Upcoming Guest Schedule and a Message From Will Sean Podcast?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 2, 2012 by Will Link
May is an exciting month for Will Sean Podcast? Upcoming guests include:
 
From the hit television series Revenge, Nick Wechsler
 
Writer of the film Grandma’s Boy, Barry Wernick
 
Star of the new web series Horrible People, Kristhy Morales
 
Brian Swanson of the karaoke comedy duo, FoxSwan
 
And it all starts this weekend with Freddy Boutros helping us out on our Summer Movie Preview.
 
We want to take a moment to thank you all for listening and supporting the show. But we need your help to make the podcast grow. If you enjoy the show please please tell a friend. Send them the link and ask them to listen. A podcast is a tough sell. It’s not like a youtube video which you can watch in 5 minutes. You need to download it and listen for 45 minutes. That’s why we need you, our friends and listeners to recommend it to others. If it’s vouched for by you people are far more likely to give it a shot.

 
So take a minute and tweet about it. Post our links up on Facebook. We appreciate anything you can do. Thanks so much:
 
Download & Subscribe at the itunes store: http://itun.es/iPD7xh
 
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Initial Hunger Games Thoughts at 4AM

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2012 by Will Link

It’s nearly 4am and I have just returned from a midnight showing of The Hunger Games. I saw it at the Cinerama Dome and Gary Ross was even there to introduce it. To get right to it, I really liked it. They did a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the book. That’s all you can ever hope for when you see an adaptation of a favorite novel. But I do think they exceeded that hope.

 I saw the film with a group of friends and we were all pumped up on our way into the theater. Then when the film started I was reminded of something. The Hunger Games is a grim and brutal story of a dystopian society. It’s not fun like a super hero film or even Harry Potter. The opening handheld scenes of a rundown, poor, District 12 threw you into this harsh reality with great effect. Overall the violence was handled well. The career tributes from Districts 1 and 2 were properly intimidating. They don’t hold back on children being stabbed or having their necks snapped. The violence feels real, as it should. After all this is a brutal world and to hold back would do the emotions of Katniss a disservice.

The books are told first person and Gary Ross along with a terrific Jennifer Lawrence help put you into Katniss head space. They give us just enough to let us know what she’s thinking without spelling it out. There are times in the arena where it felt a little rushed. Small details that might only bother a fan of the book. I look forward to talking to people who haven’t read it to see how they feel. One plus is the film plays up the reality television aspect more. This violence as entertainment. We get glimpses of how the arena is run. How people react to the tributes while watching at home. Its great stuff we didn’t get to see in the book.

That’s all for now. I’ve been up nearly 24 hours and need to get some rest. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts in the morning.

Pod & Tweet

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2012 by Will Link

So I don’t post here as much as I should. And I swear I will try and do so more often.However in case you didn’t know, I suddenly do have more of an online presence.

First of all I’m on twitter. It’s a little easier to get my thoughts out that way then writing a huge blog for everything. Quick movie reviews and things like that. I’m having fun with it. Follow me at:

@TheRealWillLink

And the bigger news is me and my buddy Sean have started a podcast. We will be recording a new one every 7 to 10 days. There will be guests There will be fun. Subscribe to us on iTunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/will-sean-podcast/id497273306

 

 

 

 

 

Extremely Mawkish & Incredibly Maudlin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 9, 2012 by Will Link

I have seen every film nominated for best picture since 1992. The last film I haven’t seen that was nominated was Howard’s End. This means I’ve had to sit through some pretty rough stuff just on principal. The Blind Side. The English Patient.  And of course Crash. But I loved all those film when compared to Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

People often say to me “you seem to like every film you see.” Well I have become a savvy film viewer over the years. I pretty much know what I’m going to like and dislike ahead of time. Since I am not a paid critic I can afford to avoid the films I think look awful. Like say Jack and Jill. Or The Green Lantern. Occasionally there is a critically acclaimed film that my fellow cinephiles love that I avoid because I know it’s not for me. The Tree of Life was one such film. Into the Wild was another. I agree these films have their merits, for example they look gorgeous.  However I find them heavy handed. Tree of Life isn’t as deep as you think it is. Into the Wild is about someone who is selfish portrayed in a way meant to feel liberating. I knew I wasn’t going to like Extremely Loud…a film that didn’t even have the benefit of being critically acclaimed. As I popped in my screener I said “I bet it’s not going to be awful. I bet it’s going to be just average.” How this film is nominated for anything I will never know.

