Come on, we’ve all been waiting for this year’s list to come out, and as usual, I’m reposting. Well, check out 2012’s movies we did not watch at this link: http://www.firstshowing.net/2013/the-19-best-movies-that-you-didnt-see-in-2012/
Come on, we’ve all been waiting for this year’s list to come out, and as usual, I’m reposting. Well, check out 2012’s movies we did not watch at this link: http://www.firstshowing.net/2013/the-19-best-movies-that-you-didnt-see-in-2012/
I’ve been wondering about all these romantic comedies that come out of Hollywood these days. Do any of these people actually know what love is? Do they have any clue? Did they ever fall in love? Movies these days are all about casual sex turned into not-so-casual sex, friends becoming lovers, getting-married-because-it’s-convenient-and-then-regretting-it-and-choosing-to-be-with-your-best-friend-instead-because-you-“love”-them. Oh, give me a break! That’s not love! That’s convenience, that’s making the best out of a messy situation at the very best! Or what about all those “I can’t stand this guy but you know he is kinda hot so why not”! I wonder, I really do. Do the people involved in such movies write that stuff because they sell? Or do they actually think that’s what love is?
I wonder if they have ever experienced that sinking feeling, the trembling, the feeling-lost-when-he’s-not-here (or she, whatever), the I-wonder-if-he-will-kiss-me-tonight, the oh-god-please-let-him-kiss-me… Do they know what it’s like to look into somebody’s eyes and actually see love? Do they have any idea what it’s like to actually walk around happy because you are in love and not because you “nailed” someone hot? Sure, that has its place, but it’s not love. Love is driving in traffic in the morning and not caring, being at work and dreaming about the person you love, waiting by the phone for a call or a text, smiling when you hear their voice, pretending to be cool when you talk to them (but failing to do so, because no, you are not cool, you are in love), being sad when they hang up, dreaming about them some more, locking yourself in the bathroom to think about them, because people at the office expect you to actually work and not daydream (how dare they!) and when you finally get to see them you try so hard not to show just how much you’ve missed them or how much in love you are, only to hear them say “I’ve missed you” and then it all falls into place because you never really wanted to hide it in the first place, you just don’t like feeling weak and vulnerable but at this moment you don’t feel weak at all, you really are the most powerful person on earth, because you love someone and they actually love you back, they actually feel the same. You enjoy it because it’s really all you can do. Games are not really a part of it, they can’t be, because it’s real.
So how about it Hollywood? How about another Casablanca, how about a little less of the Friends with Benefits stuff, a little more true love? Doesn’t a real love story sell tickets any more?
Hidden gems, unknown masterpieces and interesting movies we might have missed all discussed as always on First Showing. Personally, I have heard most of those movies but have only watched one. I’m going to compensate by trying to watch all of them before the year is out. Here’s the list:
Like every year I couldn’t wait for this guy to post the list of the best movies we didn’t see in 2010. Sure, we’ve seen some good stuff like Inception, Toy Story 3 and The Social Network but it’s the hidden gems that we end up remembering the most. So let’s see…
Opened on August 13, 2010
Directed by David Michôd (Interview)
Tells the story of seventeen year-old J as he navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.
Why it’s on here: This riveting Australian underground organized crime flick has stuck with me since first seeing it at Sundance more than a year ago. Not only did Jacki Weaver, the “mother” of this creepy, crazy group of Australian criminals, earn a well-deserved Oscar nomination this year, but the film includes incredible performances by breakout lead James Frecheville and co-stars Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn, who plays one of the most unsettling roles I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t already already discovered this fantastic film, it best be added to the top of your list right away.
Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
Why it’s on here: Those who have seen Buried almost always agree with me – it’s damn good! Yes, Ryan Reynolds stars for 90 minutes inside of a coffin and that’s it – the camera doesn’t go “outside”, but director Rodrigo Cortés uses numerous crafty visual tricks like zooming up or away to add even more of a claustrophobic and distant feel to the film. My quote that’s on the poster still stands for this film – your heart will be racing from the moment it begins until the moment it ends, that’s guaranteed. And if more convincing is necessary, read Ethan’s glowing review as well.
Opened on September 17, 2010
Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost document a story involving Ariel’s brother, Nev, a 24-year-old New York-based photographer, and Abby, from rural Michigan who contacts Nev via Facebook, asking for permission to make a painting from one of his photographs.
Why it’s on here: Most probably heard the buzz about this last fall, but never bothered to actually see it. Despite the controversy over it’s potentially deceptive storytelling (maybe you should watch this to find out exactly what that means) I think this is a damn good documentary. Catfish takes the audience on a roller-coaster-ride through a relationship between the filmmaker’s goofy brother Nev and a mysterious girl from MySpace/Facebook. By the end, you’ll realize this has a much greater connection to The Social Network than first thought and incites plenty of discussion that you’re guaranteed to start upon finishing.
A 1970s-set coming-of-age comedy centered on three young working class friends (Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan) in a dreary suburb of Reading.
Why it’s on here: It’s quite uncanny that comedians Ricky Gervais andStephen Merchant can get together to write and direct a film that isn’t a hilarious comedy. Instead the two talented Brits come together and deliver acoming-of-age drama that’s essentially American Graffiti for the United Kingdom. Keep the kids with an uncertain future ahead of them but replace the car culture with the dreary suburban setting of Reading, and you’ve got a spectacularly underrated film chock full of great performances and phenomenal writing. (Written byEthan Anderton)
Two eighth graders start to have feelings for each other despite being total opposites. Based on the novel “Flipped” by Wendelin Van Draanen.
