Every year, directly before the golden months of Oscar season take hold, I like to list the best films and performances I’ve seen so far into the year.
What’s interesting is, come January, seeing how many films on this list will remain part of my Top 10 of the entire year. By September of last year, I had seen The Trip, The Double Hour, The Tree of Life, and Incendies, all of which I hailed as one of the best films of 2011 as a whole.
Here’s what (and who) I’ve seen so far this year that I’ve loved. There’s a lot of repetition, but any way I look at it, out the films I’ve seen, these are the best. Titles link to my initial reviews.
2. The Imposter
3. Magic Mike
5. Killer Joe
8. Side by Side
Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Rises
Honorable mention: Bart Layton – The Imposter
The final 10 minutes of The Dark Knight Rises alone, in which Nolan brilliantly, harmoniously, perfectly, concluded his famed Batman franchise, are reason enough for Nolan as best director.
Honorable mention: Matthew McConaughey – Killer Joe
McConaughey went all in to portray Killer Joe, and to do it convincingly. It’s the bravest (male) performance I’ve seen so far this year. But Bale on the stairs with Michael Caine? I mean… Jesus.
Ann Dowd – Compliance
Honorable mention: Rashida Jones – Celeste and Jesse Forever
Is she wrong, right? Dumb, afraid? Naïve, scared? Dowd’s work in Compliance is one of the most layered performances of recent memory. She’s initially presented as a typical country bumpkin – but there is a lot more going on here.
Best Supporting Actor
Michael Caine – The Dark Knight Rises
Honorable mention: Matthew McConaughey – Magic Mike
Yep, it’s those goddamn stairs. In which Caine broke my heart in the most tender way possible.
Best Supporting Actress
Dreama Walker – Compliance
Honorable mention: Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Walker’s performance in Compliance is the bravest acting I’ve seen all year, period. I cannot tell you how impressed I am with the fearlessness and conviction she put into her work here. See this film.
Craig Zobel – Compliance
Honorable mention: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard – Cabin in the Woods
Like, really. See Compliance.
Honorable mention: Side by Side
I’ll have my review for The Imposter posted later this week, but damn if director Bart Layton didn’t play with our preconceived notions of the documentary artform. You can never guess where this one is going.