1. Winter’s Bone – This blew me away when I saw it. Like most movies I go to, I try to avoid reading about them before I do, so I had no idea what to expect when I went into the cinema. It felt a completely realistic view of life in trailer park America. The use of relatively unknown actors really helped to make it seem more real, and the story was slight but beautifully realised, with an amazing end sequence. I was in a near daze leaving the cinema.
2. A Prophet -This seems a long time ago, but I’m told it was this year. A gem of a movie, where a young arab man ends up in prison, and slowly begins to climb the ladder to become the kingpin. It missed the boat a little towards the end, but it’s always difficult to end these things well. Loved some of the early parts, where he’s working his way up through the system. Lovely cinematography and great acting through, a real joy.
3. The Maid – Again another one with a pretty flawed ending, but I loved the first hour or so of this movie, and it was more than enough to edge it towards the top of the list. Story revolves around a maid who works for an afluent Chilean family, who decide their maid needs assistance to perform her tasks. It all kicks off from there!The main actress has a wonderful face, and I could watch her all day.
4. Mammoth – this is a movie that was largely overlooked by the end of year polls, but I really enjoyed it when I saw it a few months ago, on a Saturday afternoon in the Screen. It is a bit like Babel, in that it has a few stories interwoven, with no real outcome to any of them. Having said that, I thought it was a world better than Babel. The name comes form the most expensive pen in the world, that uses the bones of Woolly Mammoths for its plating, the main actor asking if they will make pens from our bones one day! It continues the rise of Michelle Williams, who gets better in every thing i see her in.
5. Ghost – A movie that really caught me off guard, as I wasn’t expecting much from it. I was a little drunk going to it also, after an afternoon spent in front of the pav in Trinity, so maybe it was the beer talking! I thought it was well paced and created a wonderful aura around the Blair and Cherie characters. Well acted, with the feel of a Hitchcock thriller, that went throughout.
6. Exit Through the Gift Shop – This was described as the ‘Banksy’ movie, but that is largely as he directed the piece. It is the story of the full underground graffiti movement, as seen through Thierry Guetta, who photographed the scene, and later became one of the artists, with the name Mr. Brainwash. Mr. Brainwash ended up designing a Madonna cover, and having several sell out shows. Banksy seems to have a problem with him, as he didn’t pay his dues, or due to the quality of his work, which is one of the funnier parts of the movie.
7. Bad Lieutenant – I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, which is always the best way to see something. I thought it was a strange idea to make a remake or a recent movie, and I generally have a problem with Nicholas Cage, so my expectations were pretty low. It really isn’t a remake at all though, and I’ve no idea why they kept the name. It has the same subject matter, in that it’s a lieutenant addicted to drugs, but that’s where the comparisons end really. Nicholas Cage did well in a difficult part, and this adds to the list of really good movies he’s been in.
8. A Single Man – The is the obvious argument with this that its a little bit heavy on style over substance, and I’m not sure Colin Firth was old enough to carry the part. If you were being harsh you could say that it looked like a commercial for some brand of aftershave in parts, but if you just went with it, it was an enjoyable movie. Well written and acted, and with enough in there to separate it from the crowd.
9. Another Year – I like Mike Leigh so this was a no brainer, as he was doing what he does best. The main characters, a couple in their 60’s with an almost perfect life style provide the back drop for the real characters of interest, their friends and family. Lesley Manville is great as the manic Mary, who is the only side character to appear in each of the segments, and always has a problem. Another simple kitchen sink drama that Mike Leigh does so well.
10. Shutter Island – A well made crime drama, which works well and carries your interest to the end. It looked great, and the locations scenes of the prison on the island, with cliffs and roaring sea created a great sense of presence and drama. The end was a little bit silly, but just don’t try to think about it too much and you’ll be fine!
Honourable mentions to three animated movies in Ponyo (I love their animations, never far off the mark), the illusionist and toy Story 3 (possibly the worst of the three, but still pretty good). I also have to admit I missed a few ones that were high ranking in other people’s lists, such as ‘the secret in their eyes’ and ‘Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives’ (only missed this as it had a stupidly short run in most cinemas). I’m sure I’ll get to see them over the christmas though, so something to look forward to. If anyone is still reading, your thoughts and opinions are always welcome…