As we close out another ubiquitous year of cinema, we reflect on some of the more memorable movies that crossed our paths over the last twelve months. These are ten of the flicks that made us smile, laugh and cry, sometimes all at the same time:
1) SHAME: The black sheep of films this year, which left many breathless and others uncomfortably affected, was punctuated by a passionate portrayal of a sex addict by Michael Fassbender in an equally unflinching movie bravely directed by Steve McQueen.
2) MIDNIGHT IN PARIS: In a movie that's so sweet it's toothache-inducing, it's hard to believe it is elevated by an actor whose major credits include lewd comedies and frat boy humor. Owen Wilson's wide-eyed wonder worked for his most mature performance to date in writer/director Woody Allen's delightfully fascinating film.
3) LAST NIGHT: A way to tell if a movie resonates with you is if you continue to think about it long after you've seen it. This film does just that. Dripping with sophistication, the movie is elevated by cunning performances from Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Guillaume Canet and Eva Mendes, who seduce the audience into falling for their beautifully tangled web of lust and love.
4) PARIAH: On the surface, its coming-of-age styled story is easily relatable. But it isn't until the end of the movie when you realize how punctuating each scene is, and how it continued to shed layers until it revealed a beautifully naked soul by the ending credits.
5) ATTACK THE BLOCK: At the mere mention of this movie, you easily go to right to any one of its witty one-liners, or to John Boyega's surprisingly subtle yet heartfelt speech that defined his character. But despite it being a low-budget sci-fi flick, the movie surpassed many of its modern day competitors with refreshing humor, entertainment, fear and, most unexpectedly, intelligence.
6) BRIDESMAIDS: Is it the female response to The Hangover? Not even close. It's more than just a crude--albeit entertaining--comedy with a cast of women. It's rather a smart, far more nuanced, comedy, about a woman on the verge of being left behind in the dust. Granted, a hilarious woman with feelings of abandonment, but that's just a mere piece of this wildly unapologetic comedy with heart.
7) DRIVE: You'd think for a movie with a bangin' 80s score would at least have a slight element of cheese in it. You know, for The Breakfast Club's sake. But, with a director and actor both as cool as ice, this drama moonlighting as an action flick was as quiet as it was frightening. It managed to tell a gripping story with very little dialogue, and, not to mention, it also left us pining for a scorpion jacket.
8) HANNA: We all knew Saoirse Ronan was badass. But we didn't know she could take out a group of equally trained adult assassins (to the beat of a raging soundtrack) and make us feel legitimately sorry for her as well. That just didn't seem like a fair fight for the adults.
9) YOUNG ADULT: Only Charlize Theron could make us feel anything for a mean girl, a stunningly beautiful mean girl, suffering from an extreme case of beauty queen blues. She not only humanizes Mavis Gray, but she brings to life so honestly and emotionally (for better or for worse) an impeccable script by Diablo Cody.
10) GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: Anything this decadent must be bad for you, right? Wrong. Fincher's movie of glorified deviance may not have given you the ending you were clamoring for, but it did pack a punch with an aptly chaotic soundtrack, gorgeous cinematography, and a wonderfully disaffected performance by Rooney Mara as our asocial/amoral/asexual heroine.