“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I was blown away by this movie. You have the emotionally scarred Lisbeth Salande alongside a defeated Mikael Blomkvist, joining forces to solve a mystery that is set in the harsh wintry weather of Sweden. I love how director David Fincher goes with two different movie styles during the first half of the movie as he switches between the darkness of Lisbeth and the professional world of Mikael Blomkvist and then blends them perfectly together when they finally join forces in the second half. This movie isn’t for the weak of heart. There are scenes that will make you squirm, but the movie doesn’t back down from those moments. And one has to mention Trent Reznor, because his music drives the movie forward.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.“ I am a Harry Potter fan. This movie ends the series in wonderful style. Wizards. Battles. Good vs. Evil. There aren’t any stupid Quidditch-moments. We get to finally say “goodbye” to evil Voldemort. Sometimes life isn’t about having fun, sometimes it is about life and death and this movie takes us on that journey.
“Hugo“. A love story to the beginning of movie making. And along the way we get to watch a story where adults and children learn from each other.
“Bridesmaids.” The funniest movie of the year.
“Midnight in Paris.“ I am not a big Woody Allen fan. I am somewhat embarrassed to say I’ve never seen Annie Hall. I think the most recent Woody Allen movie I saw was ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona,’ which was an okay movie, but nothing fabulous. I figured time had passed him by. Then I started to read these rave reviews about Midnight in Paris. The fact that the movie stared Owen Wilson and Rachael McAdams also helped push me to see this movie. I loved this movie from start to finish. Maybe this is a stupid reason to love a movie, but there is a split second shot of storekeeper Gabrielle during the middle of the movie that is such a wonderfully captured moment that you can’t help but cheer for this movie.
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” Who is the Cold War traitor? I don’t believe you’ll know the answer until the very end. This movie isn’t about special effects and Tom Cruise playing outside the world’s tallest building (I enjoyed Mission: Impossible, by the way), it is about following up on leads and setting up the trap.
“A Separation.” This movie comes to us from Iran. I don’t know about you, but Iran to me is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad making crazy statements and the color green . . . okay, there is so much more one could write in regards to Iran, but let’s focus in on the movie. When you watch this movie, you see individuals similar to the majority of us Americans: not perfect, but hardly evil. I would say no one in this movie is bad (not even the judge who I found was trying to be fair), but circumstances arise where the color gray is expanded way too wide as the characters on screen must protect their own self-interests, which are very important. Is a drama supposed to make you sit on the edge of your seat? This one will.
“Like Crazy.” Road blocks that get in the way of young love. The movie rings true.
“The Help.” This is a movie that is driven by the actresses. Emma Stone. Violet Davis. Bryce Dallas Howard. Octavia Spencer. Jessica Chastain. They create memorable characters.
“X-Men: First Class. ” A movie that deals with the Cuban Missile Crisis? That just seems dated, but this movie isn’t dated.
Those are the movies I’d put on my list if I was casting an Oscar ballot for potential Best Picture nominees. There are, of course, a number of movies that are more likely to get a nomination than the movies I’ve listed. “The Descendants” and “The Artist” are often mentioned. I have nothing against those two movies. They just don’t rank as my top movies. “The Descendants” is an interesting look at a somewhat absent father who now has to be a father to his two daughters while also having to deal with two life changing facts: a) his wife is brain dead and will die; b) his wife was cheating on him. ” The Artist” is a fun flick that takes us back to the silent movie-era and is actually a silent movie. I just feel it is a bit too much fluff and is using its uniqueness to get Oscar buzz. Moneyball shows you how thinking differently can get you results, but I’m not sure that means it deserves a best picture nomination. “War Horse” is a good film that makes you feel like you’re reading a high school history book: this is how life was pre-war, this is how the war impacted civilians, this is how war was in the trenches. And I know that some loved “The Tree of Life,” but I personally hated it. This movie might get a nomination and this will be the one movie on the list that I despise.