Why it’s on here: I really love this film. It’s such a charming coming-of-age slice of life, courtesy of one of the masters of directing kid actors – Rob Reiner(who I had the honor of interviewing). His two lead actors, Callan McAuliffeand Madeline Carroll, give performances way above their age in a delightfully entertaining story of young romance. It has a unique narrative that flip-flops storytelling between the two off-and-on and really takes advantage of that Flipped concept, but it works and the result is totally adorable to watch.
Opened on November 5, 2010
Directed by Christopher Morris
Four Lions tells the story of a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. As the wheels fly off, and their competing ideologies clash, what emerges is an emotionally engaging (and entirely plausible) farce.
Why it’s on here: This “terrorist comedy” from the UK has had copious amounts of buzz since premiering at Sundance a few years ago, then made its way through 2010 at numerous festivals and eventually getting released by Alamo Drafthouse’s newly formed Drafthouse Films. But alas, many still haven’t seen this hilarious flick about a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point. Even if it sounds awkward, it’s damn funny and you’ll get over it laughing, so give it a shot and check it out.
Opened on March 26, 2010
Directed by Noah Baumbach
A New Yorker moves to Los Angeles in order to figure out his life while he housesits for his brother, and he soon sparks with his brother’s assistant.
Why it’s on here: With Ben Stiller taking part in Little Fockers towards the end of 2010, it’s good to know that earlier in the year he teamed up with director Noah Baumbach (of The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding) for one of the best performances of his career. Since the film was sadly overlooked this awards season, we’re eager to show some love to this somewhat depressing, but thoroughly satisfying film that continues to showcase breakout mumblecore star Greta Gerwig and all her charm and genuine talent. (Written by Ethan Anderton)
A limo driver’s blind date sparks a tale of love, betrayal, friendship, and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples.
Why it’s on here: Having mastered work in front of the camera, Philip Seymour Hoffman pulls double duty by starring and directing this quirky adaptation of the play of the same name. Amy Ryan shines as she attempts to connect with Hoffman’s introverted main character Jack. Meanwhile John Ortiz does his best to help Jack in his romantic endeavors even if his own marriage is on the verge of falling apart. This certainly isn’t a straightforward romance, but the performances and direction from Hoffman make this a hidden gem of 2010. (Written by Ethan Anderton)
Leaves of Grass
Opened on September 17, 2010
Directed by Tim Blake Nelson (Interview)
An Ivy League professor is lured back to his Oklahoma hometown, where his twin brother, a small-time pot grower, has concocted a scheme to take down a local drug lord.
Why it’s on here: This should’ve been an easy sell because it stars Edward Norton twice, as his own brother in dual roles and it’s very funny, too – but it got screwed up in release a few times and never got the attention it deserved.Tim Blake Nelson both stars in and directs this down-South comedy about two friends who get in a bit of trouble and devise a scheme to get Norton’s twin brother back to town. It’s not a flawless film, but it’s a fun indie comedy that borders on being more of astoner flick than drama, but it’s great either way.
A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian.
Why it’s on here: I’m including this because it didn’t do as well as it should have at the box office and because there are still too many people resistant to seeing it who need to open up and appreciate the work of Matt Reeves and his cast/crew. Also because it’s a fantastic film that actually lives up to its Swedish counterpart. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz star in this incredibly beautiful but gripping thriller about a “young” vampire girl and her relationship with a lonely boy. Richard Jenkins also adds some gravitas to this with an incredible performance and overall it’s just a impeccable and polished film worthy of sitting next to Tomas Alfredson’s Låt den Rätte Komma In.
Louis CK: Hilarious
Opened on September 8, 2010
Directed by Louis C.K.
With a simple “Hello, everybody,” writer and stand-up comedian Louis C.K. opens his latest live show, Hilarious. This harmless salutation is the least-controversial thing that comes out of Louis C.K.’s mouth as he turns rants on everyday subjects into hilarious, expletive-laden diatribes where nothing is sacred, not even his children.
Why it’s on here: It’s truly sad that the stand-up comedy feature film has fallen out of the spotlight as Louis C.K., one of the funniest comedians working today, delivers one of the most spectacular feature lengths sets I’ve seen in a long time. Though he covers all the usual topics of family, sex, children and aging, his stark and poignant outlook on life make it freshly hilarious. Vulgar and full of cynicism, Louis C.K. is not for the faint of heart, but don’t be ashamed if you find yourself laughing, because everything here is solid comedy gold. (Written by Ethan)
As children, Ruth, Kathy and Tommy, spend their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. As they grow into young adults, they find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them.
Why it’s on here: Although the reaction from those who have seen this has been mixed, I’m a big fan and supporter of the film, I was moved by it and its stark beauty. It doesn’t need sci-fi sticking out of every corner or explanations for every question (e.g. why don’t they run away?) but for the story that Romanek tells, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, this is a great film with subtle beauty and powerful performances. Give it a chance and try not to get too wrapped up in the occasional issues with the story. Read our lengthy interview with Mark Romanek for deeper insight into all of his decisions.
