1. Toy Story 3. Walt Disney/Pixar. Dir.: Lee Unkrich. With: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen.
Having a little brother really helps sometimes, I’ve seen all the Pixar/DreamWorks animations released in the past few years, hence 2 of these made it to this list. Now, TS3 was definitely a highlight for all the cinemagoers around the world. I distinctly remember watching the first two films on creaky VHS, very badly dubbed in Russian and still loving them. I was quite curious but also apprehensive about the third instalment – so many years have passed, things have changed and the original audiences have grown up. TS3 wooed me completely as an old fan, but the children and parents in the audience, including my brother, were shrieking with laughter too. Much has been said about the melancholic feel of the story and whether it is appropriate for young children to be upset in such a way; however, I think, it is not necessarily a bad thing, now with kids growing up so much faster and people constantly coming in and out of your life. It’s nice to be reminded of one’s childhood every now and then…
Favourite Moment: Buzz Lightyear’s Spanish Mode and Chuckles the Clown’s rainy story.
2. The Ghost Writer. Summit Entertainment. Dir. Roman Polanski. With: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan.
The much persecuted, drug-taking, child-molesting director has delivered once again. I am always surprised to find Roman Polanski to be on top form despite his age and multiple legal problems. Compare him to Martin Scorsese who, despite being relatively untroubled, manages to produce very weak films lately. The Ghost (which is the film’s original title) is a delicious thriller. I really do appreciate being kept on the edge of my seat, the minimalist décor, unexpected people having sex and great casting. I don’t particularly want to go into the political side of the story, I only discuss the film as a whole and I must say that the dark tones, the abrupt ending and the constant feeling of confusion and isolation were certainly masterfully achieved. Pierce was lurrvely ; )
Favourite Moment: Ewan McGregor talking to his reflection in the bathroom “this is a very bad idea” before fucking the PM’s wife.
3. A Single Man. The Weinstein Company. Dir. Tom Ford. With: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore.
Many have been crooning about Tom Ford’s debut. It is truly a beautiful film, looking much like a Vogue photoshoot. It is clear that every scene, every fleck of the sun were carefully and meticulously planned out. Tom Ford probably has mild OCD. The story is secondary to music, outer beauty and the perfect gentleman’s wardrobe. If I ever watch it again, it’ll be for aesthetic pleasure and Julianne Moore.
Favourite Moment: Carlos.
4. Up in the Air. Paramount. Dir. Jason Reitman. With: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga.
I think that this is a really nice film even though it is quite predictable. It looks like it took no effort from George Clooney to play the emotionless and aloof corporate type. Maybe he meets them all the time or maybe he is a bit cold-blooded himself. Nevertheless, it is supposed to be a truthful and timely representation of life on the plane.
Favourite Moment: Clooney’s tips on how to go through airport security in the quickest way possible.
5. The Town. Warner Bros. Dir.: Ben Affleck. With: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall.
Bravo Ben Affleck! I am incredibly impressed with the man as director, writer and actor. Who doesn’t love a good heist movie about a criminal with a heart? The acting and the story were both great. Rebecca Hall is becoming one of my favourite actresses. It’s funny how our sympathies can be manipulated so easily: on the one hand we have the dashing cop played by Jon Hamm of ‘Mad Men’, on the other the über-manly gang leader, Ben Affleck with an annoying accent. I felt that my allegiance depended on whoever was on the screen. You want Ben Affleck to be caught but at the same time you want to see just how much he can steal and what new disguises he can doll up. One minor criticism – the ending was pure CHEESE. Not quite my cup of tea. I’d prefer some gruesome deaths and broken hearts instead.
Favourite Moment: The nuns’ masks.
6. Inception. Warner Bros. Dir.: Christopher Nolan. With: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
This is the big summer blockbuster and for a blockbuster it is a very good one. I still think that much of the “philosophical” aspect of the story has been blown out of proportion and it looks pale in comparison to, say, The Matrix. Nevertheless, it’s a very entertaining, slick and clever film, I just wish it wasn’t so obvious that Christopher Nolan was out to confuse the poor unsuspecting audiences with the ambivalent ending. As far as ambivalent endings go, this one was just annoying (just as another DiCaprio movie this year, Shutter Island). I like the international cast very much but I think that Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have stolen the show. Another complaint is that the dreams could have been a bit more surreal…Nolan’s clearly not a fan of Dali and Freud. Just imagine how mindboggling dream sequences with giant melting cheese, burning giraffes and Oedipus complex could have been!
Favourite Moment: Joseph Gordon-Levitt fighting/dancing in the rotating hotel corridor.
7. How to train your dragon. Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks. Dir.: Chris Sanders, Dean DeBois. With: Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill.
I love this film. I really do. There is something about stories about taming your fears and learning to control them that always gets me. The unusual setting in a Viking village, the nerdy protagonist and his scaly friend proved to be a winning combination. I generally prefer Pixar animations to DreamWorks, but this particular one had a great story and beautiful graphics. Not sure that the violence in the film was appropriate for younger viewers – my brother was scared! But I do hope there is a sequel.
Favourite Moment: all the flying.
8. Kick-Ass. Lionsgate/Universal. Dir.: Matthew Vaughn. With: Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz.
Hit Girl, you are the best, I would marry you if I could. This slightly bonkers film about super hero wanna-bes features many talented actors. Even everybody’s favourite laughing stock, Nicholas Cage has a nice little role here as Big Daddy. Nice name, Nic! I am a little apprehensive of the number of Mark Strong’s appearances as a villain in this year’s films (Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes). He is slowly becoming the number 1 go-to-villain. Move over, Ralph Fiennes. Something has to be said about Chloe Moretz. She has the sweetness of the young Drew Barrymore and is just as edgy as Jody Foster in Taxi Driver. She has several films coming out or out already and I wish her all the luck, she’ll make a great actress. I cannot imagine how Mark Strong felt when he was beating her 11-year-old body up at the end of the film.
Favourite Moment: whenever Hit Girl was on screen.
9. I love you, Phillip Morris. Roadside Attractions. Dir.: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. With: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor.
Ewan McGregor – again! Only this time he is soft-spoken, blonde and gay. The film has many downsides but it is, nevertheless, highly entertaining – mainly because the unbelievable story did take place and Jim Carrey’s character is still imprisoned. This film is camp, bright and outlandish, in the best sense of the word.
Favourite Moment: Jim Carrey’s fluke job interview.
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1. Warner Bros. Dir.: David Yates. With: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson.
First and foremost, I detest HP films. But ignoring them would be stupid as they made up such a big chunk of cinemagoers’ experience over the past 7 years. This particular film was criticised for lacking action and praised for being so true to the book. I have to say I enjoyed it more than the previous one, Harry and Hermione’s acting seemed to have improved and it was nice to be out of Hogwarts for a while. It’s a pity how the majority of the adult actors in the film think that because this is a children’s movie they should overact. Bellatrix, Voldemort, Xenophilius Lovegood and others are just over the top. Snape, on the other hand, always displays the most perfect balance of butter-wouldn’t-melt face and hidden emotion. One major criticism – Ginny Weasley is one of the most miscast people I have ever seen!! What were the producers thinking?
Favourite Moment: the seven Harry Potters.