10. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
The tone is all over the place for this film, but I think that’s intentional and the biggest reason why it works. Everyone would handle the end of the world in their own way. Some would go insane, some people would stop caring, and some would get reflective. The point is, no one is going to handle the end of the world in the same manner.
Many people feel like the ending makes the film suffer or it goes on too long. I feel like the ending was the best part of the film and it was certainly my favorite part. In a movie that promises the end of the world, how else is the movie going to end? This is basically Armageddon, but where Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck failed to destroy the asteroid. That’s how I like to look at it at least.
9. Celeste and Jesse Forever
It was great to see the typical indie-romcom kind of flipped inside out with the film being about a female instead of a male. Even though not too many people have seen this film, this one is Rashida Jones’ break-out. It’s another film, where slapstick is introduced somewhere in the middle, and while I agree that it does not necessarily fit in this film, I can find it forgivable.
I feel like the film is so strong that it can overcome those small details. It’s also refreshingly nice to see a movie where both the man and the female end up alright and neither is portrayed as a villain. It’s an interesting portrait about a married couple who were super close and attempt to remain close even as they divorce. It’s painful at times, it’s sometimes funny, but it’s always real.
8. This is 40
I’m nowhere near 40, but I don’t believe you have to be of a certain age to enjoy Judd Apatow’s fourth directorial feature. I’m a huge fan of Apatow’s three previous films so this one would have to be a huge misfire for me not to enjoy it. Well, This is 40 is nowhere near a misfire as what we got instead was a very funny, raunchy yet sweet film about an aging married couple and everyone associated with them.
I tried something different where I actually read the screenplay before I watched the movie. I don’t believe I’ll be doing that again in the future. Especially in a comedy, I find that reading the script beforehand ruins the experience. I felt like some of the laughs were ruined, just knowing what was coming was a bit of a distraction that took away something I can’t put my finger on. I just wish I would have went in cold, without knowing as much about the film.
Having said all that, I love the film much like I loved Funny People. Apatow adds another gem to his resume and makes it four for four in films he has directed. I can’t wait to find out what he decides to write and direct next.
7. 10 Years
This one was certainly a surprise. It’s Channing Tatum’s best film of the year, but then again it’s not really his film. 10 Years is truly an ensemble film with a huge and talented cast. It’s also a very likeable cast, where the only annoying one happens to be the usually likeable Chris Pratt. Sometimes Pratt’s performance happens to be a distraction, but it never really takes away from the film somehow.
This is also the second high school reunion film of the year, coming after American Reunion. I also liked that film very much, but while that one was a bit more raunchy, this is one is much more grounded. There are several moments and scenes that stick out and it seems that the more I see the movie, the better it gets. That’s when you know you’re dealing with something special.
6. Ruby Sparks
Here we have another hidden gem with a really insane premise that shouldn’t work but somehow does. Paul Dano plays a young writer with a literary classic under his belt but who has had trouble with the ladies. Suffering from writer’s block and unable to knock out book number two, he decides to focus on writing about a female instead. Somehow she comes to life and what we then get is an interesting view on how men expect certain things from a female.
Even with the insane premise of creating your perfect woman, the film still manages to stay grounded. Ruby Sparks is the perfect creation and a woman who any man would be lucky to create. There-in lies the point however, as we should accept our partners for who they are and not try to change them into what we want them to be. It’s an interesting take on that, and yet somewhat more. I’ve seen the film several times, and I’ve also found that sometimes it’s best not to think too much about what it’s really about, and instead just enjoy the wonderful little film for what it is.
5. Life of Pi
Even thinking about it now, I can’t help but think how amazing the experience of watching Life of Pi was. It was a great technical achievement but it was also such a great survival story. The film works on so many levels, but mostly it just left me in awe. The religion aspect of the film should not work, for me at least, but I feel like none of the religion stuff was too heavy.
Pi manages to be such a likeable protagonist, even in the present day so it helps that we have someone to root for. Richard Parker is also a great character that ranks right up there with the best animals in cinematic history. I love the story about how we prefer the fairy tale to the harsh reality of real life. More than anything however, I just loved watching his visual treat and leaving the theater in amazement.
