Sorry about the jacked-up formatting on both of these posts. I hate Blogger. Anyway,
33. Sunshine Cleaning- Christine Jeffs
32. Tyson- James Toback
Tyson is a simple picture in which the title subject serves as the only voice in the film, speaking directly--sometimes defiantly--to the camera as the events he's describing are played over his voice. But what a voice that is. We learn way more about Tyson's complex mindset from spending eighty minutes with him than we do from all of history's treatment of him. His explanation of how fear contributed to his fighting style is particularly illuminating.
31. The Carter- Adam Bahla Lough
The biggest thing this documentary--hailed as a rap version of D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back--has going for it is timing. It catches Lil' Wayne at the height of his fame and influence and, without even trying to, captures him as a selfish, shallow, drug-addicted dilletante. While it also showcases his capricious genius, the more personal portrait of Wayne is refreshingly unforgiving.
30. Extract- Mike Judge
I'll admit that the entire second half of this film goes nowhere, and the ending is anti-climactic at best. But when Extract works, it's genuinely funny, and the character details are spot-on.
29. Star Trek- JJ Abrams
This is how a franchise should be reinvented. The film has a staggering sense of energy and wonder surrounding it, along with a structure that both keeps us moving and fills us in on a fascinating backstory. Think about how difficult Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto's jobs were here. Kirk and Spock are two of the most beloved and defined characters around, and both of them manage to pay them homage while also doing something completely new. Both men have unbelievable presence onscreen, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they go from here.
28. Taken- Pierre Morel
I like a deep, well-crafted, personal story as much as anyone. But sometimes it's enough to be badass. There are few movies as badass as Taken.
27. Public Enemies- Michael Mann
26. Goodbye Solo- Ramin Bahrani
As understated as Goodbye Solo can be throughout, its ending is sweeping and powerful. The relationship between the two principal characters grows realistically throughout the film, and it's depicted with a loving tone by neo-neo-realist Bahrani.
25. Funny People- Judd Apatow
24. Big Fan- Robert D. Siegel
It's not as funny as most people would expect--Patton Oswalt's expressive face is much more concerned with creating pathos than chuckles--but Big Fan presents an interesting premise, and it doesn't really do anything wrong the whole movie. All the way through its knowing conclusion, it doesn't hit any false notes.
23. A Single Man- Tom Ford
This movie is kind of in love with its own desperate dourness, but I was impressed by Ford as a craftsman. Every frame looks as if it was obsessed over, and every visual detail works. Colin Firth's lead performance is staggering.
22. Brothers- Jim Sheridan
I was surprised this film didn't get better reviews because it hooked me. The performances were all spot-on, and the stakes of the film escalated quickly. This was a tough movie to pull off and, though I wasn't satisfied by the ending, I think Jim Sheridan delivered one of his best.
21. The Hurt Locker- Kathryn Bigelow
20. An Education- Lone Scherfig
19. The Girlfriend Experience- Steven Soderbergh
With its non-performance by Sasha Grey and its challenging structure, The Girlfriend Experience defies description. Warts and all, the latest Steven Soderbergh experiment has more to say about relationships and intimacy than almost anything.
18. Crazy Heart- Scott Cooper
Jeff Bridges' wounded performance is as advertised. This is the exact same movie as The Wrestler, but he fills every frame with a worn authenticity that makes the whole thing work. I doubted some of the decisions Maggie Gyllenhaal made, but this is a piercing, life-affirming character study.
17. The Messenger- Oren Moverman
The Messenger is the best film ever made about the guilt that often comes with grief. Its performances are honest, and Moverman's decision to shoot everything in long takes serves the movie's raw emotional power well.
16. Food Inc.- Robert Kenner
This is another movie I pre-judged and was completely wrong about. It's persuasive and entertaining and makes its argument by focusing on the victims of the food industry, rather than demonizing Big Food itself.
15. Two Lovers- James Gray
14. A Serious Man- Joel and Ethan Coen
This is a dream-like film that has its own rhythms and darkly comedic worldview. Even when it doesn't work (the many imaginary sequences), you have to reward a movie that is concerned with asking (and sort of answering) questions about the very nature of existence. From the poetic yiddish prologue to its game-changing final shot, this is a masterful piece of work.
13. Humpday- Lynn Shelton
This is the film that bridges the gap between mumblecore and something completely exciting and new. The dialogue here is so telling and steeped in character that it's hard to believe it was all improvised. Because it tries to be so definitive in its treatment of art, narcissism, and 21st century men, it's easy to forget how wryly funny the movie is. I'd bet a lot of people aren't familiar with Humpday, and it's one you won't forget once you see it.
12. Fantastic Mr. Fox- Wes Anderson
I don't usually do this but uh...nothing I say could explain this movie better than Will Leitch's capsule review:
2. Adventureland- Greg Mottola