Best Film Moonrise Kingdom
For his ode to first love, Wes Anderson accented what he does best and modulated the whimsical elements for which he is often assailed, resulting in a highly cinematic and completely disarming picture, which features an inimitable adult cast and an equally fine, unknown adolescent ensemble.
The Central Park Five/The Dust Bowl
Ken Burns released two films this year, the latter in his usual style, and the former made with his daughter Sarah and her husband David McMahon and bearing little resemblance to any of his work. Both tell harrowing, consummately researched stories and focus largely on their human elements.
Bizarre, incredibly ambitious, heartfelt, and entertaining The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer's adaptation of David Mitchell's sprawling novel went inexplicably through theaters without much fanfare.
Tarantino returns with another exploitative, revisionist tale about a freed slave exacting vengeance on the Antebellum South. It's a wild and raucous ode to the spaghetti western, demonstrating again QT's vast knowledge of the cinema and features no less than four Oscar caliber performances from Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson.
The Do-Deca Pentahlon/The Five-Year Engagement/Jeff, Who Lives at Home
I've decided to mesh together three films into this one entry, two made by the Duplass brothers, two starring Jason Segel, and one featuring them all. These are sweet and very funny films that rose above what is usually served as comedy by Hollywood.
The Life of Pi
Ang Lee, one of the most sensitive of all directors, offers this simple, thought to have been unfilmable adaptation of Yann Martel's book, which results in one of the best uses of the 3D format and one of the most moving films of recent memory.
Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis outdo themselves again, crafting a work that stands amongst their finest, and becomes something even more. On top of a superbly-acted, historically faithful film, etc. etc., it is also an unexpectedly humorous retelling of the passing of the 13th Amendment.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Where "The Hobbit" has many viewers squirming in their seats and lighting up the cellphones to check the time, this protracted crime thriller held my gaze, almost inexplicably, for its lengthy, hypnotic duration.
At 74, Ridley Scott revisited "Alien" territory and offered one of his finest films in a longevous career, which was also among the year's most divisive. I think it's clear what side I'm on.
Gus Van Sant's tale of small town fracking is aware of the traps most eco-movies fall into, and crafts an informative, fair, and entertaining drama featuring fine performances from Matt Damon and John Krasinski (who both coauthored the screenplay) and the great Frances McDormand.
Silver Linings Playbook
David O Russell's followup to "The Fighter" tells of another dysfunctional family, this one about a manic depressive, not realizing the love of his life is right in front of his eyes, and his father who becomes aware that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
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