Beasts of the Southern Wild
Distinctive, original film making at its very best. Five year old Quvenzhane Wallis is not only superbly cute but she is also utterly compelling and carries you along the whole way. This is a small and special film about a community living on the fringes; a Post-Katrina New Orleans, told with magical realism and understated tenderness. Tears are inevitable.
Your Sister’s Sister
One of the only films I’ve watched more than once this year so it’s gone up the list from first viewing. The three leads carry the simple human story with wit, charm and depth and the autumnal settings (not to mention the knitwear!) are lovely. The fact that it’s about the unbreakable bond between sisters made it extra specially sweet for me, sensing so much truth and warmth in the writing and Emily Blunt can do no wrong at all!
Martha Marcy May Marlene
A stand out from early in the year (I saw it on my Birthday in February) It’s stayed in peoples minds all year. A thoroughly disturbing psycho sexual drama about cult and escape with probably still the best and most haunting performance of the year from Elizabeth Olsen.
Cabin in the Woods
Just brilliantly ridiculous! I’m not a fan of horror but I am a Whedonite and have chosen this over The Avengers purely on the basis that my face was stuck in a ludicrous wide eyed grin for the entirety of the film. Everyone in the cinema was howling with laughter and shock that this insane film managed to get released; that’s why it’s still worth seeing films at the cinema sometimes, you just don’t get the same kind of communal screaming in the lounge. The Avengers is really great too though, Whedon done good this year.
A Royal Affair
History. The Danish Monarchy. Lust, politics, fantastic dresses. It’s way better than it sounds and Mads Mikkelson is like, well good. Fiercely absorbing and heartbreaking in equal measures.
Proper wicked fun. The perfect balance of old school Bondian references and in jokes and new, fresh ideas. Javier Bardem is a brilliantly menacing villain and Roger Deakins steals the show with his amazing cinematography. Probably the best blockbuster of the year.
This is a tricky entry.
I (along with thousands of other cinephiles) think that Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan are the strongest film makers of our generation. The hype that I heaped on The Master and The Dark Knight Rises was stupid. I thought they would, without question, be the two best films of the year. I neither loved nor hated DKR, it was fine but it’s not in the list. I’ve learnt my lesson.
As for The Master, there is much to appreciate. It’s wonderfully shot and every performance is perfect. Jonny Greenwood’s score is excellent and there are individual moments of pure greatness; but it’s not There Will Be Blood, it’s no-where near. It’s hard to love a film with no story, with nothing to hold on to. It’s still one of the best films of the year and I need to re-watch it with out suffering from jet lag, but I have learnt a great deal about expectations this year.
Rust and Bone
Maybe not as weighty or tight as Jacques Audiard’s previous film A Prophet, but this is a moving love story and Marion Cottiard is always and forever a mesmerising screen presence. The special effects are astonishing.
Joyful happy viewing.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I’ve chosen this small high school film about adolescent outsiders, friendship and music, over a few more solid films because I was shocked at how much it moved and affected me. It might have also been the fact that I saw it whilst travelling in Thailand, so far away from home but with lovely, shiney new friends. Once again Ezra (We Need to Talk About Kevin) Miller is fascinating to watch and Emma Watson breaks away from Hermione with totally convincing ease; she’s sexy, funny, damaged and American!
As always there are a few things I’ve not yet seen that seem to be making everyone else’s lists, I’ll get around to them at some point…
- The Imposter
- Holy Motors
Noticeable mention goes out to Woody Allen: A Documentary. Not a great piece of filmmaking and it really does belong on the telly but as cinematic enjoyment goes its up there at the top. I loved it. Being in a room full of Allen fans, laughing and crying all the way through. The biggest of smiles. Fabulous.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!