Here’s the list:
- The Social Network. The story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s extraordinary career rise. It will probably win the Academy Award for Best Picture—and it probably should.
- True Grit. My personal favorite in this list. Perhaps because I have two small daughters, the relationship between the old fatherly cowboy and the young girl brought me to tears by the end. And Jeff Bridges as the old cowboy deserves a Best Actor award.
- The Black Swan. Again, another really strong recent film. A balerina wrestles with her Dionysian energies as she strives for Apollonian perfection. Ayn Randians might like this film. (The Randian nod also applies to The Social Network).
- I Can See You. The best horror flick since Blair Witch. A must-see if you like the horror genre. I’m not sure why the film is so unsettling, and that’s one of the things that makes it so interesting. It was released in 2008, but I only just saw it, so it’s new to me.
- An Education. This film came out in 2009, but (again) I only just recently caught it on DVD. An Education is an innocence to experience tale set in England. A highly intelligent female on her way from prep school to Oxford learns some important life lessons (such as that men can be slugs). It’s better than I’m making it sound.
And I’ll add one nonrecent film to this list (just because I plug it whenever I think of it):
- Russian Ark. Filmed about a decade ago at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, it’s a single tracking shot that goes for 90 minutes. Russian Ark is the Metropolis of the early 21st century.
Okay, I’ve shared my list. Now share yours. If you saw a film that rocked your world this past year (even if it isn’t recent), feel free to share it in the comments below. Just make sure that what you share is really unusually good—not just conventionally “worth seeing.”
1. Black Swan
It’s “The Wrestler” meets “A Beautiful Mind” but for women. That’s a good thing. I’m just being vague in order to save you form knowing to much about the structure and narrative of the film before seeing it. Though it’s not really a gotcha! kind of film. The best use of the “untrustworthy narrator” that I’ve ever seen in film (save for maybe Memento).
I’m not usually a fan of Christian Morality tales posing as horror, but this one is entirely up front with what it is and is entirely consistent within its premise. It doesn’t so much build tension by making you wonder what happens next, but by making it perfectly clear what’s happening next and that there’s nothing you or the characters involved can do about it.
3. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
i saw this two months ago, but was struck by it. I’m not a fan of animated films generally, but this movie serves to show that almost any medium can be used to convey meaningful art when done well.
4. Law Abiding Citizen
Recently caught this one on DVD. Wow. Real tension, real motivation, believable characters and a clear message within a morally ambiguous plot.
5. Green Zone
Don’t buy the advertising that this is just another Matt Damon action flick (though I would have been happy with that considering how top-notch the Bourne trilogy was). This is a much deeper and much more timely movie than you’re expecting.
And my old but good recommendation:
The Last King of Scotland
The best/worst horror films for me have always been the somewhat nihlistic true stories like Schindler’s List and City of God. The most uplifting are similar tales with a heroic character that seems to bring justice into being through sheer will despite existing in such a world (like Hotel Rwanda). This movie manages to walk a line between the two, as it’s essentially a coming of age story in a disheartening and terrifying reality.
Thanks for the film recommendations. I’ll look into the ones I don’t know.