capsule wardrobe #1: personal style

There are a lot of big changes happening in my life right now (quitting my long-term job, moving across the country, !!!) so in order to distract myself and feel some measure of control over my life I’m obsessing over the idea of creating a CAPSULE WARDROBE. I first started thinking about it when I came across the blog Un-Fancy, a super cute, unpretentious fashion blog all about creating and wearing your very own capsule wardrobe.

What is a capsule wardrobe, you might ask? Caroline from Un-Fancy defines it as “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear.” Basically, you cull all of the crap you don’t use out of your life, and stick with less stuff, but stuff that you actually need. I’ve been especially mulling over the idea of making more with less now that I have to sift through all of the junk I’ve accumulated over the past 3.5 years of my life in NYC and figure out what I actually want to bring back with me to LA. Maybe it’s the commitment-phobe in me, but I like the idea of being able to pack up at a moments notice and take off to wherever I need to go.

There are a few things that particularly appeal to me about the capsule wardrobe:

1) It’s anti-consumerist, and fights the idea of quantity over quality. In the era of (buzzword-alert!) FAST FASHION we’ve grown so accustomed to buying cheap crap we don’t need just because we can, because we feel like there’s some void within us that we can fill with piles and piles of STUFF. Committing to a capsule wardrobe forces you to carefully consider your shopping choices, and reduces the probability of buying something you don’t have any use for.

2) It’s been scientifically proven (somewhere, don’t ask me to look it up) that having too many choices can make you less happy, and this has definitely proven true for me in terms of my wardrobe. For a long time I’ve bought things that stick out to me in the moment, but don’t actually integrate into my wardrobe very well. Every morning I open my closet and am faced with so many PATTERNS and COLORS and different designs and aesthetics and it honestly stresses me out. I’ve noticed that I’m much happier when I travel and am forced to bring a smaller amount of versatile clothing from which I can create multiple outfits.

3) Because my closet is so schizophrenic, I feel like it doesn’t really represent who I am as a person. As a creative (ugh) I like to think of my clothes as another way to express myself, so it actually feels like cognitive dissonance when I wear an outfit that doesn’t feel like ME. (First world problems much?)

So, being super obsessive and whatnot, I’ve been agonizing over how to create a capsule wardrobe for myself. Through Un-Fancy I found a link to an amazingly detailed and organized instructional website called Into Mind which is basically a wet dream for OCD detail-oriented people like me. This beautifully designed site lays out the roadmap to the perfect capsule wardrobe through Six Pillars of Wardrobe Building:

1) Define your personal style
2) Develop a signature look
3) Wardrobe structure
4) Creating outfits
5) Wardrobe organization
6) Streamline your beauty routine

I’ve decided to use these pillars as a rough guide to my own personal journey through the world of capsule wardrobes. However, I’m also determined NOT to go crazy (so hard!) and get too caught up in the details and nitty gritty of everything (SERIOUSLY SO HARD!!!). I’ve noticed that one of the cardinal rules many capsuling peeps follow is to have a specific number of pieces in their wardrobe. For Un-Fancy it’s 37, for Into Mind it’s somewhere between 30-40. Knowing myself, this restriction will literally drive me insane and I will get all caught up in this one specific thing and neglect the larger idea of the capsule wardrobe, which is to ONLY HAVE CLOTHES THAT YOU ACTUALLY WEAR. So yes. I’m electing to ignore that.

BACK TO THE PILLARS, I’m devoting one blog post per pillar (or more, like I said, I’m keepin’ this loose) so I’m starting with PERSONAL STYLE! This step is the easiest and most fun for me, because I’m addicted to Pinterest and already have a good sense of what my aesthetic is. As recommended by both Into Mind and Un-Fancy, I started with a mood board of outfits I can personally see wearing, then broke it down to find patterns. Being an analytical person, this was both fun and terrifying because I take things wayyy too seriously and gleaned way too many patterns and such from my mood boards, which I have collected here as a handy reference for both you and me!

