We saw so many good movies this year, whether at film festivals, in movie theatres, on planes, on our iPad (thanks for the iTunes gift certificates, Joe) or at home "On Demand," and here is my Top 10 list, in no particular order.
Monsieur Lazhar - We saw this at the Angelika on our NYC trip, and this story of an Algerian schoolteacher in a Quebec elementary school was so beautiful.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - This detective story was so stylish, with so many twists and turns. Good slow-brewing spy stories. Loved it so much that we got the DVDs of the Alec Guinness TV series (Tinker Tailor AND Smiley's People), which were just as excellent.
Argo - American diplomats look to escape the Iranian revolution by disguising themselves as Canadians. It was madcap, tense, funny. The only-in-Hollywood escape at the end had us bursting out laughing, and the Dubai expat audience laughed appreciatively when the movie showed they were in safe airspace with a flight attendant's announcement that booze would now be served.
Death Metal Angola (DIFF) - I had bought us tickets to this movie after reading "Another Day of Life" by Ryszard Kapuczinski, which describes the revolution in Angola, and I hoped that this story of death metal rockers in that country would show an interesting slice of life there. It was even better than I could have hoped, a really beautiful story of the woman who runs the orphanage, the way the boys find refuge in their rock music and their plan to put on the country's first death metal festival.
21 Jump Street - This movie counts as the funniest of the year, one at which we HOWLED with laughter.
Melancholia - Controversial Lars von Trier movie that touched on really dark themes, too depressing to recommend, e.g., another planet collides with the Earth in the first five minutes and then the rest of the movie shows the build-up back to that event. But those scenes of the other planet, larger in the night sky than the moon as it approaches... I had dreams about those scenes, so haunting.
Senna - An excellent documentary about the life of Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian F1 driver who died while racing. Fascinating recap of his rivalries, the safety concerns, and his rise to the top.
Beginners - I had heard this recommended on one of my favourite podcasts and it was truly delightful. Christopher Plummer was awarded the Academy Award for his role, and he was so great. I also loved the story of the romance between Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent's characters.
Looper - Such an original story, weaving time travel mythology with futuristic cautionary tales. There were so many moments in this movie when I was slackjawed, "WHOA!" at the latest development, and there were no crazy plotholes at the end, it all looped together perfectly.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi - A fantastic documentary about an old sushi master who has a little restaurant in the tunnel of a metro station, yet takes such care and craftsmanship to create his sushi that he has been awarded with Michelin stars.
And a list of other movies we saw, because I love lists (* = movies I thought were particularly excellent and/or fun). Some of these are repeats of things I've seen before:
- Bad Teacher*
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol*
- The Artist*
- Midnight in Paris*
- A Separation* (Iranian movie, Oscar for best foreign film)
- Dark Knight Rises* (Eid treat in the platinum suites, amazing!)
- The Bourne Legacy*
- Skyfall* (James Bond)
- Silver Linings Playbook*
- The Master* (DIFF)
- My Sister's Sister*
- The Five-Year Engagement*
- Martha Marcy Mae Marlene*
- Katy Perry: Part of Me*
- Girl With The Dragon Tattoo*
- Bill Cunningham New York*
- A Prophet*
- Jane Eyre
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
- One Day
- Amal (Gulf Film Festival)
- This American Life Live Show (not sure that this counts, but it was in a movie theatre, we saw it in Vancouver and it was fantastic)
- Prometheus (Odeon in London, 3D, relaxed afternoon)
- Hyde Park on Hudson (DIFF)
- The Debt
- The Inside Job
- Certified Copy
- We Need to Talk About Kevin
- Margin Call
- Twilight: Breaking Dawn
- Iron Lady
- The Romantics
- To Rome, With Love
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Moonrise Kingdom
- Young Adult
- A Dangerous Method
- The Grey