9/11 was the day (at least in my lifetime) that brought this nation closer together than ever before. I have distinctive memories of where I was. What I was feeling. We all do. For a film about such a unifying event it’s completely frustrating to have to view it through the alienating eyes of a child. An autistic child. His world is not fantastical enough to be memorizing nor is it real enough to be emotional. You are forced to follow him on his mission. A mission you barely understand because he is a terrible narrator.  It’s a goal set forth by the tiniest of coincidences. It would have been better served and more proactive if his father had left this key for him. Instead we follow a child around for hours as he gets nowhere. We meet people we only half get to know thus half get to care about. Even Oscar nominee Max Von Sydow isn’t given true closure. Most of his scenes in fact were in the trailer. If the idea is to make you feel like you too have aspergers then congratulations Stephen Daldry.

I actually found the 9/11 imagery semi offensive. An image of Tom Hanks falling from the building. Overly dramatic slow motion shots of a body in air. It’s not even sentimentality. It’s artsy spectacle.  Without hyperbole I will tell you United 93 is one of the greatest films ever made. Watching that realistic account of 9/11 you were thrust into that moment. As air traffic controllers gasped – you remembered how you gasped when the towers fell. It was cathartic. Greengrass put you on that plane. Made you ask if you would be as brave as those men and women.  You portray an event of this magnitude with truth. You portray it with honor. I don’t know who Extremely Loud is for. I don’t know whose 9/11 it is.

Immediate Oscar Thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24, 2012 by Will Link

Well…the nominations are out and as far as I’m concerned they continue what has been a very schizophrenic awards season. There were more than a few surprises, which always makes for a fun awards show. Here is my early thoughts and analysis:

Best Actor
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

The surprise here has to be Bichir. Yes, he got the SAG nomination but I really didn’t think enough people actually saw the film. I had expected Michael Fassbender who gave a brave, exposed performance in Shame. He had been in so many films this year I expected the Academy to acknowledge him in some way. DiCaprio was also an odd man out. All week you had heard Oldman could squeeze in here. Going into this morning Oldman was probably the best actor working today never before nominated so it’s impossible to not be happy for him. But Tinker Tailor is a slog of a film. Smart money is on Clooney. He carries The Descendants. He gives one of his most emotional unglamorous performances, I’m sure he will be rewarded for it.

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

This is a two woman race between Streep and Davis. I am actually giving Davis the slight edge. As much beloved as Streep is, Iron Lady is a stinker. The Help however is charming and beloved. I think that will help Davis to victory. Mara was the slight surprise. She was amazing in Dragon Tattoo, a very physical and emotionally demanding part. I’m happy to see her here. I thought her nomination meant there’d be more Dragon love…which was not the case. But her nomination comes at Tilda Swinton’s expense. Tilda gave the year’s very best performance in We Need To Talk About Kevin, so naturally she wasn’t nominated.

Best Supporting Actor 
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners 
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Very disappointed not to see Albert Brooks nominated for Drive, my favorite film of the year. Such a cold vicious performance, in a cold stylistic film must not have appealed to the voters. Nolte is a semi surprise but deserved. I honestly don’t get the praise Jonah Hill has been receiving for Moneyball. I feel like he’s just been able to climb aboard a wave of love for that film. None of this matters – Plummer in a cake walk.

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help 

Clearly this is Spencer’s to lose. I feel her only real competition is McCarthy, whose role in the end was probably too broad. But both The Help and Bridesmaids were huge hits and the Academy may choose to honor them in this category. Personally I will be hopelessly pulling for Bejo who lit up the screen in The Artist.

Best Original Screenplay

“The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
“Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
“Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
“A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhad

This category always has some surprises and Margin Call is the big one here. It beat out both former winner Diablo Cody for Young Adult, a film that must have been too bitter a pill for voters, and the heartfelt and funny 50/50. I had hoped to see Will Reiser’s name called since making a comedy about cancer that isn’t too schmaltzy is a hard feat to pull off. Very excited for A Separation’s nomination here. The way its story unfolds is amazing. I think it should be the favorite for best foreign film – however as we all know the favorite in that category doesn’t always win. This is Woody’s to lose. Midnight in Paris is up there with some of his finest work and it’s been a long time since this master was honored.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Jim Rash & Nat Faxon, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo 
George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Aaron Sorkin & Steven Zaillian, Moneyball 
Peter Straughan & Bridget O’Connor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Clooney nominated for screenplay as well was a bit of a surprise. I expected The Help again to be nominated here. Beloved book, hit film. Sorkin won last year and Moneyball is no The Social Network. I think Payne will win his second Oscar in this category.

