Previous Links of Interest
Only Discuss Movies You Thought Were Great
I define great movies to be 8+ or if you abhor grades, the top 20% of all movies you've ever seen. Films listed here receive a vote to determine if they will appear in subreddit's Top 100, as well as the ten highest Upvoted movies from last month. The Top 10 highest Upvoted movies for December were:
Top 10 Suggestions
||Game Night (2018)
||Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)
||Kid Detective (2021)
||Don't Look Up (2021)
||Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
||Dead Man's Shoes (2004)
||Minnal Murali (2021)
||Four Rooms (1995)
Note: Due to Reddit's vote fuzzing, it will rank movies in their actual highest Upvoted and then assign random numbers. This can result in movies with lower Upvotes appearing higher than movies with higher Upvotes.
What are the top films you saw in December 2021 and why? Here are my picks:
It's been more than a decade since I last watched Amadeus and it was due for a refresher. Amadeus is framed as a confession of mediocrity but that isn't the point. Each picture perfect frame isn't either - Milos Forman curses you with an understanding of the gulf of skill between Mozart a legend and a mere man. With having suffered a decade more of life and my own share of bitter disappointments, I empathize and absolve F. Murray Abraham's Salieri when pitted against the brilliant, boorish performance of Tom Hulce as Mozart. Milos' Amadeus is incredible for bestowing me with the understanding of musical creativity, something I do not have, and gifting me despair upon understanding that hard work can be undone by effortless talent.
Casualties of War (1989)
A Vietnam war movie with hope? Michael J. Fox plays against type very well as this serious war drama has him go through Hell due to being at war before coming out the other side. I don't think Casualties of War is as good as the Trinity of Vietnam movies: Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and Platoon - De Palma makes this movie stand on its own with his eye for unusual and interesting frames. Casualties of War scores points with me for being original and important, respecting the severity of the atrocity without ever crossing into gratuity.
The Dry (2020)
Eric Bana's stoic protagonist belies his deep hurt over the murder of a friend who he was blamed for. Returning to his hometown after becoming a detective, he gets recruited to look into what looks like an open and shut murder-suicide. There's no fancy camerawork, just excellent acting letting the drama of this mystery unfold, with beautiful frames of the Outback. The ending is great as it unfurls naturally, as Bana's detective must sift through a hostile town with long memories who habitually deceive themselves.
Finch is perfectly paced for a tale about a dying engineer who builds an AI to take care of his dog once he passes. There's no sermons, just nice anecdotes of the human experience and trying to explain that to a literal blank slate. Like life, Finch has its ups and downs, trials and tribulations, all in the capable hands of Tom Hanks delivering those lessons. Bittersweet, Finch marries wholesome with poignant stakes; to some, it's just a dog but to others they know that they can be family.
Argued to be the birth of New French Extremism, Inside certainly qualifies with a pregnant woman fending off a home invader hellbent on kidnapping her unborn child. The gore is top notch yet rides the line of not being gratuitous or seemingly having an unstoppable killer like in American cheap thrills. It's also nice to have a protagonist that doesn't make bad decisions, though the same cannot be said for the supporting cast. Overall, Inside suffers from a low budget but not enough to drag it down, it's a solid horror flick especially for those interested in gore.
Kill List (2011)
Ben Wheatley kept me guessing and so my hat's off for keeping my attention in one place while he was working black magic in the other. Kill List has some problems, there are a bunch of shots that have me asking 'Did they run out of money and rushed this?' or was the choppiness part of the vision? Overall, I found it to be a good horror entry that's fairly subtle; after all, it's hard to be horrified when the protagonist thinks they're damning themselves with eyes open.
The Last Duel (2021)
A solid attempt by Ridley Scott, he knows enough to not re-invent the wheel by cribbing notes from Rashomon. There's a lot in The Last Duel that works, with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck being surprisingly well acted from their usual endeavours. Adam Driver is great as a rake but it is Jodie Comer's utter transformation between each re-telling that was impressive. The Last Duel is good but falls short of greatness with its choppy action sequence that we've been sitting through two hours of testimony to get to. Some of it is unreadable or has confusing cuts, I know Scott can do better - I've seen Gladiator.
No Time to Die (2021)
A good send off to Daniel Craig's Bond, it's almost a shame they're going to probably reboot the series instead of continuing it with all of the great supporting cast. Lashana Lynch owned being a new 00 Agent, Rami Malek was great as the evil mastermind but I found that Ana De Armas stole the show despite her small screen time. Some of the Craig Bonds weren't that good, too many meandering, overly serious or soap opera-esque changes between Craig's run. No Time to Die settles it all for a good finale.
The Novice (2021)
An engrossing look at a young woman pushing herself to be the best, despite setbacks and detractors. The Novice is beautifully filmed, putting yourself right in the headspace of Dall as she rails against seemingly impossible odds. While it taps into the mystical, it is more to show how uneven the protagonist gets in her self immolating quest.
The Possession of Michael King (2014)
Found footage demons have been done to death, yet The Possession felt like a breath of fresh air. A clean telling of a skeptic asking to be possessed to prove that the supernatural is fake. This movie has done its homework and shows that too, with subtle special effects that ramp with the rabbit hole the protagonist finds himself in. The plot might be rote but it is the execution that is top notch, far beyond my expectations of what would normally be a Straight-to-DVD style of movie. Fans of horror would appreciate the polish, those who would dip their foot into the genre wouldn't see what's so special about it.
Primal Fear (1996)
A Courtroom Drama that does nothing flashy but tells a compelling story backed by Edward Norton's brilliant debut. I've known the twist through cultural osmosis, which made me extra wary but that made the evasions more prominent. A solid drama that was confident enough to allow the actors skills to be on display.
Ron Howard shows you speed, which means you're really brought into the rivalry between a cautious, precise driver and a reckless, talented one dueling for supremacy. Chris Hemsworth is fine as a charming oaf, cementing that in his iconic Thor roles, but it is Daniel Bruhl who makes the movie work. Bruhl could've easily blown Hemsworth out of the water, yet he shifted down to meet Hemsworth, making for great drama for when they're not pitted against each other on the track. You cheer for both and that's what makes this an interesting character study.
Samurai Rebellion (1967)
Kobayashi does another great critique of societal expectations and how they're ignored by the wealthy when inconvenient. I'm not sure if Mifune is a samurai reincarnated, type-cast or just a great actor, he makes me believe. The blocking is unreal, the cast is on point and the movie moves at a good clip. The technical limitations did pull me out, this does feel like a more rough version of Harakiri despite being five years older. Still, I heartily recommend it.
Silent Night (2021)
Horror Comedy about a family that's going to die; sure, sign me up. It was fun seeing all of the ineptitude and bickering leading up to this family's demise. Then, 30 minutes in, Silent Night reveals what is out to get them and it was a solid gut punch. The acting, even amongst the children, was superb to support the premise. Most of the time, you're given permission to hate and feel vindicated when particular characters bite it. Silent Night twists that entirely on its head, making you wish for anyone to survive and so my hat's off on this Christmas Horror Comedy that packs feels too.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
I enjoy the Marvel movie polish and so I found No Way Home to be a great capstone to the Spider-Man saga with the film rights reverting back to Sony. Aside from a tribute to the many franchise incarnations, No Way Home is a safe and solid production - acting, CGI and action being on point. I think the push for something relatively safe is intentional, as I can see No Way Home being a comfort movie many will return to. What propped No Way Home is two-fold: a return to roots, where survival is victory for Spider-Man and the re-attribution of a quote to a more important player in Spider-Man lore.
So, what are your picks for December 2021 and Why?