I put this list off for quite some time, intent on catching up with all the movies that had come out this year. It wasn’t a spectacular year for film, but there were ten movies that stood above the other mediocre outings and hold a place in my heart. Here are those movies.
10. THE MUPPETS
An irresistible and charming movie that cemented a smile onto my face and had me skipping out of the theater with glee, The Muppets was one of my favorite movie-going experiences of the year. It had been 12 years since the last Muppet movie, and their return to the big screen resulted in the most charming, lighthearted family movie of the year.
9. TAKE SHELTER
I caught up with Take Shelter later than most did, but it left a lasting impression on me nevertheless. Michael Shannon stars as Curtis, a man plagued by apocalyptic visions. He feels it is his responsibility as a husband, a father, and a man to protect his family from looming danger, despite the fact that everyone believes he is losing his mind. Take Shelter culminates in a chilling finale and is a movie that will stay with me for quite some time.
I didn’t initially expect Warrior to make this list, but by the time the film reached its halfway point I was glued to my seat. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton light up the screen and have believable chemistry as two estranged brothers, with Nick Nolte turning in a rousing performance as their ex-alcoholic father. The ending of the film will have you on the edge of your seat. It is a movie not to be missed.
7. THE TREE OF LIFE
The most talked about and analyzed film of the year, Terence Malick’s Tree of Life has produced about every possible reaction from glowing praise to raging hate. I found to be one of the most intriguing films of the year. The film has its flaws, but I found its philosophical musings hard to resist. Malick, who holds a degree in philosophy from Harvard, examines the meaning of life from its origins to our time on this earth to what happens after we die. It is a film unlike any other, and one that I will continue to visit and glean new meanings from for years to come.
I wasn’t familiar with Nicolas Winding Refn before his latest film this year, but after seeing Drive I am eager to catch up with the remainder of his filmography. Ryan Gosling gives a subdued performance in Refn’s solidly directed outing that recalls films from the 70s, my personal favorite decade. Gosling plays a man simply known as Driver. We don’t know much about his past. We can only judge him by his actions. The film’s style is mesmerizing, making up for the simple story. It’s a masterfully made genre peice, and evidences a great director in the making.
5. THE HELP
Racism is a theme that has been explored countless times in movie after movie. What makes The Help stand out is its characters, brought to life by enchanting performances by every cast member. No matter how pivotal their role in the film, every character leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. Another aspect that makes this film so unique is that all of its characters are women. For a movie that made over $200 million worldwide, that’s saying a lot. Some of the best movies are those that can elicit every emotion from you, and The Help does just that. You’ll be laughing one minute and then crying the next.
One of the most intense character studies ever put to film, Shame also showcases the year’s best performance. Michael Fassbender is quickly joining the ranks of other greats character actors like Robert DeNiro and Daniel Day Lewis. Fassbender plays Brandon Sullivan, a successful individual struggling with a crippling sex addiction. The film has some content that may be hard to stomach, but those who can sit through this piece of cutting-edge movie-making will be rewarded with a compelling character study of a man struggling to keep his life together.
Bennet Miller directed both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill to Oscar nominations in the widely acclaimed baseball drama Moneyball, a film that is about so much more than baseball. It is about a man coming to grips with who he is, trying to do something with his life. It is a film about taking chances, going with what your gut tells you when everyone else tells you that you’re crazy. Bennet Miller made more than a simple sports drama. He gave us a wonderful testament to human spirit.
I revisited 50/50 last night and was struck by the thematic importance of human relationships to the story. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, who is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. The film examines the ways in which Adam’s cancer effects his relationships with his parents, his girlfriend, and his best friend. It is in the hardest circumstances that our true colors show. 50/50 masterfully maintains the balance between comedy and drama, and never overdoses on either. It is a wonderful film about friendship that I will cherish for years to come.
1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
Ten years have passsed and we’ve finally reached the end. I was a Potter fan from the start, and will continue to be one until the day I die. It may sound silly to you. Allow me to explain this somewhat unorthodox choice for the best movie of the year. Harry Potter’s adventures defined my childhood, and I was caught up in the magic of J.K. Rowling’s world. I attended midnight releases for both the books and the movies, dressed up in costumes, and hung posters in my room. Harry, Ron, Hermoine were very real and dear to me, their adventures epic. The finale to the Harry Potter franchise was a very emotional experience for me. My childhood was truly at an end. However, on a cinematic level it is also one of the most exciting fantasy adventures I have ever seen. The adventures may be over, but my love for these stories will never die. Mischief managed.