1. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
Artistically and thematically brilliant, Nolan’s final Batman film is a triumph of superhero storytelling: ambitious, thought-provoking, emotional, and redemptive. A spectacular achievement on every level. When I say the trilogy couldn’t have ended any better, I mean the trilogy could not have ended any better. I could go on and on about how amazing it all is, but ultimately, my verdict can be summed up as follows: not only is this the biggest, boldest, and best Batman movie of them all, it’s the most magnificent superhero film I have ever seen. Simple as that.
2. LOOPER (2012)
A carefully constructed sci-fi action-puzzler that runs as smoothly as clockwork. Thrilling? Yes. Action-packed? Yes. But look beneath the guns and gadgets and you’ll see something even better: a thinking brain and a beating heart. Bravo, director Johnson. Bravo. You’ve given us a sci-fi film for the ages.
3. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012)
It’s good to be back in Middle Earth again. There are a few minor technical missteps – and some (understandable) liberties are taken with the original material – but the overall result is so sumptuous, so exciting, and so impressive that any flaws are easily forgiven or forgotten. This is epic fantasy filmmaking at its very, very finest. Jackson has laid a terrific foundation for the rest of the trilogy, and I’m looking forward to Part II.
4. THE AVENGERS (2012)
The finest film Marvel has yet produced. Flawless casting, spectacular set pieces, thrilling action, clever writing, and an enthralling story – all revolving around superheroes that are truly super. Forget big, dumb fun. This is big, smart fun. Big, smart, explosive fun.
5. THE MAN FROM NOWHERE (2010)
Not for the weak of heart (or stomach), but a powerful film nonetheless. The story itself isn’t new or incredibly original, but it gains a lot of emotional heft from the bond between the two lead characters: a thing of beauty amidst so much ugliness. The performances of Bon Win and Sae-Ron Kim are understated yet wonderful, and the action is brilliantly done, making most Hollywood stunts look silly by comparison.
From my review of Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, Pan’s Labyrinth:
“You’re too old to be filling your head with such nonsense,” Carmen tells her daughter, Ofelia, in an early scene in Pan’s Labyrinth. “Such nonsense” is a book of fairy tales, cradled lovingly in Ofelia’s hands.
But are fairy tales nonsense? Should they be read only by the very young? Or can grown-ups learn from them, too?
For Guillermo de Toro, the answers are clearly No, No, and Yes, respectively. Pan’s Labyrinth is an R-rated tale full of fauns, faeries, and other fantastical creatures. It’s bloody and it’s dark. But it also has much to say. Continue reading —>
"But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think." – Lord Byron