In a matter of a few days, Black Sheep Reviews will conclude its 10-year run. So many people have been in touch with me since I announced the end two months ago, from writers and industry folk to readers who have been with me for years. It has been incredibly touching to hear how much Black Sheep Reviews has meant to you over the years. I knew people were reading but I didn’t realize I had become a regular part of people’s lives, that I had inspired others along the way and that I had actually helped many people decide what movies they should see. It seems naive, that I should have known this, but sometimes, when you’re pressing on to get the job done, it is easy to forget that, while the work is done for you when you put it out to the world, it can then go on to take on a life all its own.
I’ve said thank you to my readers and supporters a number of times over the years and every time I do, I mean it with a great deal of sincerity. I would never have made it this far if it weren’t for you being there to read the words I wrote. And with that, let us get to the final 10 films in our BSR Top 100 series. I hope you’ve enjoyed following this series as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together.
# 10 (500) DAYS OF SUMMER (2009)
One of the reasons I am leaving Black Sheep Reviews behind me is to find a new love. For all intents and purposes, BSR has been my husband for the last ten years. It’s been a beautiful relationship but I think it’s time for something real. The last time I felt anything resembling love was right around the time that (500) DAYS OF SUMMER came out. I will forever equate that relationship, albeit short-lived, to the one in this film. Like Tom and Summer, it didn’t last, but Marc Webb’s film reminds us that the journey is what matters most and that each journey we take better prepares us for the next.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Readers Choice Award, Original Screenplay, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Original Screenplay
# 9 JUNO (2007)
JUNO is a film I can watch again and again and again. Everything in Jason Reitman’s film comes together perfectly to make a deeply satisfying film experience. Diablo Cody’s screenplay is sharp and sensitive and announced a fresh voice in film writing. Ellen Page’s pregnant small-town teenager waddles around trying to make sense of what her life has become at a time when nothing makes sense to begin with. She carries the movie, along with a big round belly, with Reitman supporting her at every turn. I’m very happy this little film was embraced by so many people.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie, Best Actress (Ellen Page), Original Screenplay, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Actress (Ellen Page), Original Screenplay
# 8 MILK (2008)
As a gay man who came into his own in the 90’s, I came out to a world on the verge of social change. Slowly but surely, over the past 20 years, gay men and women have gone from marginalized to embraced and it has been a beautiful blessing to witness. That said, I also came out at a time when selfishness and immediate gratification made the history that afforded all this freedom obsolete or scarce. Gus Van Sant’s MILK was a moving and heartbreaking reminder of the struggles that came before me that I fortunately never had to endure. Of all the films in the Top 10, this one makes me cry the hardest.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Music, Supporting Actor (Josh Brolin), Supporting Actor (James Franco), Actor (Sean Penn), Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Actor (Sean Penn), Best Picture
# 7 BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)
What a whirlwind; what a tour de force; what a horrible film to see for the first time with a headache. If you know me personally, you know I suffer from chronic sinus pain but there was no way I was going to let a headache stop me from seeing this masterpiece. And though it was dizzying to sit through, I was still dazzled from start to finish. Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s BIRDMAN borders on genius and is easily one of the most insightful and thought provoking experiences I’ve had this last decade. And despite the headache, I still wanted to watch it again the moment it ended; it is a ride I just didn’t want to end.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Ensemble, Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Best Ensemble, Original Screenplay, Best Picture
# 6 J’AI TUE MA MERE (I KILLED MY MOTHER) (2009)
Ah, Xavier Dolan. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Monsieur Dolan a couple of times over the last ten years and he doesn’t know this, but one day he and I will be married. I’ve always been attracted to a man with a good eye and Dolan, whose eyes also happen to be beautiful, has exhibited a keen sense of style and direction from the very beginning of his career. His debut feature, I KILLED MY MOTHER, is a visceral experience that resonates with me to this day. For a first film, it is incredibly honest and direct and assured, and the fact that it is so personal also makes it quite brave as well. Combine that good eye with the confidence this man exudes in his filmmaking and I never stood a chance.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Little Movie
# 5 THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007)
2007 was a very good year. It would have to be if a movie as great as THERE WILL BE BLOOD could not win out as the movie of the year. Paul Thomas Anderson has always been a favourite of mine but he pushed himself harder than he ever had before with this film and in doing so, made the best film of his career, to date. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. His Daniel Plainview is iconic and rightfully so. Never has the insinuation that one would drink another man’s milkshake been so maniacal.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Looking Movie, Music, Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis)
