I have not seen Flight (subject matter makes me nervous), Django Unchained (just have not been in the mood for gratuitous violence on that scale, but I hear good things), or The Sessions (Helen Hunt?…ummm…I hear John Hawkes is great).
But here’s a bundle of films I did see – and thoroughly enjoyed.
(3) Films brilliant beyond description:
The Master Paul Thomas Anderson is the master of thought-provoking cinema. He somehow manages to raise the bar and stakes with each film. For my money, he’s the best in the biz – and this film made most (not all) others feel like student projects by comparison. I’m still reeling.
Life of Pi How did Ang Lee turn an incredible novel into an even more incredible film? Got me. And trust me, I was skeptical. Skeptical no mas. This film is special. If you have not seen it, your loss.
Beasts of the Southern Wild Speaking of special. This is one of those pictures where you scratch your head and say “Well, what would they have done if they hadn’t found that little girl???” So good. Pretty sure we will never see another like it. Movie magic.
(4) Love stories cut from a different cloth:
Moonrise Kingdom Like PTA, Wes Anderson is in a league of his own with his visual aesthetic and writing style. This is one you can watch over and over and love more and more…and more. Lefty scissors indeed.
Rust and Bone Marion Cottilard, whale training, backyard fighting, and a kick ass Springsteen song? I’m down. But proceed with caution.
Safety Not Guaranteed Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, temp work, and time travel? Full speed ahead.
(3) Required viewing for high school:
Lincoln Must admit it was not all I had hoped for, but…Daniel Day-Lewis is spectacular as always, sure to win his third – THIRD! – Oscar for playing our 16th President. Tony Kushner’s script is amazingly rich and detailed and is also sure to win the Oscar, as is Tommy Lee Jones. Quite an accomplishment.
Argo Big Ben Affleck has come a long way. He no longer feels the need to over-act, thankfully. What he is getting really good at is choosing the right material to direct. This film works on many levels. Loved it.
Zero Dark Thirty Regardless of how close to the facts Bigelow and Boal got, this film hits its target. I will never get tired of films that celebrate American perseverance and righteous might. I will also never get tired of watching Jessica Chastain.
(6) Way above average popcorn cinema:
The Bourne Legacy Quite a year for Jeremy Renner. Glad to see the Bourne franchise back on track. Not sure why this genre is always overlooked for Oscar consideration, cuz this script was tight!
Batman: Dark Knight Rises A dark cloud hung over this picture. Just as Heath Ledger’s tragic passing contaminated the joy of the last. But Christopher Nolan is top tier and always delivers.
The Avengers Joss Whedon directing was an early clue this would be good.
The Cabin In the Woods Joss Whedon script was an early clue this would be…wait, a horror movie? Five feisty co-eds go camping, who will get killed next? Joss Whedon? This film rocks.
Arbitrage I really enjoyed this film. Gere like only Gere can gear. Smart, detailed-oriented, timely. A one percenter getting his comeuppance!
(2) True stories told very very well:
Hitchcock Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren as Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock – and no Oscar buzz? Don’t let the snub fool you. It’s not a big film, but it’s a very well-made film, and a surprisingly sweet love story. Both actors so good. As is the entire ensemble.
Bernie Sure, Jack Black signs on to a lot of B grade material. Not here. This one is from the heart, easily his best performance to date. Except for School of Rock – but that was kind of a documentary.
(1) Buddy cop flick straight from the street:
End of Watch Not an easy genre to come fresh with, but this insanely real LAPD drama delivers the goods big time. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena bring heart, wit, and muscle to David Ayer’s script and the result is an unforgettable glimpse of the high stakes game of policing the unwashed. Loved it.
(1) It ain’t a musical, it’s an opera:
Les Miserables So many reasons to see this spectacle. So many reasons to avoid this spectacle. One thing for certain: Anne Hathaway lays it all on the table – including her locks – and is a lock to win her first Oscar. Big dreams realized. Good for her, she earned it.