Once again, here are a bunch of films from last year that I liked (or kind of liked), listed in order of decreasing greatness. Metacritic score in parentheses.
1. Drive (79)
Stylish neo-noir. I wouldn’t have guessed it would turn out to be my favorite movie from last year, but there you go. ’80 nostalgia!
2. Submarine (76)
British coming-of-age drama, directed by Dean Learner.
3 The Descendants (84)
Surprisingly affecting Alexander Payne dramedy.
4. Rango (75)
Looked awful (Johnny Depp as a CGI chameleon!), turned out awesome. Sergio Leone meets Chinatown.
5. Kill List (67)
Hitman horror laden with metaphor. (Ben Wheatley’s previous film, Down Terrace, is also good.)
6. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (85)
Fine. Although the previous adaptation was even better.
7. Shame (72)
Fassbender is the Brando of his generation.
8. Midnight in Paris (81)
Woody Allen’s best film in, like, five or six years.
9. Melancholia (80)
I have a love/hate relationship with Lars von Trier’s films. This one I mostly loved.
10. The Muppets (75)
Not quite mops, not quite puppets, but man.
11. Young Adult (71)
Charlize Theron as writer of YA fiction.
12. The Sunset Limited (67)
Cormac McCarthy play about life and death and stuff.
13. The Trip (82)
Fine. Although the TV series was even better.
14. The Guard (78)
Irish black comedy.
15. Captain America: The First Avenger (66)
The year’s best superhero movie, and probably the best Marvel movie since 2004’s Spider-Man 2. (Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, though of course their heirs receive nothing from the exploitation of their work.)
16. Moneyball (87)
Engaging sports movie.
17. Margaret (61)
Rambling, formless, partly awesome.
18. God Bless America (56)
19. All-Star Superman (–)
Not as good as the Morrison/Quitely graphic novel, but pretty fun anyway.
20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (87)
Alan Rickman was arguably several decades too old to play Snape but he’s still the best thing about the movies.
21. Martha Marcy May Marlene (76)
22. Margin Call (76)
The most exciting film about the financial crisis I saw all year!
23. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (71)
The Swedish adaptation was okay, but I liked Fincher’s version a lot more.
24. The Adventures of Tintin (68)
Fun. Tendencies towards the uncanny valley, though.
25. Insidious (52)
26. The Wicker Tree (–)
The original Wicker Man is one of my all-time favorites. This ”spiritual sequel” is not in the same league, but still pretty cool if you go in with low expectations.
27. Carnage (61)
Play-ish Polanski. By which I probably mean stagy.
28. The Borrower Arietty (80)
Studio Ghibli is always worth a look.
29. The Tree of Life (85)
Partly breathtaking, partly dull.
30. Contagion (70)
Super-competent virus thriller.
31. The Artist (89)
32. X-Men: First Class (65)
33. Super 8 (72)
More Spielbergian than Abramsian.
34. Jane Eyre (76)
Starring that girl from In Treatment (and Tim Burton’s awful Alice). Plus: Fassbender!
35. Troll Hunter (61)
Norwegians hunt trolls.
36. Cedar Rapids (70)
Ed Helms goes to insurance conference, wackiness ensues.
37. Bridesmaids (75)
Apatow for women. (Fairly similar to Apatow for men.)
38. Attack the Block (75)
Aliens vs chavs!
39. Source Code (74)
No Moon but okay.
40. Hugo (83)
Very minor Scorsese. Overly sentimental, but I did like the Georges Méliès recreations.
41. A Lonely Place to Die (–)
Old-school wilderness thriller.
42. Terri (72)
Obese dude is troubled.
43. Bad Teacher (47)
Second-rate Bad Santa.
44. Too Big To Fail (67)
More bank stuff.
45. Hobo With a Shotgun (55)
Based on one of the Grindhouse trailers. Machete was better.
46. 678 (–)
Sexual harassment in Cairo.
47. Thor (57)
As with Captain America, Thor was co-created by Jack Kirby.
48. A Dangerous Method (76)
Freud vs Jung! Starring Aragorn. And Fassbender!
49. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (68)
Man vs ape! Starring Gollum. No Fassbender, sadly.
50. 50/50 (72)
51. The Rum Diary (56)
Nowhere near the quality of Fear and Loathing, or Withnail & I. But still pretty likable.
52. Another Earth (66)
Low budget, high concept.
53. Paranormal Activity 3 (59)
Slight improvement on the second one.