1. The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick's latest (his fifth movie in 38 years) is a WTF oddity in our souled-out culture. It's also one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. Bring on the 6-hour cut!
2. Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen's most purely enjoyable picture since Bullets Over Broadway. A veritable feast for intellectuals (or, as in my case, would-be intellectuals).
I love the look, it's funny, and the film references are gangbusters (e.g., a ceiling fan standing in for the windmill at the beginning of Once Upon a Time in the West).
4. 13 Assassins
Takashi Miike's samurai masterpiece features the villain of the year, an evil lord whose savagery will make your blood boil. The final 45-minute bloodbath rivals Gen. Washizu's death-by-a-thousand-arrows in Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood.
5. The Tempest
The New York Times recently published a piece asking how Julie Taymor would ever salvage her reputation after the whole Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark debacle. Not once does that article mention Taymor's latest film, a visual triumph that proves what a truly vital American artist she is.
6. Source Code
Most well executed sci-fi picture since Inception. Read my mini-review here.
Most I've laughed since Hot Tub Time Machine.
Seth Rogen as an alien plus the guys from Shaun of the Dead – it's a winning combination. Read my review here.
9. Rabbit Hole
Clueless adults, a teenager who expresses his view of the world through comic books, the accidental death of a child – Rabbit Hole reminded me of The Ice Storm, and that's the highest praise I can think of. John Cameron Mitchell directs Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart in extraordinary performances.
10. I Saw the Devil
I loved almost every minute of this ultraviolent Oldboy ripoff, which makes me a very sicky puppy indeed. Features the coolest shot-from-inside-the-car crash since Fight Club – or at least since Let Me In.
11. Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Menagerie of bones, crystal formations, boy and wolf walking side by side – such lovely forgotten dreams in this eye-opening documentary about the world's oldest cave paintings. Directed and narrated in that unforgettable German accent by Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man).
12. Super 8
Son of Rambow meets District 9, with a touch of Spielbergian wonder for good measure. What's not to like? Bring Reese's Pieces.
The Rules of Attraction for a new generation. Read my review here.
14. Everything Must Go
Best PBR commercial I've seen since Blue Velvet!
15. Vanishing on 7th Street
Spooky, unpredictable homage to The Twilight Zone from genre pro Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist).