TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012

With today’s Oscar nominations, I thought it would be proper for me to ride the coat-tails of the Oscar’s excitement and yell at you about my favourite films from the past twelve months.

NUMBER TEN!
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10.
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (Part 1): As many of you now know, I was less than thrilled with Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, don’t look for it anywhere on this list. His magic-Batman-dust had apparently lost its effect on me.

Cue THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS PART 1, DC Comics’ animated feature of Frank Miller’s incredible graphic novel.

After my disappointment in Nolan’s TDKR, this was the cinematic equivalent to a hail Mary with Batman as the QB (too early for sports analogies in the top 10?). Oh, and Peter Weller, also known as ROBO COP, voices Batman. Yeah. I know.

Part 2 is due out January 29th. Catch up, Batnerds!

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9. 
SLEEPWALK WITH ME: If a ringing endorsement from Joss Whedon himself wasn’t enough to get this film in front of everyone’s eyes, I hope this list can at least get a few of the stragglers.

Best film about or inspired by stand-up comedy I have ever seen.

*Available now on Canadian Netflix.

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Tie – 8.
THE MASTER & THE COMEDY: This year, the number eight slot is reserved for the two films that left me completely disoriented in their wake. I literally had difficulty forming a full sentence after THE MASTER (the sentence I was trying to form was “Hello, could I have a small double-double?”).

Both films put forth a buffet’s worth to chew on, their leading performances to begin with: Jaoquin Phoenix and (surprisingly) Tim Heidecker throw down two of my favourite performances of the year.

Both films also feel, like their main characters, incomplete, leaving you in a weird place once the credits roll. So that said, I obviously recommend THE MASTER and THE COMEDY for any and all first dates.

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7. Beasts of the Southern Wild: I wanted to start this off saying “Remember Quvenzhané Wallis’ name” but since it’s such a hard one to pronounce, I’ll forgive you if you don’t.

I often wince or get uneasy whenever a child performs. Usually because they suck. But once in a while, a child comes along and does what I try to do as a profession with such ease and conviction that it leaves me dumbfounded (that’s after a brief fury spell, of course).

Quvenzhané Wallis, you are officially on notice. I am trying to conjure up some sort of spell to steal your talents before you’re even aware of them. Oh, and congratulations on your film, it’s really magical ‘n’ stuff, I guess…

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6. GOON: Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my favourite hockey movie of all-time, GOON. Written by Canadian royalty, Jay Baruchel (yes, that actor fella’) and directed by Michael Dowse (FUBAR, IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG).

I had an active dislike for Seann William Scott‘s body of work going into GOON, and I am happy to say that I was in awe of the balancing act that he managed to pull off in GOON, which really elevated the film to a whole other (ice) level.

…You knew there were going to be puns on this list, right?

If there’s only one Canadian flick that I can guilt you into watching this year, I’d love for it to be this one.

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5. MOONRISE KINGDOM: In 2007, after watching THE DARJEELING LIMITED, I was a little bit worried that the haters may have been right: that Wes Anderson was nothing but weightless, ineffectual quirk.

After 2009’s THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX and this year’s MOONRISE KINGDOM, I am fully prepared to tell the haters to stuff a fluffy, pastel-coloured sock in their traps.

I’m sorry for almost turning my back on you, Wes. Never again.

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4. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS: Regardless of what I thought of a certain lacklustre cameo in this film, I thought the rest of CABIN was a damn near masterpiece combination of laughs and scares, with an insanely clever script that forces you to change the way you watch horror films. They went and hijacked an entire genre. Boom.

*Bonus points for casting Richard Jenkins.

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3. CLOUD ATLAS: That’s right, number 3. Not only did I like the film with the terrible (and possibly racist) race-bending make-up, I loved it.

It takes a certain level of audacity to put Hugh Grant in yellow face, a certain level of audacity that I absolutely admire. Luckily for my movie-viewing-self, I also happen to admire a whole lot more about CLOUD ATLAS, foremost, I admire the fact that I found myself rooting for an emotion, rather than characters.

Does that make sense?

Overall, CLOUD ATLAS felt fresh, sloppy, precise and careless all at the same time. I implore you to put away your cynic-hat and scoff-handbag for three hours and let CLOUD ATLAS work it’s magic on you.

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2. HOLY MOTORS: This here is the cinematic equivalent of being chewed up and spit out. The “Who When Where What Why” questions that are generally asked when watching a film are pointless here and maybe even downright selfish, robbing yourself of one of the wildest rides a film has had to offer in a damn long time.

Months later, I still catch myself coming up with different theories about what exactly was going on with this film, but in the end I don’t care. I just want to bask in it’s absurdity and let what comes come.

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1. THE AVENGERS: No, not really.

Did I getcha’?

Sorry, I had to make a joke before I threw some obscure Belgian film your way as my number one… Do you see how insecure I am in my pomposity?

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1. THE KID WITH A BIKE: It kind of bothers me to put this as my number one because it was technically released in 2011 in it’s native Belgium and France (2012 in North America), but it is absolutely the best film I watched in the past twelve months, head and shoulders above the rest.

