2016: The Year in Film and My Top 10

2016 may best be remembered for the Wrong Envelope scandal, where Warren Beatty read “La La Land” for Best Picture when in fact Moonlight has won. Far far better film!

Total Films Viewed from 2016: 45

Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. Moonlight
  2. Manchester By the Sea
  3. La La Land
  4. Arrival
  5. Hell or High Water
  6. Toni Erdmann
  7. Elle
  8. The Handmaiden
  9. The Lobster
  10. Paterson

Winners of The Major Oscar Categories

Best Picture                             Moonlight

Best Actor                               Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea

Best Actress                            Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actor             Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress          Viola Davis, Fences

Best Director                           Damian Chazelle, La La Land

Original Screenplay                Kenneth Logernan, Manchester By the Sea

Adapted Screenplay                Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Animated Feature           Zootopia

Top Grossing Movie:                Finding Dory (Domestic )

                                                Captain America: Civil War (Worldwide)

(Box Office Mojo, the source of my data here, recently changed how it ranks the #1 movie of the year. It used to be the highest grossing film released in the year. Now it’s the movie that grossed the highest within that calendar year, regardless of date of release).

Really Good Films from 2016 You May Have Missed:

Hell or High Water

The Handmaiden

A Hologram for the King

Movie from 2016 to avoid at all costs:

Independence Day: Resurgence

The Accountant

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Most Overrated Movie of the Year (and Decade)

La La Land

Not terrible, but not 14 Oscar nomination good.

Honorable Mention (Excellent movies, not quite in my Top 10)

Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester By the Sea, Eye in the Sky, Captain America: Civil War, Lion, War Dogs

Here are my Top 10 films of 2016

10.  The Handmaiden

From Korean Directory Chan-woo Park (Oldboy) The Handmaiden is a twisted, film noir style tale worthy of comparison to Hitchcock with an NC-17 rating. Notorious and (in)famous for its copious nudity and a couple of eyebrow-raising sex scenes, it’s a great genre film if you are not easily offended.

9. Sausage Party

By no means is this a good movie. But damn, its funny. Offensive, silly and terribly funny. It the kind of movie you see and when you realize you’ve been entertained; you question your own morals. Only point of reference is Team America: World Police. Watch with caution. You’ve been warned.

8. Rouge One

Of all the Star Wars prequels, sequels and back stories, I was most surprised by Rogue One. Taking place between Episode III and IV, it brilliantly weaves the tale of the creation of the Death Star and the start of the Rebellion’s attack. Saw in theatres three times, loved it.

7. Moonlight

Moonlight might end up being remembered for the “wrong envelope” scandal. But that is not fair to this moving tale of a young African American boy coming to grips with is sexual identity and his life. Its similar to Boyhood in that is follow the life story from pre-teen to adulthood. Required viewing.

6. Sully

Never travel with Tom Hanks. Hanks plays Chelsey Sullenburger, the pilot who successfully landed an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River after a bird strike by a flock of Canadian Geese. But the movie is about far more than the near-disaster. Did Sully do the right thing? Did he needlessly endanger the passengers? He may be a hero but he second guesses himself. Director Clint Eastwood excels at this type of true human drama.

5. Kubo and the Two Strings

The same team that made “Coraline” and “Paranorman”, Kubo and the Two Strings is one of the finest stop-motion animated features ever made. Its pure animated action/adventure. It has a Japanese flair two it but it is made in the US with a pretty much A-list American cast. Great opening line: “If you must blink, do it now”

4. Fences

Denzel directed and starred in this Tony award winning play. It tells the story of an African American working-class family in Pennsylvania. Troy (Denzel) was a star in the major league baseball “Negro League”, but his career ended before they allowed black players in the majors. The story of him coming to terms with his missed opportunities and how they affect his life and his relationship with this wife and son. Closer to a filmed play than a movie. Saw it twice, cried both times. Viola Davis won a richly-deserved Oscar.

3. Deadpool

Maybe higher on my list than it should be, but Deadpool (filmed in Vancouver) is an infinitely watchable, entertaining blood bath of a superhero movie. Irreverent and fun, it endlessly pokes fun at its own genre.