 Animated Feature Film

“A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
“Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
“Kung Fu Panda 2″ Jennifer Yuh Nelson
“Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
“Rango” Gore Verbinski

No Tin Tin has to be a big blow to Spielberg. I’m not going to lie…I have no idea what A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita are. I would guess in this field Rango is the one to beat. A fun film that aped a lot of great movie tropes and moments. Plus it looked fantastic.

Directing  

“The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” Alexander Payne
“Hugo” Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

I don’t drink the Malick kool-aide like a lot of my fellow cinephiles. I think his films aren’t as deep as people think.  People prescribe meaning to something that isn’t there. But God damn they look fantastic. After hearing Mara’s name called for actress I expected the Academy to follow the DGA and nominate Fincher. I also thought Spielberg might hear his name called because, well, he’s Steven Spielberg. But despite the best picture nomination War Horse was dead on arrival this awards season. The Artist and The Descendants are the favored best picture winners so you would expect Payne and Hazanavicius to duke it out. But with two legends nominated I wouldn’t be so sure. Woody’s award will be screenplay. But Scorsese made a wonderful film about his love of film. I think he’s got a real shot  at his second Oscar. Things will be clearer after the DGA winners are announced.

Best Picture

“The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
“The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
“The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
“Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
“Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
“Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
“The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
“War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producer

With its Globes and PGA win the favorite should be The Artist. In my opinion it’s the best of this bunch. It’s a cliché to say, it’s “why we love movies”…but it is. The romanticization of the era is a character in this film. It oozes charm. To me the idea of it being a silent movie is not a gimmick. It’s a brilliant form of storytelling that truly helps us connect with the characters. What they are going through and the times they live in. In a year of films about nostalgia The Artist was my favorite.  It is the favorite to win…but will the Academy voters be turned off by a silent film? A silent film hasn’t won since the very first ceremony when Wings took home best picture. Not that there have been that many opportunities for one to win.  But let’s not count out The Descendants. Ultimately I think it’s too small a film to win best picture. Acting and screenplay will be its awards. But for weeks I’ve been saying the dark horse is The Help. Not getting a screenplay, directing and the always necessary editing nomination means it shouldn’t have a shot. However it’s about race, a subject voters love. If The Descendants is too small and The Artist to silent then The Help could still benefit from the split vote.

As magical as Hugo and Midnight in Paris are (two more nostalgia driven films) I don’t see either of them pulling off an upset. Hugo did receive the most nominations with eleven but The Artist was close behind with ten. I was kind of surprised that nine pictures got nominated. I only assume it’s because this year is so schizophrenic people didn’t know which way to vote. Moneyball’s reward is its nomination. War Horse was lucky enough to sneak in there. You have to thank its technical nominations for that. After all it’s beautifully shot by nominee Janusz Kaminski and the score by double nominee John Williams (for Tin Tin too) are the best things about the film. The Tree of Life is too divisive and artsy to win. However even as much as I’m a Tree of Life hater Emmanuel Lubezki must win cinematography.

And finally there’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I should have known this poorly reviewed Scott Rudin produced, Stephen Daldry directed film would find a way to sneak in here. I really thought it arrived too late to the Awards season. When you saw that there would be nine nominees I assumed Dragon Tattoo had made the cut. Or possibly the well deserving Bridesmaids. I naively felt that with nine nominations comedy would get honored. I knew my beloved Drive didn’t stand a chance; in fact it got only one nomination for sound editing. But I didn’t see Extremely Close coming.

So that’s it for this year’s nominations. I’ll make some more solid picks as we get closer to the date. This is just my “why the hell am I awake right now” analysis. Some quick notes. Only two songs nominated? I’ll be pulling for The Muppets. Plus it will be fun to see a member of Flight of the Concords get an Oscar. And only two high profile documentaries were nominated Paradise Lost 3, which I assume is an early favorite, and Pina. With two great documentaries this year I guess we have to assume Werner Herzog is never going to win this category.

