It’s almost the end of the year and with all of the Top 10 lists out there for the best movies of the year, I thought I should make my own. My list probably won’t look like anyone else’s because I tend to disagree with critics much of the time. Not to mention I like to include movies that entertained me as well as movies that were the “best” from a critical standpoint. It’s a mixed bag!
To be fair, it’s been a busy year and I haven’t had the chance to see as many of the movies I would have liked to. So my list only consists of the movies I have seen. Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen Gravity or Blue Jasmine which seem like movies that would probably make my personal list. Not to mention the movies that have made many critics’ lists that haven’t received wide release yet I personally can’t wait to see (Her, Labor’s Day). So for now, this is my top 10 of the year based completely on personal preference rather than critical acclaim!
10. Thor: The Dark World
I admit it; I love superhero movies and action-adventure. And this one has everything I like in one: Action, Humor, Romance… Not to mention Loki. Is this the best movie of all time? No. But it was so entertaining I went to see it twice. Thor: The Dark World was part Star Wars, part Lord of the Rings and part Doctor Who (aliens in London with the 9th Doctor invading…); all of which together make for an enjoyable film.
9. Stories We Tell
My favorite documentary of the year, this powerful film stays with you long after seeing it. Sarah Polley is a master filmmaker (Away from Her) and creates a beautiful and personal film as she uncovers the truth behind her mother who passed away when she was 11. Sarah comes from a family of storytellers all with a different perception of the past and it’s magical and heartfelt as she interviews each and every one of them to get their unique perspective in what is one of the most unique documentaries I’ve ever seen. No doubt this film deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards and I hope she wins.
8. Before Midnight
I was a huge fan of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset so I was of course excited to hear there was going to be a third film. Without a doubt, the third in the trilogy is just as good as the first two with similar lengthy dialogue scenes of discussions and debates about literature, life and politics. This time around, Jesse and Celine have been together since the last film and they have twins to show for it. While this film was extremely uncomfortable to watch at times (particularly toward the end with the longest fight I’ve ever seen on screen) it was compelling at the same time. The script written by director Richard Linklater as well as stars Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke was pitch perfect and definitely one of the best films of the year. Julie Delpy deserves some recognition for her performance, but no doubt she will be completely ignored when the Oscars come around which is a shame.
7. Iron Man 3
Even though Pacific Rim was perhaps the best “superhero” type film of the year, Iron Man 3 was my favorite of the bunch. I love snarky, witty humor and this film had it in droves. Not to mention a sexy villain played by Guy Pearce who was fun to root against. Also, the romance (which was a huge focus of the film) between Pepper and Tony was still as great as ever. And yes, I loved when Pepper got powers in the end and helped save Tony. It’s nice when we see a little bit of equal opportunity rescuing!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that critics will not like this movie. This was a movie that was panned by critics and unfairly so. It’s satirical buffoonery at its best. This was never meant to be a serious film, nor was it meant for critics. Who it was meant for were people (like me) who love period drama, romantic comedies and romantic classic literature who actually understand what was being satirized here. It was hilarious from start to finish. You knew exactly what type of film it would be right from the start when Jane Seymour was petting a fake lamb as she tried to sell Austenland to all the lonely Janeites out there. With an Austen like (or lite) love triangle with JJ Feild as the Mr. Darcy type and Keri Russell as the Felicity type character obsessed with Mr. Darcy it was perfect! And with James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) as a hysterical scene stealer you just can’t go wrong, well at least for people who enjoy films like this!
5. About Time
Written and Directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill) this was one of the best written films of the year. Perhaps some will find it too sentimental, but I found it to be absolutely perfect as well as perfectly sincere. The dialogue and expertly written voice-overs were magical and heartwarming, not to mention memorable. What really stood out to me was not the romance in the film, however, but the relationship between father and son as played by Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson. This may technically be a film about time travel, but really it’s a film about life and relationships presented in the most nostalgic way you can possibly imagine.
4. Saving Mr. Banks
This charming and emotional film with fantastic performances from the entire cast was just as good, if not better than what I hoped it would be. The story about how the Disney film Mary Poppins was made with prickly P.L. Travers fighting Walt Disney (who no doubt WAS manipulating her) throughout the entire process. Each and every character was well defined from Travers’s father and mother to her limo driver to Walt Disney himself. It truly is a fantastic film from start to finish and will most likely be nominated for Best Picture when the Oscars come around and deservedly so.
3. The Great Gatsby
This is perhaps the most underrated film of the year. Critics were mixed over it, but I thought it was brilliant. This is Baz Luhrmann at his best. In fact, it was almost as good as Moulin Rouge. Luhrmann may have made some unusual choices which may or may not be your cup of tea, but what I felt was great was how much he actually understood the source material from F. Scott Fitzgerald. The modern music only helped to sell the message and statement about our society today; the same message Fitzgerald was trying to sell. In fact, when the book first appeared in the twenties, critics had the same reaction about the book then as the critics have about the film today. In other words, they were split right down the middle. It wasn’t until a couple of decades later that the book began to be fully appreciated. I hope the same happens for the film. Also, Leonardo Dicaprio was perfect in the role. With this and The Wolf of Wall Street, he’s having a great year.
2. The Book Thief
This film from director Brian Percival (BBC’s North and South) was a fantastic adaptation of Markus Zusak’s book (which is one of my favorite books of all time). Despite one misstep, an important aspect of the film taken out of the book at the end (I don’t want to spoil), it was amazing. Perfectly cast and acted I was once again drawn into this magical fable as Death narrates the story of a little girl who also likes to steal books in the midst of World War II. It’s simply enchanting.
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Once again, Peter Jackson brings us back to the magic of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with part 2 of The Hobbit trilogy. With great characterization, fun adventure from start to finish (Smaug the dragon was AMAZING), humor, new characters who are scene stealers (Bard, Tauriel and the return of Legolas), beautiful cinematography, an amazing musical score and more, this was definitely my favorite film of the year. I especially LOVED the star-crossed romance between dwarf Kili and elf Tauriel and personally can’t wait to see how their story ends in the final installment. Another year is too long to wait for more of Jackson’s magical adaptation.
Well that sums up my choices for the top 10 films of the year. What were your favorites this year?