2. Hell or High Water

A modern western with a shocking amount of heart. Chris Pine and Ben Foster star as brothers on a bank robbing spree, trying to raise money to save their family ranch. Jeff Bridge in an Oscar nominated role plays the Sheriff who has correctly guessed their motives and tries to track them down. It’s a lean and simple movie about family, redemption and the battle of good and evil. Another one on the list of “Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”.

1. Arrival

One of those occasions where you watch a movie and you are completely taken aback by its brilliance. “First Contact” movies often fail for a number of reasons, mostly because the intent of the Alien’s is invasion and conquest. This is an intelligent thoughtful piece of Sci-Fi that digs deep into its themes, especially how world governments react to the arrival of the “Heptapods” and their twelve, strange oblong ships that hover just above the Earth. This is a movie that makes demands of its viewer, asks questions and does not provide clear answers. This is one of the decade’s best movies and requires multiple viewings.

2015: The Year in Movies and My Top 10

I traveled a tonne in 2015 and saw a lot of films. It was a great year from my perspective. Five 4-star films and the best animated movie of the decade by far. Max Max Fury Road was the most critically acclaimed movie of the year and won Six Oscars. (Insert gif of the Joker saying “Six!”). The movie relied largely on practical (as opposed to special) effects. I really liked it but I did not find it to be the best of the year.

All that said, I did not see my #1 pic until a couple of years later.

Films I Saw in 2015: 51

Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Spotlight
  3. Inside Out
  4. Carol
  5. Ex Machina
  6. Brooklyn
  7. The Martian
  8. Room
  9. Creed
  10. Sicario

Winners of The Major Oscar Categories

The 2015 Oscar Best Picture Nominees

Best Picture                             Spotlight

Best Actor                               Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Best Actress                            Brie Larson, Room

Best Supporting Actor             Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Best Supporting Actress          Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Best Director                           Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant

Original Screenplay                Josh Singer & Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight

Adapted Screenplay                Adam McKay, The Big Short

Best Animated Feature           Inside Out

Top Grossing Movie:                Jurassic World (Domestic )

                                                The Force Awakens (Worldwide)

(Box Office Mojo, the source of my data here, recently changed how it ranks the #1 movie of the year. It used to be the highest grossing film released in the year. Now it’s the movie that grossed the highest within that calendar year, regardless of date of release).

Really Good Films from 2015 You May Have Missed:

Carol

Spotlight (few have seen this despite the fact that it won Best Picture)

Ex Machina

Movie from 2015 to avoid at all costs:

50 Shades of Grey – proof that a movie can have copious sex and nudity and not be in the least bit sexy or interesting

Hot Pursuit – confession, turned it off after about 45 minutes

Concussion – Will Smith can’t do accents.

Honorable Mention

Sar Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens, Ex Machina, Brooklyn, Sicario, Southpaw

Here are my Top 10 films of 2015

10.  Straight Outta Compton

The story of NWA with O’Shay Jackson Jr. playing his father (Ice Cube). There is a scene where Ice Cube is on a school bus scratching out lyrics and they drive by a white college, students with their collars popped listening to Tears for Fears. At they moment, the movie parodied me. Its insightful, well-acted and an Oscar nominated script.

9. The Revenant

Another successful paring of Leo and Tom. Leo won his long awaited and yes, overdue, Oscar here, more for what he put into the role. The Revenant is unflinching and original and at times hard to watch. Alejandro Inarritu had a rare repeat as Best Director and the great Emmanuel Lubezki won his third straight Oscar for cinematography.

8. The Martian

An extremely entertaining sci-fi film. Matt Damon plays a botanist on a Mission to Mars. He finds himself stranded, no crew, no water, no way to communicate. The movie cuts between his isolation and the technical and political problems created by his attempted rescue. I did not see this until well after its release but it’s a Top 10 selection without question.

7. Creed

Arguably the best thing Sly Stallone has done since the first Rocky movie in 1976. An elegiac tale of an aging Rocky Balboa taking the son of his former rival and friend, Apollo Creed, under his belt. It was a breakthrough role for Michael B Jordan. Sly was a heavy Oscar favourite but ultimately lost to Mark Rylance.

6. Room

SPOILER ALERT!!

