So I watch a lot more old movies than new movies in a year. Which means I see a ton of great movies in a year that I can’t throw on an end of the year list. Until now. Because this is a list of movies I’ve seen this year, ranked properly in terms of quality.
35: Planet of Apes series
I love this series!
34: Return of the Living Dead
A movie designed to be a spin-off/alternative to Romero’s franchise that manages to be so clever and funny and fun it deserves a mention. Hardly perfect but still sort of inspirational. A movie that should’ve been crap transformed into a pop-culture touchstone.
33: John Dies at the End
This movie is hard to describe. It’s absolutely manic and frenzied. It’s also funny, frightening, and memorable.
32: Cannibal Holocaust
Gross movie with broken themes. But impossible to forget. It sort of instantly enters your frame of reference, if only for the incredibly realism displayed.
A wonderfully macabre movie. Weirdly dated aesthetic at time (very Fight Club inspired) but still a desperately entertaining movie.
30: The Fly
Simple but genius levels of unpleasantness. Great little exaggerated look at aging and disease.
29: In Bruges
An absolutely brilliant script. Looks like stock footage though, and that fact pushed it way down on this list. Seriously this is practically hurting me, because the script is so great, but damn is the visual side boring. And it’s so much about the location at times that it really hurts the whole film.
An ugly little treatise on the effects of TV. Little ragged pacing but still brilliant. Long live the New Flesh!
27: Ghost Dog
The only Jim Jarmusch movie I’ve seen. Loved the quiet pace and leisurely style.
26: World’s Greatest Dad
A near amazing black comedy starring Robin Williams. The movie is, in a grander sense, about someone who does something bad and is only rewarded for it.
25: The Killing
Even more proto-Kubrick than Paths of Glory. But still a great little noir movie.
A wonderfully tight little science fiction thriller.
23: Rosemary’s Baby
Long and slow? Sure! Compelling and occasionally terrifying? Damn straight. By basing most of the swelling terror on a woman who’s disturbed by the possibilities of pregnancy, Roman Polanski makes sure the terror resonates in a truly effective way.
Another long but awesome Scorcese movie. Not one of my favourites of his but still great.
21: The Exorcist
Goddamn this movie’s ending. Because it’s a great movie. Not as great as some of these entries, but still great. But that ending is so lousy. The Exorcist is basically a great song with a lousy lazy fade at the end. It literally ends on this upbeat note about going to the movies.
20: The Wolf of Wall Street
Saw this in theatres. But it was the New Year. Scorcese’s latest masterpiece might be a little long in spots, but it’s still an undeniably topical and wonderfully aggressive attack on the one percent. He’s not glorifying anyone. The point is the lack of punishment.
An early Andrew Dominik movie. A very presentational and weird movie about a dangerous Australian convict. A great Eric Bana performance. Several undeniably sticky images.
It’s an amazing samurai movie about the flaws in the samurai code of honour. Despite not that much happening it’s a spectacular genre film, oft compared to Kurosawa at his best.
17: Blow Out
Brian De Palma’s classic homage to Blow Up. Like every De Palma it’s a wonderfully formalistic exercise in great editing and cinematography. Plus Travolta when he was cool.
The classic anime. Akira is a wonderfully thrilling image of the decline of a dystopian society. One of the best comic adaptations out there.
15: I’m a Cyborg but That’s Okay
Park Chan Woooooook. A movie about the self-destructive relationship of two mental patients shot like a romantic comedy. What more could you want?
14: Spring Breakers
A dizzying and kaleidoscopic art movie disguised as shlock. Fascinating comments on youth culture, including video games, racism, and more. Uses some solid Freudian (uncanny stylez) beats almost entirely brought about through the mandala-like editing.
13: 13 Assassins
So I just noticed 13 Assassins is my 13th entry. Unintentional I swear. It’s an amazing samurai movie about the flaws in the samurai code of honour. Wait have I said this before? It also has a spectacularly long final fight scene and a few horrifying moments.
12: The Host
Gotta love a monster movie. And The Host is an amazing and entertaining monster movie driven by a powerful political vendetta. It’s definitely one of my favourite monster movies, and that’s a genre I love. It’s the rare movie that can have so much on its mind and be so entertaining as well.
11: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
An early, Coen-esque entry from Park Chan Wook. It’s bleak and more representational than some of his other movies. It’s also a fascinating format too. Because there are two Mr. Vengeances really. Great post Oldboy entry point for Wook’s discography.
10: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
So good it inspired me to write my most pretentious article yet. Terry Gilliam’s insane movie perfectly encapsulates the dizzying narrative of Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal book.
An amazing samurai movie told from a series of perspectives and starring Mifune. This one’s classic.
8: Lady Vengeance
Another Park Chan Wook movie! A super duper weird one filled with aggressively presentational effects and scenes. It’s also gripping and spooky and violently symbolic.
7: Only God Forgives
This movie is perfect because it’s so brutal and ugly in so many ways. A movie so elegantly gross it turned off most of the people anticipating it. But Nicolas Winding Refn’s intent is to make a disturbing and unpleasant film, and he succeeds with aplomb. Horribly Freudian and grimy.
6: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Wow. Two Andrew Dominik movies in my top ten. The dude is amazing. This movie is shot by the aforementioned Roger Deakins and is consequently fiercely beautiful. Thematically dense as opposed to the direct punch of Killing Them Softly. This, like the rest of my top-ten, is basically a perfect movie.
Park-Chan Wook does Hitchcock. But vaguely sexual and completely disturbing. This movie unfurls like a carnivorous flower, and when it finally opens all the way it’s jaw dropping. Basically Chan-wook Park is a genius. A hypnotically transient director who still maintains a clear identity of his own? Fuck, that’s incredible. And incredibly rare.
4: Paths of Glory
Proto-Kubrick, basically, but still brilliant. Plus it acts as a nice guide-post to examining the semiotics of his latter films. Specifically his interest in challenging hierarchal structures. It even has the characteristic dark comedy. Gripping anti-war movie with classic cinematography.
I don’t really need to explain the inclusion of Chinatown do I? One of the best scripts out there. Classic for a reason.
2: Killing Them Softly
Killing Them Softly is one of the many movies on the list I can’t stop thinking about. I’ve been watching Andrew Domink’s discography and writing about it, but I haven’t seen this a second time and have yet to write about it for the site. I don’t want to say too much consequently. I’ll get there.
1: (Tie) No Country For Old Men
No Country For Old Men is clearly one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Thematically resonant, stunningly beautiful, incredibly edited. That scene in the hotel has to be one of the best action scenes ever put to film. The Coen brothers are brilliant, and their cinematographer, Roger Deakins, is brilliant, and this movie is brilliant. There’s no question this has fought its way into the top five movies I’ve ever seen.
1: (Tie) The Act of Killing
The Act of Killing is clearly one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a documentary, so I debated putting it on the list. In the end though it stands as a monumental piece of art. Powerful, transcendent, devastating, significant. Josh Oppenheimer’s work is relevant, thematically driven, beautiful. There’s so much to say and so little that can be said in such a short format. Stunning artistic accomplishment. “But I can feel it, Josh. Really, I feel it. Or have I sinned? I did this to so many people, Josh. Is it all coming back to me? I really hope it won’t. I don’t want it to, Josh.” So Anwar Congo reacts after watching himself as a victim onscreen. The Act of Killing uses the power of film to unveil corruption. Shine a light on genocide. Shine a light on the psyche of the perpetrators of that genocide. And force their figurehead to confront his actions. Not only is this the sort of real effect from a documentary that most could only dream of, it simultaneously elevates it. It becomes fantastic art, a masterpiece of the highest order.