(keep in mind, I did not see: THE HURT LOCKER, MOON, A SINGLE MAN, A SERIOUS MAN, THE INFORMANT, PRECIOUS and a few others...but I did see these...)
Yes, it was long. Yes, it was based on an unfilmable graphic novel. Yes, it was visuals over characters...but dammit, it was also awesome. So much so that my wife, who hadn't even read the comics, LOVED this movie. And last time I checked, she was a chick. So it did something right. (Maybe it was just the large naked blue guy?!) I'm curious to see what Zack Synder does next and I'm pretty sure Jackie Earle Haley is a fucking star now. It wasn't the best movie of the year, but it was definitely one of the most interesting and visually stunning films of the year.
Speaking of impressive visuals, James Cameron never lets you down. His stories are pretty "ho-hum" and tacky, but they get you through with awesome flying creatures and big gunned robots. And, if nothing else, it gets the "Travis Award" for being one of the only IMAX 3D films that didn't get me light-headed or give me a weird headache. James knew what he was doing and lit the scenes with enough light that they literally pop off the screen. It goes without saying, but you should see this in theaters...cause even on Blu Ray, it's not going to be the same experience.
8. STAR TREK
Seriously. Fucking Star Trek?! I know, believe me, I know. I've NEVER been into Star Trek. My friend Jon used to watch The Next Generation with his parents and I'd sit there, rolling my eyes, wondering when we could go do something, ANYTHING else. Molly was into the TV shows as well, and since this had J.J. Abrams involved, I decided to give it a shot. Holy shit, it was really good. Exactly what a Summer Blockbuster should be. Lots of action, awesome and fun characters, and just overall a thrill ride. Nothing Earth-shattering, but dammit...a good movie. Period. Look past the fact that it's titled "Star Trek" and you'll be surprised.
7. DISTRICT 9
Another one I had ZERO interest in seeing. I saw the trailers. Thought the "shrimp" aliens looked cheap and lame. Heard about the $30 Million budget and wondered why this wasn't going "direct-to-DVD?!" Then started seeing the good reviews and heard nice word of mouth and gave it a Saturday night. Not at all what I was expecting. Shot as if it were a documentary, treated as if aliens had actually landed here, not as in "take us to your leader" or "prepare to die!" Instead, they were refugees. Put up in slums, treated as a disease none of us wanted to deal with. They've been here for decades, and aren't even the main focus of the story. The alien angle was more of an excuse to challenge how we treat one another. Probably a better movie about apartheid than Invictus. And the last 20 minutes were better than ALL of the shitpile that was Transformers 2.
6. AWAY WE GO
Missed this one in theaters, but on a whim we rented it and watched it at home. Kickass, quirky love story. Hipster, independent 30-year-olds find out they're going to have a baby and want different advice on what the best way to raise the kid would be...So they decide to take a road trip and visit family and friends. A really funny, really simple, and sweet movie.
5. THE ROAD
Why the fuck did I see this one? I knew the ending. I read the book. I have a kid now and lost my Father recently. But I went. And cried. And feared the scenes I knew were coming, dealt with the dread and sorrow that weighed on my shoulders. But damn, John Hillcoat is an impressive director. And the kid, the fucking kid nailed the scenes at the end. It was moving, it was gut-wrenching, but it's exactly the kind of movie you need to see once and then never again. It hangs with you for weeks after you leave the theater.
Onto happier movies...sort of. I didn't realize how many people felt this movie was a downer until my Step-Mom saw it recently. She cried the whole time. At the beginning, at the end. I didn't get that sad while watching it, but will admit that it was able to jerk a few tears out of my eyes. It also goes on record for having one of the best 4 minutes segments in the history of cinema. Don't believe me?
3. FANTASTIC MR. FOX
I usually enjoy Wes Anderson films, but his last two films, The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited, were sort of "meh." This one, however he did it, was ingenious. I think the think that perfected this film, (besides all the lil' details hidden throughout the scenes) was his way of capturing the voices. Instead of keeping each actor in a soundproof box, reading their lines all alone, he took them out into a farmhouse, with microphones, and let them play out entire scenes. It's the most natural ensemble animated movies ever. They cut each other off, take pauses, never missing a beat. You almost forget you're watching stop-motion animation after awhile. But more than anything, it oozes "Wes Anderson movie." Even with miniature puppets, he was able to give this world his unique touch. All three of us, Molly, Lex and I, all had smiles on our faces throughout the entire film. Hell, I'm ranking it above a PIXAR film, how much more good can you strive for in animated features?!
2. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
Quentin Tarantino has never let me down. I liked Jackie Brown. I liked his 1/4th part of Four Rooms. I'll defend that Death Proof was far more ambitious than the B-Movie "cheese" it was supposed to be. But still, I had no idea how entertaining a movie about killing Nazis would be. This film was probably the funniest movie of the year. It also holds the title of "Most Intense." It takes it's fucking time, lets entire scenes play out for over 20 minutes, and you simply cannot take your eyes off Christoph Waltz's "Jew Hunter." Tarantino needs to win Best Screenplay for this character alone. Christoph deserves Best Supporting Actor without anyone else even needing to show up. If I wasn't such a hopeless romantic, and didn't like the movie below better, this would have been my #1 movie of the year.
1. UP IN THE AIR
But alas, I'm a sucker for love stories. Oh, AND I have a man-crush on George Clooney. The man is legendary. He's from the old-school Hollywood leading man period. Classic. Charming. And he just puts himself into each role naturally. Him and Vera Farmiga share a chemistry that is sexy, intense, and the kind all of us hope for. But Clooney's character, (pretty much the closest thing to playing himself) isn't interested in long-lasting relationships, and cherishes living in hotel rooms and traveling 320 days out of the year. Still, you root for them, for him to slowly fall for Farmiga's charms (how could he NOT?!) which makes the way director Jason Reitman decides to end it (it's unconventional, like everything he does) all the more reason to sigh. But dammit, you'll enjoy the ride and all the emotions associated with it. And you have to give it up to Reitman for making a film that is directly on the pulse of what is currently going on all around us. To make a romantic drama-comedy about a guy who has to travel the country firing people, and not allow it weigh down the entire film...it's remarkable. The fact that he used real people, who were recently laid off, in the scenes where people are being fired was a nice touch. Overall, filmmaking doesn't get any better than this.