A lesser movie would have ended with mother and son reunited and free. But Room is not so much a movie about captivity as it is a movie about what happened while Ma and Jack where held captive and their adjustment to life outside “room”. It’s a brilliantly written, emotional entertaining movie. In a lesser year, it could be a #1 pick.

5. Mad Max Fury Road

Winner of six Oscars and the second most critically acclaimed film of the decade so far. Mad Max Fury Road is a wild ride. It took me a bit to warm up to this film but it is a rare combination of visual effects, acting and story that Action/Sci-Fi rarely sees as a genre. Three more are in the works.

4. The Hateful Eight

A blood-soaked, profane tale of bizarre characters in impossible situations. In other words, Tarantino. Clocking in at nearly three hours, it’s a commitment but worth it. The 221-minute extended version has been broken into four-part series for Netflix. Shot in 70 mm, it was best seen on the big screen but it does translate well to TV. Pay some attention to Ennio Morricone’s Oscar winning score.

3. The Big Short

The funniest and scariest movie of the year. Also one of the most purely entertaining films of the decade. The Big Short tells a pretty true story of the mortgage meltdown that nearly collapsed the American economy. (The movie even tells you when it taking creative liberties). It makes the strong case that the entire problem was not so much corruption as it was pure stupidity and incompetence. Steve Carrell’s best work and an Oscar winning script.

2. Inside Out

As they did with previous outings “Up” and “WALL-E”, Pixar created not only a wildly original movie, but one so good adults and children can enjoy it equally while on entirely different levels. The antagonist in this film is the sub-conscious of a 12-year-old girl, whose family has just moved across the country. And as she leaves childhood and establishes a new life, she has to establish new memories. The voice over work of the five emotions (Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear and Disgust) inside young Riley’s head are all spot-on perfect. Rarely is a film this entertaining, moving, funny and insightful at the same time.

1. Spotlight

I grew up and still am Catholic. I went to a Catholic grade school, all boys Catholic High School, was an altar server and very involved in my church. I knew many priests and never once had a bad experience. Many in fact provided some of the best influence in my life. Unfortunately, sadly and maddeningly, thousands cannot say the same thing. While this movie is the story of the Boston Globe uncovering the depth and rot of the sex scandal and cover-up in the Boston Archdiocese, what makes it great is the in-depth, near documentary look at the process, the roadblocks and how a group of reporter (most of them Catholic) put the pieces together. The movie, like the story it follows, goes after the system, not the faith. And its pretty close to perfect.

2014: The Year in Film and My Top 10

2014 for me was a very entertaining year. There is only one 4-star film from my point of view but lots of great, entertaining, well made films. I cheated and had to create a Top 12.

Total Films Viewed from 2014: 48

Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Birdman
  4. Whiplash
  5. Under the Skin
  6. Gone Girl
  7. Night Crawler
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy
  9. Selma
  10. Snowpiercer

Winners of The Major Oscar Categories

The 2014 Best Picture Nominees

Best Picture                             Birdman

Best Actor                               Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress                            Julianna Moore, Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor             JK Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress          Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Best Director                           Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

Original Screenplay                Alejandro G. Inarritu (et al), Birdman

Adapted Screenplay                Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Best Animated Feature           Big Hero 6

Top Grossing Movie:                Guardians of the Galaxy (Domestic )

                                                 Transformer: Age of Extinction (Worldwide)

Really Good Films from 2014 You May Have Missed:

Draft Day

Her

Begin Again

Snowpiercer

Life Itself

Movie from 2014 to avoid at all costs:

Transformers: Age of Extinction (anything really with the name Transformers)

Blended

The Foxcatcher (critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated, hated every second of it)

Honorable Mention

Still Alice, Edge of Tomorrow, Selma, Begin Again

Here are my Top 10 films of 2014 :

Well, there’s 12, I could not leave two out

10 (tie).  The Lego Movie

How this did not get nominated (and win) Best Animated Feature is beyond me. A fun, silly, thoroughly entertaining film taking place within a closed Lego Universe with a wonderful little twist at the end. Great voice work from Will Ferrell as the villain “President Business”.

