Friday is the deadline for Oscar voters to get their nominations in for this year’s Academy Awards.
To help, when it comes to the year’s best films, Tom is announcing his list of the top ten favorites, in case the Academy is in need of any last minute guidance.
Ready for the countdown? Here we go.
10. Looper & Skyfall
We start off with an action double bill – the ingenious sci-fi time travel movie, “Looper” and one of the few James Bond films worth your time, “Skyfall.” Daniel Craig is quite possibly the best Bond ever.
9. Searching for Sugarman
The first of three documentaries on my Top Ten list, “Searching for Sugarman” recounts the incredible tale of a long forgotten 1960’s Detroit rocker named Rodriguez who, unbeknownst to him, became a superstar in South Africa.
8. Amour & Moonrise Kingdom
Another ingenious, and/or ridiculous, double bill, are these two movies about love at either end of the age spectrum. “Amour” is about a long-married French couple in their eighties, and “Moonrise Kingdom” is Wes Anderson’s quirky take on the innocence of first love, between a nerdy boy scout and an equally earnest and precocious girl. “Amour” opens in theaters later this month, “Moonrise Kingdom” is already out on DVD.
7. The Master
“The Master” is Paul Thomas Anderson’s challenging take on the tricky relationship between a leader and his disciples. The film may have been inspired by the founding of Scientology but is not about Scientology per se. It features outstanding performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and especially Joaquin Phoenix.
6. The Invisible War
“The Invisible War” is an infuriating movie to sit through, a documentary expose of sexual abuse in the military.
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is a beautiful low-budget movie about how a dirt-poor 6-year-old girl and her daddy, surviving a Katrina-like flood in a Louisiana bayou.
4. Life of Pi
“Life of Pi” was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year for me. Based on the trailer, I was anticipating a bunch of new age b-s, frankly. But instead, “Life of Pi” ended up being an absolutely gorgeous fable about storytelling as well as the most stunning 3D since Avatar.
3. Django Unchained
“Django Unchained.” Quentin Tarantino just might be the most exhilarating filmmaker alive. No matter my interest in his obsessions, his obvious enthusiasm for the art of movie making is infectious. “Django Unchained” is a kind of spaghetti western set in the deep South, all about a freed slave seeking vengeance against the white man. The crack about the “D” being silent is typical of the off-beat humor Tarantino brings to this violent story about slavery and revenge.
2. The Imposter
“The Imposter” is a jaw-dropping documentary about a missing 13-year-old Texas boy who inexplicably turns up in Spain four years later. The family is quick to embrace their long-lost boy maybe too quick. It’s an unforgettable movie.
You’ll be hard-pressed to see a more unnerving movie than “Compliance,” a fictional film based on a very disturbing actual event. A man on a phone convinces the manager of a fast food restaurant to interrogate an employee. This interrogation gets quickly out of hand. This is a powerful and unsettling movie about the lengths to which some of us will go to follow orders. “Compliance” is the best movie of the year – if you can stomach it.