Assessing the year's best films, according to my refined tastes and, as usual, in no particular order (except this one).
127 Hours (R)
Starring: James Franco
Director: Danny Boyle
Much like Moon from last year - a film that was in my top 10 - this is a one man show. Having an entire movie dependent on a single actor and location is one of the biggest challenges a director can face. But Danny Boyle, one of my favorite directors, is well-suited for this demanding task. The biggest question people ask me is what happens during the movie? Does it all take place during his entrapment? Yes, it does. But it's not boring. In fact, Boyle does an excellent job of creating drama and tension. You know he has to cut off his arm, but what is the journey like to get to that moment? What does a man have to endure before he reaches his breaking point? These questions are answered and it's all beautifully shot. There's a sense of claustrophobia and wide-open loneliness at the same time - it's an amazing work of art. Of course, the movie practically hinges on a great performance and Franco is flawless in his execution as Aron Ralston - probably his most challenging role as an actor (right next to Franco from General Hospital!). And yes, they do show him sawing off his arm. It's gruesome and bold, but also very triumphant. There's a moment at the end when he finally literally breaks free from the rock that forever changed his life and he's stumbling out into the desert searching for civilization that Sigur Rós' Festival starts to amp up and we see him getting rescued. It's one of the most beautiful and emotional moments I've seen in a movie this year and it makes you want to stand up and cheer (the song kicks in at 4:30):