These are the five best movies I saw this year.
1) Bombay Beach
Nothing inspired me this year the way this movie did. I would happily watch scenes from it every day. It's beautifully shot. It pushes the boundaries of documentary. And the characters are indelible. For a taste, check out this excerpt.
Two men have one weekend together. This has the best aspects of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset with its own charm. Easily the sweetest, best gay movie I've ever seen. Somehow it's soft, subtle and beautiful, even with a cocaine and sex scene or two.
Mike Mills' most recent film is quirky in a smart, enjoyable way that his wife's film (The Future by Miranda July) just wasn't. I think that's because underneath the bells and whistles, this is a sweet, pure story. I love the score, the acting, the plot development and the main character's illustrations.
4) Blue Valentine
When I was watching this movie, I found it totally cute and sweet. But I felt wrecked for weeks after by its doomed-love-is-hopeless message. Even now, nearly a year later, I can't hear the film's central song -- "You and Me" -- without a knot tangling inside my gut. Unlike the other movies in this list, I never want to see this one again. Too powerful.
5) Bill Cunningham New York
This movie is so charming, but it also handles some serious and sad moments with aplomb.