10 (tie).  Snowpiercer

I did not discover this movie until years after its release. A post-apocalyptic film, where the earth has been laid barren and frozen in a failed attempt by humans to stop global warming. Snowpiercer is a train, built by a billionaire (Ed Harris) on which the last remnants of humanity survive. A class system has developed and the those at the front of the train want to maintain their advantage over those at the back. A wonderful English Language film from Korean director Joon-ho Bong.

10 (tie).  The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson makes weird movies. This may be his most accessible and most acclaimed but still weird. The story of Gustav, a concierge and a hotel in a fictional country pre-World War Two. A brilliant cast of eclectic characters. Winner of four Oscars.

9. Life Itself

Roger Ebert taught a couple of generations of people how to love and appreciate and examine film. I have read most of his books and read close to every review he wrote from about 1985 onward. This touching elegiac documentary about the end of his life was for me, one of the most tear-jerking movies I have ever seen. The movie is directed by Stephen James, the director of the now legendary Hoop Dreams, Roger Ebert’s choice for #1 movie of the 90s.

 “Look at a movie that a lot of people love and you’ll find something profound no matter how silly the film may seem.”

8. Gone Girl

David Fincher made some great movies this decade. Gone Girl is a twisting, dark tale that start off with a woman’s disappearance that morph’ into a murder investigation. To tell more would be to give too much away. See it for yourself it you haven’t.

7. The Imitation game

The tale of Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician whose covert work cracking encrypted Nazi codes in World War II lead to the invention of what we now call computers. Should have won best actor for Benedict.

6. Captain America: Winter Soldier

Not the best super-hero movie of the 2010’s (that is yet to come) but easily for me the best of the Avenger movies. Between the explosions, hand to hand combat and chase scenes is a movie about a man out of time and place, trying to figure out his own world.

5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The movie that revived the career of Michael Keaton. It’s the story of a washed-up actor, famous for a role as a super-hero Birdman, trying to stay relevant. It is also an amazing look into the back stage of live theatre, mental health and the blurred lines between reality and fantasy.

4. Interstellar

It took me a while to really like this movie; it would have not made my Top 10 in 2014 when I saw it. Over the years, it has grown on me.  The story of a team of space travellers venturing to the far reaches of the solar system with the hopes of finding a new sustainable home. Christopher Nolan – the man only makes excellent films.

3. American Sniper

Chris Kyle, whose life this movie was based on, was murdered as production of the film began. Director Clint Eastwood did not intend this to be a memorial movie, but it ended up that way. Like all Clint’s war movies, its uncompromising and brutal to watch. When I saw this in theatres with my son, the entire audience sat, silently, through the end credits that depicted scenes of Kyle’s funeral. Clint’s most financially successful film and an Oscar Nomination for Bradley Cooper in the title role.

2. Boyhood

My son’s all-time favourite movie. And a good choice. Filmed over 12 years, its follows the story of Mason from childhood to college years. One of the few times we actually get to see an actor grow up on screen before our eyes (other notable is the Up Documentaries). This is the kind of movie that truly ennobles filmmaking as an art form.

1. Whiplash

I grew up a drummer. In my heart, I still am even though I don’t play anymore. My main music teacher was hard on us, always, knowing we could do better. He pushed every student to draw the most out he could. Let me be clear – he was tough on us but he was not that hard-assed, Navy-Seal-style abusive tyrant that JK Simmons depicts in this film. But the parallel to my own life pretty much made this a slam dunk for the #1 of the year. JK Simmons is one of my favourite actors and Miles Teller played the drums for this movie. It’s a great movie that was almost never made.

2013: The Year in Film and My Top

Overall, not a bad year but not great. Two films from this year make my “Required viewing” list. Surprise of the year was “Frozen”, expected to be a modest success only.

Total Films Viewed from 2013: 40

Scroll down for my Top 10

Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. 12 years a Slave
  2. Gravity
  3. Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. Her
  5. Before Midnight
  6. Wolf of Wall Street
  7. American Hustle
  8. Frances Ha
  9. The Act of Killing
  10. Blue is the Warmest Colour

Winners of The Major Oscar Categories

Best Picture Nominees from 2013 (2014 Oscars)

Best Picture                             12 Years a Slave

Best Actor                                Matthew McConaughey Dallas Buyer’s Club

Best Actress                             Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Best Supporting Actor             Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Best Supporting Actress          Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Best Director                            Alfonso Cauron, Gravity

Original Screenplay                Spike Jonze, Her

Adapted Screenplay                John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

Best Animated Feature           Frozen

Two performances from Dallas Buyer’s Club won Oscars. Matthew McConaughey – who did not deserve a win and gave a speech where he thanked his future self. Really, he did. And Jared Leto, who gave one of the best performances of the decades offered a heartfelt, humble acceptance speech for the ages.