NUMBER ONE: SIMPLE RETRO MINI SILHOUETTE

It’s no secret that the sixties are my favorite era for pretty much everything, but mostly for fashion. I love the short hems, the A-line mini-skirts, the color-blocking, the bold shapes, the tights down to the mid-high heel…I also know that these silhouettes work well for me, being a Twiggy-sized person. I think this moodboard represents the basic silhouette I’m going for: clean lines, short hem with long legs.

NUMBER TWO: MONOCHROME PATTERN MIXING

A twist on my basic silhouette. Another thing I love about the sixties are the bold patterns, especially in black and white. I love stripes, checks, houndstooth… Also, when the patterns are monochrome, you can mix them together without it looking too crazy, and god knows I love me some pattern-mixing.

NUMBER THREE: PUNK SCHOOLGIRL

Another variation on the basic silhouette: schoolgirl style and/or punk style. I’ve always loved the idea of a uniform, so school uniforms have always appealed to me. I also love the patterns involved — plaid, argyle — as well as the fun accessories — satchels, berets, knee-high socks. I also love punk-inspired looks, adding some edge to what could be cloying sweetness with the schoolgirl look. Hosiery and make-up are key here — rip up some fishnet stockings, smudge some black eyeliner around your eyes, and you’re good to go.

NUMBER FOUR: MENSWEAR & TROUSERS

The previous boards are all based around skirts; this is my trouser board. With trousers I favor a good menswear look, especially in layering a white collared shirt with a crewneck sweater (also very schoolgirl) with a very masculine coat and menswear shoes (oxfords, Chelsea boots, monk shoes). This can go either with skinny jeans (a perennial favorite) or looser trousers. For a more casual look, pair a baggy sweater or sweatshirt with skinny jeans, or do a casual plain shirt with some oversized Levi’s. None of these looks are particularly feminine — I do favor androgyny.

NUMBER FIVE: LONG MINIMAL LINES

I think of this as my post-punk board; very dark and minimalist and looooong. I’ve found myself drawn to midi-skirts yet somehow I DON’T OWN ONE. I clearly like pairing them with long, loose sweaters, creating one long continuous line down the body. I also like the long, clean minimal look with trousers — keep everyone one color to, again, create the long line from your head to toe. Make sure everything is dark in order to maximize goth-ness.

NUMBER SIX: GIRLY STUFF

But it isn’t all so dark and gloomy! I do enjoy a feminine edge, mostly through mixing light-colored textures. It’s not over the top girly, it just adds a bit of softness.

To sum up my six insanely detailed boards: I like juxtaposition, not making anything too hard or too soft. I like an androgynous edge, but mixed with some feminine details. I don’t want to go too twee with the sixties-inspired looks, which is where the punk and post-punk details come in. I also like juxtaposition in my proportions: short skirts with long legs and color-blocking, baggy shirts with skinny pants, long but slim, etc. So while this all may seem a bit wide-ranging, I can see the connecting throughlines and patterns through all six moodboards.

Up next is the signature look–I can already see it coming together just from this first little exercise. Stay tuned for more in THE ADVENTURES OF THE CAPSULE WARDROBE!



on howard ashman

Lately the film “Waking Sleeping Beauty” has been a huge inspiration. To me, there may be no medium that blends talent, hard work, dedication, and skill like animation does; it’s an art form that I admire immensely. Of course, Disney movies were a big part of my childhood, and I had even more respect for the films because my dad is an animator and taught me about the enormous amount of work and art goes into creating something like a Disney animated feature film. “Waking Sleeping Beauty” explores the Second Renaissance (Little Mermaid through Lion King) of Disney animation, and although all of the tales of CEO squabbling and posturing are fascinating, what’s most interesting (and inspiring) to me is seeing the process of a group of talented individuals who come together and create some amazing pieces of art. Watching films like this one make me want to go on and create something amazing myself.

