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Top Ten 2005

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Crash. I liked the characters, the interlocking stories, the comments on race relations , but best of all – especially for a Hollywood movie – was the moral complexity:

Top Ten 2008

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1.Amal. So far as I know, this was never commercially released, but it was my favorite film from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Set in a very real India (not the heightened India of Slumdog)

Top Ten - 2007

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No Country for Old Men. For what it was, this was perfection, and what it was was quite something. Each scene was a stunning set piece, and built momentum to the next. Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin gave Oscar-worthy performances,

Top Ten 2020

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1. The Mangrove / The Trial of the Chicago 7. It is fitting in this year of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests that my two favorite films showcase police brutality and protest. That both involve real events from 50 years ago only added to their poignancy and relevance.

Top Ten 2019

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1. The Two Popes.  If the meek are to inherit the earth, the Papacy is a good place to start. This movie had a startlingly current subject, two of the best performances of the year, gorgeous visuals and provocative thoughts on faith, theology, politics, history, culture, humanity and probably more.

Top Ten 2018

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The King. Of all the movies I saw, this is the one I would be happiest to watch again. It featured a bunch of interesting musical acts, an acute commentary on our society and, of course, Elvis. It was less a documentary than an essay, like nothing I had ever seen.

Top Ten 2017

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1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriEvery line of Martin McDonagh's dialogue is fraught and measured, delivered to perfection by Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and an equally adept supporting cast.

Top Ten - 2016

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1. Eye in the Sky. This film about a drone strike in the Mideast gave me more to think and write about than any other and courageously tackled a controversial matter of foreign policy. (Kudos, also, to the similarly overlooked Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.)

Top Ten 2015

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Spotlight was not quite All the President’s Men but it was the next best thing, a rare “true story” that played out as drama. I loved its depictions of journalism, Boston and the Catholic Church’s pedophilia scandal, with telling end credits the coup de grace.

Top Ten 2014

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1. Boyhood - Far and away the best movie "experience" of the year as well as the most innovative moviemaking. It was more real than reality TV, with situations that everyone could identify with. The plot was life itself, only with better actors.

Top Ten - 2013

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That only leaves Barbara, to which I have somewhat tentatively assigned the top spot on my list. It is not powerful, or surprising or innovative. But when I left the theater I felt I had seen an almost perfect movie.

Top Ten 2012

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1. A Separation and Amour. Every year, it seems, there is a critical favorite that avoids the smaller cities until the deadline for my list has passed. Last year it was A Separation, which opened in 2011 but was far and away the best film I saw in 2012.