3. The Brothers Bloom. Here is a con movie that is much more than the con — it is about love, life, the funny things that happen to them. This movie has it all — drama, comedy, action, explosions, and an immense amount of heart. It goes in unexpected directions, and reaches the only conclusion it can. It will have an emotional impact as it ably shifts from the lighthearted to the dark and serious throughout. Writer/director Rian Johnson has knocked another one out of the park. By taking the familiar and putting a unique spin on the elements he has crafted a story that deserves to be seen. Not only that, he has a wonderful visual style with interesting camera angles, transitions, and cuts. His sense of pacing is spot on, and there is never a moment where you are left to get bored. The man has immense talent and I look forward to whatever he has to offer next.
4. Coraline. Henry Selick has crafted a film that transcends what might traditionally be called a kids' film. It is a movie that offers up a dark fantasy nightmare for children that tempers its threat with an empowering heroine. It is a story that anyone can identify with, and is dealt with using an intelligence that does not pander to children nor does it talk down to them. It deals with the material with a maturity that belies the mainstream view of it as a kids' film. It doesn't hurt that the source material is a story by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Stardust, NeverWhere, Mirrormask).
5. Watchmen. Based on the graphic novel, which was said to be unfilmable, Watchmen arrived amid great hype earlier this year. When you look at it on paper, the plot seems to be a little conventional. Fortunately, the story is much more layered and complex than I am able to do justice here. This is a film that eschews standards of action and character development in favor of developing a world that exists in the gray area between good and evil, where motives and methods play both sides of the fence in the service of what may or may not be the greater good. There are many layers to peel through on the narrative side, but it is also an absolute visual feast. Definitely going to look good on Blu-ray.