These are twelve films that caught my attention and I believe deserve yours. They are in no particular order, except that I wrote them down as I thought of them, so there must be some bias from top to bottom.
1. The Master.
P.T. Anderson provides no clear answers or resolution. This is the type of film that seems destined to be misunderstood, re-watched and studied. It also made for the most impressive cinematic experience since Tree of Life. Absolutely brilliant.
2. I Wish
Hirokazu Koreeda is such a wonderful filmmaker. His films have a gentle beauty and grace to them. This film captures childhood hopes in an adult world more than any I've ever seen. - Now on DVD
3. Marvin, Seth and Stanley
Minneapolis film-maker Stephen Gurewitz put together this impressive Cassavetes-esque road movie about fathers and sons. - Not sure if this is in any type of format you can rent or buy, but I'll bet if you contact Stephen, he'll let you know. email@example.com
Simply Marvelous: Marvin Seth and Stanley Preview from Adam Gins on Vimeo.
4. Cabin in the Woods
Original horror films are a rarity nowadays, and Drew Goddard does a fantastic job with this mash-up. The scene where Kristen Connolly is being dragged down the dock during the premature celebration may be my favorite scene of the year.
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
This extremely creative take on the fictional community called The Bathtub off the coast of New Orleans during a Katrina-like storm is so original I don't know what to compare it to. From protagonist to setting to plot, this was a surprise and I loved it.
6. Django Unchained
Tarantino continues his national revenge fantasies with this giant violent spaghetti western epic, and I am a big fan
The mix of fiction and documentary is so blurred I think Werner Herzog would be proud. A wonderful character-piece murder story.
8. Your Brother, Remember?
Zachary Oberzan brings this moving meditation on brotherhood, photography, re-creation and Kickboxer. Totally amazing.
9. The Dark Knight Rises
Yes, this movie is a bit of a mess. Yes, the flaws seemed to overshadow some of the better parts. But, after sitting with it for a bit, the ideas and themes are so ambitious that I have to recommend you watch it. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing it again. If for nothing else, the story deserves such a great ending. And, now Christopher Nolan can move on to something of his own.
10. Moonrise Kingdom
A sweet little film about being a kid, being in love and getting inside Wes Anderson's neurotic mind.
11. Holy Motors
Leos Carax is a weirdo. No doubt about that. But, this movie is gorgeous. And weird. Very weird. It doesn't all come together in the end, and certain segments definitely worked better than others. But, getting to see a Kylie Minogue musical number and the return of Denis Levant as the creepy Godzilla sewer character from Tokyo was a treat.
Spielberg messes up the end. Kushner messes up the beginning. But, I am a sucker for political fights and Abraham Lincoln. This is a story worth telling. It gives a satisfying ending to Django, and Django puts a real face on why this fight was worth having.
So, take that as you will.