# 4 GRAVITY (2013)
I know GRAVITY has its detractors who say it is too simple, too light weight if you will to have any gravitas. For me though, it is pure movie magic through and through. Alfonso Cuaron, along with his amazing technical crew, had to create new technology in order to make this film look as real as it did and the finished results are so thrilling, they leave you riveted the entire time. The film is anchored by an understated Sandra Bullock who never lets you forget that hers is a heavy heart despite how weightless her body has become. She isn’t just fighting to get back to Earth; she is fighting to take back the life she gave up on years before. GRAVITY is a simply a filmmaking triumph.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Big Movie, Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Music, Best Actress (Sandra Bullock), Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Big Movie, Best Looking Movie, Best Director, Best Picture
# 3 THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)
I scoffed at THE SOCIAL NETWORK when I first heard of its existence. A Facebook movie? Really? What could it be possibly be about? As it turns out, thanks to its brilliant Aaron Sorkin screenplay and David Fincher’s astute direction, it could be about almost everything that is wrong with American society today. Selfishness, detachment, class division and entitlement all come together in this vastly engaging and equally critical look at the rise of the social networking juggernaut. In the lead, Jesse Eisenberg begs us to loathe him but subtly wants us to love him simultaneously, and we do both of these things because he is just like us. At the end of the day, he is just looking to connect with someone.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Readers Choice Award, Best Looking Movie, Music, Supporting Actor (Armie Hammer), Adapted Screenplay, Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Looking Movie, Music, Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
# 2 NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007)
I called in sick to my day job so that I could attend the press screening for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, the Coen brothers’ finest film. I was actually sick with a pretty bad cold so I wasn’t really lying; I just didn’t stay in bed to get better. There was no way I was going to miss this magnificent creature. I had already heard such great things about the film and it did not disappoint. It is an exhilarating and intelligent cat and mouse game that also happens to double as an allegory for how the country has become violent and unrecognizable to older generations, all the while proving the theory wrong by making a film with depth that only age and experience allows for true appreciation. Being privy to Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh and Day-Lewis’s Plainview in the same year is truly evidence of a disturbing time.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Best Looking Movie, Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), Actor (Josh Brolin), Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
# 1 BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
I delighted greatly in putting this list together but the only “problem” with it was that anyone who knew me, or anyone who has been reading BSR for years, would likely not have a very hard time figuring out what film would ultimately win out. Ang Lee’s BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN will always hold a special place in my heart. Months of anticipation had me both excited and terrified at the same time to see it. How could this film possibly satisfy my lofty expectations? Could this important film actually be the gay cinema masterpiece I wanted, nay needed, it to be? The pieces were certainly all in place for it to take this crown, from Lee at the helm, to the talented (and also beautiful) Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead roles, to the brilliant source material itself. If it was anything short of perfection, who knew how much longer I would have to wait for the stars to align like this again?
An epic snowstorm overtook Montreal the night the movie opened there but there was no way that was going to stop me from seeing it that night. Elation and exaltation ensued and I’ve seen the film at least five more times since then. The cinematography, the score, the supporting cast, all of it was just perfect and everything came together so brilliantly, making BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN the pinnacle of gay cinema. For all its formal successes, it will be studied years from now (unlike that other film that ended up beating it out for the Best Picture Oscar) and its cultural relevance has fused with its emotional resonance to make it, for me anyway, the best film released during the Black Sheep Reviews era. I will never quit this picture.
Mouton d’Or Award nominations: Supporting Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal), Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams), Best Little Movie, Actor (Heath Ledger), Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
Mouton d’Or Award wins: Best Little Movie, Best Director, Best Picture
And there you have it, folks. Thank you for taking this 10-week, and more importantly 10-year, journey with me. And don’t forget to vote for your favourite Mouton d’Or Award winner foe Best Picture below!