This goes without saying, but possibly the most indelible aspect of the Disney films of the period are the songs. Who can think of Little Mermaid without “Part of My World” or “Under the Sea,” or Beauty and the Beast without “Be My Guest” and “Beauty and the Beast”? Whenever I hear these songs, I’m immediately taken back to my childhood, and to these magical stories that were also able to evoke incredible human emotion. I’d always been aware that these songs had to be written by someone, but was woefully ignorant of who that might be until I watched this movie. Thankfully, “Waking Sleeping Beauty” introduces us to the songwriting duo Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, and Ashman in particular is amazing to get to know.

In an interview with the director Don Hahn, Hahn mentions that he was surprised that Roy Disney actually compared Ashman to the untouchable Walt Disney, but he could see how Ashman had that same effect that Walt did in galvanizing the studio to greater creative heights. In the clips where we get to see Ashman in action, his intensity and fierce intelligence and distinct point of view are all apparent. He was ostensibly brought onto these projects as a lyricist, but he was instrumental in making The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin into the classics they’re known as today. The people I most admire and who most inspire me are those who are incredibly talented and work incredibly hard and have unique viewpoints, so it’s really no surprise that watching and learning about Howard Ashman has had a real effect on me. However, learning about him is also bittersweet because of his untimely death due to complications from AIDS. It’s difficult to put into words how tragic his passing is — especially because I didn’t know him personally (obviously) and I don’t want to cheapen his death by making it all about ME — but it’s just very sad to know that this vibrant personality, who clearly had so much more to give, who was so bright and talented and at the top of his game, is gone from this world forever. He’s the kind of person who brings to mind the word “irreplaceable.”



a scene in between

Do you ever get the feeling that you belong in a different time? I finally bought A Scene In Between, because I knew that this book was basically made for me–and guess what! It was! It features all of my favorite bands, all of my favorite kinds of fashion…it’s really the holy grail. I feel like I’ve finally found my place in this world, but unfortunately this place only existed twenty years ago in the UK…

It ties into my growing fascination with twee and underground movements. I’ve been listening to twee and reading this old essay about twee on Pitchfork and thinking about what it means to have an underground movement. In a time when technology is supposed to make it oh-so-easy to connect to the people around you, I often feel isolated and impotent. There are so many voices out there, shouting and making noise, that it’s hard to make your own noise heard. I wonder whether it’s worth trying to make some kind of mark on the world, whether anything can actually change. I don’t know much about world events; I only know enough to constantly feel an impending sense of doom.

What does this have to do with twee? I’m not really sure. I just keep thinking about underground music movements of the past. I’ve been reading this book Lipstick Traces, and so far it’s been a lot about the Sex Pistols and what they meant for culture at the time. It was so shocking and revolutionary in the 70s for a bunch of snotty kids to yell curse words at authority figures, and I thought about how such a thing would barely make a ripple these days, in a culture where anything goes. Of course freedom of expression is a good thing, but how can one be an individual when everyone is an individual? I don’t know if I’m making any sense.

I like handmade things, and creating my own world, and the small and personal, which is what I like about twee. I do think that in the consumerist, big-corporation, international world we live in, there’s a value in thinking local and small. But we can’t think too small, right, otherwise we lose a sense of the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is important. You have to have some knowledge of the larger context of your actions. But this leads me in the same contradictory circle over and over—so to make a bigger change, you have to think smaller? Or do you have to make smaller changes that ultimately add up to something bigger? And where does your own personal happiness factor in? At what cost do we make a revolutionary change?

However, what I like about twee and the movement explored in A Scene In Between is that these aren’t people who came from means and had the luxury to wile their hours away making music and zines and what-not…they had day jobs, and the music and zines were their entry into a world that they would otherwise be excluded from. The music isn’t polished and made with high quality equipment; it was recorded with rudimentary materials in someone’s bedroom. The zines are cheaply made and xeroxed–which isn’t to say that they weren’t made with care. These misfits saw that the mainstream world wouldn’t accept them, so they created their own world.