4. Silver Linings Playbook
Here we have my type of romantic comedy. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are extremely attractive, but they’re also extremely screwed up. It’s a pleasure to watch the two actors light up the screen with their easy yet scorching chemistry. Watching Cooper and Lawrence interact, you feel like it’s a pleasure or privilege each time the two are on screen.
Director David O. Russell delivers a film that sticks to a certain formula, but what’s wrong with that? There are a lot of complaints concerning the character’s mental state relating to their physical appearance as well as to consistency of that mental state, well that never really crosses my mind. I just feel like it’s a treat to watch this wonderful, talented and yes, attractive cast. In a sometimes angry film, it still manages to be very sweet and very funny. Jennifer Lawrence gives the type of performance that makes it impossible for you not to fall in love with her.
3. The Grey
Then there was The Grey. Forget about what you think you know about the film or about the way the film was promoted. What we have here is a film about survival, finding something to live and fight for, and a deep exploration of a group of men who the regular world has rejected. It’s not a horror film, but it certainly has those elements that make you jump in your seats and gives you several boosts of adrenaline.
This film manages to be better than anything I could have hoped for. It’s such a quiet, yet reflective film with such strong individual moments that make it add up to such a beautiful whole. Liam Neeson’s narration starts off the film, and really how can you go wrong from there. It’s a bit formulaic, in the vein of Alien, where the characters manage to get picked off one by one, but it also goes way beyond that.
I love watching a character who opens the film on the verge of suicide then spending the rest of the film fighting for his life and finding a reason to live and to fight. People also complain about the ending, well it could not have ended any other way. Liam Neeson gives an iconic performance which might be my favorite one of the year. Any other year, this would be my number one film, the fact that it’s number three shows how strong of a year it was for movies.
2. The Dark Knight Rises
With the crazy expectations I had for this movie going into it, how could any movie live up to that? The Dark Knight Rises manages to meet my expectations and then even go beyond that. I loved the conclusion to Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and I’ll defend it to anyone, anytime. We live in an age where people on the internet just love to complain and almost instantaneously turn against a film, the fan backlash against this film in certain circles is pretty amazing. I hear none of that.
It’s so much better to love things than to hate them. Despite some flaws, I accept this film wholeheartedly and will even go as far as to say that it’s above Batman Begins and The Dark Knight for me. I enjoy each viewing more than the previous, and even after watching it so many times, I still manage to get those chills while watching it.
This is everything I want in a Batman film. Movies aren’t like comic books where things just keep going on forever. Here we get something that comic books don’t really do or can’t do. We see the entire story of Bruce Wayne from beginning to end. We see him get his happy ending and then pass on the cowl and cape. Many people won’t accept that or argue and bitch and moan. I love that Nolan got to tell his story and I am so blessed that I got to see it and can see it anytime I choose to. The trilogy and what they pulled off was such an amazing feat, and now I just hope they can do to Superman what they just did for Batman.
1. Liberal Arts
Now we get to my favorite film of the year and to one that I never saw coming. I call it the little film that could and certainly the little film that no one has heard of. The Dark Knight Rises was cruising to number one for so long and even when I watched this film, it stayed there for a while. Then, I re-watched this film, and watched it again…and again and again. It just managed to get better every time I watched it and each time it managed to put a smile on my face.
Sure, it can be a bit pretentious at times but I feel like it somewhat acknowledges that and it’s one of the films charms. It embraces its pretentiousness and its intelligence and doesn’t really feel the need to dumb itself down for the audience, especially since it doesn’t really assume that it has one. What we have instead is director/writer/actor Josh Radnor’s passion project and that passion and love is everywhere in the film. Radnor shares chemistry with everyone he interacts with.
Radnor manages to bring out the best in his actor’s and especially his two love interests. I may be a bit partial to Radnor since my favorite TV show of all-time is How I Met Your Mother, but despite that, I see this film with pure unadulterated and uncompromising love. It’s a film I am glad to have seen and a film that found me at the perfect time in my life.