Top 10 lists are a universally reviled form of critical expression for a reason: they force the thoughtful fluidity and artfulness of criticism into the confines of ascending order. It’s an exercise as banal as arranging a class of elementary school students by height. Countless stratagems exist that allow list-makers to ease the blow of their pointless task, though the successful approach for me has always been simple irony. See my inclusion of Tron: Legacy in last year’s top 10 list, or 2012 the year before that: two really bad movies meant to serve as a middle-finger to the very existence of year-end top 10 lists.
This year, I approached the list differently. I still don’t think of it as a serious critical process. I think of it as an impression. These are the first films I remembered when I thought about the experiences I had in movie theaters this year. Any picture I couldn’t remember on my own wouldn’t deserve a place below. In fact, I’m glad to have forgotten about the films I saw in 2011 that I can’t remember. They were the high school acquaintances of my movie-going experience. Their only suitable future purpose can be to serve as obscure punchlines. (more…)