10. Ruby Sparks (written by Zoe Kazan, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, starring Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Bening, and Antonio Banderas). Ironic and quirky. A man creates his “soulmate” with his writing, but this film is clearly written from her point of view. Still, this movie is both fun and thought provoking.
9. Sound of My Voice (written by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, directed by Zal Batmanglij, and starring Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, and Brit Marling). Brit Marling, who both co-wrote and starred in this film, is mesmerizing as a cult leader who claims to be from the future. The ambiguous end left me wanting more. Information & clarity, that is!
8. Looper (written and directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt). What if you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a little boy? Would you find hope in your heart for him, if you could change his circumstances? This film explores the love of a mother for her troubled child, in a future where evolution & time travel have created some interesting new talents and challenges.
7. Holy Motors (written and directed by Leos Carax, and staring Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Kylie Minogue, and Eva Mendes). Batshit crazy. Absurd. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen as I wondered what the heck was going on. I wasn’t sure what had just happened when I left the movie theater. Luckily, I love the absurd and was totally amazed by Denis Lavant.
6. Compliance (written and directed by Craig Zobel, starring Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, and Pat Healy). Interesting true story that explores just what people will do if they believe someone in authority is instructing them. Real life application of the Milgrim experiment.
5. Killer Joe (written by Tracy Letts, directed by William Friedkin, and starring Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon, and Thomas Haden Church). Matthew McConaughey’s subtle performance in the title role sells this disturbing insurance heist. Though, in the end, I’m left unsure if he or Juno Temple owned the film.
4. Silver Linings Playbook (adapted for the screen and directed by David O. Russell, starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver). Two semi-functional borderline personalities find each other and fall in love. Quirky and authentic.
3. Moonrise Kingdom (written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, directed by Wes Anderson, and starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban). I want to live in Wes Anderson’s world, with its beautiful colors, cartoonish set pieces, and misfits who find each other and fall in love.
2. Rust and Bone (adapted for the screen by Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, directed by Jacques Audiard, starring Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard). Authentic treatment of a story that could so easily fall into inspirational melodrama. Also, Marion Cotillard is amazing in this.
1. Amour (written and directed by Michael Haneke, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Rive, and Isabelle Huppert). Subject matter that many deal with every day, on one level or another, but no one talks about. Not the stuff of movies. Not the faces of movies. True, authentic, heart-breaking. This movie will stick with me for awhile.
* * *
Promised Land. This was tied with Ruby Sparks for #10, but I had to choose. Organically humorous, serious subject matter, excellent twist.
The Dark Knight Rises. I’m an unabashed Christopher Nolan fan (Memento is my fave movie of all time), and this was an epic and heart-felt wrap up to the best comic book series ever filmed.
Premium Rush. The plot may not be ground breaking, but the movie is super stylish and kinetic and definitely fun.
Your Sister’s Sister. Ever wonder what would happen if your lesbian sister had a one night stand with your crush? This film will be instructional.
The Five Year Engagement. A pretty realistic treatment of a good relationship with practical challenges. The struggle of trying to get both parties what they want out of life and the sacrifices that often occur and cause resentment. It made me cry both times, but in a good way.
The Dictator. Best comedic scene:
Very strong list. I struggled to get into Sound of My Voice. I agree that Marling is stunning, but the movie frustrated me. I wasn’t bothered that the ending was ambiguous; I just wasn’t interested in the main characters. Still, it’s definitely an intriguing movie. It’s cool to see Ruby Sparks on the list. I’ve been surprised that I haven’t heard more about it. Zoe Kazan is so good in it. Finally, Moonrise Kingdom was my favorite movie of 2012, so I’m right with you on wanting to live in that world.
Hi Dan, thank you for your comment! Moonrise Kingdom was great – it was actually my favorite movie until about a week ago when I saw Rust and Bone and Amour. I guess those unconventional love stories won me over!