It’s the Most Debatable Time of the Year

This is totally awesome. Totally wicked awesome, even. It’s a massive spreadsheet of critics’ top picks for movies this year. I don’t yet understand why some names are in purple and some in blue, but I don’t really care. It’s still fascinating. Out here in the relative boonies, of course, half these movies have yet to arrive, even ones that have already opened elsewhere — and in regular ol’ chain theaters, no less! Atonement, wherefore art the skinny shoulders of Keira Knightley and the beautiful eyes of James McAvoy? Juno, whither she-looks-like-a-rollergirl Diablo Cody’s sassy screenplay and the debates about whether the film’s actually smart and sweet or a certain kind of male fantasy? (Yes, I read that somewhere. No, I can’t remember where.) These aren’t movies we should be waiting on, like the ones with limited release that take their time, dawdling on their way up or down I-5. These should be here by now, and I shouldn’t be facing a weekend of Alvin and the Chipmunks or AVP:R.

Bitch, moan, whine, complain. This is probably the time to take a few steps back and see the things I’ve not yet seen. I totally want to see Enchanted, and I’m not ashamed to say so. (You watch the “That’s How You Know” clip and see if you can get the damn song out of your head.) I’ll probably pass on August Rush despite its pretty leads. But I need to get my hands on Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the apparently flawed and never opened here Sunshine; I need to see some of the things Jason Blair reviewed, especially No Country for Old Men and La Vie En Rose. Time to bump up the number of films I get per month from Netflix, I think. It’s less than two months ’til we have to create our own top tens.

And back to those for a minute. Of the films on the compiled top ten, I’ve seen three, and of those three, two will be nowhere near my top ten: Sweeney Todd, a mediocre muddle of darkness and absurdity that was surprisingly dull for a film with so much spurting blood, and Into the Wild, which felt as if it were trying to present its subject relatively objectively yet failing at nearly every turn. I’m also not sure I fell for Emile Hirsch’s portrayal of Christopher McCandless, though I’ve not been able to pin down quite why.

The third film from that top ten that I’ve seen, though, will doubtless appear in my own: Once. And I’ll keep stewing on my thoughts until the time comes to write about the film again, but in short: You need to see this sweet, plaintive, authentic character/mood/musical piece. It’s like nothing else that came out this year, and it shapes the relationship between film, story and music in a way that I can’t help but utterly love.

The second ten on this list has a lot more films I can get behind: Eastern Promises, yes, absolutely; I will never understand why the (relatively) simplistic, disappointing A History of Violence was better received than this film. I’m Not There. Ratatouille. And The Lives of Others which technically, to my delight, IS a 2007 film, and which should win a handful of other Oscars to go with that Best Foreign Language film win from this year. I’m not kidding.

I’m looking forward to seeing how many of the rest of these I can squeeze in, consider or reconsider before the middle of February. Good times, good times.

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