So I write my top ten list for Metro, I pare it down to the absolute bone so it’s just a few words over the recommended limit, and then they slash it down even further.
It’s a Top Six in the Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton editions; in Ottawa, it’s a Top Five. They didn’t even put the full piece online.
I believe the only appropriate response is a long, sad sigh. But because you’re special and you came to the source, you get the missing four titles right here! So, in what’s left of an alphabetical order:
Just three years after making the magnificent action-adventure “The Incredibles”, Pixar and writer-director Brad Bird went and topped it with the splendid Ratatouille, a computer-generated marvel about a rat who dreams of being the greatest chef in Paris, and the hapless human puppet he employs to make that dream come true. Yes, itâ€™s gorgeous and funny and heartwarming and brilliantly conceived. But itâ€™s also a celebration of the creative impulse that dares to understand the function of the critic in art. How can my people not love it?
Itâ€™s only her second film, but The Savages declares writer-director Tamara Jenkins to be one of the most compassionate and incisive voices working in American cinema. Her ground-level look at a pair of underdeveloped siblings struggling to deal with their elderly fatherâ€™s worsening health â€“ and everything else in their intellectually overcomplicated lives â€“ is sad and wry and funny and heartbreaking, and provides a more lucid commentary on the sorry state of American health care than Michael Moore could ever hope to offer. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman should make more movies together.
Remember when science-fiction movies dared to pose complex philosophical questions instead of just watching robots knock each other down? Danny Boyle does, and thatâ€™s why his Sunshine is such a compelling trip; on the surface, itâ€™s a simple adventure movie about an international space mission to save all life on Earth by rekindling our dying sun, but underneath itâ€™s a powerful allegory for the essential human search for meaning and purpose in a big, empty universe. Also, itâ€™s visually stunning in a way few films dare to be these days; if thereâ€™s any movie that deserved to be seen on a massive screen this year, it was this one.
A masterpiece of classical storytelling and powerfully conceived performances, James Grayâ€™s cop drama We Own the Night opened and closed virtually unnoticed this fall, while film-festival audiences were busy ascribing those very same values to Sidney Lumetâ€™s “Before the Devil Knows Youâ€™re Dead”. Thatâ€™s a shame; Iâ€™d hold up Grayâ€™s wrenching study of one conflicted manâ€™s struggle to hold up the family values he detests against the phony Greek tragedy of Lumetâ€™s latest underachievement any day of the week.
What else? “The Orphanage” opened in Toronto, and while some critics — including Chris — admire its stately pacing and deliberate low-key creepiness, I’m going to have to agree with John here; it’s an entirely respectable and competent film that isn’t half as dynamic or enthralling as other films in its chosen genre, and therefore feels like a disappointment.
In fairness, though, you can’t really build a marketing campaign around “If you loved ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ … well, why not just watch either of those again? They’re awesome!” But still.