It’s been a great year at the cinema, and STV’s Michael MacLennan has provided us with a rundown of his top films this year.
So what were his favourites?
10) My Sister’s Sister – Opening the Glasgow Film Festival, this was a romantic comedy that was grounded and a huge amount of fun, and ripe for revisiting. Mark Duplass was especially hilarious as the befuddled gentleman caught between two sisters, and the ending was just perfect, while at the same time being enormously frustrating (in the best possible way).
9) The Master – I still feel like a second viewing is required to gauge how much I liked this latest film by auteur Paul Thomas Anderson, but this makes the list simply for the truly powerhouse acting performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, the latter especially brilliant as a cult founder. Disturbing, poetic and ever so slightly deranged.
8) Holy Motors – One of those movies where you walked out of the cinema wondering how on earth you could again adapt to normality. Puzzling and surreal and head-scratchingly terrific – and not actually as odd as you might expect, while at the same time being absolutely barking. Oh, and a magnificent performance by Denis Lavant in a multitude of different roles.
7) The Dark Knight Rises – As good as The Dark Knight? Well, no, but still a fantastic blockbuster and a fitting finale to Christopher Nolan’s superlative Batman trilogy. Even stuck behind a mask Tom Hardy was a formidable foe for the Caped Crusader, and an absurdly strong cast gave the intricate storyline an added gravitas.
6) Young Adult – It’s strange to say that Charlize Theron is underrated, given that she’s a multiple Oscar winner, but Jason Reitman’s dark, dark comedy was a reminder of how talented she is. Providing the most compelling and cringeworthy antihero of recent times, it was hard to look away from the screen for even a moment, even as Theron’s horrifically immature and self-absorbed Mavis sunk further and further into embarrassment.
5) The Impostor – The most nail-biting documentary you’re likely to see, with an astounding storyline that is scarcely believeable – and that I won’t even bother trying to recount here. One to watch through your fingers.
4) Rust and Bone – Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) is one of the best directors of his generation, and Marion Cotillard is one of the most talented actresses of hers. A story about loss and connection, and KILLER WHALES. (Actually, it doesn’t really have too much to do with the last part. Sorry for teasing you.)
3) Beasts of the Southern Wild – This delirious daydream of a movie was somehow Benh Zeitlin’s first movie, but and had at its heart a moving, wonderful central performance by child actor Quvenzhané Wallis. Both heartbreaking and spirit-lifting, and a film that left its mark long after leaving the cinema.
2) The Raid – The best action movie to come out in years, perhaps even the best of the 21st century so far. The fluid direction of Welsh director Gareth Evans allowed maximum exposure for Iko Uwais’s brilliant martial arts, and the Indonesian film barely let up from its opening frames, though it did expertly make sure that the stakes for its special forces taskforce were raised as high as possible. Its sequel can’t come soon enough, and its US remake should never come at all.
1) The Cabin in the Woods – Due to studio troubles it took a few years for this meta-horror to come out, but it was certainly worth it. A pin-sharp laceration of genre conventions, cinematic navel-gazing has never been so deliriously brilliant. (Well, perhaps excepting Funny Games.)
Honourable mentions: Moonrise Kingdom, The Angels’ Share, Brave, Wild Bill, Argo, Lawless, Killing Them Softly, Killer Joe, Brave, The Avengers.