My Favorite Films of the Last-ish Year

Okay, now that I've poked fun at, rehashed, and debated the Oscars, I want to make one more post before leaving the subject of film for a good long while: quality movies.  I realize I generally just ridicule stuff, but once in a while I genuinely like things. Just promise not to tell everyone, it'll ruin my cred. Here are a dozen of my favorite flicks from the past year:

  1. Moonrise Kingdom - It's quirky in the way you expect from Wes Anderson at this point, but it's the visuals that make it a masterpiece. The scenery, the costumes, the stylistic way every single damn scene is perfectly centered. LOVE it. 
  2. This Is 40 - Reviews have been pretty middling for this Apatow flick, but I found the dialogue laugh-out-loud funny and the dynamic between the married characters frustratingly relatable. It could definitely stand to have 20-30 minutes shaved off, but I was still surprised at how much I enjoyed it. 
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild - The emotions that first-time actors Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry bring to the screen (and, in turn, you), paired with the fantastic cinematography make this a must-see fantasy tale.
  4. Searching for Sugar Man - It might be the first documentary to ever make me shed tears of joy rather than frustration (like most good documentaries will.) See my review of that and the other Oscar nominated documentaries here
  5. Bernie - Jack Black plays against type as a southern man that is so adored by his community that no one wants to believe he murdered a woman. It's the mockumentary-style interviews that bring a sense of authenticity and humor to the tale. [on Netflix Instant]
  6. Flight - If you miss Lost (the first episode, not all six seasons), the plane crash scene is one of the most suspenseful things I watched all year: my heart was pounding. Per usual, Denzel Washington's acting is enough to overcome any time the screenplay strays off course. 
  7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - I haven't read the book, but I'm a sucker for well-made films about angsty teens. By the end, I wasn't ready to let go of these characters. 
  8. The Impossible - Like I wouldn't enjoy a tsunami movie. I hate watching violence, but when human destruction is the result of a natural disaster, I'm captivated. Sorry, but nature isn't senseless. Some might think it overdoes the sentimentality, but I bought it all, particularly because Tom Holland really sold it. That kid is gonna be a star. 
  9. Lincoln - I can't argue with the criticisms (too long, too self-important, subpar acting aside from Daniel Day-Lewis), but I still enjoyed it. 
  10. The Queen of Versailles - I already sang this film's praises. Read it/watch it. [on Netflix Instant]
  11. Amour - I get that it's "boring", but why complicate a film with a needless plot when you have such strong characters, themes, and symbolism? 
  12. The Sessions - A paralyzed man hires a "sex surrogate" so he can lose his virginity. Based on its premise, I was pretty sure I was going to hate this film for trying to hard, but its approach and conclusion took me by surprise. 

I'd also like to mention 3 more movies that I have trouble saying are "good", but might still be worth watching:

  • The Paperboy - I'm going to be honest - this film is a mess and needed a few more drafts and much better direction for it to be of any substantial quality. But for all of its failed ambitions, it's still an enjoyable film. Nicole Kidman has never been more ridiculous, but somehow the performance just works. Maybe see it just to be surprised at the fact that Macy Gray can actually act.
  • Compliance - A true story of a prank caller who calls a fast food restaurant, pretends to be a police officer, and instructs the employees to do some pretty awful, illegal things. You won't believe how far this prank goes. It made me feel SO uncomfortable that I actually paused it to try to find that they had exaggerated or fictionalized this account, but from all of my research, it seems like they adhered pretty strictly to the real events. You're going to scream and hate the world after this one. [on Netflix Instant]
  • Killer Joe - This is another film that was horribly uncomfortable to watch. It was so gross, I honestly I didn't even enjoy it until literally the last three seconds when I had an epiphany of what the film was trying to do. It's a critique of audience's thirst for sex and violence. It depicts these things so graphically that it basically shouts at you, "Is THIS what you wanted to see? Do you like it now? Huh? Is this really what you like, you sick fuck?" I can't decide whether the brilliant conclusion is enough to justify all of the hard-to-stomach scenes that lead up to it, but if you're up for being shamed and needing a shower afterward, give it a shot. 

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