1. Damsels in Distress is unique, especially if you’re not acquainted with writer and director Whit Stillman, which I wasn’t. The characters speak as though from an articulate subconscious.This comedy includes not only one of my favorite characters of all time, it feels like a strange expression of my life and thoughts.
2. The Avengers made me feel like a kid again. I had to restrain my nerdy glee as superheroes overcame their differences, embraced their flaws, and worked together. I expected much less.
3. Moonrise Kingdom is a beautiful, humorous, and fanciful tale of two twelve year olds who run off together and the adults and peers who try to track them down. The soundtrack and art direction are gorgeous.
4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a spy classic, an opaque, bleak, and intriguing piece set during the Cold War, based on John Le Carre’s novel of the same name.
5. Queen of Versailles is a hilarious and disturbing documentary about an extremely wealthy family going through the recession. The film manages to raise questions and shed light on a lot of issues, both on intimate and national scales.
6. The excellent Polisse follows numerous cases and officers in Paris’s child protection unit. In spite of its harrowing subject matter, it is both dramatic and believable. This film stuck with me for some time.
7. Django Unchained can feel like a very long (but awesome) music video. This funny and graphically violent blaxploitation/Western/revenge tale is deliberately offensive, and actors like Jaimie Foxx and Samuel Jackson create gripping characters. The movie skewers slavery’s premise that people are property.
8. Though a bit muddled, The Dark Knight Rises feels like a rousing and dark finale to a great trilogy. It brings the story full circle, making me want to revisit the other two films.
9. The Master is an odd but beautifully shot film about a wild man who stumbles into a cult in the years following WWII. Joaquin Phoenix is remarkable as the addled veteran, a kind of unglamorous character I’ve never seen before.
10. The Deep Blue Sea is a simple adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s play. Drenched with angst and sadness, the movie theater director said of this emotional story of a woman’s obsession with her lover, “Don’t marry a mama’s boy and don’t run off with Loki.” (Tom Hiddleston played the boyfriend.)
Gorgeous production values, interesting themes, and Michael Fassbender’s fascinating performance couldn’t save Prometheus’s Planet 9 From Outer Space plot. Most disappointing here was its potential.