Delays, delays, delays! So many problems getting this final part of the awards to you, but not to worry because they're here now. This final category is all about films, which are always a big part of my life. I'm a huge film geek and I like to think I watch a wide variety of films so any recommendations I will follow through on. Like anything at all. I watch too many movies...
326 films. That’s how many movies I watched last year. That’s almost one a day. You could say I like movies. But I’m a bit odd, because I don’t just like any type of movie. I’ll watch anything, as long as it’s got a good story and is worth my time. I love being transported into another life for two hours. I love watching a romance because it makes me feel loved. I love watching horror movies because being scared is great fun. I love watching Sci-Fi because it’s awesome. I love watching new and old movies because they’re timeless and show me how people lived then and now. Movies can make you cry, make you laugh, make you jump, make you dance around the room and make you change the way you think and see the world.
1. I Killed My Mother
With anything you watch or hear or read, if you relate to it strongly, it’s going to take a really special place in your heart. It’s like somehow they’ve seen your life and translated it to the screen, allowing you to see it in a new and fascinating way. That’s why I love I Killed My Mother. Clearly a very personal film to the director, the amazing Xavier Dolan, it also became a very personal experience for me too. Explaining how a gay guy relates to his mother and the love and frustration and general annoyance that comes with that, I just cried so many times during this movie. It’s directed with such conflicting emotions and passion that it becomes a letter of love. It’s like Dolan has said well, here’s my life, make of it what you will. And I loved it. It broke my heart but also made it clear to me that my own conflicted relationship with my mother wasn’t exactly out of the ordinary. It made me feel slightly less weird but it was a painful experience, because it was so raw. Then there’s the use of colour and the fact that the two main guys are utterly perfect together (making later betrayals incredibly painful) and an ending that is both ambiguous and genius. It just made this one of the best movies I’d seen in a very, very long time and it made me desperate to see his other works. His next film, Heartbeats, about an unrequited love triangle wasn’t as stunning but has grown on me. And I’ve yet to see Laurence Anyways, about a trans man which looks to be amazing. Yeah, I found a new favourite director.
2. The Fall
Originally I picked up The Fall because it starred Lee Pace (from the wonderful Pushing Daisies, one of my favourite TV shows ever). As I started this film, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that this film takes its audiences on. Basically about a story told by a badly injured man to get a girl to get him drugs, it becomes all about why we tell stories and why we have to believe in something. Its ending is also one of the most painful and emotional things I’ve ever seen. I was crying and begging and pleading like the little girl from the film. It’s actually really hard to talk about this without giving too much away. It’s just so intricate and postmodern and wonderful. I adored it because it’s one of those films I found without any encouragement from anyone else. It’s just really special to me because it reflected my own beliefs about the issues at hand. Intellectual and moving, it’s probably one of the best films I’ve ever seen (and more likely to have staying power unlike I Killed My Mother, which was an amazing film but not as powerful as this one).
This film just made it in at the last moment. I watched it on New Year’s Eve because I wanted one of these 10 films to be actually produced this year (I was originally going to have to talk about Pacific Rim in another section, seeing I only gave it an 8). And what a film it was. Filled with memorable musical numbers, likable characters, genuinely funny moments and a big heart, this is Disney’s best film in years (and I adore Tangled). But what makes it so amazing is the way it subverts our expectations. Anyone familiar with the output of the Disney company will be well aware that many of the princesses are desperate for a man (which I found super frustrating) and get married, even though they’ve only known each other for a few days. There’s also an evil person with no redeeming features to stop the course of true love (who is usually my favourite character and adds so much to the film. See Ursula in The Little Mermaid, Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Cruella deVille in 101 Dalmations). It’s all very predictable after you’ve seen a few of them. That’s why films like Mulan and Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King stand out (oddly enough, so does The Little Mermaid which is odd considering it follows that exact pattern. It’s the songs I think). But those films just twist the format slightly. What Frozen does is take the format and tear it to shreds. All of your preconceptions of this movie are proved to be wrong as the film continues. It’s intricate and filled with a true depth of character rarely seen in Disney films. One reviewer said this film is the only one of Disney’s to be able to hold its own against Pixar. I couldn’t agree more. This is just beautiful and stunning, with Elsa fast becoming one of my favourite Disney princesses (no-one can beat Belle. And if you think it’s weird that I have favourite Disney princesses, then it is. But that’s nothing compared to how frustrated I get when I see the new dolls they have of them. They’re so sexualised, it’s disgusting. Especially with Rapunzel. One of the key points about Tangled is that she has short hair by the end of it. None of the dolls do, which is really, really frustrating). I’ve listened to her song ‘Let It Go’ 22 times (33, if you count the Demi version. I just find the film version more powerful) and I have a feeling it’s going to become a personal anthem for me. I even know all the words! Yes, I am a very strange person, but you have to see Frozen. It’s probably the greatest Disney movie ever.
