Amir here. Nathaniel has invited TFE contributors to share their top ten lists along with his own. Drawing up this list is a real dilemma every year. Not that I’m under the illusion that a list like this bears any significance on my personal affection for the films I leave out, but I still want it to be representative of the whole picture. This year was particularly tough. It’s been a terrific year for cinema, possibly my favorite since 2007. Even with five honorable mentions I still couldn’t find room for Moonrise Kingdom, Queen of Versailles, Silver Linings Playbook, The Grey, Damsels in Distress, Anna Karenina and so many others that I thoroughly enjoyed. But these lists are never definitive. Ask me on a different day and I might give you a whole different set. At this moment, this is where I stand.
We don’t get to see films as unique and original as Beasts of the Southern Wild very often so it pains me to leave it off. It moved me to tears and its images are etched in my memory all these months later. Magic Mike was a real highlight, a fully realized screenplay that dug beneath the flesh of its stars to explore universal themes and it had a few career-best performances to boot. As a big documentary buff and in such a banner year for the form, I find myself surprised that no doc made it to the top ten but three of my favorites were left just off: Sarah Polley’s brave and engrossing Stories We Tell in which the young Canadian filmmaker had the audacity to reveal the deepest secrets of her family through her poetic vision; Searching For Sugar Man, where the incredible story of a gifted, but largely unknown artist takes a twist that is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming; and The Gatekeepers, an unprecedented exposé of the politics of the Israel-Palestine conflict and undoubtedly the most important film of the year.