10. Enter the Void
A theatrical experience that I doubt will ever be duplicated (and I'm certain it's detractors consider that a good thing). Gaspar Noe proves again and again that he is the most innovative director working today by taking film to areas no one thought possible. With Enter the Void he attempts to capture the out of body experience of a junkie who is killed during a deal gone wrong. Noe uses the camera much like one would anticipate, as a voyeur looking down upon the world he's left behind, but he doesn't stop there. This film is far from a story told from a ghost's POV, Noe never does the expected. I can't wait to see this in the theater again.
9. The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans
A hoot and a holler. It's great to see Cage back to making an art out of overacting. This film serves as a great companion piece for Abel Ferrara's original masterpiece, playing with the same themes of redemption, morality, the soul and final judgement, but in a much different way than it would be expected. What originally seemed like the stupidest decision ever made by a film studio; the pairing of Cage and Herzog to remake the seemingly unremakable Bad Lieutenant, turned out beautifully and I'm grateful someone was either brilliant or dumb enough to make this happen. Now let's see if we can make a franchise out of this seemingly unfranchisable property. C'mon, it would have to be better than most franchises out there. Highly watchable.
8. The House of the Devil
I've been a big fan of Ti West since seeing his Trigger Man. It was like a combination of The Most Dangerous Game and Gerry and I was at the edge of my seat through most of the final hour. Then I checked out his debut film, The Roost, and once again I was pleasantly surprised at this methodically paced creature feature. While every horror filmmaker is out there trying to wow the audience for fear that they might be bored for even 3 seconds, West goes at a leisurely but controlled pace and heightens everything that is great about the horror genre. The characters are better, the tension is better and the shocks are better.
House of the Devil is his best and most accessible film yet. It concerns a college girl who takes on a babysitting job that requires much more than she expected. The film is a directing tour de force as West completely manipulates the audience into experiencing the night of terror along with the protagonist. He's like the Michael Heneke of the horror genre (without the moralizing everyone is so appalled by of course) as he gets more and more comfortable with the medium. House of the Devil may be an instant horror classic, but I'm anxiously awaiting what he will do in the future. Who would have thought the most exciting new horror director working today shows restraint instead of trying to constantly entertain with shocks, wows and whatnot?
7. Crank: High Voltage
As I've written before on Cool Stuff for the Uncool, I do have some problems with the overwhelming use of racist terms this film revels in, but I can't help but completely love everything else about it. The insanity of this film only matches the heights Takashi Miike achieved with the beginning and end of Dead or Alive. And unlike most films that try and be frenetic throughout their whole running time, Crank: High Voltage never becomes meandering or simply exhausting. Hopefully, much like the original, this gets a renewed life on DVD after completely bombing in the theater so we can see the further adventures of that lovable scumbag Chev Chelios.
6. A Serious Man
The Coens go back to their more cerebral filmmaking a la Barton Fink and The Man Who Wasn't There, and succeed yet again. The Story of Job and Schrodinger's Cat are two of the inspirations for this dark tale of a good man being put to the test as his world crumbles. He's a mathematician, so he looks for answers in this unfair world, and if he isn't careful he just might find them. I loved that A Serious Man is taken from a Jewish perspective, something I rarely, if ever, see in mainstream films. Another masterpiece from the Coens, and the scene with Columbia records might be my favourite scene they've ever written.
5. Anvil: The Story of Anvil
Your heart would have to be made of shit, piss, snot and puke for you not to be touched by this one. One of my favourite documentaries of all time, Anvil: The Story of Anvil tells the story of Lipps and Robb Reiner (one in many Spinal Tap connections), friends from childhood who have never given up on the dream of being in a heavy metal band. After any sane man would have called it a day, both of them keep looking on the bright side and always keep in mind that it could be much worse. The film also manages to be funny without mocking them, which with some of their antics would seem the easy thing to do. After I saw the film I felt the urge to look for my Strength of Steel cassette (though I'm sure it's long gone) and maybe buy a couple of their new albums. Even if I don't like them, I couldn't be helping out two nicer guys.
My favourite film I saw at TIFF this year. Hitoshi Matsumoto's masterpiece of comedy, surrealism and deep personal vision proves that Big Man Japan wasn't just a fluke. He's definitely a filmmaker to keep an eye on, I suspect he'll have a lot more great films to offer us in his hopefully long career.
3. Inglourious Basterds
My favourite war film and not only a return to form for Tarantino (it's not like he went too off course, though I wasn't a big fan of Kill Bill Vol 2 and Death Proof) but also an indication that he's maturing as a filmmaker (which is exceptional, since he was shockingly talented to begin with). Much like his other work, Inglourious Basterds does invoke other films (which is good. I think people who get their panties in a bunch at Tarantino for paying homage to other films are more interested in proving how smart they are rather than actual criticism) but his plot driven story and dialogue is some of his best work. This is simply a great film that will be remembered as one of Tarantino's best.
One of the few examples where the movie improves upon the amazing source material. Time will be very kind to this movie and much like The Thing and Blade Runner, film fans of the future will wonder what the hell was everyone's problem with this masterpiece.
1. Drag Me to Hell
Only Raimi could make a movie where a child, a pet and an important character die horribly and the audience leaves the theater with a big smile on their face. They could have called this Evil Dead 4 and I would have been cool with that (the Evil Dead franchise being my favourite films). Also, this makes a great companion piece to the Coen's A Serious Man in that they're both very tragic/comedic morality tales. A pure joy to see Raimi's triumphant return to the horror genre.