It is now that time in which we look back at the previous year in movies and we make arbitrary judgement calls as to which movies were “the best” and which were “the worst.” And with over 600 movies released in North America last year, combined with the fact that movies are art and as such their quality is mostly subjective, determining the “best” and “worst” is a nearly pointless task. And yet here we are, because “best of” lists get clicks and because, despite the pointlessness, such exercises could indeed lead to interesting discussions about different movies.
So if you don’t like this list, just make your own, because we ARE talking about art, after all, and this is merely a listing of my own personal favorite movies of the year, the ones that I kept coming back to, the ones that make an impression on me, the ones I feel like bringing up now. And as for the exact order of this list, don’t agonize over it, because not only is this subjective, but truthfully a good portion of this ordering is arbitrary. I know which is my favorite of the year, and I know the ones that come right before that, but if you asked me to rank these same movies next week, you would likely get a very different order.
So to summarize – relax.
Each description is from my original review of each movie, and you can click on each title to see the whole review.
21. Crimson Peak
‘From the director of such modern horror classics as the vampire film “Cronos” and the ghost story “The Devil’s Backbone” and the wickedly dark adult fairy tale “Pan’s Labrynth,” each one creepier and spookier and more violent than the last, comes a…costume drama of manners and high society? Well, in a way, yes absolutely, this is the case, but of course Guillermo Del Toro isn’t just making a turn of the century love story in the style of “Wuthering Heights” and “Pride and Prejudice,” he takes this classic genre of storytelling and infuses it with what he knows and does best, and that is telling the tale of monsters, whether they be vampires or ghosts or the scariest type of monster of them all, humans. This movie is about a woman having to choose between two suitors but also having to survive a bad situation which she doesn’t realize is bad until it is too late.
This is “Crimson Peak.”’
20. Inside Out
‘An entire movie about the changing hormones inside an 11-year old girl during a time of upheaval in life? No thanks, I’m good, no way you can pull that off. Oh, you’re Pixar? Here’s my checkbook, just write out however much you need. That’s how I imagine the pitch meeting for this movie went anyway. Because the basic conceit of this movie is crazy and I would not expect anyone else to be able to pull it off as beautifully and fully realized as they were able to over there at Pixarland. (ohmygod where is Pixarland? How come Disney hasn’t jumped all over this one? Such a great theme park idea) They also get a little into the emotional dependency of parents on their kids and how that could be damaging and the idea that a child without properly contextualized and balanced emotions can turn into an unfeeling monster-to-be, because these things go hand in hand with the development of a person’s personality during very key years. A lot going on here, rather deceptively. But…do the kids GET IT?’
‘As if you couldn’t tell by the title and the cast, “Youth” is a movie about the passing of time and how we may differ in our approach to dealing with the inevitability of death that awaits us all and the possible futility of life and what we take from it while in the moment. A story about lost loves, dashed dreams and broken hearts, as well as appreciation of the past, hope for the future and a strange optimism for the present, this is the kind of movie that can affect you emotionally but only if you let it, if you allow it to wash over you, burrow into you and meld with your own psyche, so that you can see yourself reflected in at least one of its characters.’
‘Based on an urban legend about a lady who froze to death looking for the money buried in the snow in the 1996 Coen Brothers’ movie “Fargo” and centered on a fantastic performance in a sweet but ultimately sad movie, “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” is a great movie about loneliness, ambition and not believing everything you read or see.
Both funny and sad, “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” is a lovely movie, the kind of film that could only be made by people with a real clarity of vision, folks who knew the exact kind of movie they wanted to make and went ahead and made it, commercial prospects and wide releases be damned. Pulling influence from another movie and a real life story, the filmmakers synthesized those influences into a wholly original film, and a beautiful one at that.’
‘Speaking in terms of genre and tone, this definitely has that period piece love story thing going for it, with everything lovingly shot, gorgeous colors everywhere, with a presentation of an idealized version of 1950s New York City, and it also has a decent amount of humor and comedy interwoven through it so that the film isn’t all overly sappy emotions or nonstop scenes of general longing. This is all balanced quite well, which makes “Brooklyn” a movie that could be considered easy to watch.
This is a very good movie, for sure, that’s why so many people like it and are responding well to it, and it is easy to see why. Great acting, nice to look at, a compelling story, universal in its specificity, “Brooklyn” is a film that even people who wouldn’t normally see this kind of thing would find themselves enjoying.’