1. The Tree of Life– Terrence Malick’s epic tone poem weaves in and out of the life of a typical American family in 1950s Texas, zig-zagging between the creation of the universe and the afterlife in the process. By placing the location of his own childhood at the center of these celestial events, he puts a very personal spin on his warring perceptions of creation; the way of nature and the way of grace. As his camera weaves in and out of the O’Brien family’s lives (a three son household run by Brad Pitt’s nature and Jessica Chastain’s grace), the element of visual improvisation makes their everyday life and afterlife beautiful. Even if you hated it, you’ll never forget it. Read our review.
2. Certified Copy- Unexpected in every way, the romance film by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami follows two strangers as they meet up in Tuscany one afternoon and divulge into their passionate opinions on art, originality, philosophy and love. Over the course of a single afternoon, their relationship takes twists and turns, leaving the audience in awe of the puzzle laid out before them and clinging to the aesthetic beauty of its settings and characters to reveal clues. Sophisticated filmmaking technique brilliantly interlaces heavy academic, multilingual conversation with a flowing narrative to sculpt this as one of the most unique and thought-provoking films of the year. Read our review.
Margin Call Directed by: J.C. Chandor Written by: J.C. Chandor (screenplay) Starring: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Paul Bettany
Margin Call, along with Melancholia, are two movies that are helping reshape the distribution model of otherwise-limited release films. With the help of outlets like Amazon, iTunes and other VOD (Video On Demand, get used to it) services, they are reaching audiences that arguably would never have seen them otherwise.
Of course, it helps that both of these films are exceptionally well done. Margin Call is about the beginning of the financial crisis, examining the movers and shakers responsible for kick-starting it. Its keen examination of this world driven purely by gambling is shot in smooth, sophisticated darkness. Every board room is glossed over, though every frame conveys a sense of dread and impending doom (The same can be said of Melancholia).