Saturday, August 30, 2014


So, the last years on this life list of which movies impacted me the most in a given year (with the help of google etc):

2003—LOST IN TRANSLATION (There is something so poignant about this film it seemed almost revolutionary, in an understated way, when I first saw it in a theater...mostly, I suspect, because of the collaboration between Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and the writer/director Sofia Coppola, all of whom seem masters of understatement and the subtleties of emotional privacy, if that makes sense...all I can say is I was so moved by this film I almost cried at the end...the sense of loss and yet fulfillment was, to me,'s the filmmaker's masterpiece, to my mind, and one of Murray's and Johansson's best as well (which is saying a lot, since just that year alone Johansson made GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING and has continued to give impressive performances in every film she's in, as does Murray)...

2004—NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE (What a pleasant surprise this movie was with its up-to-date acceptance of diversity, not just of culture and so-called "race" but of personality and outer and inner lives...another poignant "independent" flick that reaffirmed how far we've come since the years at the beginning of this life long list...I was moved by that...)

2005—BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (Heath Ledger's performance in this film was historic, for me, as I wrestled with what I saw as its failings right up until almost the ending scene, when without expecting it the tears flowed and I realized the impact his performance ultimately had on about the changes in our society and the movies that reflect it since this list began in 1942!...)

2006—ONCE (along with that year's THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY—an historical drama capturing the realities of the fight for Ireland's independence and the civil war that followed—ONCE brought the whole fascination with Ireland that began around the time of THE COMMITMENTS and the beginnings of The Celtic Tiger to its peak, with a realism that was only matched by the end of that whole Celtic Tiger economic boom...another poignant love story (both films actually) that left me feeling more like my own romantic experiences have than the usual movie versions...)

2007—ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (maybe it's just me, but this fictional account of the period we usually call "the 'sixties" as told by the lyrics and music of The Beatles, reinterpreted by an incredibly talented cast, hit me as powerfully as having lived through it did...for my taste the most realistic take on what that time was about than any other fictional version of it...still moves me every time I catch it...)

2008—SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (The combination of Brit filmmaking with a Bollywood flare and classic Hollywood story made this movie so popular, but for me it was simply seeing smarts and sensitivity rewarded in a way I never quite had before, as the economic and war news was the worst it had been in years and my own life seemed on the decline (single again, post cancer operation, pre-brain operation, etc.) this was just the thing I needed to regenerate my natural optimism...which was abetted by two darker but no less satisfying "comedies"—IN BRUGES and BURN AFTER READING...)

2009—AMERICAN VIOLET (in some ways the antidote to that year's seemingly most impactful flick, PRECIOUS, as it too focused on the impact of "race" and racism and poverty and power etc. and too had some of the best performances of the year...only AMERICAN VIOLET disappeared seemingly without a trace despite the ways in which it impressed and impacted me....)

2010—WINTER'S BONE (along with Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence has never given a performance on film I wasn't impressed with, and this was her first, for me, which blew me away, along with the story and the film's almost documentary realism...this one got into my soul...)

2011—SUPER 8 (which I saw with my oldest son who identified not just with the era the story is set in, 1979, when he was the age of the young boys in this flick, but also with the technique(s) used to make the film, paying homage to and echoing the technical tropes of that time as well, a surprisingly perfect film that also connected me to my oldest son's childhood in ways my raising him alone at that earlier time could not have...)

2012—SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (this movie unexpectedly helped me to understand a lot of things I was trying to, including the behavior of others, in ways even the filmmakers couldn't have predicted...and once again Jennifer Lawrence steals the show quite satisfactorily...and there I was, just like when I was a boy at the beginning of this list getting crushes on movie actresses...)

2013—12 YEARS A SLAVE (at last, a film to finally correct not just the blatant revisionist "history" of Hollywood Civil War classics like GONE WITH THE WIND, but almost every Western (i.e. "cowboy" movie) of my boyhood where Southern men were almost always portrayed as upholders of a just and honorable cause in which all the men were gentlemen and brave and all that revisionist post-Reconstruction jive created to soothe the wounds of the losers in a fight over nothing honorable at all, unless you're like some white Southerners continue to be, nostalgic for slavery!...12 YEARS A SLAVE isn't perfect, but it's close...and tells one true story of the days of Southern slavery that cannot be misinterpreted or denied...)

(Well, that's it, a pretty comprehensive listing of movies in each year of my life that impacted me the most that year...more will be revealed....)


Bob said...

Enjoyed your list and I spotted a few films I've never seen which I can add to my "to see" list. That was a lot of work, fella!

I was pleased to see some films that had also meant a lot to me, such as "Darling."

Although I know your choices must have been difficult but one film that moved me greatly and does to this day is "The Pawnbroker" from 1964/65.

Thanks for compiling this very useful list.


Lally said...

you're right Bob...and THE PAWNBROKER certainly had an impact...glad you too dug DARLING which I haven't seen in decades but would love to see if it still effects me...

AlamedaTom said...

Vote for Pedro, baby.

~ Willy