1. Higher Ground (2011)- First time director Vera Farmiga adapts the memoirs of Carolyn Briggs in a woman's search for spiritual satisfaction that grows and wanes. Also starring Farmiga, this is a highly intelligent and moving story. The moment between John Hawkes and his ex-wife at a dinner table over a birthday party is such an honest and moving moment... and the whole film honors this type of naturalism wonderfully. A real treat that was mis-managed during its release last year.
2. Mysteries of Lisbon (2011)- Raoul Ruiz's highly regarded period piece is lush and involving, even at a running time of 4 plus hours. Its oil-painting aesthetic, characters that appear and then re-appear as others, and swooning narrative can be confusing at times, but at a certain point one has to let go and enjoy it.
3. Ken Park (2002)- Known for its outre` teen sexual posturing, Larry Clark's tale of suburban anomie is little more than that- teen posturing. I guess I really shouldn't expect anything less from the maker of "kids" and "Bully".
4. Fright Night (2011)- Colin Farrell is good and it took me forever to realize that's Imogeen Potts... an actress who really stood out in "28 Days Later". Other than that, not so much going on here.
5. Texasville (1990)- Oh how far the mighty have fallen. "The Last Picture Show" is pretty damn close to masterpiece status and one of the most evocative renderings of small town Texas life ever put on film. "Texasville" is a chore to get through, with grating characters and a script that feels labored and cliched. A huge disappointment.
6. Contraband (2012)- Gritty thriller with greasy haired guys doing bad things along the ports. There are a few nice set pieces and Mark Wahlburg can do this type of thing in his sleep.
7. Bellflower (2011)- Hipster artiness to the extreme. If this is the future of independent cinema, I think we're in trouble.
8. Haywire (2012)- An action thriller from the chameleon of filmmaking, Steven Soderbergh. The fight sequences with Gina Carana are thrilling and seeing her tussle with Michael Fassbender in a tight hotel room is exhilerating. I just wish Soderbergh would've abandoned the Oceans Eleven soundtrack.