But I digress…this book has introduced me to The Pastels, and they. are. perfect. I can’t stop listening to them, and their songs are stuck in my head constantly. I also might be a tiny bit in love with Stephen Pastel, but don’t tell anyone.





punk marie antoinette



THE DIRE STATE OF MOVIES


idk a picture of me directing my latest short film is that narcissistic IDK

Okay, so maybe the title is a liiiiittle hyperbolic, but I’ve been reading a lot about how this summer’s blockbuster season has been a bit of a bummer. (Summer. Bummer. IT RHYMES!) And it’s true–I barely went to the theaters this summer, and when I did, it was for films like Frances Ha, Upstream Color and Blue Jasmine, not any tentpole blockbusters. I’ve had my own thoughts about why movies have become particularly terrible, but I hesitated to write something about it because critics all over the internet have written approximately ten million think-pieces concerning this very subject. However, very few people have addressed what I see as the biggest problem in movies: the lack of any original, non-white-or-male voices in the film industry.

Recently I’ve found myself growing increasingly disinterested in discussion about upcoming directors and upcoming projects because I realize that none of the decisions Hollywood makes are made with me, a half-Asian young woman, in mind. Now, to be fair, I also realize that movies these days largely aren’t made for Americans at all–they’re made to appeal to international audiences who have little interest in “American” stories. In the interest of mass appeal, movies have been growing broader, and less specifically “American,” so as not to alienate international audiences. But let’s be real: movies have never been made with women in mind. (I know this isn’t really a HOLY SHIT MIND BLOWING statement to make.) When I look at blogs like Hollywood Boys Club, I’m again smacked in the face by the knowledge that TV shows and movies aren’t made for women, and they’re definitely not made by women. Even major movie studios who make “four quadrant” movies are largely ignoring two quadrants, younger and older women, because they believe that women will go to male-oriented movies, while men won’t go to female-oriented movies.

Is this an erroneous assumption to make? Eh, probably not, but it’s not because male-oriented movies are inherently better than their female counterparts; it’s because of a larger overriding sexism that exists in our society that says “girl” things are silly and frivolous and bad while male things are serious and dramatic and real. (For example, let’s look at people’s extreme hatred of Zooey Deschanel for being “girly,” nevermind her obvious success and talent, and the hard work it must have taken for her to get to this point. She has bangs and wears dresses, ergo, she can’t be taken seriously!) And people, especially studios looking to make a lot of money, are afraid to challenge the status-quo, because what if they bet on the wrong horse (aka women and/or minorities) and lose?

This kind of safe, backward thinking has resulted in a homogenous slate of movies. Several people have commented on how unoriginal and uninteresting blockbusters this past summer have been, but many people are missing what is, to me, the obvious. When I read this article at AV Club about whether movies are really doomed I was confused and frustrated by what the author was trying to say. Am I supposed to be comforted by the fact that established, successful directors have enough money to do whatever they want? I don’t care about established directors! They’re the problem! We need new voices, and specifically, we need new voices that aren’t white or straight or male. Movies have fallen into the pit they’ve fallen into because we recycle the same directors and writers over and over rather than getting people with new, original ideas and perspectives. But studios will never break that cycle because they don’t want to take a chance. They don’t want quality, they don’t want new voices–all they see is $$$.

That’s why it’s up to people like me, like us (I’m being optimistic and assuming that you, dear reader, agree with me) to make the change that we want to see, to force major studios and the world at large to notice us and realize that we can’t be ignored. It would be easy for us to collectively shrug and say it doesn’t matter–why do we need to infiltrate the studio system? Why does the mainstream matter? It matters because until the world views women and minorities as “mainstream,” we’ll be viewed as the “other,” as people whose opinions don’t matter, whose interests don’t matter, whose perspectives don’t matter. I’m tired of being shunted to the side, of being ignored, because I exist, and no matter how much mainstream media tries to tell me that they don’t want me, I’m going to force them to recognize that I am here.



grumpy girl #2

This time wearing Red Valentino.



grumpy girl


click to enlarge

Whenever I draw, even when it’s just for fun, I often think of who this character is beyond this drawing. This girl’s name is Aiko, and she’s half-Japanese, half-French living in Paris. She’s always really grumpy and pretty nihilistic and basically hates everything, even though she lives a posh life, goes to a fancy school, eats at fancy restaurants, etc. She just doesn’t feel like she belongs in this sort of life, but doesn’t have any idea as to an alternative. I feel like I might possibly make a comic about her at some point. HA, who am I kidding, I’m way too lazy to do something like that.

