TOP 10 FILMS OF 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased as punch to share with you the 10 movies from 2013 that pushed me to the limits of emotional investment while sitting and / or laying in my bed! It’s been a damn great year in film. It was tough to pick just 10, but here we go!

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10. STORIES WE TELL: Sarah Polley’s documentary about her mother and the people who loved her starts off as a personal memoir then slowly becomes an exploration of the subjectivity and bias of memory. Great movie to watch with your family if you’re comfortable with uncomfortable silences with your family.

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9. BEHIND THE CANDELABRA: If this is actually Stephen Soderbergh’s last film then it’s a damn shame. Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are absolutely phenomenal in this love story gone freak-show, and let’s not forget there’s Scott Bakula with a moustache.

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8. Tie: SPRING BREAKERS and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: Understandably nauseating for some but these two films were a large Tim Horton’s double-double of filth and debauchery for myself. Not something I would want every day, but when the time is right, when I need that extra kick, these two films will get me through to the end of the day with a helping of reckless abandon. Spring breakkkkkkkkkkkkk.
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0077. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: Tom Hanks went full Hanks on this one.

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6. BEFORE MIDNIGHT: The third film in Richard Linklater’s incredible BEFORE series, BEFORE MIDNIGHT catches up with Jessy and Celine 18 years (EIGHTEEN DAMN YEARS) after the first film and continues to explore themes of life, true love, and the importance of walking.

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5. SHORT TERM 12: This film is such a damn home run on almost every level. It could have so easily slid into unbearable, noisy melodrama, but it always stays connected. Troubled teens? Bummer of a topic, sure, but Brie Larson and company guide it home with a gentle authenticity that invites you in (and then makes you weep).

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4. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS: The Coen Brothers’ film about a musician who just can’t catch a break and is considering leaving his music behind him felt like an unwritten classic American novel. A perfect depiction of the fog an artist can find themselves in when a crisis of confidence arises. Oscar Isaac, you laid down one of the finest performances of the year, mixing drama, comedy and music, you my boy.

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3. A FIELD IN ENGLAND: I don’t think I’ve ever had a film invite me into it’s madness in such a way as this. Absolutely poetic and insane. I’ll let Martin Scorsese tell you what he thinks of the film “Audacious and wildly brilliant – a stunning cinematic experience.” Marty’s on board, so why aren’t you?! 

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2. HER: If you can agree to meet HER on it’s not-really-that-far-fetched premise, then you’ll be in for one helluva fascinating exploration of modern love. I feel for anyone who decided to laugh this one off, because it has so much heart and soul. Joaquin Phoenix, give me your powers (and your agent and manager’s contact information too, plz).

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1: THE ACT OF KILLING: Between 1965 and 66 in Indonesia, there was a government takeover where death squads brutally murdered between 500,000 and 2 million Chinese and anyone suspected of being Communist. The people who committed these acts are still in power and have never been held accountable for their actions.

THE ACT OF KILLING catches up with a group of these men, in their 50s and 60s, celebrated as war-heroes, and the documentary filmmakers encourage them to re-enact the murders and re-create them on film, and they agree to do so, hoping that the Indonesian public can see how heroic they were.

This film took me everywhere, I was mortified, shedding tears, and literally slapping my knee laughing a minute later. It’s a tough watch, and puts you through the ringer, but it’s finale is perhaps the most compelling thing I’ve ever seen put to film.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Enough Said, Sightseers, This Is The End, Frozen, Thor 2, and other stuff.

Movies are fun, right guys?

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TOP 11 FILMS OF 2011

It’s that time of the year (the end of it) when people sit down and drum up lists of their favourite things of the past twelve months. Today, I would like to share with you (only because you care so much) my 11 favourite films of 2011…

Onward!


11HANNA – Directed by: Joe Wright
There’s a lot to like about HANNA, especially it’s odd-characters, it’s odd-pacing, and it’s incredible soundtrack, which just so happens to be the best soundtrack of the year — oh don’t mind me, I’m just trying to start a flame-war with all the DRIVE-soundtrack fanatics in the comments section (leave a comment, I dare ya’).


10MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – Directed by Woody Allen
My screening for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS could not have been more perfect for Allen’s whimsy: Saturday morning in the cinema, packed to the gills with giggling, giddy senior citizens. Leave your snarkiness at the door, Matthews. Avoid all spoilers of this film, and watch accordingly.


9WIN WIN – Directed by Tom McCarthy
I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a huge fan of writer, director and actor Tom McCarthy — the guy played a big part in inspiring me to write and direct my first short film, ROOM SERVICE. As with both of McCarthy’s other films (THE STATION AGENT and THE VISITOR), WIN WIN’s strength is in it’s characters. My expectations could not have been higher and I was not let down.


8RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Speaking of expectations… Any reasonable person would agree: this movie should have sucked. Really bad. But it didn’t. In fact, it was fairly awesome. Aside from a cringe-inducing final five minutes, the film had some of the best sci-fi moments of the year, and at one point (see photo above) literally made me gasp-out-loud. I generally don’t do that too often unless I’ve spilt a hot drink on my lap.


7 – A tie between:  DETENTION – Directed by Joseph Kahn
I’m sure I could be accused of bias here, but it’s nothing but pride for fellow-Haligonian, Mark Palermo who wrote the screenplay for Joseph Kahn‘s second feature film. Try and process this: a high-school, slasher-flick comedy that also has elements of time-travel. The film moves at an unbelievable pace, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s everything I wanted SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD to be.

Technically, I think DETENTION belongs in the 2012 category, I just wanted to get behind this movie early on and encourage you to embrace this madness when it’s available to you.


7 – &: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL – Directed by Brad Bird
In spite of the public’s opinion of Tom Cruise’s very public, very odd life, he just can’t help himself from being awesome when he steps in front of a camera. MI:4 has some of the most-thrilling action sequences conceived on-screen all year, and also a surprising sense of humour.


6DRIVE – Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
“This film will shock you” is such an incredibly lame thing to say, but it applies here. From the first minute, I was hooked in, and was convinced that I was witnessing a brutal, unforgiving, modern masterpiece unravel before my very eyes. It was in the final fifteen minutes that the film lost me with a (in my opinion) weak finale. The anger I feel towards the ending is only a result of how amazing the rest of the movie is, so there’s that.


5WARRIOR – Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Howard Hawk’s famously said that a great film must contain “Three great scenes, [and] no bad ones”. Off the top of my head, I can count six great scenes in WARRIOR, which isn’t surprising given the talent involved, and nothing that even resembles a “bad scene”. Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and (surprisingly – for me, at least) Nick Nolte all give beautiful, heart-wrenching performances.

The major flaw of the film is it’s premise: we are expected to believe that two brothers could end up in the finals of a worldwide mixed-martial-arts tournament, which is, to say the least, ridiculous. If you can get passed this, you’ll be enjoying one of the finest ensemble casts 2011 has to offer. Upon three viewings, I have been brought to tears all three times. Manly, manly tears.


4MELANCHOLIA – Directed by Lars Von Trier
This was my first foray into the world of Lars Von Trier, and although I’ve heard many a weird thing describing his films, nothing could prepare me for this. Beautiful, frustrating, brave, and overall: haunting.

If there’s a full moon in the sky, I am now incapable of looking away without first pondering the world’s end. Thanks for that, MELANCHOLIA.

Oh, and Kirsten Dunst can act!


3SUBMARINE – Directed by Richard Ayoade
The main criticism I’ve heard leveled against Wes Anderson‘s most-recent films is that they are increasingly lacking in a human characters, which I personally disagree with, but for anyone who has this problem with his films of late, may I recommend viewing Richard Ayoade‘s debut feature film, SUBMARINE, a quirky and whimsical coming-of-age story highlighted by some amazingly well-balanced performances.