Opened on October 8, 2010
Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood
A chronicle of John Lennon’s first years, focused mainly in his adolescence and his relationship with his stern aunt Mimi, who raised him, and his absentee mother Julia, who re-entered his life at a crucial moment in his young life.
Why it’s on here: I was first introduced to director Sam Taylor-Wood by way of her short film Love You More, but this feature proves she’s a director to watch out for, already talented and only getting better. Nowhere Boy is that Beatlesprequel that tells the story of John Lennon, played superbly by Aaron Johnsonof Kick-Ass, before he was really John Lennon, mostly as a teenager in England. This isn’t a film only for Beatles maniacs, it’s actually a great indie drama about the trials and tribulations of a young John Lennon and his soon-to-be-bandmates, including Sam Bell and Thomas Sangster. I really enjoyed it and I thought it deserved to be on here, too.
Opened on June 4, 2010
Directed by Neil Jordan
The story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a Selke (a water nymph).
Why it’s on here: Yea, this does star Colin Farrell as an Irish fisherman, but you know, it’s actually really, really good. It’s essentially an Irish fairytale starring a very easy on the eyes Alicja Bachleda as a “Selke”, a water nymph (think mermaid, not the other nymph, though she does…) who falls in love with Farrell but the fairytale lore says it can’t be so. There’s actually a charming story at its heart about a father and his daughter and the fairytale elements to it just added some magic to all of that. It’s actually very good, check it out.
Opened on May 7, 2010
Directed by Nicole Holofcener
In New York City, a husband and wife butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives in apartment the couple owns.
Why it’s on here: After nabbing a surprise nomination at the Writers Guild Awards, I was pleased to find Nicole Holofcener’s film Please Give (which she also directed) to be a breath of fresh air this awards season. With carefully crafted and genuine dialogue, Holofcener delivers a heartbreaking look at several people who don’t seem to be very happy in their current lives. From teen angst to crumbling marriages and aging family members, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet deliver one of the more unique and overlooked films of 2010.(Written by Ethan)
Opened on December 22, 2010
Directed by Sofia Coppola
A hard-living Hollywood actor re-examines his life after his 11-year-old daughter surprises him with a visit.
Why it’s on here: I really admire this film, even if it’s Sofia Coppola doing what she does best. Once I finally got to see Somewhere late last year, I walked out pretty much instantly in love with it. Stephen Dorff does give a fantastic, nuanced performance, but it’s Elle Fanning who will steal your heart. She’s just adorable to watch and really makes this film work in so many ways. It is meditative and sometimes slow, but I found it to be a fascinating ultra-realistic look at the sometimes dull life of a famous celebrity. Plus it has a great soundtrack courtesy of the band Phoenix.
I love going on a new quest, to discover and watch these movies, form my own opinion and open up to new things… I hope it inspires more people…
Opened on October 16, 2009
Directed by Lone Scherfig
A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.
Why it’s on here: An Education contains one of the best performances of 2009 from the extraordinarily talented, and quite beautiful, Carey Mulligan. Not only that, but the story is meticulously crafted yet paced well enough to never bore. It’s a charming, sometimes frustrating, and occasionally comical story of a British girl getting a chance to grow up. It takes a lot to impress me with a film like this, and I can’t say it was my favorite film of last year, but it certainly was one that I haven’t forgotten. And I’ll be rooting for Carey Mulligan at the Oscars – she deserves to win for Best Actress.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Opened on April 10, 2009
Directed by Sacha Gervasi
At fourteen years old, best friends Lips and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band Anvil, hailed as the “demi-gods of Canadian metal,” influenced a musical generation including Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. Though Anvil never made it, they never stopped playing or believing.
Why it’s on here: Here’s the second-best documentary of last year. In this rags to rags story, we’re privy to the tale of Canadian metal band Anvil, toted as one of the most influential bands of its generation — and one of its least successful. Having never hit it big despite garnering a world-wide following, Anvil bandmates Robb Reiner and Lips embark on the journey of recording their 13th studio album. There wasn’t a single film last year that displayed more heart than Anvil!. While on a calamitous European tour, you’ll cry out as the band is stiffed. Again. Lips and Robb are now in their late fifties, still chasing their boyhood dreams. I’ve never wished more success for someone. Long live Anvil! (Written by Brandon Lee Tenney)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Opened on November 20, 2009
Directed by Werner Herzog
Terence McDonagh is a drug- and gambling-addled police detective working in post-Katrina New Orleans investigating the killing of five Senegalese immigrants.
Why it’s on here: I’m sure a lot of people will be wondering why this is on here at all, but screw it, it deserves to be. There is one simple reason for that: I went to see this expecting to hate it, and walked out loving it. It’s such a crazy movie and I love seeing Nic Cage get even wackier every minute. This was the film he needed to do to let all that craziness out (and get back on track with his acting). Combine Cage with Werner Herzog, lots of drugs, Eva Mendes, and Xzibit, and this is what you get – a crazy but highly entertaining cop movie. Just make sure you go in ready to laugh your ass off, even if you think you’re not supposed to be laughing. It’ll help you enjoy it even more!
The Brothers Bloom
Opened on May 15, 2009
Directed by Rian Johnson
The Brothers Bloom are the best con men in the world, swindling millionaires with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. Now they’ve decided to take on one last job – showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a romantic adventure that takes them around the world.
