Cinematic ‘Kingdom’ 

PHIL BACHARACH’S PICKS

1. Moonrise Kingdom
— Director Wes Anderson was born to make this film, a work that
beautifully captures the world of adolescent obsession. From its
exuberant sense of nostalgia to its Kodachrome visual look, this tale of
prepubescent love circa 1965 feels mythical and timeless.

2. Silver Linings Playbook
— Bipolar depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, gambling and sex
addiction: They might not sound like the makings of comedy, but leave it
to writer-director David O. Russell to fashion a comic masterpiece from
the psychological scars of the walking wounded.

3. Django Unchained — Quentin Tarantino does for slavery what he did for the Holocaust in Inglourious Basterds,
which is to say he cooks up an irresistibly violent and mordantly funny
revenge-fantasy with generous dollops of B-movie ecstasy. I keep
waiting for the inevitable disappointment from Tarantino, but it hasn't
happened yet.

4. Zero Dark Thirty — A movie about the
hunt for Osama bin Laden easily could have gone wrong, but  director
Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal craft a docudrama of rawness,
urgency and moral ambivalence. Slated to open in Oklahoma City on Jan.
11, it also boasts the year's most intense scene in its depiction of the
successful 2011 raid on bin Laden's Pakistani compound.

5. The Dark Knight Rises
— Christopher Nolan concluded his Batman trilogy in style with this
big, sprawling and ambitious epic. It's a testament to the greatness of
the series that Rises is my least favorite of the three, but still
better than almost anything else in the realm of popcorn flicks.

Zero Dark Thirty

6. Life of Pi
— Perhaps even more so than Avatar, this film version of Yann Martel's
best seller showcases the immersion of stereoscopic technology. But
director Ang Lee offers much more than visual artistry (impressive as
that is) in this tale of a boy, a tiger and a boat.

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
— Writer-director Stephen Chbosky's film version of his beloved
young-adult novel is hardly seamless, but it lands emotional punches
that appropriately reflect the angst of being a teenager with all its
concomitant joys and terrors.

8. Amour — The winner of the
prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes, Amour is a searing portrait of an
older couple facing the end of life. Obviously no feel-good movie, it’s undeniably powerful and almost bracing in its rejection of
sentimentality. It’s scheduled to hit OKC on Feb. 15.

9. Searching for Sugar Man
— The less you know about this wonderful documentary by Malik
Bendjelloul, the better. If you've seen it, which details the
truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story of an obscure Detroit
singer-songwriter named Rodriguez, you know what I mean. If you haven't,
check it out the next time an opportunity arises.

10. Killer Joe
— This William Friedkin-directed adaptation of an early work by
Oklahoma-born playwright Tracy Letts is trailer-trash noir, a deeply
twisted yarn filled with lowlife crooks, a naive nymphet and a memorably
depraved turn by Matthew McConaughey as the titular hit man.

Just missed the list: Argo, Bernie, The Central Park Five, Headhunters, Looper, Sound of My Voice, Your Sister’s Sister.

ROD LOTT’S PICKS

Sound of My Voice

1. Moonrise Kingdom — With the train wreck of 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited,
I was afraid Wes Anderson’s best work was behind him. Instead, he
bounced back with a funny, touching and pitch-perfect portrayal of young
love. The naturalism of its two neophyte leads is a large part of the
overall joy.

2. Sound of My Voice
— If there’s a theme running through most of my list, it’s films that
challenge the audience, as if issuing dares, starting with this
no-frills thriller about an enigmatic California cult leader. That you
feel uneasy watching its story unfold means it’s working.

3. Klown
— Before America remakes and tones down this highly caustic comedy, see
this Danish effort about a man taking his girlfriend’s nephew on a very
adult trip. It’s wrong on so many levels, which is why it’s hilarious
— discomfort humor at its best ... and at its most unexpectedly
tear-worthy.

4. Zero Dark Thirty — And I thought Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker
was intense! Her follow-up, depicting the hunt for Osama bin Laden,
boasts the year’s finest performance in Jessica Chastain’s CIA agent.
Despite knowing how it would end, the Seal Team 6’s climactic raid is so
suspenseful, my neck and shoulders ached for hours.

5. Kill List
— From Britain comes this uncompromising killer thriller about a hit
man under immense familial and financial pressure. His attempts at
bettering life lead to an ending that will eff you up for days. Crime
films rarely have the power to disturb so effectively.

Django Unchained

6. Skyfall — For James Bond’s 50th anniversary, Oscar-minted director Sam Mendes applied the brooding Dark Knight
formula to the franchise and delivered arguably one of 007’s best
adventures. It also may be the smartest. Quantum of Solace, you are
forgiven.

7. Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie
— Absurdity is taken to extremes in this not-for-everyone chunk of
crazy. Emanating with ribald non sequiturs, its vibe will be off-putting
to 99 percent of moviegoers, which I fully understand and appreciate.
But, hey, John C. Reilly plays a guy named Taquito. Taquito!

8. The Raid: Redemption
— It’s not stated in the credits, but this Indonesian actioner is made
with pure adrenaline. Some of it even seeps through the screen; you’d be
wise to mainline it. 

9. Django Unchained — After writing the wrongs against World War II-era Jews with Inglourious Basterds,
Quentin Tarantino does the same for Civil War-era African-Americans.
The result is a pop catharsis, provided you can get past its extreme
violence, in light of recent events in Connecticut. 

10. Haywire — The great Steven Soderbergh movie this year wasn’t Magic Mike;
it was this completely misunderstood exercise in turning a
much-maligned genre or two into stripped-down art. What audiences found
boring, I found sublime.

Just missed the list: Cloud Atlas, Compliance, The Dark Knight Rises, The Innkeepers, Sound of Noise, Sleepwalk with Me.

Hey! Read This:
Argo film review   
• Bernie film review  
The Dark Knight Rises film review   
Django Unchained film review    
Haywire Blu-ray review   
Headhunters film review   
The Innkeepers Blu-ray review   
Killer Joe film review   
Kill List Blu-ray review   
Klown Blu-ray review  
Looper film review  
Magic Mike Blu-ray review    
Moonrise Kingdom film review  
The Perks of Being a Wallflower film review   
The Raid: Redemption Blu-ray review   
Searching for Sugar Man film review   
Sleepwalk with Me film review 
Sound of My Voice film review   
Sound of Noise DVD review   
Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray review  
Your Sister’s Sister film review   

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