Top 5 Films: Personal Favourites

By Dear Cast & Crew

Mailed on April 20, 2017

Dear Film Lovers,

Last week we happily ceded the floor to fellow critics who submitted their top 5 films from the Dear Cast and Crew era. Now it's our turn.

Unlike our previous lists in the anniversary bonanza, these aren't our favourite reviews, or the ones that got us the most traffic. This Top 5 is all about the films themselves. The ones that moved us, wowed us, shocked us, and reminded us why we dedicate so many hours to cinema's hypnotic spell.

Christopher Redmond's Top Five Films

The Act of Killing (2012)
Few films have ever made me feel so… much. Angry, horrified, mesmerized, baffled, shocked, confounded, and, ultimately, inspired. Entertained, even. An unparalleled achievement in filmmaking. Considering the subject matter, it's also surprisingly re-watchable.

Spring Breakers (2013)
Everything Spring Breakers is trying to do, it does brilliantly. It's defensible trash. It knows exactly how to give the audience what they want, and, at the same time, mock them for wanting it. Exploitation rarely raises to such heights.

Nightcrawler (2014)
A master class of narrative clarity and character ambiguity. The implausibility about the ending that many argued over is completely irrelevant to me because the allegory was so strong. No film has used black comedy and biting social commentary to such an effect since A Clockwork Orange.

Inside Out (2015)
The animation is eye-popping and beautiful, the voice casting is pitch-perfect, the premise is wildly original (even if the formula is familiar), and the final execution is altogether inspired. Inside Out cuts through all cynicism, speaks volumes about the human condition, and is nothing but a delight for the senses.

Swiss Army Man (2016)
I've never fallen in love with a movie so hard and so fast. Swiss Army Man takes body humour to such absurd lengths in order to reach an insanely ambitious goal. "We want to make a movie where the first fart makes you laugh," the original pitch went, "and the last one makes you cry." Well, fuck. Mission accomplished. It might be the most poorly reviewed film I've ever thought was truly great. The film is pure cinema, and delightfully puerile.


Jared Young's Top Five Films

Arrival(2016)
A profound mind-altering experience disguised as an alien invasion thriller; I think back to it often, and still, months later, genuinely believe it has changed my perception of the world around me.

Sicario (2015)
It's the Michael Mann-iest film of the last five years (sorry Blackhat) and for that reason alone belongs on this list.

This Is the End (2013)
I can see how people might be put off by the self-centered nature of this 90-minute inside joke, but it's the funniest movie of the decade, and a surprisingly earnest look at how adult life forces friendships to evolve.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Thanks to my daughter, I have seen SW:TFA about a thousand times, and the more I watch it, the more I appreciate how brilliantly it subverts the impossible expectations placed upon it by essentially recreating the conditions of the original film.

Manchester By the Sea (2016)
A film that I am unlikely to watch again, so devastating is the middle act. Casey Affleck's scene in the police station was one of the most affecting moments I've ever experienced in a movie theatre.

Honourable Mentions

Carol (2015)
The Guest (2015)
Ex Machina (2015)
Django Unchained (2012)
The Trip to Italy (2014)


Casey Tourangeau's Top Five Films

In alphabetical order:

Her (2013)
I don't know why I keep underestimating Spike Jonze, but I do. The benefit is that a movie like Her can sneak up on me in ways I could never anticipate.

The Imposter (2013)
I'm still not sure if this film is completely irresponsible in the way it treats—and accuses—its subjects. The fact that I'm still trying to figure that out is why it's on this list.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
This movie is totally bananas. But it's the kind of bananas that only a true artist can achieve. It also happens to stand as the ultimate rebuke to two decades of ever-more indistinguishable, CGI-reliant mediocrities. That makes it indispensable.

The Master (2012)
Every new PT Anderson film is never what I'm expecting it to be. Often, I think the movies turn out to even not be what he expects then to be. But watching him figure it out onscreen is always fascinating and rewarding.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Somehow, Martin Scorsese manages to have his cake and eat it too: A biting, angry look at the black heart of American capitalism that also manages to have as much fun as its protagonist does. I'll take a slice of that.

