10) Big Miracle: This great family film is based on a true story. Back in the late 80s, a group of people came together to save some whales in Alaska, proving that people with very different concerns and opinions can indeed work together to solve problems. I think the US Congress should sit down and watch this one.
9) The Grey: A plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, and the survivors must evade a pack of wolves as they try to get back to civilization. Liam Neeson is great as the leader of the survivors. Some of the wolf special effects are iffy, but thanks to Neeson, this little action/adventure movie was surprisingly compelling.
8) Bernie: This is the second of three movies based on true stories on the list. Jack Black plays Bernie, a beloved mortician who shocks everyone in a small Texas town. Black's performance is brilliant, and I won't be surprised at all to see him nominated for a bunch of awards.
7) Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: This was a classic case of liking a movie a lot more than I thought I would. A fisheries expert helps a sheik with his seemingly impossible dream of bringing fly-fishing to the desert. While I didn't like the romantic angle of the film that much, it didn't lose me. The unusual friendship between the fish guy and the sheik ultimately made this movie for me.
6) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: A group of aging Brits take up residence in a suspect retirement home in India. Score one for the old folks. This movie nicely shows that new beginnings aren't only for the young.
5) The Dark Knight Rises: The Avengers may have won the box office battle, but for my money, TDKR was a much better movie. I didn't like this one as much as The Dark Knight, but it is certainly a worthy conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.
4) The Silver Linings Playbook: I'm not a big fan of romantic comedies, but this one is quirky, the good kind of quirky. The romantic relationship at the core of this movie is excellent, but it's everything else going on in this movie that makes it so great. Of course, any movie that weaves football into the lives of its characters so thoroughly and genuinely can't miss in my book.
3) Flight: Denzel is typically brilliant as a pilot who prevents a catastrophic plane crash despite being drunk and hopped up on coke. There have been a lot of good movies about addiction, but this may be the best one I've ever seen.
2) Argo: Don't look now, but Ben Affleck has become one helluva director. Dare I say, Eastwoodian. Of course, let's hope we don't see Affleck talking to a chair any time soon. Or maybe we should hope for that. Sorry, I digress. This is another movie based on real events, this time the stranger-than-fiction escape of 6 American diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis.
1) Life of Pi: Ang Lee took a beloved book and created an eye-popping film masterpiece. The best thing I can say about this movie is that it will leave you asking life's ultimate question: What do I believe?