I’ve been hearing rumblings about the Dardenne brothers from Belgium for years now, but had never tracked their films down. I have learned my lesson, and am promptly catching up on their films.

THE KID WITH A BIKE features yet another child performance that is deeply, deeply moving, matched by an incredible and deceptively broad story.

Last year, it thrilled me when people told me they caught up with MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE based solely on my recommendation. I hope I can do the same and persuade a few of you into catching up with this wonderful film. Do it.

Thanks, 2012! You were pretty great.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: THE IMPOSTER, ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, LOOPER, THE GREY, KLOWN, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, SKYFALL, LIFE OF PI (in 3D, specifically) & KILLER JOE.

I DID NOT SEE: LINCOLN, AMOUR, ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE HOBBIT, OSLO AUGUST 31ST, PARANORMAN, SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN & WAR WITCH.

Had any differing opinions? Yell them at me in the comments section, I dares ya’!

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SUNDANCE ’11 – Update #1

INTO THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
Author: Glen Matthews
January 20th, 2011 – 5:53am

I’ve learned that when a United States border guard asks you what you do for a living—at no point, should the words “I’m an actor” come from your mouth.

Close. Call.

Currently, I’m sitting in the Buffalo Airport where I slept overnight—this is what happens when you combine cheapest flight, with cheapest bus-ride (to said flight). It’s been 6 hours since the Sundance Film Festival has officially begun, and I’m pretty damned excited to be a couple of plane flights away from being in the depths of it’s madness…

“The [2011] Sundance Film Festival is like looking into our film futures. While many of the films are unknown now, playing at Sundance sets off a snowball effect that continues throughout the year and eventually, these movies become an integral part of popular culture.”

-Germain Lussier, Slashfilm.com

The last time that I was on screen in Utah, I declared “It’s Christmas, I just want to fuck!”, and now it’s “Give me the money or I’ll slice this bitch’s throat!” Please don’t let my Grandparents know what we’re doing down here.

As with any film festival, you approach it with a handful of films that you’d like to check out—but also with any film festival, plans tend to shift and the Gods of Film Festival laugh in your face, punch you in the gut, and deprive you of sleep. With that in mind, check out my top 5 films that I’d like to check out at the fest this year…

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN—Let’s get this pick out of the way and avoid any indication that I’m trying to be clever by selecting the movie that I’m in. I’m including this because tickets to the HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN screenings have been selling like mother-loving hotcakes (going for $150 on EBay—greasy bastards); I was fortunate enough to snag myself a ticket
to the screening in Salt Lake City on the 22nd (through a lottery ticket-purchase system), but other members of the Hobo cast/crew who are travelling down to Utah have yet to secure a ticket. Pray for their souls.

WIN WIN—This is the third film from Tom McCarthy. His two previous films happen to be two of my favourite films of all-time: THE STATION AGENT and THE VISITOR (Richard Jenkins for the win). McCarthy seems to have a knack for bringing the absolute-best performances out of his cast, and in this film, a story about a man who moonlights as an amateur wrestling coach, he’s directing Paul Giamatti, thus, the results in my brain are pure gold. I don’t have a ticket to this yet, so please, pray for my soul.

SHORTS PROGRAM 1—Comedy duo Tim & Eric (from the ever-effed TIM & ERIC AWESOME SHOW GREAT JOB) are bringing their short film THE TERRYS to Sundance as part of Shorts Program 1. Also in the lineup is Adam Yauch’s (from the Beastie Boys) FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT, a pseudo-mockumentary/documentary with the Beastie Boys being played by Elijah Wood, Danny McBride & Seth Rogen. So incredibly stoked to be checking this out tomorrow morning!

TAKE SHELTERMichael Shannon is a god amongst men (or at least actors). One of America’s finest character actors; his portrayal of a federal agent in HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE is one of my favourite performances of the year. In TAKE SHELTER he plays a Father who is having recurring nightmares of death and destruction which cause him to manically build a bomb-shelter in preparation for the impending doom that he believes is coming for he and his family. I’m on board.

PROJECT NIM—From the director of the Oscar-winning documentary MAN ON WIRE (see it), comes another documentary; this one apparently is about a group of scientists who attempt to raise a chimpanzee as a human. Simple enough, but with James Marsh at the helm, you have to believe it’s going to deliver. I can 90% guarantee I’ll be a weepy-baby by the end of this one.

Honorable mentions: RED STATE (from Kevin Smith), there is no way I’m going to get into this screening without waiting in line for a long, long time. I’m talking new-video-game-console-launch waiting times. TROLL HUNTER, the trailer for this looks terrific, but after looking at the schedule, none of the screenings are at a convenient time for me. And basically EVERY OTHER FILM, it’s Sundance, if it’s playing there, it’s very likely worth checking out.

Check back all week long for updates from other members of the HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN cast and crew!

Here we go!

Update as of 3:51pm MST: Made it to Salt Lake City just fine! Headed into town to pick up tickets!