This film has 2011’s second best soundtrack — that’s right, you DRIVE soundtrack enthusiasts! Meet me in the comments section!


2ATTACK THE BLOCK – Directed by Joe Cornish
All too often, especially in the past ten years, we have been promised films with incredible premises such as “Nazi zombies”, “Pirates vs. Ninjas”, “Snakes on a plane” that have more often than not, ended up absolutely sucking. ATTACK THE BLOCK, which is essentially “Hoodlums vs. Aliens” is a film that finally delivers on it’s potential for awesome.

It’s not a surprise that SHAUN OF THE DEAD director Edgar Wright, was the executive producer on this film, as it has the same balance between comedy, action, and thrills, and perhaps it’s been even more finely defined here with ATTACK THE BLOCK. Anyone who knows how much I love SHAUN OF THE DEAD, knows how big of a compliment that is.


1MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE – Directed by Sean Durkin
I really don’t want to say too much about this film. It’s so much better to be discovered. It starts as one thing and slowly builds into an absolute masterpiece.

Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the Olsen twins (you heard me) is phenomenal (yes, you still heard me) in the lead as Martha, a young woman haunted by her memories of her time spent with a cult lead by John Hawkes (skinnier and better than ever), as she attempts to re-assimilate with her family. It sounds like an okay premise, but the execution is flawless.

If you take a recommendation from me just once this year, treat yourself to MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE.

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TOP 11 HONOURABLE MENTIONS (because why not): CEDAR RAPIDS, TYRANNOSAUR, BEGINNERS, 50/50, KUNG FU PANDA 2, X-MEN FIRST CLASS, HAROLD AND KUMAR 3D, THE DESCENDANTS, THE LINCOLN LAWYER, FAST FIVE, and BRIDESMAIDS.

(ASSUMED) TOP 11 FILMS I HAVEN’T SEEN: TAKE SHELTER, SHAME, CARNAGE, CAPTAIN AMERICA, SUPER, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE ARTIST, THE SKIN I LIVE IN, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and CAFE DE FLORE.

A DAMN FINE CAUSE

I’ve previously mentioned Halifax’s own Lauren Oostveen (I honestly have no idea how that’s pronounced) for her terrific film-centric editorial that’s featured weekly in The Chronicle Herald; but this time it’s because she has come up with a brilliant fundraising idea to contribute to Bust a Move (NS breast health services).

So it’s a terrific cause. You do like terrific causes, don’t you?

The idea: an Oscar pool! If you claim to be as madly, deeply knowledgeable about all things film like I do, then answer this challenge by taking part! At the very least, you’ll have donated $10 to breast cancer research. At the very best, you’ll have won some dolla dolla billz (y’all) and bragging rights the land over!

The breakdown via Oostveen herself…

1. It’s $10.00 to participate. Winner takes all. In the case of a tie, I’ll come up with a very impartial tie-breaker.

2. You can drop $$$ off at my work (Public Archives Building at Dal), or arrange to meet up with me somewhere in Halifax/the wilds of Dartmouth. If you’re interested in sending money through Paypal,DM me and I’ll send you my address.

3. You have until the day before the Oscars to make your predictions. When you’ve made your choices, send me an email (laurieoostie at hotmail dot com) and confirm that these are your final picks. Include ALL categories, even the insane technical ones that no one cares about. On Oscar night, I’ll print all of these off and keep score. I’ll try to tweet through the night so you know who’s in the lead.

4. Winner will get the cash, internet glory, and movie buff status.

5. Choose… wisely.

So that’s it that’s all! Check out the participants of the pool and their selections over @ http://bit.ly/fc8v1s

On a related note, if you’re going to be in Halifax during the Oscars on February 27th, be sure to catch the awards at the Carbon Arc Cinema (Khyber Club, 1588 Barrington St, 3rd Floor)! If you’re in Toronto, like me, Bloor Cinema is the cool place to be!

Also, what’s up with all the Anne Hathaway hate? Back off. She my girl*.

*She not actually my girl.