I saw Danny Boyle’s latest heart-yanking film on an especially special evening at TIFF, attended by both it’s star (James Franco) and it’s inspiration (adventure enthusiast and Between a Rock and Hard Place author, Aron Ralston). After the screening the mega-moving one-man-show, in which Franco (as Ralston) amputates his own arm after having spent an excruciating 127 hours with it lodged under a rogue boulder, Ralston (and his hook hand) came on stage all bright and teary-eyed. He was just so grateful to see his true triumph of the human spirit come alive on screen for the world, and most importantly, his family to see. As he told the still-recovering audience (the fainting rumours are true!), he was blown away by Boyle and Franco’s hyperactive and hallucinogenic treatment of his story, as it managed remain loyal to his reality even when delving into fits of hysterical fantasy. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
4. Blue Valentine
This dark, depressing love story is not for the faint and or fantastical of heart. This film, which was nearly unfairly slapped with a NC-17 rating (America’s version of R), is rough, raw and ridiculously real, to the point that sometimes, you feel as though you’re Rear Windowing in on your loud, obviously unhappy neighbours. Blue Valentine takes us on a tour through the shards of a never-really-true romance, which starts as an unhappy accident and ends in unsolvable screaming match. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling pour their hearts and bodies (the duo totally transform in the later sections) into playing the couple in question (Cindy and Dean), giving us what may be the most genuine representation of modern love – and loss – I’ve ever seen.
3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
I still can’t believe this movie wasn’t a huge hit. It’s 100 times better than Tron, Iron Man 2 and every other big budget action flick that came out this year. It’s not a remake (although it is based on a series of graphic novels). It’s not a mindless star vehicle (although Mikey Cera does get some sweet mega-closeups!). It’s a true original – with some perfectly timed homages (Mortal Kombat! Seinfeld!) thrown in. Featuring a kick ass (not to be confused with Kick-Ass, which didn’t quite live up to its name) plot – Toronto-based hipster 20-something has to defeat his new girl’s seven evil exes – awesomely awkward dialogue, video game visuals and an insanely addictive soundtrack, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has future unironic indie kid favourite written all over it. And it knows it.
2. Toy Story 3
This June, Woody, Buzz and the toy friends we’ve grown to love for over a decade rode back into Tinseltown for one last cinematic play date. And I don’t know about you, but I’m searching for tissues. While the first two films in the animated series were undoubtedly superb, this installment was even better as it took us through most devastating moment of any toy’s life: being put away in storage by their once-dedicated owner (in this case, Andy). For my generation, who grew with the courageous cowboy and the sometimes-Spanish space cadet and kind of consider them our own, the bittersweet story hit so close to home it still hurts.
1. The Social Network
A deliciously zeitgeist-y story, based on the controversial back story behind the most addictive website, ever? A wicked smart cast fronted by the next generation of hot nerds, Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield – and former Model Behaviour star and triple threat, Justin Timberlake? A talky, intelligent, Gilmore Girls speed script by West Wing scribe, Aaron Sorkin?What’s not to ‘like’? If this doesn’t win Best Picture, I’m going to de-friend the Academy for at least a week.
ALSO AWESOME: The Other Guys, The King’s Speech, Black Swan, Inception, Tangled, Shutter Island, Youth in Revolt
*All photos from allmoviephoto.com