1. The Babadook - I read so many things about this movie being the scariest horror movie of the year, and I was very skeptical. It's about a children's book coming to life! How on Earth can that be considered scary?! I'm happy to admit, the movie is awesome. One of the best of the year (I will do my Top 10 list tomorrow, and I am pretty sure this will make the cut). It's still not exactly "scary"; it's more of a psychological "horror". It's also not about a children's book coming to life; it's about a woman losing her mind, and that is terribly frightening. It's hard to describe how I feel about the movie, but the best word that comes to mind is "efficient". I know it's weird to describe a movie like that, but I feel like there is nothing unnecessary about it, no loose ends, no added scare tactics. It does exactly what it sets out to do. The absolute best part about it, though, is an incredible, unforgettable, lead performance from Essie Davis. I mean, it's spectacular. My favorite performance of the year, hands down.
2. The Normal Heart - I love Ryan Murphy (even after he ruined Glee). I didn't really have much interest in seeing this movie, though. It seemed like it was going to be super cheesy and manipulative, but I can't NOT watch a movie with that cast. I can criticize a lot about the movie (like the editing and the ending, which made it seem like a love story and it's a MUCH more important story than that), but there is a lot of good stuff in there that I would rather focus on. The acting is superb; especially Mark Ruffalo. This is the first time I felt like he became a different person onscreen. His mannerisms and his speech are transformed. The two biggest surprise performances for me are Matt Bomer, who I've never seen in anything before and assumed he was just another, incredibly beautiful face, and Jim Parsons, who gave the most heartfelt performance in a large group of talented actors. Aside from the acting, I also just really loved the story. It's an important part of history, and it raises some gigantic questions that still have no answers. It's also extremely interesting that one of the doctors, who worked on early cases of the AIDS virus, was not only female, but also had polio (the character is based on Dr. Linda Laubenstein). When can we get her full story? On a side note, how ironic is it that they mention the forgotten gay man who "is responsible for winning World War II", in the same year that a movie is made about him?
3. The Congress - What a cool fucking movie. Totally unexpected. I never even heard of the movie, until it was on my "Netflix recommends" list and it looked like Naomi Watts on the poster. When I received the disc, I was only slightly disappointed that it was actually Robin Wright. I still watched it, knowing absolutely nothing about it, and was so stunned by its originality. I was also blown away by such a realistic, and also horrific, look into the future of the "movie star". I can totally see this digital recreation of personalities happening (and also "Miramount" made me laugh out loud). The meta references to Robin's career in the beginning of the movie are so spot on. It's all really perfect. Then, the movie dives deep into a hallucinatory animated tale of salvation. It's so weird; I don't even know how to explain it. I don't even know if I fully understand it all; but there is such strong imagery, it doesn't even matter. Robin Wright has such a strong, soothing voice - the parts where she sings are short, but haunting and memorable. Jon Hamm has such a distinct voice, too. It was instant recognition. Anyway, I would put this movie in my Top 10 list, but it was actually released in 2013, which begs the question: why wasn't this on everyone else's Top 10 list last year?
4. The One I Love - I don't know why I watched this movie. I can't stand Mark Duplass (as an actor; as a writer he is fine) or Peggy Olson. Yes, I am talking about Peggy Olson, the character. People are shocked when I say that I hate her. It's always, "*YOU* hate Peggy Olson?! YOU?!". In theory, Peggy should be my favorite character, and the writing on the show is flawless, so I have no choice but to blame Elisabeth Moss. She is just such a terrible actress. Her facial expressions make me cringe, she's whiny, and the dialog doesn't flow from her mouth as smoothly as the actors surrounding her. I hate her with every fiber of my being. ANYWAY, this movie is pretty cool. It was another Netflix recommendation, and just like The Congress, I was pretty impressed with its sheer originality. It's a pretty deep commentary on relationships and the lies we tell ourselves to make relationships work. I don't know, though, if your partner said and did exactly what you wanted them to say and do all of the time, wouldn't that bore the shit out of you? Shouldn't you want someone to surprise you with the unexpected twists and turns of, you know, life? I could tell this movie was written by a man; it does fuck all to equate the sexes. The male "ideal version" of his partner is the same, she just wears sexier clothes and stops nagging him about eating bacon. While her "ideal version" of her partner is a completely different person. Why can't men accept the fact that women accept them? We don't sit there and list out your flaws and spend our lives trying to make you perfect. Well, at least, I don't. I would only choose to be with someone, knowing their flaws and accepting them, so this movie is sort of pointless to me. I get what it's trying to do, though.
The Rover - I'm not really that impressed with this movie. The performances are superb, but the movie is pretty forgettable. The first 15 minutes are really tough to get through. It's sooooo drawn out and the music is distracting. I felt like it took an hour to set the plot forward. Then, once it gets going, it doesn't really go anywhere. There are some jarring moments (like the sudden appearance of the Pretty Girl Rock song. I thought there was actually something wrong with the DVD, until I saw R. Patz mumbling along "don't hate me because I'm beautiful". What the fuck was that about?!). The whole movie is based around the suspense of "what's in the car". *spoiler ahead* I knew that the scene with the dogs in the cages was an important foreshadowing scene, and I knew something important was in the car, but for some odd reason I didn't put the two things together. However, I think most people did (perhaps, I didn't care enough about the plot to give it any deep thought), so then I ask, what the fuck is the point? It's really just a movie about really, really dirty people shooting at each other for unknown reasons.