With the announcement of the Academy Award nominations I figured it would be a good time to post our top ten movie list for the year. Now unlike the Academy, you won’t find Beasts of the Southern Wild or Amour on here. All we can do is go by the movies we have seen this year and whittle that down to the ten that we had the most fun with. What you will find is a whole lot of explosions, bad puns, dwarves and ex-slave bounty hunters. So let’s get started shall we?
10. [amazon_link id=”B005LAIGPU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Chronicle[/amazon_link]
Max Landis, son of film legend John Landis and creator of the hilarious Death and Return of Superman video, wrote this smart found footage film about three teens that discover something in a cave and find themselves developing powers. Please don’t let the tag word “found footage” scare you off. This movie is witty and snap quick in its dialogue and then add to it a believable tale of heroes and villains and you have a winner.
9. [amazon_link id=”B008G33O0G” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Cabin in the Woods[/amazon_link]
I can not reiterate enough that if are planning on seeing this movie do not let someone tell you the ending. Now when the movie begins you think that they are giving away a big piece of it right off the bat but you really have no idea. It takes everything we thought we knew about the rules of a horror movie and turns it on its head. I wish it had been a bigger hit because it should be considered the Scream of this generation. The most unique horror film since the first Saw.
8. [amazon_link id=”B0084IG7KC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Hunger Games[/amazon_link]
Despite the books being in the polarizing “young adult” category, The Hunger Games was filled with unflinching violence. The movie did a great job of taking a concept as off base as children being forced to kill each other to ensure government control and made it work in a PG-13 environment. I hope no one simply did not watch this because of what I call the “Twilight syndrome”, where some movies are lumped into the same category as Twilight when they really should not be. This movie is is visually arresting in places and tense.
The Hobbit can not equal The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think we should all admit that. The source material is a completely different animal but Peter Jackson crafted a very good and enjoyable return to Middle-Earth this year that set up the return of Smaug and showed that Martin Freeman may have been born to play Bilbo Baggins. It was good to see Ian McKellan as Gandalf again and each of the dwarves were represented well with Richard Armitage stealing the show as Thorin.
6. [amazon_link id=”B005LAII80″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Dredd[/amazon_link]
Movies are a funny business sometimes. The Avengers became the third biggest movie of all time (deservedly so) and Dredd was a certified flop at the box office which is, as I said, a funny thing since people may have overlooked the best straight up action movie of the year and the most faithful comic to film translation ever. Karl Urban’s scowl should get an award by itself. This movie is unapologetic in it’s violence, as it should be, and it should have propelled Dredd into the minds of “normal” moviegoers, but now let’s just hope it becomes a cult hit. For a better idea of what to expect check out our review.
Some people may think that Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction may be Tarantino’s best and it would be hard to argue, but how many film makers could truly say that they are hitting their stride 20 years into their career? Inglourious Basterds and now Django Unchained have brought the director into the rare trifecta of great artists. Where their movies are critically loved, successful at the box office and yet do not compromise the director’s vision. Django is as close to a comedy as I think Tarantino will ever make and is a great look at our country’s bleak past seen through the eyes of a rare director.
4. [amazon_link id=”B0085Z8F4A” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Prometheus[/amazon_link]
Look, the easiest way to explain this is that I am a sucker for Ridley Scott being involved with anything sci-fi. Does the movie have plot holes? Yes, but I am pretty sure most movies do. I appreciate this film for not taking the easy way out for a prequel to my favorite film franchise ever. It seemed like people wanted to be spoon-fed information instead of trying to look for themselves and enjoy the adventure. Sounds a lot like LOST huh? Guess Damon Lindelof will never get away from that.
3. [amazon_link id=”B004LWZWGK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Dark Knight Rises[/amazon_link]
There was really no way that Christopher Nolan could top The Dark Knight. The movie was a cultural phenomenon anchored by the Academy Award winning performance of Heath Ledger. So for The Dark Knight Rises he took the character to the depths of defeat and closed up his Batman story by weaving together the stories of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight in a way that proved Nolan’s point that he set forth in Begins. That Batman should be a symbol, not just a man. Oh and I personally thought Tom Hardy owned the role of Bane.
2. [amazon_link id=”B007REV4YI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Skyfall[/amazon_link]
As I said in my review, Skyfall is the greatest Bond movie ever made so the fact this is almost at the top of this list is a no brainer. Director Sam Mendes brought Bond into the new age and simultaneously took Craig’s version of the character back in time (the classic Aston Martin, Moneypenny, Q). It moves at a quick pace despite being over two hours. And finally, for the first time in his Bond tenure, Craig got to match wits with a villain worthy of the franchise in Javier Bardem’s Silva. The fact Bardem did not get a supporting actor nod is beyond me. Just thinking about Skyfall makes me ecstatic to know that we have Daniel Craig for at least two more movies.
1. [amazon_link id=”B0083SBJXS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Avengers[/amazon_link]
I have to admit I went back and forth for a few days between this and Skyfall for the top spot but in the end it had to be this. While Skyfall may be the best Bond ever, it may someday be surpassed by another Bond movie. The Avengers was something different and only people that grew up tried and true nerds, geeks, fanboys etc. know what I am talking about. When you were growing up reading comics (for me in the 80’s & 90’s) you always imagined what it would be like to have a movie like The Avengers come out but knew it could never be. It wasn’t possible. But then something happened. Comic book movies became popular, raking in heaps upon heaps of cash and now the characters that you grew up loving and getting made fun of for liking became normal in pop culture. It was cool to go see Iron Man. Everyone loved Thor…..THOR! Imagine that internally as your ten year old self. Still seems weird right? Then Marvel did the near impossible. They built a film franchise out of separate movies, gambling that each would be successful enough to warrant them teaming up and making an Avengers movie. And guess what? It paid off. By trusting nerd god Joss Whedon to write and direct, The Avengers gave Marvel a 1.5 billion dollar reward for their risk. And not just that, the movie lived up to a lot of people’s lifetime expectations, mine included.