Ah, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! The streets are adorned with lights, passersby are wrapped head to toe in wool, and thoughts turn to the year that is about to pass us by. Favorite memories, trips I took, and of course, the movies I saw! I can pinpoint five movies that I saw this year that I truly, thoroughly enjoyed. Herewith, it’s the third annual (you loved the 2010 edition, the 2011 edition and the 2012 edition) top movies of the year list!
To the Wonder. Critics were pretty divided on this most recent Terrence Malick film. I think that Malick conveys the high of being in love, as well as the low of falling out of love, masterfully in this movie. I was well aware, as I sat watching the movie, that others may hate it. The constant narration. The lack of plot. The lack of dialogue. But one must go into a Malick film knowing that it is primarily about mood and visuals. The interplay between the beautiful Olga Kurylenko and the stoic Ben Affleck is almost like modern dance. We see them dance towards each other and then eventually dance away from each other. It is a wondrous, beautiful film.
Star Trek Into Darkness. I love a good action film- but only a good action film. Meaning that there are plenty of bad ones out there. I have no need for catchphrases such as “Yippie ky ay motherfucker”. Just give me a tightly-plotted, well-directed, well-acted, fast-paced story with visual effects that are impressive but that don’t overpower the story or verge on the ridiculous. I am not a big fan of Chris Pine, but I understand that he has to act within the confines of a character first played by the Dean of overacting, William Shatner. But Zachary Quinto to me is great as the logical Spock. J.J. Abrams is a skilled storyteller, and he directed the best action movie of the year.
Much Ado About Nothing. Speaking of skilled action movie directors, this is the first Joss Whedon movie that I had ever seen. I have never seen The Avengers, or Firefly, and was not into Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day. But I do have great fondness for Much Ado About Nothing, a Shakespearean comedy that I participated in when I was an adolescent. So I was very curious to see this modern adaptation. It was a wonderful adaptation, preserving the rambunctious spirit of Shakespeare’s play, honoring the dialogue, while making the modern update relevant. The whole movie was filmed at Whedon’s beautiful Hollywood Hills home, and the whole film has the air of a breezy, fun weekend with friends. If those friends included Nathan Filion!
The Heat. This is the funniest movie I saw this year. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy complement each other perfectly as cops cracking a big case. This movie also gets big points for featuring Bill Burr and Demian Bichir in supporting roles, both actors I like. Melissa McCarthy should star in every new comedy, since she is a big ball of energy who is also blessed with perfect comedic timing. Couple that with Sandra Bullock playing uptight, which she does well, and you have a pretty awesome comedy.
Blue Jasmine. What can I say about this movie that I didn’t already say in my praise of Cate Blanchett? She does what she does best, ably guided by Woody Allen’s direction. We get to see several shots of San Francisco, both the famous postcard views and the lesser-known areas. We get to see an actress lead an ensemble cast that includes Louis C.K. in a semi-dramatic role and Alec Baldwin at his smarmy best. We get to see what happens when a woman bases her self-worth on how the men in her life value her. All in all, highly recommended.