2. The Descendents
3. Tree of Life
4. The Guard
5. The Interrupters
6. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
7. A Dangerous Method
9. Certified Copy
10. Meek’s Cutoff
12. Midnight in Paris
14. Super 8
15. The Future
This was a great year for film in my opinion - so many good movies. I saw over 80 movies and liked about 50 of them, which is a pretty high ratio for me. Above you can see my top fifteen. Drive is without a doubt #1 - such a balanced tone, wonderfully paced, great performances, so well shot, perfect use of violence, and overall such a cool movie experience. On top of all that, a great LA movie. I can’t say enough about it.
- Terrence Malick for Tree of Life
- Kelly Reichardt for Meek’s Cutoff
- Lars von Trier for Melancholia
- Asghar Farhadi for A Separation
- Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive
- Kenneth Lonergan for Margaret
Lars again creates a stunning vision of a world coming to an end. Margaret is the most novelistic film I’ve seen in a long and while Lonergan may have lost focus at times, it is such a great effort, as well as the most comprehensive view of one person’s perspective that I saw this year. A Separation is able to hold so much tension without exploding that is crazy. In Drive, Refn has such an amazing control of tone that the entire film. Reichardt somehow makes the most real western I’ve ever seen. But Terrence Malick has by far the most ambitious vision and somehow even comes close to realizing it. He somehow manages to take the idea that the world is a large place and we are so insignificant but that every little moment in our insignificant life matters and turn it into a film.
- Ryan Gosling in Drive
- George Clooney in The Descendents
- Brendan Gleeson in The Guard
- Gary Oldman in Tailor Tinker Soldier Spy
- Woody Harrelson in Rampart
Ryan Gosling continues to be the best actor of my generation in Drive. George Clooney gives a career performance in Descendents. Gary Oldman showed such subtlety and restraint while completely embodying the role. Woody Harrelson goes as hard as anyone this year with his corrupt cop, but Brendan Gleason has created such a memorable character that I have to say that his was the best lead acting performance this year.
- Michelle Williams in Meek’s Cutoff
- Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene
- Elle Fanning in Super 8
- Vera Farmiga in Higher Ground
- Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre
Three young lead actresses floored me this year. Very young Elle in Super 8, a little older other Olsen sister in her big screen debut, and the wonderful Mia in the newest version of Jane Eyre. The fourth performance that I loved was Vera Farmiga in her own film, the religious drama Higher Ground. The performance was so spot on and refreshing. Finally, I know everyone was all about Michelle Williams in Marylin, but I wasn’t sold on it. It seemed over the top and simplified. She was so much better in Meek’s Cutoff. Stoic, hard, and desperate - best female lead performance of the year.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Nick Nolte in Warrior
- John C Reilly in Cedar Rapids
- Albert Brooks in Drive
- Christopher Plummer in Beginners
- Mark Strong in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Albert Brooks gets this one. John C Reilly was great as an over the top salesman in the underrated Cedar Rapids and Nick Nolte pretty much makes the movie in Warrior. Christopher Plummer was pitch-perfect and Mark Strong didn’t reveal his full character until the best ending in 2011 in Tailor Tinker. But still, Albert Brooks is so spot-on, so badass, so memorable in Drive that it couldn’t have been anyone else for me.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Charlotte Gainsbourg in Melancholia
- J. Smith Cameron in Margaret
- Shailene Woodley in The Descendents
- Kristin Wiig in Paul
- Jessica Chastain in Tree of Life
Paul wasn’t that great of a movie, but Kristin Wiig was hilarious in it and made it worth watching. In the Descendents, this young actress held her own with Clooney’s performance which is saying a lot. Chastain was great as the soft side of humanity in Tree of Life. Charlotte Gainsbourg continued her run of great performances, but J. Smith Cameron in Margaret was the most heart-breaking, human performance I saw this year. Hopefully, she gets a chance to make more films.
- A Separation
- Certified Copy
- Midnight in Paris
- The Descendents
- Higher Ground
What really got me in A Separation was the portrayal of Alzheimer’s disease. I haven’t seen a more accurate picture of what it’s like to take care of someone suffering with it. And that’s not even the A story, or B story for that matter. As funny as it sounds, I would love to see an American remake of it, although I’m sure I’ll regret saying this.
BEST FOREIGN FILM
- A Separation
- Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
- The Skin I Live In
- Certified Copy
All these movies are so great and so different that it’s hard to choose one. Uncle Boonmee was definitely the most visually enjoyable of them. The Skin I Live In is short, sweet, dark, and fun. Incendies has that ending, and A Separation is near perfect. But Certified Copy takes it for me, with such an interesting way to tell its story that I wish I had thought of it.
- Emmanuel Lubezki for Tree of Life
- Manuel ALberto Claro for Melancholia
- Newton Thomas Sigel for Drive
- Sayombhu Mukdeeprom for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
- Hoyte van Hoytema for Tailor Tinker Soldier Spy
All are so beautifully shot and each person’s work complements the film nicely, but only Lubezki’s feels like the film would be incomplete without it. His shots sometimes feel like another character in the film. He has somehow made his camera come to life and take on a personality. The shots drifting through the air catching new perspectives of old stories, the focus on details that may seem insignificant at first, the embrace of life, in all forms. Amazing.
- The Interrupters
- Cave of Forrgotten Dreams
- Into the Abyss
A great year for docs, and Werner Herzog in particular, but it’s my favorite documentarian Steve James who outshines them all. In The Interrupters, he creates such an intimate story of people trying to make a difference. I don’t know how he does it. He embeds himself in people’s lives and it doesn’t ever feel forced or uncomfortable.
MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM
- We Need to Talk About Kevin
- Win Win
- Your Highness
- The Muppets
Gus Van Zant, one of the top 5 filmmakers working today, creates such a soulless, cliched film with Restless. I didn’t feel anything for the characters or the story.
- Albert Nobbs
- Twilight: Breaking Dawn
- Tower Heist
- Battle: Los Angeles
This was a tough one, but Battle LA just had no redeeming qualities, other than using my neighborhood as a backdrop. I don’t even remember one sequence from the film, and it doesn’t bother me a bit.
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