(p.s. she’s wearing this jacket and this skirt, both from Orla Kiely.)



80s helena

Helena Bonham Carter in the 1980s might be my new fashion idol.

All photos from here



on greatness


(This photo is stolen from a similarly themed essay on Vulture. Don’t judge me. It’s a great photo.)

A word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is “greatness.” Greatness, to me, means achieving something larger than yourself. It’s not about success, necessarily, but the feeling that you’re contributing something of importance to mankind. I don’t have pretensions of my ~changing the world for the better~ or anything like that; I mean it more in the way you approach things, not in how others perceive you. I’ve been thinking about greatness because I want to start approaching my art again like it’s art, rather than a means to an end.

I know that I’m a naturally competitive person, and I know that I care a lot about how others see me. Blame it on a childhood spent as a misfit, and wanting someday to prove to the people who once underestimated me that I can be successful, famous, adored. I’ve often been driven by the idea that one day, I’ll receive my accolades, and that is what will make all of this worth it.

This is such a sad, empty way to approach life. I struggle with remembering why I wanted to make art (be it drawing, making movies, writing, whatever) in the first place. I’ve been trying to slowly reconnect with the passion that I know resides in me, which in many ways is so much more fulfilling than a drive to succeed. Because if you’re going to make truly moving art, you have to make it with a pure heart.

This sounds like flowery drivel, I know, but I want to be romantic again. I hate constantly comparing myself to more successful people and coming up short. I hate feeling like I have a chip on my shoulder, that I have something to prove. Fear of failure is a good motivator, sure, but maybe the love of creation is a better one. Creation is such a strong word–it calls to mind the divine. Creation is about making something bigger than yourself, something with its own power. To use creation to achieve material means is not creation at all; it’s unworthy of the word.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to introduce the divine into my life again. Not divinity in the religious sense, but I suppose in a spiritual one. To make something great, you have to tap into the place inside of yourself that’s purely human, that which is purely human in all of us. It may sound like I have delusions of grandeur, but I think that everyone is able to reach for greatness, and should. We should all want to create the best lives that we can, to look back and see that we gave it our all, not for money or titles or awards, but because our time is short and the essence of humanity is so elusive. Why not try to touch the divine?



top ten movies of 2012

After the endless, mediocre string of masturbatory movies about ~the magic of film~ in 2011, I thought 2012 was a rather good year. I feel that movies released in the same year tend to have some kind of over-arching theme to them (like the aforementioned “movie magic” theme of 2011), and I think that 2012 was all about the flawed, idiosyncratic, singular protagonist. You could make the argument that, yes, generally, movies follow a protagonist, but I think that the protagonists of 2012′s movies were about striking out on their own path, everything else be damned. (Or they were spiritual journeys about the connected-ness of the universe, or the meaning of life, or whatever. See: Cloud Atlas, Life of Pi.) This year I had the pleasure of seeing more films than I usually do, so I decided that I felt reasonably enough informed to make a top ten list of my favorite films of the year. Because I know that everyone is TERRIBLY INTERESTED in what I have to say about movies. Anyway, without further ado:

10.) Perks of Being a Wallflower

Okay, so Perks was a pretty slight film, and I can’t remember too much about it, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The twist ending is really dumb, and unnecessarily changes the tone of the whole movie. Despite this, it’s a very charming film that captures coming of age and listening to the Smiths and yelling out of the tops of cars and falling in love for the first time and whatever else young, carefree teenagers do to celebrate their youth and challenge mortality.

9.) Seven Psychopaths

First off: Seven Psychopaths is a very flawed movie. This does not stop the movie from being totally awesome. The film follows Colin Farrell’s attempts to write a screenplay called “Seven Psychopaths,” and Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken’s insane attempts to help him. There are some muddled themes about the use of violence in film, but the best parts of the movie are when the meta narrative plays off the viewer’s expectations of action and violence. My favorite scene is Sam Rockwell enacting his ideal ending for Farrell’s movie; both Rockwell and Walken give amazing, off-kilter performances.

