gets really crazy from here on out you guys. Not to slight anything that came already but I could rearrange these top 13 tomorrow and it could sit very different and it could be just as right. Anybody complaining about a lack of great movies isn't watching the right movies. All that said, Hanna's fucking rad! (original review)
Beginners (directed by Mike Mills) -- This movie came out of nowhere. Oh sure by the time I saw it on DVD I'd heard everybody say it was wonderful. But I didn't believe any of them. Nothing about it was really calling to me - I love Ewan but he's done a lot of things I haven't loved and this felt like it might fall into that camp. The "Oh yeah that movie" camp. Good god, I am a fool. It treads along the finest of threads, simultaneously melancholy and whimsical, and it soft-shoes like a pro. (original review)
The Future (directed by Miranda July) -- Just beating out her husband Mike Mills' sad little love song, my beloved Miranda July's The Future kind of renders me incapable of speech. The ways she finds to express feelings I've never seen quite captured in the same way, the way she pushes herself into these new little nooks, it devastates me, and it makes me remember there are things out there left to say in the world, about the world, when sometimes it feels like we're just repeating ourselves. The Future might seem to meander strangely, but it's cutting across razor-sharp insights, never as dewey-eyed as it might appear to be. (original review)
COMING SOON... #10-1