15. All Good Things
Ryan Gosling in drag, getting away with murder. Sounds like the awful sequel to the equally bad Madea Goes to Jail, but, believe it or not, it works quite well for All Good Things, a movie that blurs the line between reality and insanity, and really gets deep down to the epicenter of a shocking crime. Why does millionaire David Marks hate his wife so much? He has the perfect life and more money than he knows what to do with, so why so glum and angry? Would he be sick enough to kill her? The answers are never perfectly defined, but Andrew Jarecki, the talented director behind the absolutely horrifying Capturing the Friedmans, does not attempt to force ideas or facts down your throat, instead presenting a reasonable argument as to what may have occurred and how the aftermath may have played out. According to the movie, David Marks, the alleged murderer of 2-3 people, is still living freely, which really set me on edge. Overall, a well done and underrated crime thriller.
14. Shutter Island
I'm a stickler for twisted horror movies, so when Scorsese released Shutter Island, I was beyond excited. Unfortunately, it was released several months after its original date, and as a result, was forgotten by December. However, the film was well worth the wait, and had the creepiest of atmospheres. Leonardo DiCaprio, as always, plays damaged and disturbed widower to a T, and his supporting cast is equally compelling. In her one scene, Patricia Clarkson is mesmerizing and slightly crazy, and who wouldn't want to see Max Von Sydow, Antonius Block himself, as an ex-Nazi? The secrets revealed throughout the film kept me on my toes, pondering as to what all of the film could mean. While the film gets a little lengthy and super duper insane, the ending is spooky, and definitely worth the trip through insanity.
13. Another Year
While Mike Leigh is a hit or miss director for me, his most recent film, Another Year, is a superb and quiet film about a year in the life of an older married couple. It sounds dry and dull on paper, but in terms of how Leigh handles his actors, it's quite an astonishing and unpredictable treasure. While Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen are positively warm and delightful as the inseparable couple Tom and Jerry, it is Lesley Manville who gives the performance of the film. She is vulnerable, she is energetic, and painfully stubborn. We watch her go from good to bad, and we truly empathize with her. While she is not the only interesting person in the film, Manville will break your heart and stand out from the crowd completely. She takes a small film and gives a brave performance.
12. Please Give
A delightful dry but well made film about mean people who think they are nice and as such, do mean things, and yet, we are enchanted, even moved, by the film as a whole. I always love Catherine Keener, and she is Oscar worthy as a woman who runs a furniture store that sells pieces owned by the recently deceased, but who dreams of taking the apartment of her nearly dead neighbor. The actors are all superb, and are quite realistic, more so than many of the performances/actors in films this year. They are spiteful, but act like they are justified. It's a film that came out of nowhere, but was just my cup of tea.
11. The Social Network
Whether we like to admit it or not, Facebook has shaped the world in ways that before seemed unimaginable or trivial. It's a website, but it is so much more than that, and with David Fincher's new film, The Social Network, we get to see the behind the scenes story about how one of the most powerful websites came to be, and the conflicts and power struggles that occurred along the way. Going into the movie, I was able to suspend the truth and just go with the story, which allowed me to enjoy the rapid dialogue, the characterization of Zuckerberg and his friend/enemies, and the high melodrama that Fincher used to move the story forward. History, this ain't, but fun, slick, and intelligent, it most definitely is.