Why it’s on here: From the director of Brick comes this brilliant con man comedy. It took me a few viewings to fully appreciate The Brothers Bloom, but it was one of my top 10 movies of 2009. I love the score, created by Rian Johnson’s cousin Nathan Johnson, and the three lead performances from Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, and Mark Ruffalo are fantastic as well. It’s a great con man comedy with a story that takes them all over the world. And the whole movie itself is kind of a con, too, and it will take repeat viewings to figure out, but it’s worth it. Johnson is one of my favorite directors for a reason – he knows how to make unforgettable, original movies.
Straight to DVD on October 6, 2009
Directed by Tom Shankland
A relaxing Christmas vacation turns into a terrifying fight for survival as the children begin to turn on their parents.
Why it’s on here: I’m not the biggest fan of horror, but after seeing this at Fantastic Fest last year, it instantly became one of my favorite horror movies of all-time. It’s a creepy but beautifully shot horror/thriller about some children who go crazy and kill their parents while on Christmas vacation. Sure, that’s been done a few times before, but The Children is still worth seeing because of its style. Director Tom Shankland does a great job keeping the story contained on a low budget and not going all out with effects or anything like that. Plus it’s always great to come across an indie horror movie that even I can call a personal favorite.
Opened on July 31, 2009
Directed by Louie Psihoyos
Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renown dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.
Why it’s on here: This documentary from director Louie Psihoyos is, flippers down, the best of the last year. A little bit heist film, a little bit environmental outcry, and a lot of one of the most staggering, nearly unbelievable explorations of human immorality I’ve ever seen. Led by infamous, world-renown dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, a team of activists infiltrate a small cove in Taijii, Japan in order to expose the blood-boiling truth that thousands upon thousands of dolphins are slaughtered each year without any repercussions. The film ably blends the tension and excitement of an action film with brain-swelling knowledge and an intensity that could cause the comatose to join the picket lines. See this film. Or do you hate dolphins? Come on! (Written by Brandon Lee Tenney)
In the Loop
Opened on July 24, 2009
Directed by Armando Iannucci
A foul-mouthed comedy that draws on non-specific events to create a world that is terrifyingly familiar: The US President and UK Prime Minister fancy a war, but not everyone agrees that war is a good thing.
Why it’s on here: There’s a difference between you and I. For one, I have an expanded vocabulary of curse words and insults. It’s not that I grew up any different, but simply that I’ve seen Armando Iannucci’s chest-burning comedy In the Loop. Over the course of 106-minutes, the characters (mostly Peter Capaldi) actively create countless new ways to insult each other. It is all part of a wicked political satire that is simultaneously authentic and absurd. It is also evidence that Anna Chlumsky, the star of My Girl (and My Girl 2) still has an acting career. And she’s lookin’ good. (Written by Neil Miller of FSR)
The Killing Room
Straight to DVD on October 13, 2009
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Four individuals sign up for a psychological research study only to discover that they are now subjects of a brutal, classified government program.
Why it’s on here: This incredibly intense thriller got screwed in a straight-to-DVD release, which is unfortunate considering it’s such a great movie. The Killing Room is sort of one of those stuck-in-one-place movies about four people who think they’re going in for a research study, but we soon discover they’re in the secret CIA MK-Ultra program. Liebesman shows that he’s a very capable director with this, using nuance and emotion to pull us through the story, which does have big twists and turns this time. Even Nick Cannon does a good job starring alongside of Timothy Hutton and Shea Whigham. If you want to see a very well directed thriller, start with this, you won’t be let down.
Opened on April 8, 2009
Directed by Derick Martini
Set in the late 70’s, seen through the innocent eyes of a fifteen year old boy, Scott, Lymelife is a unique take on the dangers of the American Dream. This funny, sad, violent and sometimes tragic look at first love, family dynamics and divorce weaves an intricate tapestry of American life during a time of drastic economic and emotional change.
Why it’s on here: I first saw this at the Toronto Film Festival in late 2008 and instantly fell in love with it. I could’ve put it on here solely for all of the hilarious Star Wars references (since it’s set in late 70’s), but it’s actually a great movie as well. It’s another coming-of-age drama full of fantastic performances from brothers Rory Culkin and Kieran Culkin as well as Alec Baldwin. It’s a bit more subtle than most movies on here, but the writing is top-notch and the directing is good, too, which amounts to a movie I think most should try and seek out.
Mary and Max
Opened on September 25, 2009
Directed by Adam Elliot
A tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals: Mary, a lonely, eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a forty-four-year old, severely obese man living in New York.
Why it’s on here: While there were many great stop-motion movies last year, this is easily the most underrated and under-appreciated one, probably because it was never released theatrically. Mary and Max was the opening film of Sundance last year and I fell for it immediately. It’s a charming story of two pen pals, one a young girl in Australia, and one an old man in New York, but neither of them have any friends. The character design and style is unique and the comedy in it is hilarious. And if I didn’t tell you Philip Seymour Hoffman voices one of the characters, you would’ve never guessed. If you’re a fan of animation or stop-motion, you need to find Mary and Max and see it as soon as you can!
Opened on November 13, 2009
Directed by Oren Moverman
An American soldier struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a widow of a fallen officer.
