1. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises
There are two kinds of moviegoers: those who get stuck on plot points and insist that everything in a film has to be plausible and logical, and those who are ready to suspend their disbelief for the sake of visceral emotion, symbolism and whatnot. I’m generally in the second category and this explains why a movie like this, flawed as it may seem to some, affected me more than any other this year. Who knew a Batman flick would make me cry this much? It also features some awesome action beats and a touch of humor, much of which has to do with the villainous Bane and Catwoman. But what really got to me was the way it utterly broke the Dark Knight down, stripping everything away from him until he has only his will to force him back on his feet and out of a deep, deep hole… That just inspires the hell out of me, man.
2. Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master
The latest masterpiece from PTA is an hypnotic, slightly surreal journey into the human mind, anchored by stunning performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
3. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers
I actually called it “the best goddamn superhero flick ever made” when I saw it, and it’s still kinda true, even though I prefer the latest Batman for psychological, emotional and symbolic reasons. Hulk Smash!
4. David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis
A darkly satirical, ultimately oddly moving character study of a not only functional but spectacularly successful sociopath, played surprisingly effectively by Robert Pattinson.
5. Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire
Soderbergh also directed the very enjoyable “Magic Mike” this year, but it’s this slick, sly spy thriller starring the super badass Gina Carano that most thrilled me.
6. Rafaël Ouellet’s Camion
A finely written and directed “hang-out movie” that’s all about spending time with some truly wonderful characters, engagingly played by Julien Poulin, Patrice Dubois and Stéphane Breton.
7. Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild
I adored it for the way it makes the ordinary feels extraordinary, with magic and lyricism and emotion pouring out of every frame… It’s been a while since a movie made me cry this much, in ways I can’t quite put into words.
8. Rian Johnson’s Looper
Here’s a brilliant sci-fi flick that’s at once relatively small-scaled in terms of fireworks, but that’s downright epic when it comes to ideas.
9. Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle
This second Quebec feature on my list feels both scary-real and fantastical, not unlike “Apocalypse Now”, thanks to the hallucinatory, mythical quality of the storytelling and the striking imagery.
10. Simon West’s The Expendables 2
It brings back everything that was good about the first movie and makes it truly great, then it adds a whole bunch of extra awesome on top of it. As a diehard 80s Hollywood action movie fan, I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I didn’t include this flick here.