Tonight is the Academy Awards and if you knew my feelings on the show (or read this post) than you know that I will not be watching this year's ceremony (much like the year prior and the year before that). Frankly, I find the whole process and outcomes to self-indulgent and I prefer to spend my time elsewhere. Usually, I put together a top ten list that highlights my feelings about the past year in film. This year, I am had to truncate it to five to increase the likelihood of it getting posted.
For your enjoyment, here are my top five and some films on the outside looking in (I apologize for how long it took to post this)...
Skyfall - Quite possible the best Bond film in recent memory. Kind of makes you forget Quantum of Solace, although that was not a difficult feat. While I have been on the butt of several jokes about the film's Rooney Rating, I still maintain that it was one of the more enjoyable jaunts to the multiplex this year.
Seven Psychopaths - I (like most of Maus compatriots) loved In Bruges and really was nervous about Martin McDonagh's follow-up to that film. Granted, I would not like to see McDonagh limit himself to the same film over and over again. Thankfully, this was not the case and the audience was treated to an intelligent and very witty film about a screenwriter trying to overcome writer's block to write a film about seven psychopaths.
On to the list:
5. Django Unchained
I must admit that I am over Quentin Tarantino (I blame film school for that). I am not one of his rabid and overzealous fan boys. I find his films to be very self-indulgent in regards to the dialogue. So, you can imagine when I saw the trailer to this film, I was not impressed by what I saw. However, being a huge fan of the western genre, you can bet that I was going to see this film at some point. Sure, the violence was over the top but damn, does Christoph Waltz give a performance that is unparalleled in recent memory (and is leaps and bounds better than his Academy Award winning performance in Inglorious Basterds). Does (and will he ever he ever) Tarantino grow as a filmmaker with Django? Probably not, but when he is outside of the realm of popular culture, he does put together an enjoyable couple of hours.
Or should I say, Argofuckyourself. I hate to say it, but I like Ben Affleck as a Director. I might not have liked Gone Baby Gone but I did enjoy The Town. Affleck with his third film, Argo, is coming into his own. Frankly, it is hard to not enjoy seeing the development of a career that is building upon previous work. It is difficult to find many flaws with this film outside of the questions of historical accuracy. This is a relatively specious complaint since it is a drama not a documentary. Ultimately, this can be overlooked because of the quality of the script and the absolutely stellar cast.
3. The Dark Knight Rises
Is there a more complete trilogy of films than Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. The answer is a resounding no. Most trilogies fall apart with the final film, however, the argument can be made that the series was better with the each film. Some say the film was boring and that Tom Hardy was incomprehensible, but that is short changing the most intelligent film about a man who dresses up like a bat to fight crime. Seriously, I challenge you to find a comic book adaption that compares to this film from the perspective of content and subject matter. Plus, when you look at the cinematography and use of practical effects, there is no comparison. The Dark Knight Rises is the apex of the genre.
2. Moonrise Kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom is a film from a bygone era. It has a wit and whimsy that rarely exists (if at all) in American cinema. It was one of the best two hours that I spent in a theater this year. Wes Anderson is one of the few screenwriters that take the absurd and then put it on screen without the audience scoffing in derision. It is a shame that this film has not received the recognition that it deserved. An argument could be made that late spring/ early summer release date was the reason. Regardless, there are very few films that are like it and it is doubtful that there will be any more.
For a movie that concerns itself with time travel, there is not much in it. Certainly, it is an element within the film but it never overshadows the motivations of the main characters. Looper is not a question of time travel but a examination about what someone would do to change time. That is the genius behind Rian Johnson's script. At no point, do you really care about the gimmicky act of time travel. Johnson proves that you do not need a bloated special effects budget to create a modern science fiction masterpiece. Looper much like Moonrise is a product of a different time. For me, it reminded me of the science fiction films that enjoyed in my earlier days.