#5 Holy Motors (dir. Leos Carax):
Throughout Holy Motors, there are clues and reflexive statements aligning the seemingly random journey to a larger commentary on film as a technologically-based medium going through what is either a growth spurt or the beginnings of a death rattle. At the same time, one can easily read the same cues as a statement on identity. Carax has designed a film that is open to competing interpretations and even enjoyable if no attempts at analysis are made at all. Has there been a more interesting and weird use of motion capture technology this year (or ever)? I think not. To quote a woman who saw the same screening I attended: "can anybody explain to me what THAT was about?"
Holy Motors is currently still in theaters. Hit up Mr. Movie Times for details of when and where.
#4 The Master (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson):
Paul Thomas Anderson doesn't usually swim in the shallow end of the pool when it comes to story. But with The Master, he's produced a film that barely seems interested in its own plot, choosing to devote excessive amounts of time to being present with its characters while slowly abandoning thread after thread of story they inhabit. Luckily, Anderson's provided the audience with two of the more interesting characters he's ever drawn in Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The static created between these two men says more about what The Master truly is than any piece of exposition or connect-the-dots plotting ever could. They are the story.
Read my review of The Master here.
The Master is scheduled for release on DVD & Blu-ray on February 26th.
#3 Wuthering Heights (dir. Andrea Arnold):
Read my review of Wuthering Heights here.
Wuthering Heights is currently unavailable on DVD & Blu-ray in Region 1. It will presumably be release on home video sometime in 2013 in the U.S.
#2 5 Broken Cameras (dir. Emad Burnat & Guy Davidi):
Back in April, I wrote that, "I don't think I've seen a more affecting documentary this year than Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's 5 Broken Cameras." It's still true. There hasn't been a week all year that I haven't thought about this film at least once. I could say a lot more about it, but, really, everyone should just watch it instead.
Read my review of 5 Broken Cameras here.
5 Broken Cameras is scheduled for release on DVD on January 15th.
#1 Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan):
I viewed Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia just before it screened at last year's Portland International Film Festival. I knew that night that there was little chance that I'd encounter another film that could top it in 2012, despite there being ten months left in the year. When writing about it later, I hinted that the plot of the movie is a diversion from what the film is actually about. Most films about a search for a body at night wouldn't stray far from the urgency of that charge. Ceylan's film turns the floodlights directly on the men carrying out the search.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia tells us more about those men than anything related to the crime being investigated. A completely original, utterly patient, and truly satisfying tale. It's a stone-cold masterpiece; one for the ages.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is currently available on DVD & Blu-ray and can be streamed via Netflix.
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