Why it’s on here: The Messenger is a tough film. Centered around a US Army Staff Sergeant, played by Ben Foster, who’s assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service, it’s a harrowing story about the survivors left at home during war time. When Ben Foster’s character becomes involved with a woman to whom he delivered the news of her husband’s death, both sides of grief and loss are explored. Foster’s and Woody Harrelson’s performances are revelatory. It’s tone is bleak, though, and its story becomes repetitively dismal as the movie progresses. But it can not be denied that the film is able to accomplish a realistic, illuminating exploration of grief and just what it means to survive the ones you love. (Written by Brandon Lee Tenney)
Opened on July 3, 2009
Directed by Duncan Jones
Astronaut Sam Bell has a personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet’s power problems.
Why it’s on here: By now, everyone has probably heard of Moon, but how many have seen it? If you haven’t seen it yet, make it a priority to watch it, especially if you love sci-fi. What Duncan Jones was able to achieve on a budget of $5 million is astonishing. And Sam Rockwell knocks it out of the park with his performance(s) as well (he deserves an Oscar nomination, too). And let’s not forget Clint Mansell’s wonderful score. There are some low budget sci-fi movies that just fall apart, but this is not one of those, and not only does it bring up great questions about morals and ethics, but it’s just a beautiful film as well.
Opened on August 28, 2009
Directed by Dan Eckman
A group of former Encyclopedia Brown-style child-detectives struggle to solve an adult murder mystery in their small town.
Why it’s on here: Mystery Team is the first movie by YouTube’s Derrick Comedy team and it’s hilarious. Donald Glover, D.C. Pierson, and Dominic Dierkes lead the way in this outrageous and smartly written comedy about a ragtag team of wannabe detectives who just never grew up. It’s a true shoestring-budget indie, but you’ll be impressed with the camera work as well as the writing and directing. It’s not for everyone, but if you’ve loved any of Derrick Comedy’s videos or Donald Glover’s appearances on NBC’s "Community", you’ll enjoy Mystery Team as well. And beyond that, these guys need all the support they can get, as they’re the true definition of indie filmmakers.
Pirate Radio (aka The Boat That Rocked)
Opened on November 13, 2009
Directed by Richard Curtis
A period ensemble comedy about an illegal radio station in the North Sea in the 1960’s.
Why it’s on here: Despite opening in theaters across the nation, Universal dropped the ball on the marketing campaign for Pirate Radio (better known as The Boat That Rocked in the UK), and therefore the people who should’ve seen this, never did. What I love about Richard Curtis is his ability to balance an enormous ensemble cast, and in this movie we’re talking about more than 10 different disc jockeys all stuck on one boat. And if the impressive cast (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh) isn’t enough to convince you, the soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard. It’s a bit too long, but I had such a great time watching this movie, I couldn’t help including it on here.
Opened on November 25, 2009
Directed by John Hillcoat
A post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trying to survive by any means possible while walking down the Eastern seaboard.
Why it’s on here: I’m guessing this is another film that a lot of people have heard about, but I don’t know that many who actually went to see it. It’s a "beautifully bleak" adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s harrowing novel about a father and his son trying to survive in a desolate, ash-covered post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s incredibly moving, extremely well made, and features more than a few impressive performances (from Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as well as other actors who show up later in the movie). It’s one of the best adaptations of 2009 and a movie I’m sure Brandon will be happy that I included it (he absolutely loved it).
Opened on July 31, 2009
Directed by Park Chan-wook
A failed medical experiment turns a Korean priest into a vampire.
Why it’s on here: Although I prefer Bong Joon-ho’s Mother over Thirst, that film isn’t out until this year. I first saw Thirst at Cannes last summer and it was later released theatrically in July. It’s not better than his Vengeance Trilogy, but seeing Park Chan-wook take on the vampire genre in a way you’ve never seen before is certainly enough of a reason to include it on here. It’s got a great performance by Korean actor Song Kang-ho (who starred in The Host) as well as Korean actress Kim Ok-bin. And yes, in typical Park Chan-wook fashion, it gets crazier than you could’ve ever imagined in the third act. But don’t watch this if you can’t handle blood.
A Town Called Panic
Opened on December 16, 2009
Directed by Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar
Cowboy and Indian’s plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they destroy his house instead. Surreal adventures take over as the trio travel to the center of the earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe where pointy-headed (and dishonest!) creatures live.
Why it’s on here: If anyone is looking for the most off-the-wall, unique, and entertaining movie to watch from this list, this is it. A Town Called Panic, known as Panique au Village, is a Belgian stop-motion animation comedy using figurines (watch the trailer). You may think it’s for kids at first, but I can assure that it’s definitely not for kids, and even if it is, I was laughing more watching this than I was any other kids movie released by Hollywood in 2009. As wacky as Bad Lieutenant is, I think this movie is even wackier. If mushrooms are your thing, you wouldn’t even have to take them and you’d still trip while watching this. It’s so ridiculously fun and everyone else I know that has seen has loved it, too.
Women in Trouble
Opened on November 13, 2009
Directed by Sebastian Gutierrez
A serpentine day in the life of ten seemingly disparate women: a porn star, a flight attendant, a psychiatrist, a masseuse, a bartender, a pair of call girls, etc. All of them with one crucial thing in common: trouble.
