|This is really my area of expertise|
To hell with an intro! I tried writing some sort of eloquent piece on movie making and the direction Hollywood is going. Well, that was a boring and crappy intro, so I decided to write about the actual movie-going experience and how I prefer to watch movies in the theater because I can't get distracted by my phone or the internet. But I hated that as well. So here I am - my top three movies this year. One of them was for sure going to be a favorite of mine when I made last year's list, but the other two I really was surprised at how much they affected me. On to the list!
3. Cloud Atlas
A highly ambitious film, Cloud Atlas is completely hard to explain to anybody who hasn't seen it. There's six stories that all have the same actors playing different roles. That's usually the hook that gets people interested, but the movie is so much more than that. It's at once a pretentious, cheese-infested movie full of grand notions about humanity and at other times honest and quiet - there are some great moments - especially like the one captured above. And that's what so great about this movie - there's a little bit of everything (drama, romance, action and comedy) and never does the movie overstay its welcome with all the story lines. One of the more beautifully made movies this year, Cloud Atlas is a big film that needs to be watched. Matt Goldberg's editorial on why you should see Cloud Atlas speaks truth to Hollywood's ruthless business of movie-making. It's a shame this movie didn't get the love it deserved at the box office, but I am pretty sure this movie will still be looked upon as a classic years from now. The Wachowskis may not be Oscar-worthy directors, but they sure know how to cut a movie and create something wholly unique.
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Steven Chbosky's own adaptation of his novel, Perks is a magnificent movie that could stand alongside any of John Hughes' brilliant high school comedies and dramas. The story about an introverted freshman named Charlie and his navigation of high school is both brilliant, poignant and laugh out loud funny. There's a lot of very dark and serious subject matter - suicide, bullying, sex and drugs - but the film is such a delight. I cannot tell you how much I loved every character in this movie. Logan Lerman is completely perfect in this role and Emma Watson (known to the universe as Hermione Granger) sheds her Harry Potter hair and convincingly inhabits a wholly different character. Anyone who is a fan of coming of age dramas or high school comedies owes themselves to see this movie. It's simply amazing and shame on the Academy for completely snubbing this well-written and executed movie - it deserves more attention than what it got.
This was by far my favorite movie this year. Looper manages to exceed my lofty expectations (number 2 last year on my most anticipated list!) and deliver not only a solid action movie steeped in science fiction, but a brilliant and moving drama that has some of the best performances I've seen all year. Bruce Willis is no stranger to time travel and much like 12 Monkeys, Looper is destined to be a classic that people will point to as a blueprint on how to make a great time travel film. The performances were great, the story was amazing and the action solid. I loved every single frame of this movie and I've seen the movie three times and it still hasn't worn out its welcome. It's really not that surprising the Academy snubbed this movie - but I will go on record that the kid (Pierce Gagnon) deserves an Oscar nomination more than the girl from Beasts of the Southern Wild. That kid has a bright future. And so does Rian Johnson - he's done nothing but impress me from movie to movie. Looper has that "instant classic" cliche attached to it, but it's well deserved.
Here's what I think of the Oscar nominees:
9. Les Miserable - I have yet to see this two and half hour musical, but I'm sure I'm going to hate it.
8. Amour - This movie sounds completely depressing and I'm going to be in agony when I sit down to watch this one
7. Lincoln - What a snoozefest - probably the most overrated movie I've seen in a long time. I think it's overly pretentious and self-indulgent and manipulative. If it wins best picture, it will probably be the most forgettable winner alongside Crash.
6. Beasts of the Southern Wild - a small notch above Lincoln, Beasts is completely baffling to me. Baffling because I don't understand why people love this movie so much. It is most definitely not a triumph - it's tedious and I felt the characters were flat and boring.
5. Life of Pi - This one I actually like - I don't know if it was Best Picture worthy - but it has its moments and those moments are brilliant and beautiful. This movie deserves some love and Ang Lee is finally back doing good movies!
4. Django Unchained - Tarantino is a master at clever dialogue and great action and drama. And his movies just keep getting better and better in my opinion (although I have a real soft spot for Inglourious Basterds). Django is a great film and worthy of all the awards.
3. Argo - Ben Affleck is 3 for 3 - and he certainly deserved an Oscar nomination over some of his colleagues. An amazingly intense and equally comedic movie - Argo was expertly paced and finely directed. There wasn't a hiccup in this movie at all.
2. Zero Dark Thirty - I had this lower on my rankings of all the Best Picture nominees, but the more I thought about this movie, the more it's grown on me. It's slowly sinking in that I love this movie. I think about it a lot more than most of the other movies I've written about in the past year. Truly a film everyone must see.
1. Silver Linings Playbook - I don't know if I'm getting more emotional with age - but damn this movie had me from the beginning and wouldn't let go. I thought the acting and directing were perfect - this was a great romantic comedy and I would love for this movie to pull off the biggest upset in Oscar history since 1998 when Shakespeare in Love won (and that movie beat out another Spielberg shoe-in, Saving Private Ryan!).
Here's my official Top 10:
10. The Avengers
7. 21 Jump Street
6. Magic Mike
5. Zero Dark Thirty
4. Cloud Atlas
3. Silver Linings Playbook
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower