Top Ten Lists


Peter Travers has posted his Top Ten list, which often eerily mirrors Oscar best picture, as we in this game know. Best Picture is probably going to look like this, give or take a Tangerine. The Best Picture winner has been on Travers’ list since I started back in 1999.

10. Inside Out / Anomalisa
 9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
 8.The Martian
 7. Tangerine
 6. Straight Outta Compton
 5. Brooklyn
 4. Mad Max: Fury Road
 3. Carol
 2. Steve Jobs
1. Spotlight

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On Nov 9, Stephanie Zacharek became TIME magazine’s new film critic. Yesterday she became the first of the major critics to announce her Top 10 Best films of the year.

Top 10 Best Movies

10. Ex Machina
Of the dazzling Alicia Vikander, as the artificial-intelligence being Ava in Alex Garland’s brainy, agile sci-fi nightmare/reverie Ex Machina, my friend and colleague Richard Corliss wrote, “Trained as a dancer, Vikander lends Ava a grace and precision of movement that could be human or mechanical, earthly or ethereal.” And then, in his quietly spectacular way, Richard nailed the essence of her character in a single pirouette of a phrase: “a spectral eminence yearning to be a woman.” That is how you capture the everyday beauty of movies, a pleasure both ephemeral and everlasting.
9. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
8. Creed
7. Tangerine
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Marya E. Gates was frustrated, as we women often are, about some list that came out – I don’t even remember what it was – oh right, the BBC’s ludicrous list of the 100 Greatest American films or some such. Naturally, no women were included on it. Women are not considered anywhere near brilliant by most who call themselves film critics. And indeed, it’s hard to compete with films like Citizen Kane. Gates decided to ask people what were the best films by women directors. She received over 500 responses. The list contains some of the best films ever made and would probably be a formidable challenger to the BBC’s list were it not for one tiny problem. Clueless is the film that lands in the number one spot. A very good film, a funny film, a beloved film – but it kind of goes to show you that when it comes to picking movies by women the focus isn’t going to necessarily be on master works. Again, not criticizing Clueless but to me when you’re talking about “best” you’re not talking about “favorite.” You’re talking about incomparable works of art that are unequivocal. The Coen brothers, Scorsese, Hitchcock, Fincher, Coppola, Welles… on the female side, Campion, Bigelow, Wertmuller, Kent, Coppola, Ramsay, DuVernay, etc. I’m going to say it because probably no one else will. No one wants to be the one who is the asshole in the room shitting all over something as beautiful as this poll. And I’m not shitting on it. I’m not even shitting on Clueless. I’m just saying that if women want to really compete, if they want to really be taken seriously as artists on par with their male counterparts – we have to up the game a little here. We don’t need to be patronized and we don’t want a pat on the back and a “good job.” Right?

At any rate, you can view the whole list here. The top 20:

1. Clueless – 147 votes
2. Lost in Translation 144 votes
3. The Piano – 120 votes
4. Selma – 118 votes
5. American Psycho – 110 votes
6. Cleo from 5 to 7 – 93 votes
7. The Hurt Locker – 92 votes
8. Fish Tank – 84 votes
9. The Virgin Suicides 84 votes
10. Winter’s Bone – 75 votes
11. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles – 74 votes
12. The Babadook 72 votes
13. Zero Dark Thirty 72 votes
14. Sedmikrásky (Daisies), 1966 70 votes
15. A League of Their Own 69 votes
16. Meshes of the Afternoon (co-directed) 69 votes
17. Big – 68 votes
18. Boys Don’t Cry – 62 votes
19. Orlando – 59 votes
20. Point Break – 58 votes


10. Birdman
9. Wild Tales
8. Citizenfour
7. Nightcrawler
6. Jodorowsky’s Dune
5. Goodbye to Language
4. Lucy
3. The LEGO Movie
2. Boyhood
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

boyhood family

Thanks to Jordan for supplying Peter Travers’ Top Ten List. Travers has an uncanny knack for picking films that end up in the Oscar race for Best Picture.  With the exception of one time since 1999, he has always included the winner in his top ten. And much of the time, multiple titles on his list get in.

01. Boyhood
02. Birdman
03. Foxcatcher
04. Selma
05. Gone Girl
06. Whiplash
07. Grand Budapest Hotel
08. Unbroken
09. Under the Skin

Travers Top Ten in the past few years:


1. 12 Years A Slave
2. Gravity
3. The Wolf of Wall Street
4. Before Midnight
5. Her
6. American Hustle
7. Captain Phillips
8. Nebraska
9. Blue Jasmine
10. Inside Llewyn Davis


10. The Dark Knight Rises
9. Moonrise Kingdom
8. Life of Pi
7. Les Miserables
6. Silver Linings Playbook
5. Argo
4. Lincoln
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
2. Zero Dark Thirty
1. The Master


1. Drive (“too bloody, too creative, too ambitious and too polarizing to comfort audiences”)
2. The Artist (“style to burn and unexpected soul”)
3. The Descendants (“orchestrated without a false note”)
4. Moneyball (show us “how to find value in what others miss.”
5. Midnight in Paris (“Woody’s love letter to the City of Light”)
6. Hugo (“An irresistible bedtime story for movie lovers”)
7. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (“the acting artistry of Gary Oldman”)
8. Margin Call (“blue-chip acting as Wall Street gets it in the teeth”)
9. The Tree of Life (Malick’s “one-of-a-kind film strives even when it falls short”)
10. War Horse, The Help, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2


  1. The Social Network
  2. Inception
  3. The King’s Speech
  4. True Grit
  5. The Kids Are All Right
  6. 127 Hours
  7. Black Swan
  8. The Fighter
  9. Winter’s Bone
  10. Toy Story 3

(thanks vcb, & wb!)

To check Traver’s track record in matching up with the Oscars, take a look at his past Top 10 Lists going back more than a decade, after the cut.

**Best Picture winner, bold means nominated:


  1. Precious
  2. Up in the Air
  3. The Hurt Locker**
  4. An Education
  5. Up
  6. Where the Wild Things Are
  7. A Serious Man
  8. District 9
  9. (500) Days of Summer
  10. The Messenger

1. Milk
2. Slumdog Millionaire**
3. The Dark Knight
4. Frost/Nixon
5. WALL-E (won animated)
6. Revolutionary Road
7. The Visitor
8. Doubt
9. Rachel Getting Married
10. Man on Wire (won Doc)

1 No Country for Old Men**
2 Atonement
3 Into the Wild
4 Eastern Promises
5 Sweeney Todd
6 American Gangster
7 There Will Be Blood
8 Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
9 I’m Not There
10 Knocked Up
(tie) Juno


1 The Departed**
2 Dreamgirls
3 (tie) Letters from Iwo Jima
(tie) Flags of our Fathers
4 Volver
5 Babel
6 United 93
7 The Queen
8 Borat
9 Little Miss Sunshine
10 A Prairie Home Companion

1 A History of Violence
2 Brokeback Mountain
3 Syriana
4 Good Night, and Good Luck.
5 Munich
6 Capote
7 The Squid and the Whale
8 The Constant Gardener
9 Crash**
10 (tie) King Kong
(tie) Wedding

1 Sideways
2 Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
3 Milliion Dollar Baby**
4 The Aviator
5 The Incredibles
6 Kinsey
7 Closer
8 Finding Neverland
9 Kill Bill: Volume 2
10 Fahrenheit 9/11

1. Mystic River
2. Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King**
3. Lost In Translation
4. Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World
5. Cold Mountain
6. American Splendor
7. Big Fish
8. A Mighty Wind
9. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
10. Angels In America [HBO]

1. Gangs of New York
2. Far From Heaven
3. Adaptation
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
5. Y Tu Mama Tambien
6. Chicago**
7. Talk To Her
8. Road To Perdition
9. About Schmidt
10. 8 Mile

2001 (two lists)

01. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (Peter Jackson)
02. Ali (Michael Mann)
03. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson)
04. Shrek (Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson)
05. Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe)
06. Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann)
07. Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott)
08. A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard)**
09. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
10. Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh)

List 2
01. Memento (Christopher Nolan)
02. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
03. Waking Life (Richard Linklater)
04. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff)
05. Hedwig And The Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell)
06. Sexy Beast (Jonathan Glazer)
07. In The Bedroom (Todd Field)
08. The Man Who Wasn’t There (Joel Coen)
09. Gosford Park (Robert Altman)
10. Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)


01a. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee)
01b. Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)
02. Gladiator (Ridley Scott)
03. Traffic (Steven Soderbergh)
04. Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry)
05. Croupier (Mike Hodges)
06. You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonegran)
07. The House of Mirth (Terence Davies)
08. State and Main (David Mamet)
09. Best in Show (Christopher Guest)
10. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky)


01. American Beauty (Sam Mendes)**
02. Topsy-Turvy (Mike Leigh)
03. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze)
04. The Insider (Michael Mann)
05. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)
06. Three Kings (David O. Russell)
07. Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Peirce)
08. The Straight Story (David Lynch)
09. The Winslow Boy (David Mamet)
10. The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan)


  1. The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki)
  2. Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello)
  3. Gone Girl (David Fincher)
  4. Mommy (Xavier Dolan)
  5. Noah (Darren Aronofsky)
  6. Samba (Eric Toledano & Olivier Nakache)
  7. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois)
  8. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
  9. American Hustle (David O. Russell)
  10.  Her (Spike Jonze)


112 contributors at Sight and Sound chime in with their typically esoteric choices for “the best films of 2014.” They’ve done a fine job proving that a lot of groups would rather predict which day Queen Elizabeth will kick the bucket than be accused of predicting the bloody Oscars. The BFI and Sight & Sound don’t care to predict the Oscars, don’t intend to, and refuse to try. And that’s fine. (But it does seem as if Sight & Sound wanted it to be impossibly hard for anyone to win their prize contest: “Predict the Sight & Sound Top 10 and Win the Harry Potter Blu-ray Box Set!” That contest looks rigged.)


1. Boyhood
42 votes
Richard Linklater’s film hinges on the tension between past, present and future and wears its long production and philosophical heft lightly. It feels as effortless as breathing. Precious little happens, yet everything does.

2. Goodbye to Language 3D
21 votes
Godard’s retina-invigorating ciné-poem… the densest but also the most cinema-bending film on the Riviera, one which made the entire audience squint, blink and panic in unison.

=3. Leviathan
18 votes
Balances the universality the director has always striven for with a brilliantly etched microcosm of the lawlessness that grips Russia today, where patronage, profiteering and power are intertwined.

=3. Horse Money
18 votes
Brazen when it comes to bending cinema’s usual rules about the time and space(s) that characters occupy… a collision between cinematic history and authentic stories of suffering.

5. Under the Skin
16 votes
I’ve been waiting most of my life for a film that combined the sensibilities of Tarkovsky and Norman J. Warren. Under the Skin was worth the wait. It still haunts me, and I suspect it always will.

6. The Grand Budapest Hotel
15 votes
Anderson’s most complete fabrication yet, a fanatically and fantastically detailed, sugar-iced, calorie-stuffed, gleefully overripe Sachertorte of a film.

7. Winter Sleep
13 votes
Without doubt a formidably achieved, intellectually substantial drama… when Winter Sleep comes alive, it is as powerful and suggestive as any Ceylan film.

8. The Tribe
12 votes
Set in a school for deaf teenagers, it reimagines the language of sight and sound (or the absence of sound) in cinema to startlingly original effect; you watch and listen in a way that’s entirely fresh and unfamiliar.

=9. Ida
10 votes
A spare, haunting piece of minimalism… crafted with deceptive simplicity, riven with uncertainty… its indelible images are a stark reminder of Bazin’s dictum that film itself is a kind of miracle.

=9. Jauja
10 votes
Jauja is such a marvellous experience: it shows that film is a medium that can lock up a history (or memories or dreams or nightmares) inside it, then release it in all the splendour of Patagonian skies.

=11. Mr. Turner
9 votes

=11. National Gallery
9 votes

=11. The Wolf of Wall Street
9 votes

=11. Whiplash
9 votes

15. The Duke of Burgundy
8 votes

=16. Birdman
7 votes

=16. Two Days, One Night
7 votes

=18. Citizenfour
6 votes

=18. The Look of Silence
6 votes

=18. The Wind Rises
6 votes

The best films of the year – the overground, the underground, the widely released and the still emerging, from oldtimers and first-timers – as chosen by 112 of our international contributors and colleagues.


First out of the gate with her Top 10 list is Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post. (The descriptions here have been abbreviated so please check out the full article.)

1. “Boyhood” – With this touching coming-of-age drama, writer-director Richard Linklater accomplished so many groundbreaking things at once: Filming nonprofessional actor Ellar Coltrane over 12 years, then folding his actual youth and adolescence into a fictional story starring Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, Linklater created a new cinematic language, allowing past and present to mesh as seamlessly as they do in real life.

2. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” – Alejandro González Iñárritu’s portrait of a former action star (Michael Keaton) making one last bid for authenticity was an exercise in technical brio (it seemed to be filmed all in one take) and in the art of acting.

3. “Citizenfour” – Laura Poitras’s taut, claustrophobically effective documentary, in which she puts viewers in the Hong Kong hotel room when former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden first shared his revelations about government surveillance.

4. “Force Majeure” – Visually stunning, narratively meticulous and often grimly funny, Swedish director Ruben Ostlund’s drama about a picture-perfect couple coming unraveled during a ski vacation in the French Alps got at gender politics, sexual dynamics and the delicate balance of self-perception.

5. “Foxcatcher” is a creepy movie, as unsettling and unresolved as the true crime at its center. Steve Carell submerges his comic persona to play John E. du Pont, who in 1996 murdered wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). Channing Tatum rounds out the extraordinary three-man ensemble.

6. “Under the Skin” Scarlett Johansson was in two big hits this year — “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and the action flick “Lucy” — but her best work was in Jonathan Glazer’s creepy, cryptic “Under the Skin.”

7. “Selma” – Ava DuVernay’s dramatization of a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement is a stirring historical pageant, but at its best shows Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) as a cannily perceptive political operator, especially when dealing with Tom Wilkinson’s equally shrewd Lyndon Johnson. Finally, the most important chapter of 20th-century American history has taken pride of place within the culture’s dominant narrative medium — not as context, backdrop or plot device, but the subject itself.

8. “Edge of Tomorrow” – Why on Earth didn’t you see this movie? It had all the mind-bending time-travel of “Interstellar,” some wise-cracking, save-the-day derring-do a la “Guardians of the Galaxy,” plus Tom Cruise flirting with a wonderfully smart, strong heroine played by Emily Blunt. Stylishly directed by Doug Liman.

9. “Beyond the Lights” – Gina Prince-Bythewood’s deliriously entertaining backstage romance took all of the tropes from “Gypsy” to “The Bodyguard,” gave them a fresh, feminist spin and put them in the hands of a superlative cast… Delicious to watch and listen to, the film was elevated by Mbatha-Raw’s honest, physically startling performance.

10. “Locke” – If “Birdman” and “Foxcatcher” were ensemble pieces at their best, Steven Knight’s “Locke” was the quintessential one-man show: British actor Tom Hardy… is transfixing as a man desperate to keep the various spheres of his life from spinning out of control; the movie itself is a daring, utterly absorbing exercise in real-time storytelling.

(read the full story at the Washington Post)-

Hornaday cites a few more films outside her top 10 for honorable mention:

Nightcrawler – “a slithery, atmospheric evocation of the news media at its most
Obvious Child – “a tart, audaciously unapologetic comedy”
Fort Bliss – “evokes the life of a working military mom with sensitive domestic drama”
Dear White People – “a funny, wise and nuanced satire on racial identity”
The Drop – “superbly written, beautifully acted downbeat gem.
A Most Violent Year – “channeled the muted palette and subdued mood of the great crime dramas of the 1970s.”

British people are smarter than we are. And they have better taste. And they’re better actors. On paper, the historical dramas “Mr. Turner” and “The Imitation Game” — along with the Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything” — were run-of-the-mill great-man myths. But in the hands of directors Mike Leigh, Morten Tyldum and James Marsh (with assists from actors Timothy Spall, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne), they transcended their genre to become graceful works of art — and sure-fire awards bait for those keeping score at home.

You can watch his full video breakdown here
10. A Touch of Sin
9. American Hustle
8. Blue Jasmine
7. The Past
6. Manakamana
5. Nebraska
4. Saving Mr Banks
3. Gravity
2. Her
1.12 Years a Slave

Film Comment’s Top 10 Films Released in 2013 
1. Joel & Ethan Coen’s INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
2. Steve McQueen’s 12 YEARS A SLAVE
3. Richard Linklater’s BEFORE MIDNIGHT
4. Joshua Oppenheimer’s THE ACT OF KILLING
5. Jia Zhang-ke’s A TOUCH OF SIN
6. Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel’s LEVIATHAN
7. Alfonso Cuarón’s GRAVITY
8. Andrew Bujalski’s COMPUTER CHESS
9. Noah Baumbach’s FRANCES HA
10. Shane Carruth’s UPSTREAM COLOR.
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Llewyn Davis

First up, AO Scott, who definitely needed a top twenty:

1. ‘ Inside Llewyn Davis’ The musical performances — especially from Oscar Isaac, who plays the title character — are hauntingly lovely, and they anchor Joel and Ethan Coen’s exploration, at once mordant and melancholy, of the early-’60s New York folk scene. A ballad of bad luck and squandered talent that already seems, like the music it celebrates, to have been around forever.

2. ‘12 Years a Slave’ Its historical seriousness and topical resonance are considerable but should not distract attention from Steve McQueen’s artistry. Suspenseful and dramatic in the best Hollywood tradition — and full of first-rate performances — this story of bondage and the longing for freedom unfolds with startling clarity and immediacy.

3. ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ Yes, the sex scenes are explicit, but they are both necessary to the love story and tangential to the film’s main ambition, which is to illuminate the life of its young protagonist, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos, in full. So yes, Abdellatif Kechiche’s Cannes prize winner is about sex, but it’s also about everything else: food, work, art, social class, education and, perhaps above all, France.

4. ‘Enough Said’ Nicole Holofcener’s midlife romantic comedy, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini, spins what at first seems like an anecdotal premise into a rich and insightful examination of the peculiarities and contradictions of courtship and parenthood in 21st century America.

5. ‘A Touch of Sin’ Jia Zhangke’s angry, meticulous collection of violent vignettes paints a somber picture of modern China as a place of inequality, greed and indifference. And not only China.

6. ‘All Is Lost’ An old story — man against the elements — grandly and thrillingly told by J. C. Chandor. Robert Redford commands the screen with barely a word.

7. ‘Frances Ha’ With its nouvelle vague black-and-white imagery and its eye for the pleasures and foibles of young-bohemian New York, Noah Baumbach’s lightest and loosest feature, written with and starring Greta Gerwig, is a sweet bedtime story for anxious millennials.

8. ‘Hannah Arendt’ Those who complain that movies can’t think don’t really know how to think about movies. This one, focusing on the controversy surrounding its subject’s 1963 book “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” brilliantly dramatizes the imperative at the center of her life as a writer and philosopher, which was to compel the world to yield to the force of the mind.

9. ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ Movies about American history tend to be somber, responsible and pious, even as the history itself is completely crazy — violent, tragic, ridiculous and contradictory. Lee Daniels, never known for his restraint, turns America’s most agonized and contentious subject (that would be race) into an opera of wild melodrama, canny naturalism and political camp. None of it should have worked, and yet nearly all of it does.

10. ‘The Great Gatsby’/‘The Wolf of Wall Street’/‘The Bling Ring’/‘Spring Breakers’/‘Pain and Gain’/‘American Hustle’ Six variations on the big theme of our times: “Just look at all my stuff!” It’s capitalism, baby! Grab what (and who) you can, and do whatever feels good. We’re all going to hell (or jail, or Florida) anyway.

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(Thanks Jerry Grant!)

Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday’s Top Movies (21 listed):

1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
3. Stories We Tell
4. Enough Said
5. All Is Lost
6. Her
7. Gravity
8. Mud
9. Fruitvale Station
10. Frances Ha Continue reading…

Lou Lumenick

1. Gravity
2. 12 Years a Slave
3. Captain Phillips
4. All Is Lost
5. The Wind Rises
6. (tie) Dallas Buyers Club
6. (tie) Mud
7. The Great Gatsby
8. Stories We Tell
9. Much Ado About Nothing
10. Pacific Rim

(thanks Bryce!)

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Owen Gleiberman:
1. 12 Years a Slave
2. American Hustle
3. Before Midnight
4. Fruitvale Station
5. Gravity
6. Blue Jasmine
7. The Past
8. World War Z
9. Prisoners
10. Inside Llewyn Davis

Continue reading…



And the top ten:

1. 12 Years A Slave
2. Gravity
3. The Wolf of Wall Street
4. Before Midnight
5. Her
6. American Hustle
7. Captain Phillips
8. Nebraska
9. Blue Jasmine
10. Inside Llewyn Davis

Travers list last year (Oscar nominees in bold)

1. The Master
2. Zero Dark Thirty
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
4. Lincoln
5. Argo
6. Silver Linings Playbook
7. Life of Pi
8. Les Miserables

9. Moonrise Kingdom
10. Django Unchained

TIME’s Richard Corliss

1. Gravity
2. The Great Beauty
3. American Hustle
4. Her
5. The Grandmaster
6. Fast and Furious 6
7. Frozen
8. The Act of Killing
9. 12 Years a Slave
10. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

(thanks to Marshall)

1. The Act of Killing
2. Gravity
3. Blue Is the Warmest Colour
4. The Great Beauty
5. Frances Ha
6. A Touch of Sin
7. Upstream Color
8. The Selfish Giant
9. Norte, the End of History
10. Stranger by the Lake

“The uneasiness it creates in the viewer ranges from the details of its Chabrolian tale of deathly desire to its puzzling sexual politics. Never have scrotums been used as such elegant compositional elements. Its effect is a state of constant arousal and distrust, and the filmmaking is unnervingly exquisite” — — Michael Koresky

More detail at the BFI’s Sight&Sound page, though nothing else quite like that.

(thanks, Bryce!)

Movie City has compiled the full list.  But here is how the year ended up – the top ten films of all of the top ten lists. 7/10 of them ended up being nominated for Best Picture.  Life of Pi is number 12 and Les Miserables is number 27.


Still from Anna Karenina

Oscar voters have today to mail their ballots.  Tomorrow is a holiday. Then they have the 2nd and the 3rd and that was all she wrote. It feels crushingly early, way too early, way too soon to shove so many objects into that tiny hole.  Most of them, in fact, have long since been turned in. But here are ten anythings from me.  Hannibal did it to amuse himself.

1. The score in Cloud Atlas – Moving, brilliant beyond words.
2. James Spader huffing and puffing, sweaty and spent, in Lincoln.
3. Jessica Chastain saying “I’m not that girl who fucks” in Zero Dark Thirty.
4. The unusually beautiful costumes in Anna Karenina
5. Life of Pi’s use of 3-D just to remind us about the simple beauty of rain.
6. Gollum coming to vivid life in The Hobbit.
7.  Samuel L. Jackson laughing at everything Leonardo DiCaprio says in Django Unchained.
8.  Hans Zimmer, once again, out of the park in The Dark Knight Rises
9. Jack Fisk and David Crank bringing the era of familiar photographs of a time gone by in The Master
10. The natural light of Janusz Kaminski’s frame in Lincoln.

I could go on, and on, and on and on. But 2012 has been one of the best years for film I’ve seen in a while. 2010 is a close second. Here’s to hoping this year’s winner, whatever it may be, might just really be the best film of the year.

Happy New Year dear readers. Thanks for hanging in with Ryan and me through another hard core season replete with too many ads, server shut-downs, commenter wars, and every other crazy piece of our Oscar puzzle.  May 2013 be grand and full of, you know, that thing with feathers.

What are your ten anythings?

In alphabetical order, these are the moments in film in 2012 that moved me greatly. Here are a few words about them.

There are SPOILERS — fair warning.  


I can’t really remember a more powerful or memorable moment in a film than Jean-Louis Trintignant finding a pigeon in his apartment. With his beloved, dying wife all but gone, the pigeon signifies letting go. It is the thing about life we can’t keep to ourselves because it is always meant for another place. A pigeon must fly and people, sad to say, must eventually die. What Amour means to me is nothing less than the true meaning of life. It is all in who we cling to and what we get out of our time here. Maybe that in itself is selfish. Maybe we owe it to everyone else in our lives and to life itself to hang on to the bitter end, no matter how miserable we may become. Those aren’t easy questions to answer and Amour doesn’t try to answer them. It simply shows the story of a life in decay. All good things must, sooner or later, fly away.


Beasts of the Southern Wild 

Hushpuppy has seen a lot such a short time but not everything she sees is meant to be taken literally, as so many critics decided to do. The film is full of breathtaking dazzlers, like when we see the mother for the first time and just walking by the stove sets the burners aflame. But the strongest moment of the film the one that literally took the breath out of my chest when I saw it in Cannes was the end, when the beasts bowed down to Hushpuppy and declared her queen. This was the true spirit of Where the Wild Things Are, the true spirit of a child’s imagination, the freedom of storytelling, the glorious, heart-stopping beauty of artistic courage. How do you color the magic of a place? How to capture who people are? How do you make a movie that really wants to be poetry? You do it by letting go of what other people might think. And so we bow down to Hushpuppy and to all other things that command the spirit of the wild.

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