Charles Ealy’s Top 10 Movies

Siz­ing up this year’s movies — and why we picked what we did

Austin American-Statesman - - D MOVIES & LIFE - By Charles Ealy cealy@states­man.com

We’re

switch­ing up the in­tro­duc­tion to our Top 10 lists this year by pub­lish­ing some of our thoughts and ra­tio­nal­iza­tions via a back-and-forth be­tween Amer­i­can-States­man movie crit­ics Matthew Odam and Charles Ealy. We hope this will an­swer some of your ques­tions.

Odam: I think the most glar­ing ab­sence from ei­ther of our lists is go­ing to be “Lin­coln.” What­ever you think of Steven Spiel­berg, one thing you can pretty much count on is a bit of emo­tional ma­nip­u­la­tion by the master. And, de­spite Daniel DayLewis’ bravura per­for­mance, for which he will most likely win an Os­car, this movie just did not emo­tion­ally res­onate with me.

Ealy: I liked “Lin­coln,” but it didn’t grab my emo­tions as much as the other movies on my Top 10 list did. As you say, the per­for­mances were ex­cel­lent. But most of the movies I’ve in­cluded on my list need some sup­port from crit­ics. That’s es­pe­cially the case with “Zero Dark Thirty,” which has come un­der at­tack in re­cent days from the worst kind of peo­ple — politi­cians.

Odam: Look­ing at my list, I re­al­ize the emo­tional con­nec­tion was a huge fac­tor in my choices this year, even with some movies, like “Rust and Bone” and “Moon­rise King­dom” that just missed the cut. My top two movies both moved me to tears for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons. That’s not al­ways the best in­di­ca­tor of a great movie, but it was for me this year, even with the quar­tet of doc­u­men­taries on my list. An­other movie that lingers just out­side of my top 10 was “Argo,” the pac­ing of the film was ex­cel­lent, and the fi­nal mo­ments were as taut as any in film this year, but I didn’t feel the movie to the de­gree I did with oth­ers.

Ealy: Ditto on “Argo.” Plenty of per­cep­tive movie­go­ers will dis­agree with some­thing on our lists. But that’s the na­ture of coming up with a list. So I hope read­ers will let us know what they think.

1) “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Any­one who has ever sat down and talked with di­rec­tor Kathryn Bigelow knows that she’s a fierce in­tel­lect — and some­one who treats her au­di­ence with re­spect. That’s what she does in “Zero Dark Thirty,” which fo­cuses on the hunt for Osama bin Laden and in­cludes sev­eral scenes that deal with the CIA’s bru­tal ques­tion­ing of ter­ror sus­pects. Re­cent news re­ports have sug­gested that such mo­ments sug­gest an im­plicit sup­port of tor­ture. Rea­son­able peo­ple can dis­agree, but I can say with con­fi­dence that Bigelow isn’t try­ing to jus­tify tor­ture. She’s dra­ma­tiz­ing the in­nu­mer­able twists and turns in the quest to cap­ture the world’s most wanted ter­ror­ist. In par­tic­u­lar, she’s fo­cus­ing on a young woman ( Jes­sica Chas­tain) who joins

Ac­tress Qu­ven­zhane Wal­lis stars as Hush­puppy in the film “Beasts Of The South­ern Wild.”

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