Top Grossing Movies:                Iron Man 3 (Domestic )

                                      Frozen (Worldwide)

Really Good Films from 2013 You May Have Missed:

Don Jon

Blue Jasmine

Nebraska

Before Midnight

Movie from 2013 to avoid at all costs:

Grown Ups 2

Planes

Kick Ass 2 (so so so disappointing)

The Hangover Part III

Here are my Top 10 films of 2013

Runners-up: Inside Llewlyn Davis, The Spectacular Now, Saving Mr. Banks, World War Z, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Don Jon

10.  Pacific Rim

Level 7 Guilty Pleasure. Giant robots from the future get face to face with acidic-goo spewing alien sea beasts from another dimension and punch them in the face!!! What’s not to like. This is B movie silliness in the hands of skilled director to create a movie that is by no means good, but I just loved!

The “Honest Trailer” both sums up why I love and should hate this movie.

9. American Hustle

I have read a number of times that director David O. Russell is not easy to work for. True on not, he draws amazing performances from his cast. Only a handful of movies have ever had nominations in all four acting categories and he has done it twice, once with this film. A fun, raucous, 70s period piece about con artists and grifters. Wildly entertaining movie.

8. Captain Phillips

The movie that started the “Never Travel with Tom Hanks” meme. True story of the freight liner that is taken over by Somali pirates, the cunning required to stay alive and the fractious relationship that develops between the ship’s captain and its captors. The ending, based on the actual rescue mission by Seal Team 6, is nail-biting stuff.

7. Blue is the Warmest Colour

More noted and notorious for its graphic lesbian sex scenes, this film is really a wonderful, moving tale about love, loss and self discovery.

6. Before Midnight

Ever been in what seems to be an impossible relationship? If your human, then of course you have. Chapter Three of the compelling, heart wrenching tale of Jesse and Celine, unlikely lovers whose path cross rarely but intensely. Director Richard Linklater’s commitment to this project is nothing short of amazing and the three movies together are amongst the great trilogies ever made.

5. 12 Years a Slave

This year’s best picture, hard to watch but it packs a visceral, emotional wallop like few films. It became the first film to be producer, written and directed by African American film makers to win Best Picture. Director Steve McQueen draws some incredible performance from his three leads, with an Oscar for Lupita Nyong’o.

4. Her

I spend more time on my computer than I do with any one person in my life. Sad statement, I know but it makes the story of a man who falls in love with his AI Operating System not all that far fetched. Director Spike Jonze can be expected to deliver the unexpected (Being John Malkovich) and with “Her” he does not disappoint. Brilliant voice-over work from Scarlett Johannsen as Samantha, the Operating System.

3. Blue Jasmine

Two years in a row with exceptional movies from Woody Allen. Cate Blanchett won a well-deserved Oscar and there are astonishingly good performances from stand-ups Louis CK and Andrew Dice Clay. Blanchett plays a disgraced New York socialite who travels to San Francisco to seek help from her estranged sister unable to accept her new diminished status in life.

2. The Wolf of Wall Street

Leo’s best every performance in a tale of 80s excess and debauchery that could only be brought to life by the great Martin Scorsese. It’s a movie about addiction – to everything, drugs, money, sex, power. Based on the real-life story of stock swindler Jordan Belfort. Not for the light-hearted. Jonah Hill’s best movie.

1. Gravity

Saw it three times in theatres. Had to been seen on the big screen, preferably in IMAX. What an experience. Three-person cast if you count Ed Harris’ voice over. Winner of seven Oscars. Gravity clocks in at a tight 90 minutes which makes if perfect as you live Ryan Stone’s life and death journey with her nearly in real time. This movie almost never got made and went through countless casting changes (originally Robert Downey Jr. and Angelina Jolie). The end result is one of the best films of the decade.

