10. Safety Not Guaranteed
The sweetest movie about time travel you will ever see, Safety Not Guaranteed is quirky comedy full of cynicism and sharp wit. While not necessarily a deep film, Safety Not Guaranteed might be this year’s perfect date movie, right next to Moonrise Kingdom.
9. Cloud Atlas
I’ll admit it this movie has a lot of problems. However it is hard to not praise this movie for its ambition and epic scope. Spanning hundreds of years and telling six different stories of six different genres, all three directors do an admirable job of trying to connect these stories through a theme of repetition and change. While it does not always come together perfectly, and although some of the segments of this movie are just not very good, as a whole this movie really works for it, and its strengths overcome its faults.
This movie is just cool, and without a doubt my favorite action movie this year. It is exactly the kind of slick and stylish action I wanted from director Rian Johnson’s sci-fi time travel flick. This movie also featured what was likely my favorite scene of the year, and without spoiling the film for those who haven’t seen it, it was the scene involving Paul Dano’s character that was absolutely terrifying to watch. It is a great movie for Rian Johnson’s entry into mainstream film making, and I look forward to seeing what he will go onto do with big budget movies.
7. Cabin in the Woods
Both a love letter to and criticism of horror as a genre, Cabin in the Woods is a film made for horror fans. While paying homage to the great horror films like Evil Dead, this movie is a smart and very funny way to poke fun at some of the worse troupes of the horror genre. However, it is the sheer carnage of the third act that really makes this movie great for me, as it offers so much for both the die-hard horror fan and casual movie goer to love.
6. Silver Linings Playbook
This is just a movie that makes me happy to watch. Full of wonderful awkward humor and plenty of lovably dysfunctional characters, Silver Linings Playbook would be a hard movie to hate. While this movie by no means reinvents the wheel as far as the romantic comedy is concerned, it is an exceptional example of how good writing is what really makes the movie. In addition, this is a movie full of excellent acting by the entire ensemble, although I was particularly impressed with Bradley Cooper in this film.
5. End of Watch
Both a buddy cop movie and a solid action movie in its own right, End of Watch is very personal look at what it is like to be a police officer in one of the most dangerous parts of the country. What makes this movie special, and one of my favorites this year, is the relationship between the two lead actors that they were able to build in this film. It is one of the most believable and realistic partnerships I have ever seen in this kind of movie, and it’s because of this fact that film is so effective.
4. Seven Psychopaths
This is my kind of movie, combining genre deconstruction with Martin McDonagh’s trademark dark humor, making this one of my favorite movies of the year. Wickedly funny even after multiple viewings (as I have seen this movie quite a few times in theaters), this movie brings great comedic performances out of both Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell, who is amazing in this movie. This movie has a truly all-star cast and plenty of the violence you would expect from the director of In Bruges, and yet it still manages to have something to say, about both this genre of film and the way filmmakers tend to approach it.
3. Django Unchained
Though it is a little too long for its own good, Django Unchained was likely my best movie going experience of the year. Tarantino delivers yet another wonderful pulpy movie, full of hugely satisfying bloodshed, as well as some really fantastic moments of humor, due in large part to world’s greatest German, Christoph Waltz. While it is hard to say I wholeheartedly enjoyed this movie, due to a few extremely brutal depictions of slavery related horrors, it is still a very fun movie and one I will surely watch again.
2. The Master
Perhaps the most perplexing movie of the year, I left the theater completely baffled after my first viewing of this film. I am a huge P.T. Anderson fan, and while I will not pretend to understand everything going on in this movie, Anderson does succeed at crafting a visually dynamic and engrossing movie. It is a hard movie to explain, or even recommend, but worth seeing at the very least for the Oscar worthy performances from both Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
1. Oslo August 31st
The story of a recovering drug addict as he wanders through the city of Oslo, Oslo August 31st is a personal and unique account of what it is like to deal with the lasting effects of addiction. I’ve always been interested in addiction as a subject for film, and for me, this movie is an exceptionally example of how well film as a medium can deal with this subject material. Overall a wonderful foreign film, however it would by no means be considered an uplifting movie. It is now available on Netflix and I would highly encourage you to watch it if you are at all intrigued.
I would like to use this space to give credit to a few movies that didn’t quite make the cut, but are worth mentioning. While I personally didn’t add the movie to my list, Life of Pi is certainly one of the most memorable and captivating movies I saw all year and definitely deserves praise for its visual style, as this may be the most visually appealing movie this year. I would also like to mention the film Klown, for being one of the most humorous and profoundly inappropriate films of the year. Other honorable mentions include Bernie, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Dredd 3D, Monsieur Lazhar, Chronicle and Sleepwalk with Me.