Top 10 Films of 2011

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 31, 2011 by Will Link
Considering the last time I posted a blog was last year for my top films list, it shows how my grand idea of blogging didn’t really take. Between working on multiple scripts, working multiple jobs and trying to maintain some sort of social/sex life…blogging fell by the waste side. Maybe I’ll return to it. But for now here is my list of the best films from 2011!
Another year has passed and another list of my favorite films needs to be made. This year at times was a bit of a slog. Even the Pixar film was meh, and for the first time in three years Pixar didn’t crack the list. But as always great films rise to the top. My favorites of this year I will hold up against any year. As was my trend last year, smaller films dominated.This year was all about two things, nostalgia and balls. There were films that captured the past with both substance and style. There were ballsy films that forced us into out there and sometimes ugly situations. 2012 is already looking like a year of potentially great studio films with The Hobbit, Dark Knight and Prometheus all getting me excited. We will see if my recent trend is reversed. But as for now:

Top Ten Films Of 2011
1. Drive

No film excited me from start to finish like Drive. I’ve seen it three times and I can’t wait to see it a fourth. It’s Taxi Driver with the Driver attempting to save a woman he loves and become a real human being…and a real hero. It’s about a man who learns to truly feel for the first time. But this quest unleashes a violence that we’re shown in a slow burn. Although themes of humanity abound, the style is part of the substance. It screams thriller of the 1980’s, the kind of smart action we don’t see in today’s studio films. It’s visually mysterious and tense. The opening sequence was the most edge of your seat scene of the year. Drive is the best film of 2011.

2. The Artist

In a year of films built around nostalgia The Artist was the most magical. From frame one I had a huge smile on my face and it didn’t leave until the credits rolled. It’s beyond charming…it’s true movie magic. The world of the silent era is perfectly created with homage’s to the films of it’s time. Much like with Drive the style is part of he substance. At its heart the film isn’t just about George Valentin’s fall in the industry, it’s about the industry itself. It’s about the romanticization of old Hollywood.

3. Midnight in Paris

If this was a year about nostalgia of a bygone era than Midnight in Paris was the film to deal with that idea directly. So many films are nostalgic but in this the idea of dreaming and idealizing the past is actually discussed. And in the most magical of ways. The moments involving Hemingway and Dali are some of the funniest Woody Allen has ever written. Much like in Manhattan (in which the opening clearly borrows from) Allen has crafted a love letter to one of the worlds great cities. This is the most inventive and intelligent script of the year. Hopefully we will be seeing (or not seeing) Allen finally accept another Oscar.

4. Young Adult

This is a bitter little film that has the audacity to have us follow an unlikable materialistic, narcissistic and alcoholic writer as she tries to break up the marriage of an old flame. It doesn’t pull punches. Charlize Theron gives a funny and real performance as Mavis Gary and Patton Oswalt is truly touching. This is Jason Reitman’s fourth film and he has become a master of subtle cynicism. I’ve loved all his work and with the exception of Juno, they are all tough pills to swallow. Diablo Cody proves that Juno was in fact no fluke. In the end there is a speech which is both upsetting but also horribly true about the nature of Mavis and ourselves. This is a ballsy film.

5. The Future

Miranda July seems to make films that capture where I am in that moment of my life better than anyone. The Future expresses the idea of being creatively and emotionally stalled in life. It’s bittersweet. It conveys the sad thought of what if we are waiting for something that will never happen. What if we are delaying the inevitable about life? It’s a small film with grand notions. July is wise to feed them to us in sweet inventive ways that on paper sound out there (the stopping of time, the narration of a cat) but end up showing us how cruel and beautiful life can be.

6. We Need To Talk About Kevin

No film this year got under my skin more than We Need To Talk About Kevin*. It’s beyond The Bad Seed. It’s about the fear that every mother must have at some point. What if I hate my child? What if my child hates me? We see the violence coming. We watch as Kevin becomes more and more of a sociopath and much like his mother, are powerless to stop him. A true horror film. Tilda Swinton gives the best performance of the year. There is a scene at a Christmas party in which she allows herself a brief and overdue moment of joy. When it is taken away from her, her face, her whole demeanor becomes as heartbreaking as any emotional change I’ve seen on film.