Honourable Mentions

Hell or High Water (2016)
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Inside Llewyn Davis (2012)
Inside Out (2015)
The LEGO Movie (2014)


Di Golding's Top Five Films

Amour (2012)
A masterpiece that should be required viewing for any newly engaged couple.

Creed(2015)
My love of clichéd sports films knows no bounds. Creed re-energized my favourite franchise and gave me my new mantra: One step at a time. One punch at a time. One round at a time.

Before Midnight (2013)
Behind my crusty exterior beats the heart of a romantic. This is a worthy bookend to a trilogy that gave us the opportunity to watch two conflicted and vulnerable characters grow together, and apart, and together again.

Wild (2014)
A deeply flawed female character seeking agency over her life drives this simple yet utterly compelling film. I still get chills when I hear El Condor Pasa.

The Imposter (2013)
Before Serial and Making a Murderer gripped my existence, this thrilling, creep-fest of a documentary had me yelling "WTF!" at the screen. Couldn't stop thinking/talking about it for ages after viewing. Absolutely riveting.


Tim McEown's Top Five Films

In no particular order:

Timbuktu (2014)
This is a film that sticks in my heart and head more than any other I ever seen. The music, the images, the character, the setting, are all indelible stamped in my memory. I am literally haunted by this film.

Ida (2013)
Modern black and white film making that feels pulled out of some alternate past. Stunningly beautiful.

The Witch (2015)
A great film by a first time director, Robert Eggers, and filled with many things I find fascinating: the supernatural, human being's complicated and often perverse relationship with religion, and a dust dry sense of humor.

Under the Skin (2013)
This was one of the most compelling and subtly horrifying experiences I've ever had in the cinema. That was something I expected going into the theatre. What I didn't expect was how sympathetic an alien killing machine could become. And the sound work in this film is completely next level.

Mad Max: Fury Road Chrome Edition(2015)
Fury Road in Black and White. Speaks for itself.


Nat Master's Top Five Films

Inside Llewyn Davis(2013)
Because I am a sucker for folk music and Oscar Isaac's eyes (not necessarily in that order), and because that cat was goddamn robbed of an Oscar nomination.

Gone Girl (2014)
Because it was every bit as good as the book, and also because of the wary glances exchanged by couples leaving the theatre afterwards.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013)
Because I wanted to include at least one Canadian film on my list, and there was no contest (sit down, Denis Villeneuve fans) (you too, Xavier Dolan fans).

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
Because Nina Simone was the Beyonce to my shy, little, brown kid self. Someone I know deemed this film, "Just okay" and later spent two months nursing a broken leg – I didn't break it, I'm just pointing out that the universe leaves no transgression unanswered.

Phoenix (2015)
Because you won't find a more perfect ending to a film if you spent the rest of your life searching for one.


Ankit Verma's Top Five Films

Interstellar (2014)
There are movies that you enjoy, and then there are movies that fundamentally change the way you perceive the world. Interstellar was that movie for me. Embrace the 5th dimension!

Her (2013)
As the credits began to roll on Her, I just sat there, speechless. I needed to take a second and process the events that brought out such raw, unfiltered emotion on my part. Simply beautiful and tragic. 99 Homes (2015)
99 Homes flew under the radar and straight into my psyche. What a deliciously twisted tale of corruption and capitalism led by Michael Shannon's performance as a greedy, power-hungry glutton.

When Marnie Was There (2014)
You can't have a best of anything list without a Studio Ghibli call-out. When Marnie Was There deals with grief and acceptance through a charming innocence that can only be experienced through the soul.

22 Jump Street (2014)
While all my above picks meddled with my heart and mind, 22 Jump Street went straight for the gut. Great chemistry between Hill and Tatum, insanely funny, and one of the few instances where the sequel is better than the original, 22 Jump Street trumps all logic and delivers one of the funniest movies I've seen in years.

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