Why it’s on here: It’s rare to see a movie so honest, that it would include several lovely ladies (the likes of Emmanuelle Chriqui and Adrianne Palicki) running around in their underwear. In all seriousness, Women in Trouble is an honest look at the experiences of several women. Their situations are heightened, laden with comedy, and rife with sex. And it all works in the movie’s favor. We always talk about wanting comedy with depth above gag, charm above quirk. This is that movie. It also has hot women in their underwear. (Written by Neil Miller of FSR)
World’s Greatest Dad
Opened on August 21, 2009
Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
A comedy about a man who learns that the things you want most may not be the things that make you happy, and that being lonely is not necessarily the same as being alone.
Why it’s on here: This is officially the 11th Sundance movie I have on here, but it deserves this final spot. World’s Greatest Dad is one of the darkest comedies you’ll ever see, but it’s still damn good, and that’s why it’s on here. It’s rare that films like this with absurd concepts even get made and it’s worth seeing just to appreciate that someone out there funded this. It may not hold up as well on repeat viewings, but if you’ve never seen it, you’re in for a treat watching it for your first time. Best of all, it’s probably Robin Williams best performance in the last 10 years.
Well anyway, I won’t go into the "best" of everything, I’ll try to give you a sum of favorites though, at least for movies, we’ll look at music some other time! So what happened this decade? We did have a bit of everything, didn’t we? 2012, recently, a return to the late 90s great destruction movies, super heroes returning to action (Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, The Hulk, Dare-Devil, Elektra, Catwoman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man and the list continues!). We also had so many mindless action movies I have lost count (Transformers, Snakes on a Plane, Crank, Kill Bill – Shut up Tarantino fans!, The Bourne Identity – and the sequels, all the Transporter movies, and well the list pretty much goes on and on and on!). So what else? The return of the horror film? Totally! All those Saw movies would have been enough (at least for me!) but it wasn’t! We were faced with a whole array of horror films, starting with The Ring and all the other Japanese sort of horror movies that flooded movie theaters at some point (Dark Water, One Missed Call, Premonition, Cure and the like!). And then we have all the spoof movies such as Scary Movie(s), Date Movie, Epic Movie, Superhero Movie and the like! I’m not gonna miss those if they disappear. So what about romance, romantic comedies and the like? We had our fair share of those but nothing that could even come close to those we saw in the 90s (IMHO). Of course, what really marks the decade we are leaving behind is trilogies and movie series. The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ice Age, Shrek… Speaking of cartoons, we really saw some cool stuff in animation this decade. My favorite is definitely Wall-E but more of that later. So, now to the serious stuff. Political movies have really seen a rise, especially since 9/11. Syriana, Munich, Milk, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 and more have made their way into our lives, trying to put a message out there, some more successful than others.
So, yes, enough of that, now for my list (and it wasn’t easy!). My favorite movies of this decade, in no particular order
Ok that’s enough, I did promise to limit myself! It’s not everything, but it’s a list, and I think a representative one of what I liked this decade.
It’s that time of the year again! Yes, there’s a new list for 2008! Enjoy!
Opened on July 25, 2008
Directed by Nanette Burstein
A documentary on seniors at a high school in a small Indiana town and their various cliques.
Why it’s on here: At Sundance this year, American Teen
became the festival’s sleeper hit, fueled by immensely positive buzz
coming from everyone who saw it. Despite what you may have heard, it’s
nothing like "The Hills" and is a fantastic inside look at the life of
four American high school teens. If only just to see it once, American Teen
is worth your time and money, as Nanette Burstein takes dry documentary
storytelling and turns it into something exciting and entertaining.
Opened on November 26, 2008
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Set in northern
Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a
sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect
her new property from a takeover plot. As the pair drive 2,000 head of
cattle over unforgiving landscape, they experience the bombing of
Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces firsthand.
Why it’s on here:
Despite all the talk about how it’s not a movie that audiences want to
see anymore, it’s actually a wonderfully thrilling epic that only the
likes of Baz Luhrmann could bring us. Yes, it’s really two movies and
that’s initially hard to get past, but once you do, you’ll find
yourself being sucked into a sprawling Australian fairy tale lead by a
handful of great actors. Even if you’re annoyed by the dual stories in
the end, I’m certain you’ll at least admire the beauty of this great
Opened on June 13, 2008
Directed by Jay and Mark Duplass
Four struggling actors retreat to a cabin in California in order to
write a screenplay that will make them all stars. What happens when
their story idea — a horror flick about a group of friends tormented by
a villain with a bag over his head — starts to come true?
Why it’s on here: Sony
Picture Classics, who bought this film after its premiere at Sundance,
screwed it over badly by dumping it during a crowded summer movie
season and not giving it the support it needed. It’s a very hard film
to sell at first, but all they needed to do was get the right people in
the theater. The Duplass Brothers are some of the best up-and-coming
flmmakers around that use a refreshingly unique shooting style that
plays into Baghead very well. It’s a blend of horror and comedy like you’ve never seen before. You guaranteed to walk out of it with a smile.
Opened on February 22, 2008
Directed by Jon Poll
A rich kid becomes the self-appointed psychiatrist to the student body of his new high school.
Why it’s on here: Wait, you didn’t know that Robert Downey Jr. was in more movies this year than just Iron Man and Tropic Thunder? Yep, he was in another one called Charlie Bartlett,
and it was a great movie and he did a great job in it. But he’s not the
only highlight — Anton Yelchin, who also plays Chekov in the upcoming Star Trek,
was what made this movie so damn good. It’s fun and rebellious and a
great coming-of-age movie. And in more than one case, Downey Jr. steals
the show, especially in a couple scenes at the end involving the pool
in his backyard.
