5. Man of Steel
To the people bitching about the reckless destruction Superman causes while fighting Zod. I say this: I've seen plenty ... plenty of Superman 'saving the day without breaking a sweat' moments. I've almost never seen Superman in over his head. This was an overwhelmed and still inexperienced Superman facing a more powerful foe. As a result his fighting approach feels desperate and messy. And to the people whining about how Superman finally (spoiler!) defeats Zod, I say: How did you expect this shit to end? Zod was energy-humping Metropolis to ruins and had to be stopped. And since Superman was forced to kill the last of his kind, it may strengthen his resolve to preserve all life. That would be ideal if Superman ever faced an evil, but physically weak, mortal enemy. Who could that be?
4. Blue Jasmine
Every time I watch this movie I find new things to appreciate about the performances and the film's jumbled narrative structure. And each time I pick up on subtle pieces of the story that slipped by me before. The movie is filled with amusing, flawed characters, and tells a fascinating story of loss and denial. Plus, as a bonus you get Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay. A pleasant surprise.
As breathtaking as it is on the big screen, therein lies the problem. In 2009 I put Avatar as my second favourite movie on the year. However, I have yet to watch it since writing my list, and have yet to feel a desire to watch it again. Gravity feels like a similar situation. I have watched it at home, and while it was still amazing, it was decidedly less amazing. Along with performances from Bullock and Clooney that were just fine, and dialogue that felt cliche and hammy, this film is not without issues. Don't get me wrong, though. I still fucking love this movie. But the massive screen and 3D presentation seems essential to the experience, and completing the director's vision.
For some kids, who are desperately in love with space and didn't see Gravity at the theatre, this will be their Jurassic Park. They will love the film regardless, but maybe 20 years down the road they will have an opportunity to see it in all its glory.
I think many viewers will be put off by the film's pacing, and the unsettling "crazy eye" exchanges across the dinner table, but it's all part of the fun of Stoker. It's designed to put you on edge. The film turns having ice cream in a murder mystery, a leather belt becomes a vision of gothic horror, and a piano duet is filled with suppressed sexuality.
Stoker feels like a blending of a Hitchcock thriller and a Korean horror film. I suppose that should come as no surprise since it's from the director of Oldboy. Chan-wook's films are always masterpieces of violence and perversion, and the twisted Stoker family fits right in.
You can't help but love these characters. McConaughey gives a honest and powerful performance as Mud, a beguiling role model to the two boys who has a shady, violent past. Ellis (played by Tye Sheridan) gives perhaps the strongest performance; a boy trying to hold onto the idealism of youth while being crushed by the realities of adulthood. Then there's Neckbone (played by Jacob Lofland) who has got to be the most straight-shooting kid ever, and together with Ellis, the most dependable kids of all time. Need a boat motor? You got it. Want us to go ferry a cement truck down the river? I reckon we can make that work. I was entertained by every cuss-filled bit of dialogue between them.
It's a touching film that will grab you early on and refuse to let go. It's a bit of Tom Sawyer, and bit of Stand by Me. A coming-of-age film, mixed with a fugitive on the run film, mixed with a love story. If you overlooked Mud last year, I highly recommend another look.