It's been a pretty chur year for movies, and choosing my favourites has been harder than usual. My top 10 leans slightly towards the popcorn side of things, not consciously. These are just the films I loved the most.
A virtuoso exercise in precise plot mechanics and vertiginous thrills from director Alfonso Cauron, Gravity brought singular artistic flair back to the popcorn movie. This degree of filmmaking guile hasn't been seen in a genre movie since Peter Jackson let loose on The Professor.
2. Blue Jasmine
Some people like to say that Woody Allen is out of touch and his films have nothing to do with reality. I agree with the assertion, but I don't think it impedes his abilities to turn out great movies. Blue Jasmine was simultaneously hilarious and devastating, and stands amongst his best work in my eyes.
3. This Is The End
I recently watched this ultra-indulgent gut-buster again and it affirmed what I suspected the first time around - that it's one of those movies that gets even better on repeat viewing. This gets the No. 3 spot on sheer volume of laughs alone - they outweigh any critical rationale. In many ways the ultimate culmination of the Apatow-verse, even though he has no credits on the movie.
4. Now You See Me
This magic-centric action adventure didn't prove popular with many critics, but it sustained a long-life in theatres here so some people must've liked it. I thought it was one of the most fun blockbusters of the year - a hoot from start to finish all the more refreshing for not being a retread of something else. Bring on the planned sequel.
5. Iron Man 3
Action movie legend Shane Black came back in a major way with this exhilarating treatment that put traumatic memories of Iron Man 2 to rest and easily stood up the scrutiny of being the first post-Avengers Marvel movie. Heck, I enjoyed this more than The Avengers. Easily bested Man of Steel and Thor: The Dark World as the superhero movie of the year.
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Despite a late-arrving foray into Serious Town, this remains a winning and well-observed take on familiar high school social dynamics. The spirit of John Hughes hangs over the whole thing, in a good way, and the three leads (Logan Lerman; Emma Watson; Ezra Miller) are all amazing.
7. Upstream Color
Shane Carruth's long-awaited follow-up to 2004's legendary head-scratcher Primer proved to be no less inscrutible than his debut work, but again, offered pleasures far beyond those bound by such petty notions as an identifiable plot. Upstream Color overflows with ambition and ideas - I wish there were more low-budget genre films like this.
8. The Master
Paul Thomas Anderson's hypnotic saga managed to provide an ample feast of a movie while also leaving the viewer wanting. All the Scientology-centric anticipation put undo pressure on the film, and distracted from its status as a quietly devastating character study.
District 9 writer/director Neill Blomkamp still has my complete attention. He didn't deliver the follow-up of my wildest dreams with Elysium, but he did make one of the best action sci-fi movies of the last 10 years. Still, all the art-work released since hints at a film that was was tinkered with extensively throughout its prolonged development. I have complete faith that his next one, robot caper Chappie, will rule.
10. The Counselor
This perplexing neo-noir made it into my top ten on sheer audacity alone. While it was often difficult to discern what the film's intentions were amid all the platitudinal monologues, I was rarely less than utterly enthralled. Containing at least three instantly iconic set-pieces (two involving decapitation) and one already famously terrible lead performance, The Counselor is a cult classic straight out of the gate.
And just for good measure, here are my next 10:
11. Pacific Rim
12. Frances Ha
13. Only God Forgives
14. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
15. Man Of Steel
16. Silver Linings Playbook
17. Django Unchained
18. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
19. The Wolf of Wall Street
* Agree? Disagree? What were your favourites of the year? Comment below!