A King in New York – Chaplin’s last starring vehicle and his least enjoyable, with a fierce anti-materialism and anti-McCarthy message.
A Perfect World – Underrated Eastwood pic with Costner’s best performance.
Au Revoir Les Enfants – A simple but poignant autobiographical tale of the director’s experience as a French schoolboy in WWII.
Beach, The – Not nearly as bad as the critics said, or as good as the book.
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – Sidney Lumet’s (“Network,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Serpico,” “The Verdict,” “12 Angry Men“) last film, a depressing heist-gone-wrong drama is captivating (mostly thanks to Philip Seymour Hoffman) but suffers from some terrible dialogue while exploiting Marisa Tomei.
Bringing Up Baby – Great chemistry between Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, but dated comedy is more annoying than funny.
Buena Vista Social Club
Capitalism: A Love Story – Like all of Moore’s work, his ego and ethical shortcomings mar an otherwise important documentary.
Casino – It’s a Scorsese mafia flick — equally entertaining and pointless.
Cobra Verde – Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski’s last movie together.
Conversation, The – Good but not great surveillance mystery with Coppola and Hackman.
Crazy Heart – Saved from trite mediocrity by The Dude showing his dark side.
Dan in Real Life – A highly enjoyable but ultimately forgettable family dramedy that wraps things up a little too nicely — ironic given the title.
Darjeeling Limited – Simultaneously the quirkiest and least interesting of Wes Anderson.
Dear Wendy – Worthwhile, though not as good as same director’s “Festen.”
Departed, The – See “Casino” above.
Dinner for Schmucks – Infrequently funny Carrell/Rudd collaboration that could have been hilarious.
Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The – Teaches the valuable lesson that even the hopelessly paralyzed can do anything, as long as they’re rich and famous.
Due Date – Funny moments with a lot of wasted potential and wildly incoherent character arcs.
Experiment, The (Das Experiment) – Fascinating concept needlessly exaggerated when the true Stanford experiment it’s based on was already plenty compelling.
Get Him to the Greek – A worthy spinoff to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” but Jonah Hill’s talents are wasted as the straight man.
Get Low – A fascinating mystery with a sorta mundane ending. Robert Duvall and Bill Murray shine.
Gomorra – Convoluted modern-day mafia docuflick not nearly as interesting as the trailer.
Greenberg – One of Ben Stiller’s better performances in a somewhat original romantic comedy.
Hidden Fortress – Kurosawa’s princess-in-distress tale that Lucas turned into “Star Wars.”
Hour of the Wolf – A famous artist literally battles his demons in one of Ingmar Bergman’s more coherent films.
I Love You Phillip Morris – Compelling albeit uneven. . . Coulda used more Jim Carrey (actor) and less Ace Ventura.
Interview with the Vampire – Terrific as a lush and stylish vampire soap opera, but loses points for a poor script and the miscast Tom Cruise.
Kagemusha – One of Kurosawa’s last samurai epics, this historical drama is beautifully shot and amazingly meticulous in its reproduction of the 16th century. But it’s too long and lacks any meaningful protagonists. . . kinda boring.
Leaves of Grass – An existential, black comedy, drug-crime, satirical, cartoonish thriller starring Ed Norton as identical twins and directed by the dumb guy from “O Brother Where Art Thou.” The tone is as confusing as all of those adjectives would lead you to believe, but most of the time it succeeds with a worthwhile message.
Maltese Falcon, The – A smart Humphrey Bogart mystery classic, both compelling and ridiculous.
Manderlay – The brilliant Lars von Trier’s follow-up to the masterful “Dogville” isn’t as well-acted or scripted. . . then there’s the gaping hole left by Nicole Kidman’s absence.
Marwencol – An interesting study of a brain-damaged artist that unfortunately seems to encourage some of his less healthy behaviors.
Me, You and Everyone We Know – The relatively touching arty flick seems profound yet leaves me with the suspicion that there’s not too much (new) being said.
Mechanic, The (original) – Both Charles Bronson and the action are cool enough I guess, but there’s not much to the story.
Men Who Stare at Goats, The – Cheesy but entertaining liberal jab at the war machine.
Million Dollar Baby – When can a movie officially be called “overrated”?
Mystic River – Intriguing movie with disappointing finale.
New York, I Love You – Entertaining but forgettable collection of barely-connected shorts set in NYC.
Nosferatu (original) – An iconic classic yes, but not all that exciting.
Old Joy – A pretty but overrated indie film leaves a lot open to interpretation, though not interesting enough to matter.
Orphanage, The (El Orfanato) – Taut foreign suspense, weak on the payoff.
Other Guys, The – Surprisingly funny for the first hour but then tails off. One of Will Farrell’s best performances and one of Mark Wahlberg’s worst.
Parallax View, The – An interesting but rather ho-hum conspiracy thriller in which the conspiracy itself and Warren Beatty’s performance are equally unengaging. Maybe we’re just too cynical nowadays to be entertained by something like this.
Rescue Dawn – Herzog teams with Christian Bale for true story war flick.
Shoot the Piano Player – A pretty but not-too-exciting noir film from Francois Truffaut.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – Visually stunning and equally cheesy.
Social Network, The
Soylent Green – Equally sinister and cheesy sci-fi mystery classic.
Stand By Me – A little dated (and poorly-acted) perhaps, but it raises the question of why we no longer see truly entertaining films where not much happens. Too smart these days?
Starman – “E.T.” for adults. . . cheesy but worth seeing for Jeff Bridge’s great performance and John Carpenter’s quality directing/cinematography.
Three Colors: Blue – Not as good as the last in the trilogy, “Red”
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
Town, The – It succeeds as a heist thriller, but I was expecting more from Ben Affleck’s sophomore directing effort than tight shootouts and good acting (Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, one of Affleck’s best performances). Glaring script holes and contrivances leave me hoping “Gone Baby Gone” wasn’t a fluke.
Thing from Another World, The – The sci-fi classic is not all that scary but still kinda fun.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me – What did you expect from Lynch, wholesome fun?
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
XXY – Argentinian film about an intersex youth deciding which (s)he will be.
Youth in Revolt – Poor casting (lookin’ at you, Michael Cera and Justin Long) and an uneven tone conspire against this otherwise inventive teen comedy. Surprisingly, Cera shines while stretching his range as a debonair alter ego and simultaneously fails at his signature dweeb character.
Want to find out about a movie I’ve mentioned here? Go ahead and wikit.