So here they are. My ten favorite films from last year. Not necessarily the "best" in any objective way, but the ten I unabashedly dug the most.
The other Leonardo DiCaprio movie that invites more than one possible interpretation. I like this one more though because though everything wasn't spelled out, it didn't need to cut away just before a crucial moment to deliver the ambiguity. We got the complete story. How we interpret it is up to us.
Iron Man 2 got a lot of flack for not being Iron Man. And its critics are right that it isn't as tight a movie as the first one and feels like it spends a lot of time setting up The Avengers. But it was very entertaining in the process and though I never felt like Tony was actually going to die, I was engaged by the mystery of how he was going to survive. Which really, is as much as any adventure series with a recurring character can do. Besides, if nothing else, the film brought Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow and that's Top Ten worthy all by itself.
Way too much energy gets spent on trying to figure out if this is scripted or a true documentary. It doesn't matter. It's brilliant and it's timely and it needs to be seen. I saw it spoiler-free and recommend that anyone else do the same. I'm not sure it would have the same impact if you knew what to expect.
Like Iron Man 2, this is another one that drew heavy criticism. Mostly for not being familiar enough as a Robin Hood movie. I'm typically impatient with origin stories, but this kept my attention all the way through. I don't know that it's a great version of Robin Hood (though it had enough of those elements to keep me happy), but it's a very cool Ridley Scott medieval adventure film and I love Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.
Best seen as a romance with a spy twist rather than a spy movie with a romantic element. There's some action, but not a lot and the two leads aren't butt-kickers. I also figured out the mystery early on, but that spoiled nothing for me. I enjoyed watching to see if Depp could win Jolie over. I wanted him to.
I just read a disparaging comment about Jolie's acting in this, but I thought she did a fine job as the Mysterious European Woman. Then again, I tend to like her, so maybe I'm being lenient. I stand by the comment I made on Facebook or Twitter or someplace though: the hardest role Johnny Depp has ever had to play was Man Intimidated by Angelina Jolie. It took me a couple of scenes to get past his Johnny Deppness, but I thought he pulled it off admirably.
Everything that The Expendables was supposed to be. Just the right amount of over-the-top without going into cheesy territory.
I'm the only person I know who loved this movie. Maybe I was just in the mood for a fun, Arabian Nights adventure, but I don't have any of the problems with Prince of Persia that everyone else seems to.
I can't stand Will Ferrell and I'm prejudiced against superhero parody, so I went to this somewhat begrudgingly. I was surprised to find it not only funny, but really touching. I fully expect Dreamworks to kill it with excessive sequels, but it's new enough that I haven't let that get to me yet.
Perhaps the least controversial item on this list. Everyone loved Easy A and for good reason. It's hilarious, it's charming, Emma Stone is wonderful in it, and it transparently displays its John Hughes influence while perfectly capturing what made Hughes' movies so great.
While it's true that the Futterwacken was anticlimactic after the build-up it got earlier in the film, I loved everything else about this movie. (Especially when I took off the dark 3D glasses and saw it a second time in 2D.) I could go over again why it's so great, but I'll save the space and instead direct you to my original review. I haven't changed my mind about any of it.
So that's it for me. What were your favorite films of last year?