Top 10 Movies I Saw this Year

by - Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I am listing my favorite movies I saw for the first time this year, not that came out this year, because I really haven't been to the movies much this year. Pitch Perfect and Bernie both almost made the list, but otherwise most everything is from Netflix.


from www.avclub.com/articles/capote,4298/
10. Capote- A pretty great frame for a couple of great performances. The performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman is not only a spot-on characterization, but it is also hard to know whether to root for him or not. Capote is selfish and clearly using the subjects of his book, but this doesn't stop their interactions from having a profound effect on him, so you have to assume on some level he cares. And then you have to ask yourself whether he should care about some murderer. It's one of those movies where you don't really like anyone (except for Harper Lee of course), you don't identify with anyone completely even though everyone is vulnerable, but you still can't take your eyes off of it. It also has one of the hardest death scenes I have ever seen in a movie. Good, but not fun.

from www.imdb.com/title/tt0104694/
9. A League of their Own- How had I never seen this movie before? Loved it, but it is also one of those movies I would let my daughters watch, because it is fun to see women kicking butt. It's funny, though I think it depends too much on the idea I will like Geena Davis, which I mostly don't. Otherwise, so good! Why doesn't Rosie ever act anymore?

from www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/
8. The African Queen-Man, I love Katherine Hepburn. This is my Mom's favorite movie of all time, and that lady has some good taste. This movie is suspenseful, funny, and romantic all at once. I mostly did not feel Humprey Bogart at all, but in this, his schtick works well. Plus, you have to love a movie where a lady missionary is the hero. It's a cozy movie and it only gets better on repeat viewings. And you really root for the kids to get together/ not die.

from www.imdb.com/title/tt0043014/
7. Sunset Boulevard-Man, this movie has hype for a reason. Billy Wilder writes these harshly honest movies, and this one could not be any harsher. I mean, it starts with William Holden dead in a swimming pool. Gloria Swanson is freaking amazing in this movie. The scene with her and the film projector is enough to make the whole film worth watching, but the whole deal is good. This movie doesn't make anyone look good, but everyone looks awesome. And it takes the aging female film star myth to a whole new level. On Netflix! Watch it!

from www.johnlikesmovies.com/radio-days-review/
6. Radio Days/ Manhattan-Ok, I couldn't choose, and they are actually pretty different Woody Allen movies, but I put them together anyway, so there. Both use music in amazing ways. Both have awesome performances from female leads (you know I love me some Dianne Wiest). I loved the unabashed nostalgia of Radio Days, but Manhattan is just so stinking pretty in its super wide screen. Both great.
from www.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/movies/19wood.html
5. The Woodmans- A great documentary about Francesca Woodman's parents. Brave in how honestly it portrays their sadness but also their desire to represent their own work as artists that had been overshadowed by their very famous daughter. Also, unwilling to turn her into too much of a tragedy while taking Francesca Woodman's convictions about her work (and somewhat her life, but less so) very seriously. A great showcase for her eery, sensual, and feminine photographs. The oddest thing about the movie is the portrayal of Mr. Woodman, who was obviously close to his daughter, but who ends the documentary taking topless photos of a girl who looks somewhat like her. It's just... odd. But the filmmaker avoids easy sentimentality and shows the truth about many artists- their conviction to making and to visuality trumps nearly everything else.

from www.charlestonscene.com/article/20121010/CS/121019926
4. Argo- Ok, this movie has gotten plenty of praise already this year, from people I would trust a lot more from me. My brother saw it a couple of days ago and reminded me of how dang suspenseful the whole thing is, even if you know how it is going to play out. It has its problems, but all in all a great movie with a couple of great performances and myriad embarrassing hair choices. The first ten to fifteen minutes is exceptionally scary, maybe one of the scariest film starts ever, because this isn't some psychopath, its a crowd of people who are rightfully angry and whose anger has boiled over. The frantic moment is so good. The film balances a number of tones effectively and the Hollywood stuff makes the film more fun without making the danger seem less imminent. That in itself is impressive. Worth the hype it has been receiving.

from stationtostation.com/bonnie-and-clyde/
3. Bonnie and Clyde- Ok, the longer I think about this movie, the more I like it. Also, after watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which was made at the same time, but is so much less interesting (no depth, no sadness, no sexuality- it's mostly just 'hey look at these two good looking guys rob people and trade barbs). This film is very pretty and the end is an editing masterpiece. The title characters' fate is both shocking and ambiguously empowering (all in that split second smile). Though we see them having fun, we also see how they got to their life of crime as pushing against lacks of control. It has an interesting contentious relationship between two women (passed the Bechdel test! What what!)/ Plus, the style of this movie is gorgeous and totally of both of its moments at once. Impossible, yet awesome, and it is beyond me that Bonnie isn't more of a fashion icon. She is like the Ginger Rogers of bandits. Great performances, especially from Dunaway.

from giulioventisei.blogspot.com/2010/12/paris-is-burning.html

2. Paris is Burning- Octavia St. Laurent changed my freaking life. This movie is on Netflix, so everyone should go watch it. It is incredibly inspiring, honest, and deep for a movie about the ball culture in New York City in the 80's. There are some ethical issues with the film- namely that Jennie Livingston never paid any of its stars after its success, but the film itself is about as powerful as a documentary can be based on its incredibly hungry figures. It helps you understand how they defined their sexuality and class, seen as flaws or things to be afraid of, as gorgeous and strong and committed character. It's a level of strength and just living that is crushing and wonderful.

There is a great Patti Smith quote that desire is "fiery sadness," and I think that this movie perfectly illustrates that. As Octavia said, these are people who know that they are somebody, who genuinely have presence and beauty and talent, and are just waiting for the world to notice. They are people who use performance and style to support their spirit and briefly shield themselves. I haven't watched it again because I loved it so much the first time, but I highly recommend it, no matter what level of knowledge you have about the culture already.

from sallycooks.com/2013/02/22/cam-reviews-bringing-up-baby/

from 1001films.wordpress.com/page/2/
1. Bringing Up Baby- This movie is hilarious, smart, and shows off how freaking awesome Katherine Hepburn is. It probably made first place partially because it was so fun to watch it for the first time in a big movie theater, especially because you genuinely don't know what will happen next. I love some Howard Hawks dialogue, and Hepburn and Grant are both a hoot in their roles, and it is refreshing to see a comedy where the female character is always mentally ten steps ahead (she weirdly reminds me of Jack Sparrow).  The pace is simultaneously much faster and slower than comedies now (the dialogue is faster and the set pieces are longer), but that makes it feel unpredictable in a way that comedies never feel unpredictable now. Plus, the animal actually adds a sense of danger. Because the Stanford showed lots of Hawks movies this spring, I got to see some of my long-standing favorites (Hello, Rio Bravo!), but this has now easily entered my top three. So good!

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