I try to keep my mind as open as possible during the year, and as you start assembling a list like this you see there could be perceived slights. The fact of the matter is making this list was brutal. More than once I had to consider if I can stick to a previously made proclamation, more than once I jotted down additional titles to see if they could slide into the top 25.
Few films can go for lyrical simplicity and capture it so well. Equally difficult is capturing the unspeakable wonders of childhood creativity and a young protagonist alone. This film succeeds in all those areas and more. It truly deserves a worldwide audience.
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This film is one of the best heartfelt teen movies in quite some time. Yes, there was Easy A a few years ago, but that was primarily satirical comedy. There’s humor here but it’s mostly a drama, and has three characters you end up knowing and caring about a great deal.
8. The Dynamiter
I could’ve mentioned this for quite a few entries, but aside from all these films being quality pieces, this was really a year of tear-jerkers crowding this list. Making someone cry is one thing, but doing so and being all around great is something else. This film works so subtly and softly I never felt it coming, but when it hit, it hit so hard.
7. Les Misérables
The rip-your-heart-out-bawl-your-eyes-out emotions of the show are here cinematic, raw, in your face here and I for one love it. Some songs are redefined, others reinvented; the cast breathes new life into this classic tale.
6. The Cabin in the Woods
If there’s one genre that needs a jolt of energy every so often, it’s horror. The proliferation of horror films will continue, so originality and reflexivity need to be injected to keep it vibrant. This is one of the best films in the genre in years.
5. North Sea Texas
Here you see the benefits of festival-going, for had I not made a point of attending QFest in Philadelphia I wouldn’t have seen it. The limited release of this film never really came anywhere close to me.
Thus, I haven’t been fortunate enough to re-view the film, but I firmly believe what I said prior: this will stand the test of time as an important work.
4. The Dark Knight Rises
I love Batman. I do. Had I not gotten bogged down, and behind schedule, I would’ve written a Hero Whipped about it. Nolan’s trilogy is brilliant, but mostly due to the way this one closes it. Enjoyable as the first two were, I always felt I didn’t like them as much as everyone else. This one I love a lot and was very emotionally involving.
3. Anna Karenina
This and the title that follows on the list are the ones that really grew upon thought. I never expected this to be such an emotionally involving experience and I was very glad it turned out to be one.
2. The Turin Horse
This film is about as perfect a swan song as you could want.
1. Django Unchained
I wrote a bit about this in the BAM Award Winners post. To summarize here: this is a film about slavery that’s as funny as it is smart, and as brash as it is enjoyable.