More randomness; Christmas movies, foreign films, and Pixar)
#28. An Education
If there was any doubt that Carey Mulligan–in her breakout film–would go onto being one of the brightest and most talented actress of our time, then that is just sad. Having seen this in theaters upon its release back in 2009, it has been a pleasure watching Mulligan grow as an actress. This year alone she has given two excellent performances, but her first film shows something to the same degree. A girl on the verge of attending university finds herself romancing an older man, (Peter Sarsgaard) and skirting her school work. It is an easy, predictable tale with a questionable moral–despite failing out of school, you can do a quick studying-montage and get everything back–but its performances keep it alive and fresh.
#30. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Far and away more superior than the awful remake/spinoff starring Ed Helms this year, the original four films were still hit-or-miss. The original was great, its sequel, European Vacation not so much, but Christmas Vacation is something special. Combining hilarious physical comedy with humorous dialogue and a family message, it is definitely one of the best under-watched Christmas movies. Chevy Chase is at his comedic finest as the lovable but clumsy father to the Griswold gang asa there is no shortage of laughter throughout, especially with a supporting role from a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
#32. Inside Out
The greater of the two Pixar movies to be released this year, Inside Out has been one of their high points–mixing humor, science, emotion, and the usual Pixar themes results in one of their very finest. A great cast of voice actors guides us through the mind of young Riley who has just moved from Minnesota to San Francisco. With bright, creative worlds, scenes that hit you hard in the feels, and an overwhelmingly positive ending, Inside Out needs to be seen by all.
An early work from Akira Kurosawa, Ikiru is perhaps his most emotional film. Following a man dying from stomach cancer, as he refuses to tell anyone of his illness, he wrestles with his future but decides to affirm life. The title itself translates to “To Live.” Coming off his masterful Rashomon, a samurai film, Kurosawa would seldom come back to this sort of emotion again in his career. Ahead of its time, Ikiru has wondrous performances, a bittersweet tone, and some gorgeous cinematography that captures the sadness, and happiness, of a man’s final days.
Coming up next, The Trilogy of Life and The Matrix Trilogy.