The Descendants – Alexander Payne
Drive – Nicolas Winding Refn
Incendies – Denis Villeneuve
Weekend – Andrew Haigh
Martha Marcy May Marlene – Sean Durkin
Terri – Azazel Jacobs
Shame – Steve McQueen
Take Shelter – Jeff Nichols
Rango – Gore Verbinski
Meek’s Cutoff – Kelly Reichardt
It took two screenings for me to realize that The Descendants was one of the two or three best movies of the year, and that Martha Marcy May Marlene wasn’t.
If they were released in 2011, when the bulk of their theatrical run occurred, Mike Leigh’s Another Year and Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine would have been on the list.
Just outside my top 10 are four excellent documentaries: Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World; Richard Press’ Bill Cunningham New York; Carl Colby’s The Man Nobody Knew; and Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss.
Other movies I rated highly: Melancholia; 50/50; Margin Call; Warrior; The Debt; Nostalgia for the Light; Source Code; Of Gods and Men; Win Win; The Illusionist; Bobby Fischer Against the World; The Tree of Life; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; A Dangerous Method; Tabloid; Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest; The Black Power Mixtape 1967-75; Certified Copy; J. Edgar; Crazy, Stupid, Love; Even the Rain; The Four Times (Le Quattro Volte); Super 8.
Memorable performances: Shailene Woodley in The Descendants; Albert Brooks and Ron Perelman in Drive; Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene; Michael Fassbender in Shame; John C. Reilly in Terri and Cedar Rapids; Michael Shannon in Take Shelter (and Boardwalk Empire); Kevin Spacey in Margin Call; Charlize Theron in Young Adult; Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Ides of March; and my pal David Carr in Page One: Inside the New York Times.