7. Shame

The other great performance this year was Michael Fassbender in Shame. Steve McQueen is wise to hold the camera for long takes just on Fassbender’s face. It forces us into his head. Makes us him in a sad, disturbing way. This is as good a film about addiction and compulsion as Requiem For A Dream. But Shame is a more human film. Like many of this years best it offers no easy answers. It also has my favorite shot of the year. A desperate/frustrated Fassbender jogging at night in a long sustained tracking shot through the streets of the loneliest Manhattan I’ve ever seen.

8. 50/50

This film surprised and moved me far more than I ever expected. It is sweet without being sappy and funny without being overbearing. Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt give their finest and most genuine performances in a film that explores what friendship truly is. What being there for someone in their darkest moments truly is about. There is more heart in 50/50 than any film I saw this year.
9. Super

There are moments in Super that made me laugh harder than any film this year. Most of them coming from the brilliant Ellen Page who gives one of the most hysterically psychotic performances I have ever seen. But this film has a Travis Bickle hero as well in Rainn Wilson. He gives a deceptively deep performance I wasn’t expecting, making Super about more than just laughs.   

10. The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In is a film that has everything. It’s Frankenstein and Vertigo. It’s a typical beautiful Almodovar melodrama that turns into the strangest mystery I may have seen on film. Not to repeat previous statements but this film gets under your skin and is ballsy as hell. Few times does my mouth actually drop while watching a film. This was one of them.

Special Jury Prize:

X-Men: First Class

I wanted to highlight one last film that didn’t make the cut but was close. X-Men is a big budget action film but it’s also the best super hero story since The Dark Knight. After years of average to awful X-Men films we finally got a story that was about the heart of the franchise. About the civil rights of mutants. About the different approaches of Xavier and Magneto. And most of all about a team…not just Wolverine. At times the story takes a world traveling Bondian approach that is lots of fun. Setting the story in the 60’s, the time of the real civil rights movement, is smart and inspiring. The best tent pole of the year.

*If I were to be honest Dogtooth was the film I saw this year that got under my skin the most. I dreamt about it. I kept rationalizing it over and over in my head. I went from annoyed by it to thinking it’s the smartest film in years. Unfortunately it came out last year. If I had seen it then it could have been my number one, or at least in the conversation. Nevertheless it deserves a shout out.

10 in ‘10

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 17, 2010 by Will Link

So it’s been about a year since I started this blog…and clearly I have failed. For about seven months I was going strong but then I slowed and stopped. I had a lot to say but maybe not enough time or energy to type it. I certainly yelled it at enough people both at work, Sardo’s and on the street corner. It has been an odd year but that is no excuse. They are all odd years. I have failed.

That said I thought of redoing the whole blog for the new year and just making it about the thing most important to me, and thing I feel I am the closet of anything to being an “expert” on, film. Not sure if I’m going to do it but with that in mind I wanted to post my Top 10 Films of 2010!

As this year went on I mentioned aloud that this wasn’t that great a year. Well maybe it was a weak summer that offered only a few above average films, however looking back over the year as a whole I may have to eat my words. This ended up being a good year, so good in fact that making this list has been kind of a nightmare.  The films I am leaving off my list will be at the top of most people’s: The Social Network, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Catfish, 127 Hours, Inception and the hardest to leave off, the taut and thrilling The Town. All fantastic thought and conversation provoking work.

So what the hell is actually on my list?!?

Well when I was blogging I wrote a lot about my love affair with “smaller” films. I’ve always loved these kinds of films; slice of life, movies about the small moments in life in which everything important happen. Where characters discover who they are, fall in love, triumph, fail and so on.  But as the years have gone on I have embraced them more than ever. Maybe it’s because the longer I am in this business the more I realize what a miracle it is any film actually gets made, let alone something so indie minded. It’s with that I give you my number one film of the year…a film I saw way back in January.

1.       Fish Tank

If you haven’t seen it (and chances are you haven’t) it is a must. Katie Jarvis gives as good a debut performance as you will ever see. She is head strong and hostile and seeing how she lives in a London housing project you can understand why. Director Andrea Arnold does an amazing job of portraying and letting us into her world.  As the film progresses we see her start to drop that emotional shield as she begins what is one of the most complicated relationships I have seen on film. It’s with her mother’s new boyfriend, played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender.  He successfully walks the line between charmer and creep – neither of which can fully define him. There is a scene between him and Jarvis, in which the tension between them finally boils over, that is one of the most real and beautifully shots sequences in my recent memory. To me, Fish Tank was the best film of 2010.

