Seeing as the year is half-over, the Geneva Convention requires me, as a licensed film critic, to cough up a list of my top five films of the year so far.
Looking over a rough draft of nominees I find that I am indeed a film critic: Elitist, over-exposed, drawn to the overtly weird and dismissive of the truly popular. I doubt that my top five movies combined made what “Marvel’s The Avengers” — a movie I thoroughly enjoyed — earned on any given day in its first two weeks of release.
It’s not that I’m a snob (the list contains two hardcore genre films), it’s just that I see sooooooo many movies that I have a lot to choose from. Besides, snobs don’t wear basketball shorts in public.
Anyway, in ascending order:
5) “The Cabin in the Woods” — The other Joss Whedon movie, besides “Avengers,” turns the horror-sci fi genre upside down, re-imagining a slasher film as if it were choreographed by God. Wildly imaginative.
4) “Moonrise Kingdom” — Wes Anderson went all-in with his precious thing in this fable of ‘tween runaway lovers, and all-in was the only way to go. Brilliantly detailed, filled with sweet quirks and oddball characters, the film is at once innocent and world-weary. At the same time I can see how someone might completely hate this movie. But I didn’t.
3) “The Raid: Redemption” — A SWAT team in Jakarta invades a drug lord’s skyscraper and then gets caught there. Absolutely the craziest fight sequences I have ever seen and a stone chop-socky masterpiece. Director Gareth Evans should become huge.
2) “Damsels in Distress” — Director Whit Stillman’s nutty comedy about well-intentioned but slightly mad girls at a private college actually has some things to say, and luckily the absurdly adorable Greta Gerwig is the person saying most of them. Delightful.
1) “Your Sister’s Sister” — Not only the best film of the year so far, also the most interesting since it was largely improvised. Stars Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass and Rosemarie DeWitt weave a story of betrayal, grief, heartbreak and deception, and yet somehow it all comes off as a charming re-invention of the romantic comedy. The honesty of the performances is intoxicating.
The worst movies of the year so far? Just put all those “Battleship-Dark Shadows-John Carter” hyper-expensive would-be blockbuster messes in a bucket and stir.