The trick to surviving Awards Season is kind of like what G. Gordon Liddy famously observed about how to endure holding your hand over a candle: “The trick is in not minding.” So each year, as I watch while scintillating, daring, groundbreaking, brilliantly written, directed and acted films from all corners of the U.S. and globe get ignored at Oscar time and many overblown, pedantic, predictable, formulaic, politically-correct potboilers and mainstream amusements get the lions’ share of awards glory and gold, I try to not mind. But I do. So here are ten films that should be factoring in some way as notable achievements of the year in film but are instead relegated to their slots on Netflix and that little special place in my heart for films that kept my love for lively, free-swinging cinema alive and well.
CLICK THROUGH FOR STEVEN GAYDOS’ TOP 10 FILMS
#10 “Shadow Dancer”
Why did James Marsh’s absolutely first-rate romantic thriller, starring Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough, not make every single best films of the year list? It’s obviously a cruel, unforgiving and totally absurd world.
#9 “Magic Magic”
Director Sebastian Silva brings back those dangerous days of lysergic youth when everyone around you melted like chocolate bars in the sun and your brain felt hotwired into some sinister plan designed to permanently untether you from reality and your friends were all too stoned or too self-absorbed to notice your plight.
#7 (tie) “The Angels’ Share” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”
New films by Ken Loach and Alain Resnais. If you need more, there are plenty of predigested, massively hyped diversions just waiting to entertain.
#6 “Only God Forgives”
Nicolas Winding Refn is in complete control of every frame of his picture and Ryan Gosling works perfectly as the tough guy who forgot to leave his humanity at the door when he stepped into the shadows of Hell.
#5 “The Place Beyond the Pines”
Derek Cianfrance followed the acclaimed “Blue Valentine” with this even more ambitious family drama and pulls off the casting coup of the year by finding two young thesps, Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen who match and surpass the film’s “leads,” Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper.
#4 “The Call”
Director Brad Anderson lives up to the promise he presented back in the ’90s by fashioning one of the most effective thrillers of the year starring Halle Berry.
#3 “This Is the End”
Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s hilarious film cogently notes that the apocalypse will pose an insurmountable challenge to the entertainment industry when The Rapture delivers all the good people to heaven and leaves the bad ones down on earth to deal with demons. Plus THIS is Jonah Hill’s best performance of the year.
#2 “The Selfish Giant”
Clio Barnard’s first narrative feature stars an unknown kid whose performance is light years beyond most of the big names getting touted for Oscars. And Barnard delivers a devastating examination of British poverty infused with the poetry of a master filmmaker/storyteller.
#1 “The Counselor”
Ridley Scott made a great crime film that connects the lifestyles of the rich and beautiful to the decapitations and acid baths of the drug trade. With all the cocaine historically and currently consumed in Hollywood, shouldn’t this at least have gotten a guilty conscience vote from the town?