2.       Blue Valentine

Staying with the theme of realism in a film, this film featured the truest and most natural relationship I may have ever seen in a film. The realism of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams passion and anger is what probably made the MPAA so scared about the sex scenes – it was so emotional it felt like it had to be real. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking film that asks a question we rarely ask about relationships: How and why is it we can fall out of a love that was so strong?

3.       Toy Story 3

For the third year in a row I find myself about to write how Pixar does everything better. About how they are the pinnacle of modern storytelling and how most live action films can’t come close to capturing the emotion they put on screen. What is so wonderful about Toy Story 3 is how it will play so differently for young and old audiences. For kids it’s a laugh a minute adventure. For adults it’s pure nostalgia, taking us back to the moment when we finally put our toys away, toys that meant as much to us as any possessions we will ever have. How I envy the children of today who watch this film…I can’t wait for them to understand what it is truly about.

4.       Black Swan

One of the most brilliantly maddening and disorienting films I have seen in a long time. Darren Aronofsky is the director of the year. He puts us right in Nina’s (Natalie Portman in by far her best performance) headspace, using amazing cinematography and mirror imagery. As she loses it more and more in her (futile?) search for perfection, we are expertly dragged down into the crazy nightmare with her.

5.       True Grit

There have been some terrific westerns in the last few years but True Grit is the best for sure. It is authentic in look and dialogue but is elevated by the folksy humor that only the Coen Brothers can deliver.  Jeff Bridges is predictably both fantastic and bad-ass but it’s Hailee Steinfeld who steals the show. I was captivated by every line that came out of her mouth. It’s a lead role but I assume she will be campaigned as a supporting Oscar contender. She deserves the statue for sure.

6.       The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Easily the finest procedural/thriller since Zodiac or even Seven. In fact the film’s style very much reminded me of Fincher, which makes him the perfect fit for the American remake (although do we really need a remake of this flawless film).  The film is anchored by what is my favorite performance of the year, Noomi  Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. It is a role powered by strength with just enough vulnerability to make her human and haunted by mystery that is thrilling to see unfold. It also features possible the most satisfying on screen revenge I can remember. Rooney Mara is going to have big shoes to fill.

7.       Tiny Furniture

When I was talking about what a miracle it is that small films get made and find an audience, this was the film I was referring too. It’s a brave film for its star and director Lena Dunham because it truly is her exposing herself. The characters are her and her family, warts and all.  Clearly the film comes from a world, a confusion she understands. Many filmmakers try to aspire to the humor and themes of Woody Allen but Lena Dunham manages to achieve them.

8.       Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

I hate to use a cliché like “the most fun I had at the movies this year” but for me Scott Pilgrim was that. This was a film I underestimated going in but left thinking it was easily the funniest and most creative film of the year. Its clever humor and wit don’t just come from its dialogue and performances but from every aspect of the filmmaking. Sound cues, creative cuts and changes in the aspect ratio all make for an amazingly imaginative experience. However, as much as I love it I could only imagine it would be the number one movie of the year for teenage Will, because the film certainly took me back to that time, place and attitude. It’s destine to become a cult classic.  

9.       Greenberg

I have already written extensively on my love and fear of Greenberg in previous posts (https://willlink.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/greenberg-a-cautionary-tale/) so you should probably check that out for a more detailed view. That said Greenberg is Noah Baumbach’s best film to date and arguably the best Ben Stiller performance. Greta Gerwig also gives a great performance. They are lost people, both lost in different stages of life, who in some weird ways need each other. It’s a film about regret and fear and where life may have gone wrong. Who can’t relate to that?

10.    Life During Wartime

Anyone who knows me should know I could never resist putting a Todd Solondz film on my list…especially if that film is a quasi-sequel to Happiness (one of my favorite films of all time). As always Solondz is able to mix the blackest of humor with an odd poignancy. This film is a meditation on forgiveness and if we are capable of such an act. Like many of the films listed here, Solondz work is true to life…and sometimes life can be a hard thing for us to watch.