There has never been a film I wanted to see as much as this one. I first heard about it back in 2011 and I have no idea how, but ever since them I’ve been desperate to see it. At the time, I wasn’t able to because the library didn’t have a copy, so I satisfied my curiosity by learning everything I could about it. I saw hundreds of stills and listened to the soundtrack over and over again. I even watched the opening double murder on Youtube once when I was bored in my IT class. We had a sub that day, so she thought I was a psycho. I wasn’t. I just really wanted to see this movie. I was obsessed by the use of colour and how wonderful it all looked. I had to shelve my interest, however. Until one day I had just finished looking up gay movies (because I do that) when I decided that I’d look up Dario Argento. Even if I couldn’t see Suspiria, I might be able to see another of his films (because they all looked amazing). To my shock, I saw it, the second option from the bottom. I have never put a hold on something so quickly in all my life. Then there was the long wait. And by god, it felt like a long wait. It finally came in as I was doing the Halloween 13. Unfortunately, it was too late to make the list, but I watched it soon after. My first impression was that’s all? After you know everything about a film, it’s hard to actually like it on it’s on merits. But then as I got into the story, I realised just how terrifying and brilliant this was. Yes, the use of colour was stunning but it was the set pieces and the terror that stick with me now. There’s the moment when maggots drop from the ceiling or where a girl gets caught in barbed wire trying to escape from a killer. Those are shocking moments that stick with me more than the use of colour, or even the spooky soundtrack (which I have now lost. I wanted to listen to it while writing this review). It has become a film that I now have to purchase, so I can view it every Halloween. And scare myself half to death. By the way, I remember how I first heard about this movie. There was a trailer on one of my brother’s DVDs. This trailer. You have to see it. Then you too will be desperate to see (whispers like in the trailer) Suspiria.
You know when you see or read something and you just become desperate to analyse it? You know there’s a deeper meaning behind that but you just can’t get at it? And these films make you think about them, because they’re a lot more intelligent than they initially appear to be. Drive was like this to me. I picked it up because it starred Ryan Gosling (whom I’d never seen in a film before) and Carey Mulligan (who’s one of my favourite actresses) but I was just expecting a bit of light entertainment to watch when I had nothing better to do. And then that night and I sat down and I was blown away. The depth of character, the intensity and intricacy of the plot and the absolutely amazing soundtrack made me sit up and pay attention. I knew there was something more going on here, so I decided to make this the subject of my film and psychology subject. And what a great idea that was (if I don’t say so myself). I peeled away the layers of this film and have now seen it so many times that it’s almost become annoying (like Princess Mononoke. You can see something too many times as I first learned when I watched Sky High 20 times in one week). But still I really do think this film was incredible. I can’t really say I liked this film, but I can say I admire what it’s done and the way it’s been done. And I can also say I’ve listened to the song ‘Real Hero’ by College & Electric Youth (from the film’s soundtrack) 50 times and that’s no exaggeration.
