5. Toy Story 3
How would you describe the movie in five words? The Great Escape with toys. Why did it make your list? It's a satisfying and entertaining conclusion to one of the best trilogies around. Pixar never fails to impress with their quality of characters and story. What was your favourite thing about the movie? The way these CG toys convey more humanity and emotion than many real people in live action films do. What didn't you like about it? That the film keeps building and building to the escape portion, but it turns out to be a retread of the escape from Sid's house' from the first Toy Story, and it just wasn't nearly as interesting. What surprised you most? Just how dark and depressing some parts get. The villains are truly evil and sadistic, and some - like the baby doll - are really creepy. This may be a bit traumatizing to younger kids, but I'm ultimately glad Pixar doesn't pull any punches.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
How would you describe the movie in five words? Super geeky pop culture attack. Why did it make your list? It's a fun, high energy story of love and physical confrontation. It may be the most visually interesting film of the year; every shot has something cool to look at. Plus, it has hilarious, enjoyable characters. What was your favourite thing about the movie? That it takes place in Canada. It was filled with little nods to Canadian culture, and I cracked up whenever Scott defeated a foe and they would explode into loonies and toonies flying everywhere. What didn't you like about it? Well, some of the fights with the 7 deadly ex's aren't quite as cool as that first battle. What surprised you most? That I wasn't tired of Michael Cera playing the same sort of quiet character again, though maybe it had something to do with his inexplicable ability to uppercut people into the stratosphere.
How would you describe the movie in five words? Chick with magical hair sings. Why did it make your list? It's easily the best animated film Disney has put out in some time (excluding Pixar's work for them). The scenery and design of the film is gorgeous and with compelling characters and story, snappy dialogue, and a rich score, it had everything I had hoped. What was your favourite thing about the movie? Watching the trailers would lead you to believe that Rapunzel's pet chameleon was going to be the comic relief as the typical animal sidekick. Instead a horse with an unwavering sense of justice steals every scene he's in. What didn't you like about it? Not enough of that horse, of course. What surprised you most? I went to the movie not knowing it would be a musical much like Disney's heyday of the late 80's and early 90's. The songs are fantastic and I was pleasantly surprised.
How would you describe the movie in five words? Russian stacking doll brain fuck. Why did it make your list? I could go on for many paragraphs on why I like this movie, but this is a mini-list, so I'll just say that I'm amazed with the story Christopher Nolan has crafted. He's produced another astonishing movie with style, substance, and thrills. What was your favourite thing about the movie? I just love all the ways you can interpret the story. As far as I can tell, there are the events of the film as we see them, the events as they really happened, and then a third layer of how the movie is experienced by the audience. Each element is significant, but they stand alone. It's entertaining at face value, but it gives you plenty to analyze and think about as you watch again. What didn't you like about it? I just wasn't digging the James Bond-esque snowy mountain facility sequence. What surprised you most? That many people hate this movie or call it boring. How can you not enjoy a dream heist that includes things like shifting gravity fights? It's an original movie that demands your attention, and I have no idea how that's boring.
1. Black Swan
How would you describe the movie in five words? Ballerina perfectionist loses her shit. Why did it make your list? It's a haunting, suspenseful, spellbinding movie about a woman who's pushed physically and mentally over the edge by a passion for perfection. The movie manages to be frighteningly beautiful and mixes together unsettling moments of dread and sexual energy. I was strangely turned on one moment, and then horrified the next, and I loved it. What was your favourite thing about the movie? Natalie Portman, who stands out with easily my favourite performance of the year. It's amazing what she achieves to believably play a world class ballet dancer. The physical demands of the role aside, her character is so tragic and intense that there's no looking away. What didn't you like about it? Nothing comes to mind. I'm too busy thinking about watching it again. What surprised you most? That my top movie is about ballet. Well, it's really about much more than that. If you've been hesitant over seeing it because of the subject matter, please ignore that and dive in; it's a modern masterpiece of psychological horror.