A Single Man - Gorgeous, swoon-worthy, heartbreaking, and uplifting. Colin Firth anchors this quiet, poetic day-in-the-life of a man who has been shattered by his lost love.
Little Soldier - A mentally effed-up soldier returns home from war to work for her dad, becoming the driver and bodyguard for her papa's number-one call girl. Fabulous performances by Trine Dyrholm and Lorna Brown as the two very different women who become unlikely allies.
This Is It - A fabulous concert movie about a concert that never was, this film reminded me (and many others) that Michael Jackson was a magical performer and artist. It also made me weep for the MJ that I remembered and loved.
Humpday - Two straight guys decide to have sex together in the name of a winning an amateur porn contest. A hilarious no-budget comedy, this film had me smiling from start to finish.
District 9 - The best sci-fi of the year was not a remake and didn't have blue people, but instead had giant prawns fighting apartheid-like repression in South Africa.
Up - So sweet, so nice, so moving. And of course it was Pixar.
Coraline - A twisted fairy tale story of a girl who wishes she had different parents, the film has a creepy and twisted undertone that could only come from writer Neil Gaiman.
Up in the Air - Sure there's breezy wit between suave George Clooney and sexy Vera Farmiga, but it's the too-timely backdrop of the broken economy and broken lives that sticks in your craw.
North Face (Nordwand) - This thrilling (and true) mountaineering-disaster movie is all the more disturbing as it all took place within binocular-range of tourists.
Bright Star - Jane Campion puts her unique stamp on the romance between poet John Keats and the headstrong young seamstress Fanny Brawne, making a costume drama feel modern, and making poetry feel accessible.
Also really liked:
Moon, Terribly Happy, The Young Victoria, Paranormal Activity, 9, Still Walking, Ponyo, Sunshine Cleaning
Acclaimed films that I missed that may have made the cut (or not):
The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Julie & Julia, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Broken Embraces
Acclaimed documentaries that I was too scared to see:
The Cove (about dolphin poaching) and Food, Inc. (about where our food comes from). I'm positive that both will give me nightmares.
- Sam Rockwell meets Sam Rockwell in lonely outpost on the Moon, and is so good he carries the entire film single (double?) handedly.
- Julianne Moore is both sympathetic and a hoot as an aging London party girl still pining for her gay best friend in A Single Man.
- Peter Capaldi's explosively (and hilariously) profane government official in In the Loop was jaw-droppingly hilarious.
- Dug the Dog in Up had the most adorable line of the year: "I hid under your porch because I love you."
Surprisingly great movie first half of a movie (with a stinky second half):
The first half of Knowing is thrilling and scary, then the story goes all to hell.
Most fun no-budget flick about things that go bump in the night:
The trailers made me cry. The movies did not:
Away We Go, Where the Wild Things Are
C'mon, ladies! The boys dominate yet again! Who can deny the wolf-boy breasts of the New Moon wolf-pack? Even if you hated The Twilight Saga: New Moon, you have to agree when Bella says, "You're kind of beautiful..." to Jacob (newly buff Taylor Lautner).
Yes, I argue that Kristen Stewart CAN act, despite Twilight/New Moon:
But screw vampires and werewolves! If I were a teenager, I would have crushes on these boys (in fact, I *do* have crushes on these boys):
Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as an adorable guy-in-love in (500) Days of Summer
Rupert Friend as courtly and supportive Prince Albert in The Young Victoria
The Young Victoria: For their first dance at a royal ball, Prince Albert takes Victoria's hand in his, they look into each other's eyes, and... the music takes such a deliciously, ridiculously long frozen-in-time pause that you don't realize you've held your breath along with the characters until the music starts again.
Most memorable movie-going experience:
In July, I had to flee the heat to find an air-conditioned theater on Seattle's hottest day ever recorded (103 F). And in a slip of poor planning, I ended up watching Moon through sunglasses (didn't really make much of a difference). By the end of the film I had all my limbs stretched out across the seats, like an overheated pet, because the theater's A/C just so happened to break that day. Still, the stuffy 85 F + indoors was cooler than the nighttime air!
My new favorite movie reference to apply in every-day situations:
In the fun roller derby movie Whip It, Juliette Lewis plays a mean rollergirl that shoves poor Ellen Page around (literally and figuratively). So now, at work, whenever someone says something excessively bitchy to another, I proclaim, "Oh my god! You totally just shoved her into a locker like Juliette Lewis!"