Here’s a list of the movies I saw this year, categorized by rating. It was a pretty good year; I plan to keep this up and do a post at the end of 2011 as I find it easy to forget the films I’ve seen.
★★★★ – Best movies I saw this year
- I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino, director): Sublime. I often pair this with The Secret In Their Eyes from last year as movies I strongly recommend. Great acting, great story, humanity. Just see it.
- Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, director) – The best Canadian film I can remember seeing in ages. (VIFF)
- Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950): Saw this in the theatre for the first time this year. One of the greats.
- The Social Network (David Fincher, director) – A rare movie with smart dialog that moves at a clip that doesn’t pander to an (imagined) lowest common denominator. Oddly inspiring.
★★★½ – Definitely worth seeing
- Aftershock – Surprisingly affecting movie based around the Tangshan earthquake of 1976. (VIFF)
- Cannot Live Without You – Happened upon this Taiwanese film when looking for something to see one night. Probably hard to find, but worthwhile searching out.
- The Duel – This was almost a four-star movie for me. Very well done. Read the Chekhov short story first. (VIFF)
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Lots of fun. Some of it disturbing.
- The Hurt Locker – Not as brilliant as some would have you believe. The bravado of the ending really rubbed me the wrong way (perhaps it was the music).
- Jack Goes Boating – Philip Seymour Hoffman stars and, for the first time, directs. Very human movie with a great ensemble.
- The Kids Are All Right – If you can avoid debating the politics and how realistic it really is, and just enjoy it, it’s great.
- Mother – Emotionally harrowing South Korean film.
- Please Give – Rare to see such a simple, human movie. Great performances, and good to see women as the main characters.
- Rabbit Hole – Generally underrated, it seems. Insight into loss and recovery.
- Restrepo – More than anything else, as if we needed more convincing, a reminder of the futility of the Afghanistan campaign.
- A Solitary Man – Seemingly underrated; I didn’t hear a lot about this film. Good work from Michael Douglas.
- True Grit – Can’t go wrong with the Coen Brothers. Good Western romp.
- Un Prophète – Harrowing and very well done.
- Winter’s Bone – Close to four stars; the main character is brilliantly played but it’s debatable how realistic her character is.
★★★ – If you’re bored and you’ve seen the above, rent these
- Date Night – Funny enough but ultimately pretty lightweight.
- Exit Through the Gift Shop – Mostly diverting. Docked half a star for trying too hard to be hip.
- Get Low – Fell surprisingly flat to me.
- Ghost Writer – Not bad, but didn’t stay with me.
- The Girl Who Played With Fire – Just not as compelling as the original. I didn’t bother to see the third instalment.
- Green Zone – Superseded by Restrepo, perhaps, but not as bad as some made it out to be.
- Greenberg – Lightweight fun.
- Inception – Everyone says I should see this again. Until I do, it lingers as a letdown. Not nearly as convoluted as advertised (or as Nolan’s Memento). I suspect people who feel the same way I do about this movie would enjoy Primer; perhaps the press that Inception got will help Shane Carruth fund A Topiary.
- Never Let Me Go – Not as bad as some reviews would have it, but oddly not as affecting as it could have been, or very nearly was.
★★ – Please promise me you won’t see these even if you’re curious
- Splice – What on earth went wrong here? I still haven’t quite decided, but the whole thing wasn’t just silly in the end, it was oddly stiff.
- Tron: Legacy – Boring, with cringe-inducing dialog. I didn’t even notice the 3D, given the rest. Easily the worst film I saw all year. Luckily Jeff Bridges got to redeem himself the next week in True Grit (see above).