Hola all. Massawyrm here.
10) EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. The "if you only see one documentary this year" documentary. Banksy accomplishes everything he set out to do and more with this scathing look at the art world, the puffed up egos it creates and the travesties that can come of it, all while giving what appears to be an accurate history of the Street Art movement. Banksy claims that everything we see is real and he never imagined people would think he was hoaxing us - which may in and of itself be part of the mindfuck. Real or fiction, this is one of the very best things you will see all year. Read my full review here.
9) FOUR LIONS. One of the ballsiest films of the year is a British import about a group of suicidal jihadists that haven't the foggiest of how to go about killing infidels. But this wonderful piece of absurdity doesn't set out to make fun of one group of people, but rather scathingly destroys everyone, lampooning how it is each of the sides view one another when juxtaposed against a group of complete idiots that are claimed by no one. An absolute must see.
8) BOOK OF ELI. One of the year's truly underrated films, this Hughes Brothers film is so elegantly put together that it takes a few viewings just to take in how elegant it really is. The sound design work in here is just incredible - as is the score - and once you've seen the film, rewatching it with a mind towards that soundscape is something of a mind blowing experience. Everything in this film was carefully crafted to tell the story they wanted to tell and the end result is one of the very best post-apocalyptic films ever made. One of those rare films that is so much better the second time around. Here are my initial thoughts from almost exactly one year ago.
7) KICK ASS. One of the great comedies of the year, KICK-ASS single handedly gave us back Nicolas Cage while also making a star out of Chloe Moretz. The film perfectly skewers comic books as well as comic book culture, and offers up what is the ROBOCOP of its day - and the second best geek comedy of the year. I love the hell out of this film. Here is my initial review as well as my thoughts on its morality and message here.
6) SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. Hell. Yes. Of the films in my list, this is the one that has gotten the most play here in my house and will no doubt be watched over and over again, as it is a favorite of both myself and my wife. Funny, touching and often stunning to look at, it is the film that proves that Edgar Wright is a man capable of far more than masterful spoofs. He is officially on my list of people whose films I will be excited for upon announcement. You can read my review here.
5) INCEPTION. The first time I watched it, I loved it up until the final three seconds. The second time I watched it, I hated the living shit out of how it had me questioning every small detail rather than being able to enjoy the narrative. But once someone found the primer - the fact that Cobb's wedding ring is actually his Totem, the way, we, the audience, can deduce what is real and what isn't - I was able to embrace the film again and love the hell out of it. I still have my issues with the final shot, but the film remains one of the very best of the year.
4) TRUE GRIT. The Coen's best film by far, I have watched it several more times since my review and my love for it has exceeded that for any their other films. One of the greatest westerns of all time, I wish with all my heart that they would set out to make a few more over the next decade.
3) THE SOCIAL NETWORK. I don't think it is much of a secret that I worship at the altar of Sorkin. Whenever I'm in a funk and can't squeeze out a word, I throw on an episode of WEST WING or the underrated THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT upon which it was based and drink in Sorkin's rich use of language for a few hours until the juices get flowing again. There's something about his raw optimism juxtaposed against the frustration of bitter reality that sparks the fires of hope deep down in my soul. Give a power like that to a director like David Fincher and you would be hard pressed *not* to have one of the best films of the year on your hands. When it comes to my bottom four, the separation of this arrangement is by a matter of degrees, and this was a tough call to put at number three - but something about both 1 & 2 spoke to me personally, so they edged this out. I actually believe this will end up walking home with more gold than anything else this year, and will end up my focus when it comes time to make Oscar picks.
2) BLACK SWAN. Transcendent. I have a friend who has a screaming rant that involves her wanting to punch Aronofsky in the dick (her words) because he made a movie about SWAN LAKE...by telling the story of SWAN LAKE. I, on the other hand, want to kiss him square on the mouth for doing that. Here's my love letter to it from a month ago. The film is the very definition of brilliant and had it actually made me cry, it would be my number one film.
1) NEVER LET ME GO. Which brings me to the one film in my Top Ten that actually did make me cry, and not just from the disappointment I felt at seeing so many of my brothers in arms neglect this film on their end of year lists. It destroyed me; it is a brilliantly executed, singularly perfect film. And nothing I've seen since has managed to hit me with anything near the emotional clenched fist of Romanek's heartbreaking vision. Read my passionate ode to this modern classic here.
Until next time friends,