As I’ve said before, I rarely go to a movie theatre, but I do enjoy my Netflix subscription. So my top ten favorite movies were not movies that were necessarily released this year, but are just ones that I happened to finally see this year. Hey, it is my list, I can do what I want. Oh, and I know I said top ten, but I could only come up with nine. I enjoy sitting back with a fun Hollywood Blockbuster, but the reality is I often have a hard time remembering what I watched even a few days later. Thank goodness Netflix keeps track or this list would be maybe three movies long.
9. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi – I have a weakness for documentaries. Especially ones about people who are obsessed and fanatical about whatever it is they are doing. This one is about a guy in Japan whom, over years and years of dedication, is considered my many to be the world’s premier sushi chef. Frankly it is a little depressing, but at the same time you have to admire his focus and apparent satisfaction over what he has built.
8. Kon-Tiki – Thor Heyerdahl was an adventurer who, back in the 50s, postulated that the South Pacific had been populated not from Asia, but from South America. To prove his theory, he built a reed raft based on traditional Peruvian design, and successfully sailed that raft across the Pacific to Tahiti. His book is one of my all-time favorite reads, and I made a point of visiting his museum when I visited his home country of Norway, where I also saw the documentary he filmed while he sailed. This movie is a recreation of that documentary, with a few things edited for dramatic flair. It doesn’t quite compare to the original, but if you don’t know the story, this is a good introduction.
7. Somm – Another documentary, this one about some guys preparing to take a nearly impossible-to-pass test to become a Master Sommelier. The filmmakers forget to answer a few basic question about the test that would have been helpful, but it remains a fascinating study into guys who can pick up a random glass of wine, and via a detailed routine of analysis of taste and aroma can identify where and what year the wine was made. Crazy.
6. The Artist – For whatever reason, I was resistant to watching this. It just seemed like it was trying too hard to be clever. But I was won over in the first few minutes. The leads are devastatingly charming, as was the entire movie. Well done.
5. Through Gates Of Splendor, followed by Beyond The Gates Of Splendor – back in the 50’s, a group of missionaries were living in rural Ecuador, when five young men were killed trying to reach out to a remote village. Amazingly their wives and children stuck around, and eventually one of the wives took her young daughter to live with the “killers” (her words). At times the seeming irresponsibility of it all is infuriating, and yet it is also fascinating. The sequel was made decades later by one of the sons, who eventually took his family back to the same village. Amazingly his children consider one of the villagers to be a grandfather-type figure, even knowing that he had killed their actual grandfather. The second film also gives better insight into what happened and why it happened, and shows what formidable woman those wives were.
4. Perks Of Being A Wallflower – I’m a sucker for coming of age dramedies, and this one hit all the right notes.
3. The Way Way Back – I’m a sucker for coming of age dramedies. This one ranks higher because of the master-class in acting delivered by Allison Janney. It is a little uncomfortable watching Steve Carrell be a bad guy, but I suppose it should be, right? Also after this movie I’m unsure whether I want to date Sam Rockwell or have him adopt me. I’m very conflicted about Sam Rockwell. But the movie was great, I laughed, I cried, and can’t wait to watch it again sometime. (Which, coming from me, is high praise for a movie that wasn’t made in the 1980’s.)
2. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – As someone who flirts heavily with the idea of retiring abroad, the very premise of a movie showing retirees heading off to India fascinated me. That the cast was populated by a who’s-who of every great actor in England was another perk. I usually think about Ecuador or Mexico, but after watching this movie I’d totally consider India.
1. Moonrise Kingdom – Have I mentioned that I’m a sucker for coming of age dramedies? Wes Anderson is unlike anyone else, and I love it. The cast, the quirkiness, the unconventional camera work (or, I should say, the conventionally Wes Anderson camera work), all hit exactly the right notes for me. Highly recommended.
What did you like this year? I’m currently working my way through the Doctor Who reboot (David Tennant!), but I’m always looking for good recommendations if you’ve got some!