I have done year-end movie lists before, but this year I thought to myself “That’ll be easy this year, I haven’t seen anything.” How wrong I was. I saw 24 new releases this year. Most were on DVD so not quite as new, but still it’s way more than I would have expected. And narrowing it to my top 12 isn’t exactly a huge undertaking when the total is 24, but I still enjoyed most everything I saw this year. So while I may spend too much time with movies, at least they aren’t ones I don’t like.
12. Friends with Kids – lots of people I like in a dramedy. You’re going to see a lot of that on this list. This one was a bit hokey and predictable, but good.
11. Chronicle – This is definitely not going to make any critics top movies of the year, but it worked for me. Akira is one of my favorite movies of any genre, and this is likely the closest and best we’ll get of a live-action version.
10. Beasts of the Southern Wild – A for originality, not quite A for everything else.
9. The Raid: Redemption – I feel a bit bad ranking this above #10, which is far and away a better movie. But in terms of an enjoyable movie going experience, this foreign actionfest knocked it out of the park.
8. Jeff Who Lives at Home – people I like in a dramedy. This type of movie is been labeled mumblecore, though the directors disagree with the term. Whatever it is, I like it.
7. Looper – Not a masterclass, but like #9 it excelled within its genre. I’d love to see this level of care put into science fiction more often.
6. The Avengers – this list is a bit less artsy than I anticipated, but what can I saw, I am part of the great unwashed. This movie could have gone wrong in countless ways, and didn’t. Whedon worship has long been part of the geek culture, and this brought it to the masses.
5. Les Miserables – this is difficult to place as I just saw it last night. It was a grand spectacle that packed a wallop. I think that facts that some of it was SO good (some of the cinematography, Hathaway etc) made the parts that were less good more noticeable.
4. Hit and Run – Again, the contrast from Les Mis, which you can almost objectively say is a great movie, to this movie does admittedly call into question my ability to rank things. I do in fact know how ranking works. But if I ask myself which movie I liked on a whole more, it’s this one. It’s a simple movie, and it veers into self-indulgence, but darned did I leave with a smile on my face. It’s much more fun, funny, and just better than you’d think going in. Disclaimer: contains Kristen Bell; I may not be objective.
3. Cabin in the Woods - I value movies that I’m thinking about a week later. Sometimes this aftertaste comes only after a sour start (eg Melancholia.) This movie (written by Whedon) was unrestrained fun at first taste, with interesting commentary and enjoyment rolling in days afterwards. You can’t really ask for more.
2. Safety Not Guaranteed – dramedy with people I like? Check. This one veers more into the comedy than drama, but it has enough to keep it from being fluffy piece of entertainment. As I said when I first wrote about it, it’s the best thing I’ve ever been forced to watch on an airplane. I should watch it again with artificial oxygen levels potentially messing with my brain, but I’m pretty sure it will hold up. Disclaimer: contains Kristen Bell.
1. Moonrise Kingdom – Sometimes when watching a Tim Burton movie I say to myself “Enough Tim. We get it. You’re Tim Burton. Let’s move on with the story.” I love Tim Burton, his style just overstays its welcome every once in a while. Wes Anderson piles on his Wes Anderson and I find myself asking for more. “Oh Wes” I say “you’re so quirky. Keep on doing your thing.” Great performances (child actors I don’t hate!) across the board in a movie that no one else could make. I saw it twice! That never happens. You should see it twice.
And the 12 Movies I was Going to See But Didn't Get Around to It So Will See in 2013:
1. The Hobbit
2. The Master
3. Silver Linings Playbook
5. The Queen of Versailles
6. Seven Psychopaths
7. Cloud Atlas
8. Zero Dark Thirty
9. Wreck-it Ralph
10. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
11. Life of Pi
12. The Secret World of Arrietty (British Dub)