As any self respecting film critic must do each and every December/January, here are my choices for the best films of the year. But before we get to those films, please allow a bit of runners-up time.
In no particular order, we have Bernie (Linklater); The Deep Blue Sea (Davies); Holy Motors (Carax); The Avengers (Whedon); Prometheus (Scott); Flight (Zemeckis); Damsels in Distress (Stillman); 21 Jump Street (Lord/Miller); God Bless America (Goldthwait); Little White Lies (Canet); Beasts of the Southern Wild (Zeitlin); Attenberg (Tsangari); Argo (Affleck); Savages (Stone); Moonrise Kingdom (Anderson); Amour (Haneke); Hit & Run (Shepard/Palmer); Turn Me On, Dammit! (Jacobsen); Chico & Rita (Trueba); Lincoln (Spielberg); Rock of Ages (Shankman); Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow); John Carter (Stanton).
And now, ladies and germs, let us get on with the show. Here are my ten, or eleven, favourite films of the last year.
A story so unbelievable, so impossible sounding, so implausibly ridiculous, that it just has to be true. Telling the crazy tale of a fast food manager who is duped by a prank caller pretending to be a cop on the other end of the phone, and the poor young employee who is demoralized, humiliated, and much much worse, this subtly brilliant little film is one of the biggest revelations of the cinematic year. My review can be read here.
9. The Kid With A Bike
Probably the most humanistic, and quite possibly the most humor-filled, of any of the Dardenne Brothers’ films, this tale of – you guessed it – a kid and his bike, harkens back to a simpler time in cinema, and to films like the obviously influential The Bicycle Thieves, and, with its no-frills poetic realism, is a simply beautiful film to watch. My review can be read here.
8. Haywire/Magic Mike
These two intriguing films, from the always versatile Steven Soderbergh, are the best one two punch from any director since Soderbergh did the same thing three years ago with The Girlfriend Experience and The Informant. These films, a spy thriller-cum-genre experiment, and a good ole boy, male stripper tale, are like the proverbial day and night of cinema, and that just goes to show that Soderbergh can do just about anything he puts his mind to. My review can be read here and here, respectively.
7. Killer Joe
When a film comes with the tagline, “A totally twisted deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story,” ya just know it’s gonna be a hell of a lot of fun. A rip-roaringly hilarious movie about a cool-as-ice hired killer, the idiots that hire him but cannot afford to pay him, the innocent teenage girl they give to him as collateral, and the most interesting thing ever done with fried chicken on the big screen. My review can be read here.
6. The Cabin in the Woods
I am kind of a sucker for the writing stylings of Joss Whedon (film, TV, comicbooks – whatever), and this twisted, Escher-esque mindfuck of a horror film – one that takes all the tricks and tropes of the genre, and flips them on their arse – co-written with director Drew Goddard, is one of his most intriguing screenplays. My review can be read here.
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