Part 1 of this list can be found here.
When I sit down in a cinema, it’s kind of like I’m on a date with that movie (lord knows I’m not on a date with an actual woman). Usually, it’ll be a movie that seems perfectly nice, and I could list all the lovely things about it, but in the end I’d rather just be friends with it. Who can explain or predict these matters of the heart? Sometimes I’ll fall in love with a movie because it gave me what I needed on a personal level at the moment that I watched it. I might see a better movie that year that didn’t offer me as much on that personal level. Loving movies has nothing to do with finding the most accomplished, perfect movies, and everything to do with the particular connection you find with it.
This is why I can’t really bring myself to rank movies. It’s so personal. It just doesn’t make sense as far as how I think about movies. I don’t fully understand why I feel the way I do about anything.
I don’t know why I loved these movies, and I certainly have no idea whether they are the best movies of the year or not. I tried to write a little bit about why I connected with them, but I don’t really understand why I fall in love with the things that I fall in love with.
So it’s in that confused spirit that I offer this second half of the list of 8 movies that I felt like writing about. There is no order.
This movie is about two hearts that move from being closed and frightened to being a little more open and a little bolder, thanks to the honest connection with another human being. Movies about that always move me tremendously because nothing is more terrifying to me than the thought of being emotionally open with another human being. So, even though this film is about a gay romance, I related to the loneliness of the main characters—each of the two men present a front to their friends but eventually allow themselves to be honest with each other. It is so tenderly and believably handled in this film, and it becomes tremendously moving to see how their short romance changes them as people. I suppose that’s supposed to be the potential power of love, so even though their romance was not meant to last, the film as a whole is still quite uplifting.
(Available on Netflix Streaming now)
I’ve only gotten one chance to see this, and that was in March during SXSW, so the film is a bit hazy in my memory. I just remember loving it. It was the perfect thing to see at that moment in my life—something bold, strange, animalistic. The connections between humans and other animals has been of particular interest to me for a long time, and this is a film wryly observes human behavior as if it were the same as observing animals in the wild in a nature documentary. The film makes these observations through its main character, a young woman who is openly confused about how and why people act the way they do, needing to learn how to behave like a normal human being. I guess I related to her confusion, but I just hide it better. It’s also a really funny movie. All I know is that I can’t wait to see it again.
Firstly, I just find this film beautiful. Wonderfully shot in Academy Ratio (square screen), this film gives us a version of the migration to the American west coast that we’ve never seen quite before—dustier, sweatier, more brutal, and more genuinely feminine, meaning that the film is interested in what the Oregon Trail experience was like for women, who had to walk miles in the unforgiving heat while wearing heavy dresses with bonnets, had to take care of the children, and had to wake up at before dawn to prepare breakfast. This is a film that gives the mundanity of the journey and the life-or-death stakes of the situation equal consideration and screen time, and the result is something that feels true to how it must have been. I found it fascinating.
(Available on Netflix Instant now)
THE TREE OF LIFE
This is a very pretty movie, but the magic of Terrence Malick’s films, to me, lies in the editing. This is where his poetry is actually accomplished. My favorite parts of the movie are the unexpected combinations of images and sounds, which is rare to find in cinema, as most movies are typically executed in an obvious way, as far as camera/sound/editing goes. A movie like this is less about executing a story as it is about evoking a feeling. I don’t know why, but my favorite moment of the movie is a brief shot of the camera moving slowly toward a wall as some voice over begins. I think most people wouldn’t even notice the shot, as it’s brief and not connected to anything, but it has some subconscious effect, and felt true to the way I remember things—I remember walls, staircases, breezes from places I’ve been, and they’ll just pop up in my mind sometimes, independent of anything else. Moments like that were actually at the core of my emotional connection to this movie. That’s what made it feel so incredibly personal to me, and when those tiny intimate memories were juxtaposed with the epic, expansive images that are also in the film, I found it to be incredibly moving, and it left me wondering about EVERYTHING for a long while.
(Available on Blu-Ray/DVD now)
I also really liked SUBMARINE, COLD WEATHER, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM and CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP, but I didn’t feel like writing about them.
Everything else I saw this year was GARBAGE. (just kidding y’all, sorta)