2012: The Year in Film and My Top 10

For my money, this was a very good year in film. Five four-star films by my rating system. A couple of excellent comedies. Picking a #1 this year was quite difficult! (Bad year for animation, otherwise, quite good!!)

Total Films Viewed from 2012: 42

Scroll down for the Top 10

Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Moonrise Kingdom
  3. The Master
  4. Argo
  5. Lincoln
  6. Django Unchained
  7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  8. Holy Motors
  9. Amour
  10. Silver Linings Playbook

Winners of The Major Oscar Categories

Best Picture                             Argo

Best Actor                               Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln

Best Actress                            Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actor             Christoph Walz, Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress          Anne Hathaway, Les Miserable

Best Director                           Ange Lee, Life of Pi

Original Screenplay                Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Adapted Screenplay                Chris Terrio, Argo

Best Animated Feature             Brave

Top Grossing Movie:                 The Avengers (Domestic and Worldwide)

(Argo became the first movie since 1990 – Driving Miss Daisy – to win Best Picture without being nominated for Best Director. Affleck has producer credit so still won an Oscar).

Really Good Films from 2012 You May Have Missed:

Amour

Looper (Noted Critic James Beradinelli has this as #1 of 2012)

Moonrise Kingdom

Act of Valor

Movie from 2012 to avoid at all costs:

Battleship

Ghost Rider II (The things we watch on planes)

Dan’s Top 10 Films of 2012

Honourable Mention: The Dark Knight Rises, Actor of Valor, Les Miserable, Searching for Sugarman, Moonrise Kingdom, Life of Pi

10.  Ted

A great film? Not a chance. But very few comedies have ever made me laugh this hard. I am huge fan of Seth McFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad) so I am predisposed to the raunchy, crude often low brow humour that this film thrives on. A terrible ending prevented it from being even higher on the list.

9. The Avengers

Superheroes have demons, egos, problems, troubled pasts. This wonderfully fun and surprisingly touching action film hit on all cylinders and did not make the mistake of many similar films to follow and stayed a reasonable length.

8. Flight

Since I fly over 100,000 miles a year, perhaps a movie about a pilot with addiction issues is not something I should watch. But I would watch Denzel read a phone book. Gripping, shocking film with an excellent supporting role from John Goodman and for me, a deeply satisfying ending.

7. Skyfall

I have seen every Bond, all more than once. This is the best, full stop. No questions. Javier Bardem should have been Oscar nominated for his role as Silver, one of the great Bond villains. This is an extraordinary cloak and dagger action film with an exceptional emotional core.

6. Silver Linings Playbook

Back to my favourite theme of dysfunctional families, no offense to my siblings. The moment this movie ended I said out loud, I loved every second of that. One of DeNiro’s great performances. And it gives a very different kind of Hollywood ending, one that is satisfying only because the movie and really let you get to know its characters.

5. Prometheus

A thought-provoking, intelligent sci-fi movie meant to be a pre-cursor to the Alien series. Ridley Scott excels at this stuff. It leaves a lot for the audience to interpret and some may find the ending deeply unsatisfying. I loved every minute of it.

4. Lincoln

The best acting performance of the decade. One of the great of all time. This is not a love letter to Honest Abe. It is a hard edged, unblinking look at the compromises, politically and personally, that had to be made to pass the 13th Amendment.

3. Zero Dark Thirty

ZD30 was first intended to be a movie about the unsuccessful hunt for UBL, but when he was killed in Pakistan by Seal Team 6, this movie took a different turn. Methodical, not preachy. It’s a movie about war but much more than a war film. The most critically acclaimed movie of 2012.

2. Django Unchained

Not Tarantino’s best, but vintage QT. A fun, clever, blood-soaked extravaganza about a bounty hunter (Christoph Walz) travelling with a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) to see a Planation owner (Leo

DiCaprio) to rescue the freed slave’s wife. Leo plays a truly vile character, so much so, he had to take a break from filming. Django is a gorefest, a love story and also a bit of a history lesson that only QT can bring to the screen.

