A mere week into the new year, a list! Not much to say by way of introduction – I saw slightly fewer movies this year, which mostly meant less junk. But while there were fewer total disasters, there were also maybe fewer total home-runs? Maybe 5 great movies a year is standard, maybe that’s all we should really expect. And of course, I still have two months before the Oscars to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Melancholia, and The Muppets (how have I not seen The Muppets??) Anyway, counting down:
21. Tree of Life
20. The Help
19. Captain America
18. The Adjustment Bureau
17. A Dangerous Method
———————————- The Line of Good Conscience
15. XMen: First Class (I know that blog post is pretty damn complimentary and makes it seem like this would be higher than 14, but we rewatched this with Jim’s family over Christmas and eeeeesh does this movie not hold up. It was like, painfully campy and over the top and idiotic and cheesy, but not in a fun way anymore, and way too many feelings and why was Rose Byrne even there? What I’m saying is – I think it was 9, but then I saw it again, and now its 15. Sorry Michael Fassbender! I also did not like your Carl Jung movie, but I like you!)
14. The Artist (I didn’t blog about this one, so, a five-word review: White People Problems, but silent.)
13. Friends With Benefit
There is nothing not to like about this movie, really.
Don’t, however, watch Kaboom and then decide you like it and go watch the director’s earlier The Doom Generation, because that movie is HORRIBLE.
Kind of an incredibly strange movie; it was definitely an action thriller, and a fun one, but there was a lot of slow, quiet, honey-dappled scenes, and some ‘growing-up’ and also Cate Blanchett doing a terrible Southern accent. It didn’t all quite add up in the end, but this movie had some of the most amazing images of the year, for me: the strobe lights when Hanna escapes the facility, the strange fairy tale house she finds herself in at the end, her head popping out of the desert in Morocco. A weird movie. But in a good way. Mostly.
9. Super 8
Two hours of people making the Spielberg Face, mostly, which, you know, I have my issues with that, but this movie was gorgeous. It really was. It was fun and heart-tugging and imaginative, scary and adventurous and really pretty. And well-acted and clever and surprising and just, well, it was a really good movie, ok? After all that.
Duh, this movie is awesome. I have no recollection of the plot (nukes? Something about Russia – you know I love a Russian villain) and I think some people’s spouses got killed, or whatever. But it was so big! It was two hours of just like, things blowing up and rad technology and insane stunts, and of Tom Cruise running, which is the only time he looks normal. I saw it on IMAX and it was just so HUGE and killer fantastic. I hyperventilated through the whole ‘climb up the side of the world’s tallest building’ set piece, so my favorite moment was when Tom Cruise is chasing that guy, they are both running ahead of the dust storm, and the camera pulls back and its these two little dots running really fast through huge shiny buildings as a huge red shadow chases them, and it was awesome. God, this movie was awesome.
Speaking of awesome. Are you kidding, this movie was a great fucking time. Breaking Dawn is possibly the most insane book ever sold to a billion 12-year-olds (bed-breaking kinky sex, vampire babies being chewed out of placenta, complicated abortion politics, and characters constantly threatening to die for each other, not to mention werewolves pledging their undying devotion to babies), and they did not hold anything back in the movie version. Everything is hyper-pumped up, flashy and limpid and angsty and big and gaudy, visceral and primal and completely, totally, utterly ridiculous and fantastic. No wonder it caused seizures.
I know, you’re probably asking “Wait, Shira, did you really like the movie that much, or did you just like the jacket and the songs? Is this for the actual movie, or for the poster? For the pink cursive Lisa Frank font, the opening credits sequence, the puddles of neon, blood on the satin scorpion? Did you even like Ryan Gosling and
Michelle Williams Carey Mulligan (wow that’s embarrassing!) and Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks and Christina Hendricks in the movie, or you just liked that they were in the movie? What about all the freaking head splattering? Shira, did you even like Drive, or do you just like the idea of Drive?” And you know what, you’re absolutely right.
This is probably the quietest movie on my list, and one of the quietest, easiest movies I saw all year. But it’s such a joy. It’s a documentary that is super fun and engaging the whole way through, and funny, and just gorgeous, and really interesting. Bill Cunningham is a weird, weird dude, for sure, but he’s also really easy to love, and the best thing about this movie is how totally it wraps you into his world and makes you love the things he loves. For like a month after I saw this movie I was into fashion. Take that.
I was so excited about this movie, and it was everything I wanted to be. No, really, this movie was exactly, exactly what it should have been. They did nothing wrong. The cast was astoundingly perfect (Rooney Mara for Best Actress, plz! I spent ages picking that picture up there, because none of the pictures of her look right when they’re still, they need her coiled up quietness behind them), the locations were gloomy and creepy and gorgeous. The soundtrack was creepy and right. The lighting. The script. The direction. All of them, flawless. I think it improved on the book, actually – slimmed it down, sped it up, put some plot points in more useful places. This movie was so good that I found myself curiously reactionless while I was watching it. It was like, yes, this is how this movie should be. Right. Correct. Keep it up.
In which we all grew up, grew older, and grew out. Daniel Radcliffe is done with Broadway now, did you know that? Emma Watson quit Brown. Everyone went back to their British stages, their newly-wealthy existences, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It is still pointless for me to say anything about this movie, except that it had a whole world to live up to, and no one was disappointed. A moment in time, whole and right.
Uch, just go see it already. This movie is such perfection, like a perfectly wrapped jewel of a story that is also a mirror, a mirror onto ourselves and the world at large. A jewel-mirror, right. But mostly it’s just so good! The story aches and sags like real stories, but it all ends where it should, and you get the sense of life, real actual human life, flowing through this story and around it in eddies and past it, like this is a carefully captured chapter or part, like reached out with a butterfly net and caught this story, put a movie-picture frame around this particular moment, but there were many other moments they could have picked to frame, this is just the one that we caught, and its beautiful on it’s own but it is part of the greater whole. And the acting! A jewel-mirror-butterfly-moving-frame. Go see it, so I can stop talking here.
There were maybe movies that made me happier, or made me laugh louder, or had more interesting things to say about our time this year, but sometimes you have to go for the political pick for number 1 (at least at a very influential blog like neonapologist you do). Bridesmaids is so important – women, doing comedy, with women, for women. Real, believable, relatable and understandable women, on screen, talking about their lives as if they would be interesting to other people, and having exaggerated but understandable emotional breakdowns, and saying funny things about sex that are gross but not like, icky. It’s a breakthrough, its a corrective to the abysmal portrayal of women in TV and movies, it’s an important start. And you know what, there was no movie that made me happier or laugh harder, or that had more interesting things to say about our time. Bridesmaids, #1. Let’s watch it again.