Hey, everyone! Did you know that every year I keep a running tally and ranking of how much I like every movie I see because apparently I can’t just enjoy anything anymore? I’ve seen ten movies so far this year— here’s a brief update:
Brilliant, loved it, no complaints.
2. Cedar Rapids
Most comedies these days seem content to just be comedies — an hour and a half of people riffing, without a great deal of world-building or visual flair. One of the things I like about director Miguel Arteta (who also directed The Good Girl and Youth in Revolt) is that his comedies feel like real movies, with specific color palettes and senses of weight. Cedar Rapids has a simple premise, but it benefits greatly from rich three-dimensional characters and genuine honest relationships.
3. Tree of Life
Finally, a movie about the entire history of the universe, told in real-time. I found the majority of this movie endlessly boring and indulgent (emphasis on the endlessly), but the parts that worked were so incredibly beautiful and immediate and honest, that it still gets slotted above movies I enjoyed more thoroughly like No Strings Attached. Still, I would have loved it if I felt like those parts were in the service of something a little more interesting than Enter the Void for middle-aged people.
4. No Strings Attached
This movie was a delightful surprise — smart, sweet, and funny — and much much better than its ad campaign made it look. If you’re a fan of good romantic comedies, seek this out. The writer of No Strings Attached, Liz Meriwether, also created the Zooey Deschanel show New Girl which is premiering next fall on Fox and is also very good.
5. Source Code
This movie really botched the ending, but I chose to forgive it by convincing myself that it was actually ambiguous and open to interpretation (even though it definitely wasn’t), and that the lazy, nonsensical, insulting resolution was just one way among many to interpret it. Sure, all signs point to this ending being total complete bullshit, but maybe if you look at it another way, it could maybe not be?
Better than Iron Man 2, not as good as Iron Man 1.
7. Make Believe
This documentary about a teenage magician competition is a lot of fun, full of great hilarious characters, but there isn’t quite as much suspense as there should be for a movie like this, since from the beginning, one of the kids is clearly a much better magician than the rest of them. Still, I don’t want to undersell how fun this is. Not that it’s relevant, but this movie was also much better than Iron Man 2.
8. The Hangover Part II
I think I liked this better than most people, but I’m not sure why. Maybe because I didn’t think the first one was all that great, so I wasn’t disappointed? I found both Hangover movies to be more fun than they are funny. I didn’t really laugh at any of the jokes, but I enjoyed the mystery and adventure inherent in the premise. I know a lot of people are criticizing this movie for biting the first one’s structure beat-for-beat, but that’s really the only thing about the movies that I like. I hear they’re thinking of dropping the premise for the next sequel, but I don’t know how much time I want to spend with these characters outside of a hangover.
9. Win Win
This movie disappointed me, mostly because I’m such a fan of Tom McCarthy’s previous movies, The Visitor, and (especially) The Station Agent. Win Win has elements of what made the other films work, but it’s way too crowded (What is the point of Jeffrey Tambor’s character?) for anything to really get resolved satisfyingly. You could make a whole movie about Melanie Lynskey trying to get her son back, or Bobby Canavale trying to get his life back on track, or Paul Giamatti dealing with the guilt of manipulating the elderly, or you could make all of those movies and none of those movies and call it Win Win.
(Win Win is still better than Iron Man 2.)
10. [IT’S A SECRET]
I saw a movie at an early test screening, but I don’t want to say what it was because it hasn’t been released yet and also it was terrible. Now it’s possible they can still fix a lot of the problems with this movie before they release it (I saw a very rough cut), but I thought it was pretty unsalvageable, so I’ll be surprised if it moves from the bottom of this list. There are problems that can’t be fixed in editing. The story makes no sense, every actor seems like they’re acting in a completely different movie, nobody at any point does anything remotely related to what a human person would do, and also, the title is garbage, so hopefully they can at least change the title. If, when this movie is released, it ends up getting higher than a fifty percent on Rotten Tomatoes, maybe I’ll give it another shot, but I would honestly be shocked if it got higher that twelve. This movie is a mess. It’s worse than Iron Man 2. In my own admittedly subjective opinion, this movie is objectively, empirically, inarguably awful.