Opened on September 26, 2008
Directed by Clark Gregg
A sex-addicted con-man pays for his mother’s hospital bills by
playing on the sympathies of those who rescue him from choking to death.
Why it’s on here: A devious and fun exercise in adapting the dark musings of the great Chuck Palahniuk, Choke
explores the life of a sex addict trying to deal with a mother who is
slipping away. With great performances from Sam Rockwell and Brad
William Henke combined with twisted humor that can only come from the
mind behind Fight Club, Choke is easily one of the
most unique and authentically dark comedies of the year. If you dig
deviance, this is one you shouldn’t let pass by. (Written by Neil of FSR)
City of Ember
Opened on October 10, 2008
Directed by Gil Kenan
For generations, the
people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of
glittering lights. But Ember’s once powerful generator is failing and
the great lamps that illuminate the city are starting to flicker.
Why it’s on here: City of Ember was one of the biggest flops this year next to Speed Racer
(which is on this list, too). Before it first hit theaters, I really
didn’t care that much about it. But I eventually saw it and was
completely surprised. It reminded me of the kind of movies that I used
to love as a kid, just full of wonderment and excitement. As long as
you recognize that it is a kid’s movie and not much more, it should be
easy to sit back and enjoy this adventure just as much as I did.
Not Released in Theaters Yet
Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Frank Perry is an institutionalized convict twelve years into a
life sentence without parole. When his estranged daughter falls ill, he
is determined he make peace with her before it’s too late. He develops
an ingenious escape plan, and recruits a dysfunctional band of
escapists — misfits with a mutual dislike for one other but united by
their desire to escape their hell hole of an existence.
Why it’s on here: It was my favorite film
from Sundance this year and could’ve been my favorite film of the
entire year if it had ever actually been released in theaters.
THINKFilm picked it up at Sundance but that company went under part of
the way through the year, so it never hit theaters. It was in theaters
in June in the UK and will be out on DVD over there in January. This is
one of the best films that no one has ever heard of. It’s one of the
most intense and thrilling modern escape movies ever made, and that’s a
Opened on May 9, 2008
Directed by Tarsem Singh
In a hospital on the
outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman begins to tell a
fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm, a fantastical story
about 5 mythical heroes. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her
vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality starts to blur
as the tale advances.
Why it’s on here: This
beautiful film took two years to finally hit theaters after premiering
at a film fest in 2006. Although a couple of people caught it during
its theatrical run, The Fall never turned into a hit despite
glowing reviews. I was even surprised to find myself enjoying it,
especially because the trailers didn’t seem all that interesting. What
you’ll discover is a gorgeous historic epic built around an ensemble of
great performances. The Fall was worth the two year wait to see in theaters and shouldn’t be quickly forgotten.
Opened on August 22, 2008
Directed by Andrew Fleming
In this irreverent comedy, a failed
actor-turned-worse-high-school-drama-teacher rallies his Tucson,
Arizona students as he conceives and stages politically incorrect
musical sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Why it’s on here: Whereas Choke was the quintessential dark comedy of the year, Hamlet 2
is the quintessential absurd comedy of the year. Steve Coogan shines
like a young Gene Wilder as the whacky drama teacher that just about
everyone had in high school. The story benefits from the smart and
biting comedic mind of Pam Brady, who co-wrote the South Park
movie. You’ll get heavy doses of silliness, big scoops of absurdity and
one giant musical interlude set to "Rock Me Sexy Jesus." What could
possibly be better than that? (Written by Neil of FSR)
Let the Right One In
Opened on October 24, 2008
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Oscar, an overlooked
and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but
peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire.
Why it’s on here: We’ve already talked extensively about why Let the Right One In
is such a phenomenal film. But for those that don’t know about it just
yet, it’s one of the best horror movies in the last few years and is
the very best vampire movie since Interview with the Vampire
in 1994. Although it’s already getting a lot of exposure from fellow
critics, most of whom are calling it their favorite movie of the year,
it still didn’t spread wide enough to be called a hit, so I’m putting
it on here to give it even more of the exposure that it deserves.
Man on Wire
Opened on July 25, 2008
Directed by James Marsh
A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s daring, but illegal,
high-wire routine performed between New York City’s World Trade
Center’s twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime
of the century."
Why it’s on here: Every
year there seems to be a documentary that transcends educational value
and historical relevance and becomes something more, something deeply
entertaining and alive with intensity. Last year it was the underdog
story of The King of Kong. This year it is the daring tale of
Philippe Petit. And while his accomplishment is the crown jewel of the
film, it is Petit’s engaging nature as a subject that makes Man on Wire one of the most exciting and riveting films of the year. It packs as much drama as you might see in a movie like The Dark Knight or Iron Man — and it is based on something that really happened. It doesn’t get more impressive than that. (Written by Neil of FSR)
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Opened on October 3, 2008
Directed by Peter Sollett
High school student
Nick O’Leary, member of the Queercore band The Jerk Offs, meets
college-bound Norah Silverberg and she asks him to be her boyfriend for
Why it’s on here: Before I even saw this, I was expecting it to be the next Superbad or Garden State.
