Seeing as how I've become lazy with my reviewing lately, I feel it may be time to start a little writing again. Only, this time, it will be making a list. To avoid confusion, I feel I should explain that the title of this post is slightly misleading. I did not include any movies from 2007 on this list, though movies from November onward would technically fit within that range. I just said "5 years" because it looks better than "2008 - present".
So, with that out of the way, my list can move forward. But first, an obligatory picture of a film reel.
Wasn't that nice? Very professional-looking, I know. And now, because I can't think of any other ways to delay the inevitable, here's the first entry on my list:
#10 - Let The Right One In
Directed by Tomas Alfredsson
In all honesty, this movie could be higher on this list and I wouldn't really be able to make any good arguments why it shouldn't be. The performances from the two young lead actors are excellent, and amongst the best child performances I've ever seen. The largely dramatic, touching presentation of the story makes for a surprisingly personable and effective movie, and though I feel it is often miscategorized as a horror film, I do think it's one of, if not the best, vampire movies ever made.
#9 - The Raid: Redemption
Directed by Gareth Evans
I know most people are probably sick of me talking about this movie by now, but it's hard for me not to gush over an action movie that's this entertaining. Wall-to-wall action from start to finish, and it somehow never gets boring. I wouldn't even be able to call this a guilty pleasure, because I can't see how anyone could ever feel guilty for loving this movie. Genuinely one of the most thoroughly entertaining movies I've ever seen, and unless something magical happens sometime over the next couple months, almost assuredly my #1 movie of 2012.
#8 - Drive
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Upon first viewing, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit -- but that was it. After watching it a second time, I began to understand why people loved it so much, and every viewing since has been anything but a waste of time. Great performances from Gosling, Mulligan, Brooks, Cranston, and Perlman, a unique soundtrack, and an interesting story very similar to (and probably influenced by, though I don't care to do the research to verify it at the moment) the 1978 film 'The Driver', this is a rare brand of movie that has found the perfect balance between style and substance, subtlety and severity, without missing a beat. Any time a movie improves upon repeat viewings, you know it must be special.
#7 - The Artist
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Though the idea of the movie is basically nothing more than a retelling of A Star Is Born done as a traditional silent film, the preciseness and emotional resonance of this movie make it much more than how it looks on paper. Jean Dujardin is the main selling point of this film, giving one of the most effective performances I've ever seen, bringing forth a range of emotions few actors could ever pull off. I know I went into greater detail on this on my year-end "best of 2011" list, but after a whole year, I still only have great things to say about this movie. I just honestly find this movie surprising, powerful, and wonderful in every way. Truly remarkable.
#6 - Fantastic Mr. Fox
Directed by Wes Anderson
Being a fan of stop-motion animation (again, this is something I've made quite clear in the past) and Wes Anderson, the combination of the two makes for one of the most original, enjoyable movies of recent years. I've probably watched it at least a half dozen times at this point, and it never loses its luster. The animation is wonderful, the voice cast is tremendous, and the writing has all the wit and charm of Anderson's finest works. This movie is... fantastic.
#5 - Paranormal Activity
Directed by Oren Peli
I can almost already hear the booing as I type this, but I don't care. Though the sequels haven't even come close to the effectiveness of this first movie, I find it hard to deny how incredible of a horror movie this is. I still view it as one of my all-time favorite horror movies after several viewings. I generally like found footage movies (up until 2012, which has produced several of the worst movies I've seen all year), and though this isn't even close to being the first, it's still probably the best. Clever, well-executed, and a testament to the value of suspense in a horror film. This is about as good as the genre gets.
#4 - The Dark Knight
Directed by Christopher Nolan
If it weren't for Maggie Gyllenhaal, this would probably be even higher on this list, but not even force of evil of that magnitude could keep this out of my list. This movie may lack the depth and development that could be found in the other two parts of Nolan's Batman trilogy, but features the single best thing about any of them: Heath Ledger. Ledger's take on The Joker is one of the most iconic movie performances of all-time, and that paired with the incredible effects and structure of the film's action scenes makes for one of the most enthralling movies of recent years, and easily the best in the recent influx of dark superhero movies.
#3 - Midnight In Paris
Directed by Woody Allen
When I want to be instantly put in a good mood, this is a movie that never fails me. Woody Allen is one of the all-time great screenwriters and directors, and in my humble opinion, this is about as good as he gets. Though when I made my year-end countdown last year, I didn't put this as my #1, I almost instantly regretted not having done so. Everything from the story, characters, acting, set design, and music is just fantastic. This has got to have one of the greatest casts in film history, and seeing all these famous figures from the past brought to life by them is truly wonderful. Funny, charming, creative, and completely lovable.
#2 - The Social Network
Directed by David Fincher
When it comes to screenwriting and editing, this is one of the greatest movies ever made. Ever since I first saw it 2 years ago, I've been completely enamored by how brilliantly-executed this movie was. When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded like a bad idea for a movie. When I saw that Jesse Eisenberg was set to star in it, my expectations lowered. Even seeing the trailer, I thought it looked like a blah movie. But I was so wrong. I often forget how much I love this movie until I watch it again, but this is truly an instant classic.
#1 - 127 Hours
Directed by Danny Boyle
Everything about this movie is amazing. James Franco delivers one of the greatest performances I've ever seen, and under the brilliant direction of Danny Boyle, it never takes a foul step. The setting is beautiful, but restrictive. the cinematography somehow manages to bring scope and while still giving the feeling of being trapped. Whether or not you enjoy this movie is almost besides the point. This is an experience. I haven't seen another movie like it. Not to mention the brilliantly-edited sequence near the end (a shroud of ambiguity to avoid spoilers) that could easily go down as one of the most disturbing and effective scenes in movie history. I love it. When it comes to movies released in the last 5 years, this is the best.
What comes next, you might ask? I have begun (though not finished) other lists of movies from the last 5 years, including best male/female performances, and best actors/actresses. These four lists will hopefully be arriving soon, so check in every once in a while if you're interested in seeing more!