#1: Anna Karenina
Overwhelming rapture. That is what I felt watching Joe Wright's breathtaking take on Leo Tolstoy's oft adapted romance novel. Last summer I had seen the six-minute clip that revealed the unconventional theatrical approach Wright was taking. He not only staged the film largely in a lavish theater, but also created a heightened performance style where high society literally bends over backwards to take in fireworks, handheld fans flap like agitated wings, and characters glide as if life were a dance number, gorgeously and boldly choreographed. By the time I went to see Anna Karenina, my hopes were so high that I worried no film could live up to them. But Wright's risks paid off.

Much like Anna was seduced by Vronsky, I was swept away by the film's dynamic staging, where sets and actors swirl through the frame with dazzling ease, its moody romances, and Anna's inescapable tragedy. As soon as the credits came up, I wanted to see it again. In IMAX. In 3D. I wanted to roll around in its lush art design, tangible emotions and probing heartbreak. I walked out of the theater intoxicated, and knew Anna Karenina was not just one of my favorite films of the year, it was now one of my favorite films, full stop.

Great Movies That Didn’t Make The Cut: The Avengers, Life of Pi, Two Days in New York, Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln, The Raid: Redemption, Goon and Cloud Atlas.

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