Well, it's that time of year again. Time for my rundown of the past year in movies. I made it out to a lot of films this year. Some were bad, but most of them were good. Now, I've compiled my lists of the year's best and worst, though I did want to do something a little different.
While I loved a good many movies that came out this year, there were four that managed to stand out for me above and beyond all the rest. As I've been compiling this list throughout the year, only four films have stuck with me at the top as the absolute best. Only four films really shined as irreplaceable on the list. And I really just want to focus on those four films here. But first, for those curious, here's what my top 10 movies of the year leading up to those four looks like:
9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
8. The Social Network
7. Black Swan
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
I'd also like to give some honorable nods to The Fighter, Toy Story 3, and The Expendables. All were great films in their own right, even if they didn't manage to make it into my final list. Now then, onto the good stuff.
The Ghost Writer
I went into this film based on a vague interest after seeing only a single commercial randomly on TV. The premise was interesting enough, a ghost writer, played by Ewan McGregor, takes up the task of writing the memoirs for the British Prime Minister Adam Lang, played by Pierce Brosnan. He takes on this job after his predecessor on the project died from a supposed accident. And as The Ghost dives deeper into the story of Lang's life, what he discovers puts his own life in danger.
It's a thrilling film that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. This movie intrigued me from the opening scene of an unmanned car parked aboard a ship, and it left me as compelled as our main character to unravel the mysteries that presented themselves.
Ewan McGregor is great as The Ghost (his character is never actually named). He's a witty, almost charming character. Though his wit oftentimes comes across as rude, even when he doesn't intend to be. He's also very curious, always questioning even the little things that are going on around him.
We see as he struggles with himself to stay out of trouble, but his curiosity always manages to get the better of him. From the very beginning when he takes on the job, and all the way to the end as he puts the pieces together, he's constantly being talked into situations, even by his own self, only to regret his decisions after the fact.
He's a very interesting character to follow along, as is the story he uncovers. And it all leads to an ending sequence that frankly no words could ever do proper justice. It's one of the freshest finales to a film that I've seen in years, and one that just has to be seen.
Let Me In
I've already spoken a bit about this film in a previous post, mainly comparing it the original film it's based on, Let the Right One In. As I said there, this remake has surpassed the original in every way imaginable, and stands on it's own as a completely engrossing, supremely satisfying experience.
What I really want to talk about here though is Chloe Moretz. She just sort of came out of nowhere this year. She started the year strong, playing Hit-Girl in the movie Kick-Ass. She was a foul mouthed 12 year old killing machine, and though she'd rather play with knives than Barbie dolls, there was still a hint of a girly girl at heart. She was tremendous in this role, and her superb acting streak continued in Let Me In.
Here, she plays Abby, a manipulative vampire girl. She's been around for ages, though she's been stuck in the body of a 12 year old the whole time. She appears to be innocent enough during her initial encounters with her next door neighbor, Owen. But as their relationship develops, we learn of a darker, more brutal side to Abby.
Like in her previous film outing, Chloe Moretz plays this role to perfection. I have no issues saying that she has been by far the best actress this year. I can't remember the last time I was this impressed with a new actor, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye on her career after such a strong breakout year.
About a year ago, I first saw the teaser for the new Tron movie. I was left unimpressed, and not looking forward to this film. But as the year wore on, and more and more was revealed, I eventually became drawn to it. And let me tell you right now, this movie ROCKS!
It's a visual feast for the eyes, with a booming score by Daft Punk that'll still be playing in your head well after you've left the theater. Now this movie's been getting a lot of mixed reactions, with only the two things I just mentioned receiving any real praise. But I enjoyed the hell out of it. Everything about it. The beautiful visuals, the music, the story, the acting, Olivia Wilde, everything.
You can go in without having seen the original Tron, though there's some nice little nods here for those who have. The story really captivated me, even if it is fairly simple. We follow Sam Flynn, played by Garrett Hedlund, as he finds his way into the computer world known as The Grid in order to find his long lost father, Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges.
What he finds is a strange world, dark yet vibrant with it's neon lights. The “games” are an absolute pleasure to watch, and the cheering crowd adds a nice gladiator feel to them, fitting considering the stakes that are at hand. All of the action scenes are a real joy to watch. And the aforementioned soundtrack only adds to the intensity.
The acting is all fine, particularly considering that most of the characters are playing computer programs. But even the human characters do a good job. In fact, it's some of the more human scenes that stand out for me in this movie. I loved Sam describing the sun to Quorra, and I was smiling during the whole dinner conversation between father and son.
And Jeff Bridges does great here, doing double duty as both hero and villain. But I don't care what anyone says, his CGI face on Clu, as well as the younger Kevin, looked fine. There was only a single scene near the end of the film where it clearly stood out as being CGI.
It's an extremely fun movie, one that I enjoyed more than I ever would have imagined. But unlike my previous mentions in this list, the issue with this film isn't the lack of people seeing it, but rather the fact that many who've seen it have failed to see the greatness the lies within, shrugging it off as just a stupid, if pretty, movie. I found it to be so much more than that, though.
Oh, and I want my own downloadable Olivia Wilde please.
No surprise here, really. Inception is without a doubt the best movie I've seen, not only this year, but in the past several. There's not much that I can say that hasn't already been said, which is partly why I hadn't bothered to write up my own review of it before now. It's clever, ambitious, and inspired.
One of the things I constantly hear about this film is that it's also confusing, but I really don't find that to be the case here at all. The movie goes out of it's way to explain everything that's going on, and the story is honestly really straight forward. In fact, the only thing I found confusing was how so many people were somehow confused by this movie.
But that issue aside, as I've said before, the movie is very clever in the way it portrays the ways the human mind works in the dreaming state. It allows for a world of possibilities to be explored, and explore them it does with some of the most jaw dropping imagery you can imagine.
And as we dive deeper into the dream world, we're constantly haunted by the ever looming music, which almost acts as the movie's pulse. The booming bass in particular in many ways feels like a character itself, adding an even more epic feel to the movie's already epic scale.
I also want to make mention to the hallway scene. Yeah, that hallway scene. Oh. My. God. No matter how many times I see it, that scene sends chills through my body. It's possibly the most stunning visual I've ever witnessed on film, ever, and is a truly groundbreaking achievement.
The story was fascinating, the visuals were amazing, the score was top notch. What else is there to say? It's the best movie I've seen in years. Chris Nolan has truly outdone himself with this one.