1. Argo

My top 10 list for 2012 has morphed over the years. Originally, I would have had this 3rd, behind Django and Zero Dark Thirty. But in this past 8 years, my admiration for this old school, classic Hollywood film has only grown. An unlikely Best Picture but it has held its own over the years. A story of how a bizarre CIA cover story was used to extract 6 Americans trapped in the Canadian Embassy in Iran. Again, another excellent supporting role from John Goodman. And an Oscar nomination for Alan Arkin.  Roger Ebert’s pick for best movie of the year, the last one before his death in 2013. 

2011: The Year in Film and My Top 10

Year in Review : 2011

# of Movies I Saw in 2011: 42

Scroll down for my Top 10

Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that takes a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. Tree of Life
  2. Drive
  3. Hugo
  4. The Artist
  5. The Descendants
  6. Melancholia
  7. Midnight in Paris
  8. Moneyball
  9. A Separation
  10. Martha Macy May Marlene

Winners of The Major Oscar Categories

Best Picture                             The Artist

Best Actor                               Jean Dujardins, The Artist

Best Actress                            Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best Supporting Actor             Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Supporting Actress          Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best Director                           Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Original Screenplay                Woody Allen, Midnight In Paris

Adapted Screenplay                Alexander Payne (et al), The Descendants

Best Animated Feature           Rango

(Editorial Note: The Artist, by my standards, was a very weak Best Picture, not even a 10 best of the year).

Top Grossing Movie:   Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Domestic and Worldwide)

Really Good Films from 2011 You May Have Missed:

We Need to Talk About Kevin (warning, exceptionally bleak)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

A Separation

Margin Call

Biutiful

Movie from 2011 to avoid at all costs:

Arthur

Columbiana

Green Lantern

Here are My Top 10 films of 2011

Honourable Mention: Harry Potter 7 Part 2, J. Edgar, The Iron Lady, The Ides of March, Extremely Loud and Incredible Close, Martha Macy May Marlene, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Artist.

10.  The Muppets

A bad guy named “Tex Richman” played by Chris Cooper. A brilliant Jim Parsons cameo that caused the theatre to erupt in applause. This wonderfully self-aware tribute to past Muppet glory was more for parents than kids. It was funny and supremely entertaining. This despite the fact that I really don’t like Jason Segal (Love Amy!!!)

9. Margin Call

Perhaps because I work in the world of finance, I find this movie fascinating. A fictionalized yet very real look into the beginning of the mortgage meltdown. Stellar cast and Oscar nominated script, never found an audience. “There are three ways to succeed. Be first. Be Smarter. Or Cheat”.

8. Midnight In Paris

Creepy weirdo but brilliant film maker. Allen’s best movie in a couple decades. Oscar winner for original screenplay. Love the use of Van Gogh’s Starry Night in the poster. This is Woody Allen at his clever best, probably his best film since Bullets Over Broadway.

7. Moneyball

The 2002 Oakland A’s had a 20-game winning streak. I new this. I new about Scott Hatteburg’s walk-off pinch hit homer. I knew how this ended and was still at the edge of my seat. That’s a good movie. Perhaps Brad Pitt’s second-best work to Inglorious Basterds. One of two Pitt films in this year’s top 10.

6. Hugo

As I wait in great anticipation to see “The Irishman”, another Scorsese mob epic, I get to write about his most unique film, unlike any he has made. No violence, no profanity, a fairy tale of sorts and a movie about love of movies.

5. A Separation

Roger Ebert’s #1 movie of 2011 and you can see why, its right up his alley. Here is a great place to start if you don’t like subtitled films. From Iran, this movie was the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

4. The Descendants

An exceptional human drama, dysfunctional family film (one of my favourite genres) with a wonderful Alexander Payne script. Some of Clooney’s best work. Set against the backdrop of Hawaii, a man must decide the fate of a family’s 9-digit fortune while unwinding and discovering the pain of his own life.

3. Drive

Unique material, compelling, edgy and violent. The opening 15 minutes of this movie would, in and of itself, make an amazing short film. This would be on the list of “Best Films You’ve probably never seen”.

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Probably my favourite movie of 2011, but I can’t say it’s a better movie than my #1. Rooney Mara should have won an Oscar, her role is nothing short of brilliant. Director David Fincher has made, in my world, a dark brooding masterpiece.