6. Common Threads: Stories From The Quilt
Remember how I discussed that one of the key things that affected me last year was my increased knowledge of the AIDS crisis before I read Two Boys Kissing? Well, this is the film to blame. I have never cried this much while watching a film. Every new development was like a stab to my heart. Learning that people dying was ignored because they were gay. Or that young kids were dying of it. Or that one of the people we followed throughout the doco died shortly after it was filmed. It was completely heartbreaking. I cried while watching the movie and during the credits and for a very long time afterwards. The scale of the loss, the pain and the love was almost too much to bear. So much suffering and devastation and regret. This isn’t an easy film to watch and it doesn’t have an uplifting conclusion, but what it does show is that we’re all the same. Everyone was affected by this illness. It wasn’t just the gay community. There were too many for that. Every year, there was a counter as to how many had died. It just kept rising and rising. Thousands. And every one of them had a family. It’s one of the most painful but important films I’ve ever seen. Required viewing for anyone, so we can learn from the mistakes and keep those who lost their lives in our hearts.
7. Cloud Atlas
Like Suspiria, this was a film I’d heard about and was desperate to see. It looked epic and moving and brave and hopeful. I just missed out seeing it in the cinema, but watching it on DVD was truly amazing. The insights, the connections, the scope, the pain, the joy, it was all there in this awe-inspiring film. Few films have the capacity to be able to change the way we see the world, but the ones that stick with us can. This is one. It shows us that injustice and pain are not new things, they are constants. It’s a cross generational thing that we all must face and fight together. Our actions and our choices do not only affect us, they affect everyone around us. We all have the power to be something important and special. We just have to see it and be willing to take the responsibility. And this film shows us that. Powerful.
8. Were The World Mine
Were The World Mine is a gay musical. What’s not to love? It’s nowhere near as flamboyant as one would imagine, it’s subtle and beautiful. And for once, it’s a gay movie that isn’t just about sex, it’s about love. And Shakespeare. It’s lyrical, very sweet and unpredictable. And the songs are really, really good and incredibly staged. My favourite is the title tune because it’s sexy and romantic and beautifully sung. One of my favourite gay movies because it’s more than a coming out drama or a sex comedy. It has something insightful to say and manages to have a happy ending (incredibly rare in gay movies) all with a gentle touch. Incredibly sweet.
When most people think of the term gay movie, the first thing that comes to their head is Brokeback Mountain. It’s the film that seems to have permeated itself into the world subconscious, normalising the gay lifestyle in a very big way. It’s also the gay community’s favourite film. I find this actually a bit hard to understand because there are no really positive messages for us here. The two guys can never be together, leading to a truly emotional ending. Hiding it results in pain for both of them and there is very little happiness in this film. But somehow despite all the pain, this remains an incredibly likable movie. And I don’t know how Ang Lee, the director, manages it. I want to despise this movie because it hurts, but somehow I just can’t. It’s handled with too light of a touch and filmed with too much love to make this a film that I hate. And that ending is brave and heartbreaking (when one of them goes into the other one’s bedroom and sees the jacket… That hits a really personal place and hurts like hell). It’s a bit like ‘Same Love’, something both the straight and the gay community can both enjoy together because it breeds understanding and discussion. So while I may not like the fact that it didn’t have that happy ending I so needed, I believe that it’s because of films like this that the gay community is able to be as open and as flamboyant as we are now. And for that I owe it everything.
This is the other favourite gay movie, ranking third on the Backlot’s (formerly AfterElton) list. Naturally, I really wanted to see it. But it wasn’t until I watched Hellbent (the gay horror movie and my worst movie of the year, possibly ever) that I realised I was ready to see this movie. I wanted something uplifting. And I got it. Shelter is just one of the sweetest, loveliest and warmest films I’ve ever seen. This is the ultimate gay movie and one I’d recommend to anyone just coming out or just finding out about themselves. It makes it seem normal and natural for two men to fall in love. What’s more amazing is that they’re two surfers, one of the more macho professions and none of them are flamboyant or the stereotypical, they’re just in love. It’s not revolutionary or particularly clever, but it is one of those films that makes you feel like you belong, that you’re safe. It even has a happy ending (and a killer soundtrack)! And I love, love, love it.
So, there we have it. My top ten films of last year and the end of my awards. This series of articles was a lot of work but very rewarding and it's just really made me annoyed at myself about how much I neglect this blog. In fact, that's one of my new year's resolutions; to stop being so damn lazy with this thing! So, with the new year, I have a few plans about how I wish to continue this blog but I find that if I voice them, then I don't follow through, so you'll just have to see. Just now that bigger and better things are coming. I hope :)
Thanks so much,