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.
The Most Ambitious: The Tree of Life– The goal of Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life is no less than to funnel the creation of the universe through a child. That that child and his family closely resembles the director’s own makes this his most personal film to date as well. With some of the most stunning cinematography you’ll ever see in a movie, Malick captures something elemental in this movie. You may not have liked it, but you’ll never forget it.
The Most Laughs: Bridesmaids–With one of the best comedic ensembles in recent memory, writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumalo paired up with director Paul Feig and producer Judd Apatow to create this hilarious, raunchy comedy about the bond among women. Bridesmaids proves that an ensemble of females can spit vomit and shit just as well as men, which is something Hollywood needed to be force-fed.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes Directed by: Rupert Wyatt Written by: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (screenplay), Pierre Boulle (book) Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, and John Lithgow
Rarely does anything even hinting at the label “philosophical” come close to being produced by a Hollywood studio, especially in the summer. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is such a movie, though. More than half of it is spent meditating on the birth of free will and the nature of violence.
This reboot is actually smart, and it’s propelled by a volcanic lead performance. I’m not talking about James Franco. He plays a fairly typical scientist motivated to cure a disease for personal reasons (his dad has Alzheimer’s). I’m referring to Andy Serkis, who breathes so much life into the role of the ape Caesar that it comes close to touching what he did in the Lord of the Rings films. He shows the true artistry of motion-capture acting.