I did this last year, so I think I'll try it again this year. My top ten movies list won't be ready for another month at least, so in lieu of that, I'm presenting a different list, one more relevant to this blog in particular. Movie-going can sometimes lead to a surprise or two, or a distinctive moment that lingers in the memory for months or years afterward, and that's what this top five list is devoted to. If nothing else, consider it an incentive to continue seeing movies in theaters and/or other people. It's an act that, regrettably, was a little less safe this year, but I doubt it'll ever fully go away.
5. Salim Akil makes fun of my cell phone camera at Urbanworld. He wasn't cruel about it, and he laughed and shook my hand afterward, so I hold no grudge. Maybe next year, I'll stop trying to do two jobs at once and just focus on writing about the films at the festival. Hell, I'll bet I could even wrangle an interview or two instead. What do you think - would you rather see pictures or read interviews from a festival? In addition to reviews, of course.
4. The director and cast of Wet Hot American Summer makes a surprise appearance at a screening of their movie. It was the first time I had seen the movie, so it wasn't like I had any great attachment to it, or any of the stars, but the crowd at Brooklyn Bridge Park sure did - and boy, were they thrilled when this happened! It was quite a moment, and I'm glad I was there for it.
3. Halloween at the Loews Jersey City. I originally had a different theme for Halloween this year, but between the William Castle-inspired gimmicks for Homicidal, the "haunted house" section of the second floor, the costumes, and the movies themselves, I knew I couldn't miss going to the Loews the weekend before Halloween (and before Hurricane Sandy, too - talk about trick or treat). There were even more movies than the ones I ended up writing about, and I wish I could've seen them all. Side-note: I spent that Saturday afternoon up in City Island dropping off my artwork for my gallery show, which would've been the following weekend if not for Sandy, so I ended up covering a tremendous amount of ground: from eastern Queens through Manhattan up into the Bronx and City Island, then back down into Manhattan and over into Jersey City, then back into Manhattan and ultimately home to Queens. All in one day!
2. Seeing Battle for Brooklyn on the night the Barclays Center opened. You gotta understand - I, like many New Yorkers, had been reading about the impending opening of the new sports arena in downtown Brooklyn for months, and about what it'll mean for the borough in general - and lost in all the shuffle was the hard reality that a number of neighborhood residents were displaced from their homes in order for this to happen. While watching this compelling documentary, the Barclays was literally right down the street, laser lights flashing into the sky. It felt a bit surreal... and yet quintessentially New York also, in this time where the 99 percent are making their voices heard.
1. Opening day for The Avengers. I've said it before, but if you haven't been reading superhero comics most of your life, I doubt you can fully comprehend what this day meant to people like me, and in Astoria/LIC, where I saw the movie, there was a certain atmosphere floating outside the theater. From the Applebee's across the street where the waiters were dressed in superhero outfits, to the sidewalk comics dealer selling comics and posters, to the kids running around the hallway of the theater giddy with anticipation, this was what going to the movies should feel like. Lots of high-falutin' film critics love to cite movies like Avengers as heralding the death knell of "real" cinema, and I've admitted that I'm beginning to get a little burned out by effects-driven spectacle movies all the time, but I'm proud I was part of this. My inner child wouldn't have wanted it any other way.