#11: Four Lions
While I may not have caught this little bit of surreal outrageousness at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, I sure am glad to have seen it now. All you need to know is that a hapless quartet of British Jihadists dream of becoming the next big terrorists. This also includes a trip to boot camp. You may ask yourself why you’re laughing at all as everything from crows to sheep to the wannabes themselves start to go boom, but it’s a true tour de force all in the name of farce and satire and never lets up. This movie made me laugh hard and even think hard as ideology gets caught in the crosshairs and co-writer/director Christopher Morris shows Dinner for Schmucks how it’s done.
Admittedly, dragons have always interested me for some reason or another. While I may not be a fan of say Dragonheart, I found Reign of Fire to be somewhat of a guilty pleasure and at some point I plan to dive into the Temeraire novels. If any movie was best seen on IMAX and in 3D this year it was How to Train Your Dragon. With its simple story of a boy and his “beast,” leave it to the directors who brought us the misunderstood Lilo & Stitch to bring us a heartwarming tale about a finding yourself with a period-perfect version of man’s best friend and give DreamWorks a film that finally gives Pixar a run for their money.
#9: True Grit
This was the movie I had waited for all year long. And for a good 100 minutes it surpassed every bit of my expectations. And then came along the film’s cold shoulder of an ending. While the Coen Brothers have been anti-climactic before (Burn After Reading, A Serious Man and even their Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men), here’s a story so simple that there’s no excuse for such a lackluster ending. It’s almost as if they wanted to keep the runtime lean enough that they totally skipped out on what should have been a far more emotional ending moving this one higher on the list. Alas, leave it to source material to not translate as well as you’d expect and this is what we’re left with. A Best Picture nod is surely in the ranks as well as for Best Adapted Screenplay and hopefully something for little Hailee Steinfeld but unfortunately I foresee no wins here. Perhaps the story itself is now “too old and too fat?”