Although some may consider this Winter, for practicality reasons, I’m just going to label it Fall. Either way, this piece is about the movies I saw between October 1 and December 31. Although I would’ve liked to see a lot more movies (which I’ve noted below), I felt like I saw a great deal of them.
As for quality, this is by far the best quarter of the year because there were legitimately 10 films I thought were “Top 5” quality. The fact that “Argo,” “Django Unchained,” and “Rust and Bone” are Honorable Mentions is very telling. All 5 of the movies below will be in my End of the Year Top 10.
Overall, I saw 29 films this quarter, and you can find all of them (and their grades) here. There was another movie that I saw at SIFF that finally got its release date in December, but I’d already mentioned it before, so I didn’t count it.
Missed: Any Day Now, Chasing Ice, Holy Motors, Smashed, & West of Memphis
Honorable Mentions: Amour, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Django Unchained, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Misérables, Flight, Rust and Bone, The Sessions, Silver Linings Playbook, & Wreck-It Ralph
Top 5 Movies (Alphabetical Order)
“Life of Pi”
The trailers, promotional materials, and buzz made “Life of Pi” look great…but somehow I was still skeptical. Looking back, I can’t believe I had any of these feelings because it was visually amazing and emotionally stunning. The story of a young shipwrecked boy and a ferocious bengal tiger named Richard Parker is one of the rare stories that is overtly spiritual but not preachy whatsoever. Look for this movie to be very high on the End of the Year lists.
On the one hand, “Lincoln” is an easy sell. It’s got the backing of one of the best modern directors (Steven Spielberg) and arguably the best working actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) about arguably the best historical figure (Abraham Lincoln) in U.S. history. However, this biopic isn’t about his entire life, and it’s practically 150 minutes of dialogue. It’s also not exactly the most flattering portrayal of our legendary President. When it’s all said and done, the movie is a timeless classic and a fabulous portrayal of both Lincoln and Spielberg.
Martin McDonagh is a fairly “new” director, but he’s had a history of playwriting. While I haven’t seen any of his plays, I have to guess they’re hilarious. His dark action comedy “Seven Psychopaths” is very much like Guy Ritchie’s first two movies, and it touts some great performances from the entire ensemble (Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Tom Waits). My personal favorite was Rockwell, but it’s the chemistry of the whole cast that creates the hilarity.
I strongly believe “Skyfall” is better than even “Casino Royale.” Sam Mendes gave James Bond the Christopher Nolan/”The Dark Knight” treatment in the newest Bond film. Daniel Craig is solid (like he’s shown in the previous two movies), but it’s the terrifying villain (Javier Bardem) that “Skyfall” has to thank for its success. Technically, Roger Deakins shows off some great colors and set pieces, and the cinematography rivals even the stellar “Life of Pi.”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Even though “The Hurt Locker” was based on true events, it has nothing on the hunt, capture, and killing of Osama bin Laden. Comparing them directly is a stupid idea though, because they are both equally intense. A couple of things I liked about “Zero Dark Thirty” was the lack of political agenda and the great lead performance by the silent, and beautiful, Jessica Chastain. If you are looking to bite off your fingernails, Kathryn Bigelow’s newest movie is the one for you.