Then I saw it and thought it could actually achieve that level of
success. Not only was it fun (and funny), but it had a sweet side to it
that made it more than just the typical teenage comedy. It may have not
been the best comedy of the year or even as good as Superbad or Garden State,
but considering it is at least better than most other stupid teenage
comedies, it deserves a bigger audience than it got in October. The
charming Kat Dennings is at her best in it, as is Michael Cera.
Ping Pong Playa
Opened on September 5, 2008
Directed by Jessica Yu
A kid dreams of playing professional basketball in order to escape
his dead-end job, living in the suburbs, his bossy older brother and
running his Mom’s ping pong classes.
Why it’s on here: Easily
the funniest movie of the last two years. I first saw it at the Toronto
Film Festival last year and in turn called it the Best of the Fest.
It eventually hit theaters earlier this year, but barely anyone knew it
even existed. It was sad to see it go unnoticed because not only does
its lead actor, Jimmy Tsai, and its director, Jessica Yu, deserve
plenty of praise for their skills, but it is literally one of the
funniest movies I’ve ever seen. As I said in my review, screw Balls of Fury, "Ping Pong Playa is the ping pong movie that should be in the spotlight!"
Opened on June 6, 2008
Directed by Steve Conrad
Two assistant managers of a corporate grocery store vie for a coveted promotion.
Why it’s on here: Yet another hilarious comedy that I discovered at a film festival (SXSW
in March). I’m not normally a fan of John C. Reilly or Seann William
Scott, but both of them gave extraordinary comedic performances to make
this an all-around gem of a comedy. It’s unfortunate that this didn’t
catch on because it has so many hilarious moments that really stand
out. It’s one of those refreshingly different kind of independent
comedies that no one knows about; but you’ll be grinning when your
friends come gawking to you about it years later because by then you’ll
have already memorized it all by heart.
Son of Rambow
Opened on May 2, 2008
Directed by Garth Jennings
During a long English summer in the early 1980s, two schoolboys
from differing backgrounds set out to make a film inspired by Rambo:
Why it’s on here: From the writer/director that brought us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
comes one of the most heartwarming, unique little indie films of the
year. The story of two friends from different sides of town (and
religions) and their desire to make their own Rambo movie in
the 1980s might sound simple, but it is loaded with layers that have an
undeniable heartwarming effect. A story of friendship, acceptance and
religious persecution, Son of Rambow is one of the most clever stories released in theaters this year. (Written by Neil of FSR)
adventures of Speed Racer, a young race car driver who sits behind the
wheel of the lightning-fast Mach 5 racecar. Aided by his family and his
devoted girlfriend, Speed racks up victory after victory, but still
lives in the shadow of his late older brother, Rex. When Speed garners
the wrath of Royalton Industries, he must team up with the enigmatic
Racer X to defeat the ruthless corporation.
Why it’s on here: I
don’t care what all the critics said about it — I loved this movie! And
as more and more people are starting to finally watch this of their own
volition, they’re finding it to be way more entertaining than they were
expecting. It’s a kids movie at its heart but it’s also infused with
the Wachowski’s one-of-a-kind stunning visuals and energy. It was
killed by some early bad buzz but deserved much better. If you can get
that bad buzz out of your head, a few of you might actually enjoy this
in the end. At least give it a chance!
Not Released in Theaters Yet
Directed by Pierre Morel
A former spy relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been forced into the slave trade.
Why it’s on here: I already recently wrote about my feelings on Fox screwing over Taken,
so I’m adding it here to emphasize to everyone (and Fox) again that
they really did make a big mistake in delaying it. We should’ve all
seen Taken already, as it was originally scheduled to be in
theaters in September, but for reasons that still baffle me, Fox pushed
it all the way to January. It couldn’t be more fitting to include Taken on this list, considering it really is one of the best movies of the year that no one saw thanks to idiotic studio decisions.
Opened on July 3, 2008
Directed by Jonathan Levine
Set against this
backdrop of New York City in 1994, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro
spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout
the city, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist for treatment,
and falling in love with his stepdaughter.
Why it’s on here: In addition to American Teen,
this is one film that came out of Sundance this year with a whole lot
of buzz. But yet again, Sony Pictures Classics buried it with a
terrible release date and a series of poorly made trailers. Even if it
had trouble finding the right audience, I’m assuring everyone that this
still is one of the best movies of the year. While I’ve
thrown around that phrase a lot, I really mean it this time, especially
because its been on my mind constantly as I’ve starting to thinking
back over this year. Do yourself a huge favor and catch this as soon as
Young People Fucking
Opened on August 29, 2008
Directed by Martin Gero
A smart and fast-paced comedy that intertwines the stories of 5
couples over the course of one sexual encounter. As the couples attempt
to have some seemingly straight forward sex, they run into all sorts of
Why it’s on here: I first encountered this gem at the Toronto Film Festival last year, but it didn’t hit theaters until this year. Maybe it was its uncensored title that fucked it over (pun intended), but let me tell you, Young People Fucking
is one of the funniest no-holds-barred sex comedies ever made. It has a
very independent and personal feel to it, but that’s what makes it so
damn good. Even if it’s just to find out what he said, Young People Fucking is definitely worth watching, especially with a significant other.
Well, I hope you seek these out and enjoy them, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them!