Hey there! Here are some movies I liked from last year. (Note: The list might look a bit weird because eligibility was determined by Australian release dates – full list here)
A couple face the ultimate challenge to their love (old age and sickness). It’s a sad, seldom-told tale depicted with brutal realism, but there’s beauty to be found too.
DA (Devil’s Advocate) Says: Cold, clinical, depressing and dull.
9. Much Ado About Nothing
Admittedly my enjoyment of this film had a lot to do with the thrill of seeing so many Joss Whedon alumni together in one place. But it’s such a fun, witty adaptation of the Shakespeare play that even non-Whedonites should find plenty to admire.
DA Says: An ill conceived update that ends up being an insult to the Bard in every way.
8. The Impossible
By focusing on one (white) family’s story, it may skimp on portraying the unfathomably massive scope and tragedy of the Boxing Day Tsunami, but it sure does a good job of getting across just how much it would have sucked to have been on the beach-front when the wave hit.
DA Says: An opportunity to address a genuine catastrophe is ignored in favour of self-centred middle-class rubbish.
Well, this is the first time I’ve included a straight-up Disney film in my list and left out the year’s Pixar offering (Monsters University). And why not, when Disney gave us such a visually exciting, funny, touching movie?
DA Says: Unfunny and full of inane songs, with a plot that is entirely predictable yet somehow also makes no sense.
6. Django Unchained
Although it didn’t captivate me quite as much as Inglorious Basterds, it still provided plenty of everything you want in a Tarantino flick – great performances, snappy dialogue, nail-biting tension, and yes – copious amounts of violence.
DA Says: Juvenile, perverse, ridiculous and very poorly paced.
5. Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I never thought I’d care much about the Hunger Games franchise but the first film exceeded expectations, and by fleshing out the story outside of the game arena this second film shot my expectations through the heart with a dozen arrows. Bring on part 3!
DA Says: It’s almost impossible to care about the characters, it’s over-long, and it has one of the most badly rushed endings in the history of cinema.
4. American Hustle
Like a great con artist, the film is overflowing with charm and wit. But there’s enough of a beating heart beneath the facade that it elevates itself above the usual clever but emotionally empty crime-caper flick.
DA Says: Overhyped trash that’s all style, no substance.
3. Before Midnight
Perhaps it wouldn’t be a great film as a standalone piece, but something about catching up with the two star-crossed lovers almost 20 years on from their first meeting in Before Sunrise is incredibly satisfying. As we see them deal with a whole new set of relationship issues (the honeymoon period is definitely over by this point) all we can do is watch and desperately hope it’ll all work out.
DA Says: An uber-pretentious, whiny art-house movie that says nothing of actual importance.
2. Life of Pi
Just scraping into eligibility for this year’s list (it was released in Australia on New Year’s Day), this was the first 2+ hr film I’d seen in a long, long time that I actually wished was longer. As a fan of the book I had no some minor complaints but it’s still an incredible cinematic achievement – especially considering everyone seemed to think it was an “unfilmable” story.
DA Says: Yes, it looks pretty, but the plot is dismal and the religious subtext is just lazy and pretentious.
One of the most breathtaking cinematic thrill-rides ever created. It’s a technical masterpeice in every way, but despite all the flashiness, you do care about the fate of the characters. Also I think it may have finally convinced me that 3D movie technology can be used to make something truly special. Avatar eat your heart out!
DA Says: Full of plot holes, scientific impossibilities and unbelievably vapid dialogue.
Honourable Mentions: Cloud Atlas, Iron Man 3, Lincoln, Pacific Rim, Paranorman, Stories We Tell, Zero Dark Thirty
Just a Few of the Movies I Didn’t See: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Anchorman 2, Blackfish, Blue Jasmine, Captain Philips, Filth, The Gatekeepers, A Hijacking, Philomena, Prisoners, Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Worst Movie (That I Saw) of the Year:
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Oh God. So many people are going to hate me for this. You’re hating me for it right now, aren’t you? Aren’t you!!?
Wait, before you answer that, let me make things worse for myself by admitting that I missed the entire opening sequence. The whole bit with a volcano or something? Yeah I didn’t see that. So maybe it’s an unfair choice for worst movie, but I feel confident in saying that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it much anyway. I just wasn’t on the right wavelength for it. Maybe it had to do with not being much of a Trekkie (I got the feeling that there’s a lot in the film specifically for long-time fans of the original show) but to me it felt too much like a big dumb explosion-fest … kind of like “Michael Bay presents Star Trek”.
Okay, I’m sorry. Bringing Michael Bay into it was uncalled for.
Edit: I just realised I totally left out The World’s End. That should be in the top 10 somewhere.