1. Tree of Life

A movie of vast, grand ambition. Tree of Life sets out to define all of existence through the lives of some ordinary people in an ordinary town in the 50s. This is not a film for everyone, its long and deeply symbolic. I loved it. I loved the depiction of the traditional 50s household (Brad Pitt’s character name is merely Mr. O’Brien, through the eyes of his children his first name is not relevant). It is one of the best pictures of the decade.

2010: The Year in Film and My Top 10

This month, I will post articles every few days reviewing each year of the last decade. This will lead up to my Top 10 of the Decade which I will publish throughout December.

Scroll down for my Top 10

Today: Year in Review – 2010

Total Films I Saw That Year: 51

Top Grossing Film: Toy Story 3 (Domestic and Worldwide)

MAJOR OSCAR WINNERS

Best Picture                              The King’s Speech

Best Actor                                Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Best Actress                             Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best Supporting Actor             Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress          Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Best Director                           Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

Original Screenplay                 David Sielder, The Kings Speech

Adapted Screenplay                 Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

TOP 10 Critically Acclaimed Films of the Year

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. The Social Network
  2. Inception
  3. Black Swan
  4. Toy Story 3
  5. Winter’s Bone
  6. True Grit
  7. The King’s Speech
  8. 127 Hours
  9. The Kids Are Alright
  10. The Fighter

Really Good Films from 2010 You May Have Missed:

Exit Through the Gift Shop

The Kids are Alright

Rabbit Hole

Love and Other Drugs

Daybreakers

Movie from 2010 to avoid at all costs:

Get Him to the Greek

Sex and the City II

The Last Airbender

Dinner for Schmucks,

MacGruber (Candidate for worst movie I saw all decade)

DAN’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2010

Honourable Mention: The Fighter, Shutter Island, How to Train Your Dragon, Rabbit Hole, Machete.

10.  Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part I

In my books, easily the best of the Potter films. The most mature and the most compelling story. The segment of the movie with the animated telling of the origin of the Deathly Hallows is the best thing in all 8 films.

9. Kick Ass

What happens when a regular guy wants to become a super hero? Its doesn’t always go well!! Kick Ass is pervasively violent, original, funny as hell and proof that there are roles only Nicolas Cage can play.

8. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Once every 5 or 6 years, a “teen” movie comes out that defies the genre and is a truly great movie. This is it. Go see if it you haven’t. And for my fellow Kitchener residents, keep an eye out for local mega-talent Christine Watson as “Hipster Demon Chick”.

7. The Kids Are Alright

The modern dysfunctional family movie. A lesbian couple with two kids conceived through artificial insemination bring their biological father into the scene. Tour de force acting and a relevant, moving screenplay.

6. Exit Through the Gift Shop

A documentary of sorts, I guess. Two film makers try to interview and film the elusive Banksy. What you see is a side of the street graffiti art scene that is entertaining, audacious and unexpected in only ways a doc can be. Oscar Winner for Best Documentary Feature.

5. True Grit

I am a sucker for all things Cohen. Not their best work but one of the great films of the year. Jeff Bridges makes the legendary role of Rooster Cockburn (played first by John Wayne in his first and only Oscar winning role) his own. Is reminiscent of Wayne’s role, but wisely not an impersonation. It is also far truer to the original source material.

4. The King’s Speech

Every few years the Academy gets is right as they did in honouring Colin Firth. Its no small task to appear regal and feeble at the same time. The scenes with Firth and veteran actor Geoffrey Rush as his therapist bantering dialogue could go on forever. Old school, classic film making at its best. Many people would rank this as their favourite film of the year.

3. Inception

So very rare to see a motion picture based on original material. Inception is mind-bending. I have seen it multiple times and always love it. The combo of Leo and Tom Hardy were as influential on men’s fashion and the film was on the industry.

2. Toy Story 3

A nearly perfect animated film. The amazing conclusion (at that time) to the saga of Woody and Andy, introducing wonderful new characters and bringing the toy universe further to life. The scene with Mr. Potato Head disguising himself in a tortilla is one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

1. The Social Network

The King’s Speech might be the best example of storytelling in 2010 but the Social Network was the best example of film making. Deftly edited between scenes of a law suit deposition and flashbacks (the majority of the movie) to the creation of Facebook. Its an extraordinary script anchored by an Oscar nominated performance from Jessie Eisenberg. Its one of those infinitely watchable movies.