10. Poetry (Lee Chang-dong)
Korean films tend to show up frequently in my lists. This is yet another one. This time, it's from Lee Chang-dong, another great Korean director. This is a compelling, beautiful drama about an elderly woman who takes up a poetry writing class and at the same time having to deal with both a diagnosis of impending dementia and an unspeakable crime committed by her ungrateful grandson. It seems like overwhelming downer of a film but the result is something so beautiful...and dare I say, POETIC. It features a comeback performance from Korean actress Yeong Jeong-hee who coaxed out of retirement by the director to make this film.
9. Shame (Steve McQueen)
8. Drive (Nicholas Winding Refn)
7. We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay)
This is the most recent entry to this top 10 list, having seen it just last week. I was surprised at how much I absolutely loved this film. I have to admit that I've been hesitant to see it despite the critical praise it received because of the upsetting subject matter of a school massacre and I feel I have enough of that in real life. But it's not like that at all. Instead what we have is sort of a hybrid of both a horror film and a character study of woman who has to deal with an apparently sociopathic child. Tilda Swinton is magnificent as is the actors who play her son in different ages especially Ezra Miller.
6. 13 Assassins (Takashi Miike)
5. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
The great Iranian filmmaker travels to France to make a (mostly) French film about a man and a woman who meet and talk. Are they a couple? Are they gonna be a couple? Were they a couple? Are these two alternate realities or flashbacks/flash-forwards? The film never answers these questions but we're left with a superbly acted and thought-provoking piece of cinema. It's sort of like Before Sunrise with older people.
4. Pina (Wim Wenders)
I'm not the biggest fan of 3D but there are two films in this list that I would HIGHLY recommend that you see in 3D. This is the first one. I don't claim to be the most cultured guy in the world. But you don't have to be a fan of modern dance to be enraptured, mesmerized and fascinated by this beautiful documentary on the life of the late, great artist, dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. Director Wim Wenders uses the 3D technology to cinematically capture every dimension and nuance of the art of dance. It's the most superb mash-up of cinema, stage and dance. It is a wonder to behold.
3. Hugo (Martin Scorsese)
2. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
Runners-Up: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (David Yates); Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen); Mysteries of Lisbon (Raoul Ruiz); Super 8 (J.J. Abrams); Rango (Gore Verbinski).