Top 5 films so far
1. Shutter Island
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Apparently, they are making movies like they used to. Scorsese takes a break from incredible gangster pictures and insightful music documentaries to deliver this adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s pulpy best-seller. DiCaprio continues to prove he’s one of the best actors of his generation (see below), with good-as-they’ve-ever-been help from Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo and Patricia Clarkson. The film’s few detractors complain the twist ending is too simple. And yet it’s surprisingly complex, much like Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000). This is a movie you’ll continue to unravel and discuss long after that haunting final image.
2. Toy Story 3
Directed by Lee Unkrich
In case you were still wondering, the answer is still no. Pixar can do no wrong. While I wasn’t as madly in love with this sequel as everyone else, it packs a much bigger emotional wallop than its predecessors. But hey, Pixar’s been making me cry since 2008, so why stop here? While tremendously entertaining for adults and kids, Michael Arndt’s script provides plenty of existential issues to ponder like whether belonging to someone defines you, and if you give up on the person you feel gave up on you, does that make you a bad person? Heady stuff, but that’s all complemented by stellar voice work from Michael Keaton as Ken.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
After going completely off the rails with his sickeningly whimsical quasi-fairytale Stardust (2007), Vaughn completely redeemed himself with this adaptation of Mark Millar’s truly graphic novel. The film is pure over-the-top male fantasy (think Spider-Man by way of Quentin Tarantino), but it’s got a vicious satirical streak, swiping at our instant-fame/technologically overloaded culture. Plus, it affords the chance for Chloë Moretz and Nicolas Cage to act completely off the wall as father-daughter duo Hit Girl and Big Daddy, respectively.
4. Mystery Team
Directed by Dan Eckman
Technically a 2009 release, but chances are you didn’t see it since it made a very non-triumphant $89,000 before being unceremoniously dumped on DVD. I guarantee more people have seen it now thanks to Redbox than in theaters. Which is a great thing because this 105-minute romp from Derrick Comedy is the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. The trio at its core are three Encyclopedia Browns determined to solve any mystery, no matter how big. But that stopped being cute around middle school. Now, on the eve of graduation, a neighbor girl approaches them with a big task: find out who killed her parents. The film is far more engrossing than a comedy that features a character diving into a filthy toilet for a ring and drinking dog urine to sanitize himself afterward should be. But one thing is obvious about Mystery Team: it’s side-splitting.
5. The Book of Eli
Directed by the Hughes Brothers
Could The Book of Eli been better? Definitely. But I can’t entirely fault a movie so blatantly Christian (at the very least thematically Christian) that’s still, y’know, good. Denzel Washington is as powerful as always, playing the protector of the last known copy of the King James Bible. Equally good is Gary Oldman (how on Earth does he not have an Oscar nomination yet?) as his rival, who knows he can use the Word to manipulate his desperate followers. Mila Kunis is better off playing the girlfriend than the tough-as-nails sidekick, but this is still a smart action flick. A Mad Max for the hyper-literate.