8.) Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods is not your average horror flick, which is why I liked it so much. The film is a funny and very clever send up of every horror cliche in the book, from why people make dumbass decisions (why does anyone think it’s a good idea to split up, ever??), to the weird trope of pre-marital sex leading to being horrible evisceration. I think the parts I enjoy most are actually the framing scenes in the mysterious offices orchestrating the terrible events that befall a group of co-eds in the eponymous cabin in the woods; the juxtaposition of what appears to be a pretty standard office party and the horror going on at the cabin is hilarious and, again, very clever. The film also pokes at the audience’s complicity in the events happening onscreen, and intelligently dissects the weird pleasure we get from watching terrible things happen to other people. For me, the film begins to fall apart in a third act that, admittedly, takes the story to its logical end. I think the ending’s inevitability is why it’s disappointing–for a film that often zigged when I thought it would zag, the ending feels trite and weirdly easy. But overall, the film elevates its meta-commentary on horror films to something entertaining and insightful.

7.) The Avengers

It’s no coincidence that there are two Joss Whedon films on my list (though he solely wrote on Cabin); his presence on a film ensures that what could be schlocky, empty entertainment is elevated through his smart writing and direction. The Avengers obviously isn’t a deep film by any means, but it’s fun in a way that doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously (like Nolan’s Batman trilogy does). Although all of the characters are fun and sharply drawn, the standout is obviously Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/the Hulk, who does an awesome job as someone who seems laid back, but has more simmering under the surface.

6.) Holy Motors

This is my highbrow cred. I saw this movie on the strong recommendation of the A.V. Club, and while I don’t think it’s necessarily brilliant, I think it’s a very interesting and moving reflection on, well, I’m not totally sure. It’s a difficult film to explain, but it’s basically about a man whose job is to take on several different personas in several different scenarios. The film never reveals who he is, or why he does it, or what the ultimate goal is; the central conceit is merely presented on its own terms. The A.V. Club seems to think it’s about the death of analog film, but to me it’s actually more about the power of film to transform its audience. In some ways, Holy Motors is comparable to Cloud Atlas in that the whole is greater than its parts, and not every persona or scenario is interesting on its own. Despite this, the great parts are really, really great–from an impromptu accordion jam, to a deceptively normal exchange between a father and a daughter, to Kylie Minogue singing about lost love in an abandoned department store, the film is ultimately a life-affirming experience.

5.) Skyfall

This is a film I initially resisted seeing and ended up loving. While I have little-to-no prior experience with Bond movies, and haven’t seen the previous Craig installments, I thought that this film did a good job of mixing the old and the new. Skyfall incorporates elements of the modern, gritty, antihero blockbuster while staying fun and moving quickly. It doesn’t hurt that the film was shot by Roger Deakins, which instantly upgrades the action sequences to something approaching art (the scene set in a Shanghai skyscraper is spectacular). I’m tired of the new school of action films where everything is shot handheld and cut manically, like it’s supposed to be more “urgent” or “realistic” that way. Skyfall has an elegance to it: it’s beautiful, but not too beautiful to blunt the edge of Daniel Craig’s performance and the film’s themes about the inevitability of time. In the action sequences you can see the physical effort in every movement, the protestations of Craig’s aging body. Too often action movies are all glossy and slick and “fuck yeah!” Skyfall’s power lies in showing the human toll that an excess of action eventually takes.

4.) Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas is a film I had absolutely no interest in seeing–the trailer looked absurd, and most people I know hated the movie. I went in with very low expectations, and was actually pleasantly surprised. I don’t think it’s a brilliant film, or even a great film, but it’s a film that enveloped me entirely. A friend of mine wondered whether Cloud Atlas is a lesser film because the threads by themselves are trite and cliche and are given more, possibly artificial meaning through their juxtaposition. To me, the holes in the film allow it to be more emotionally affecting, a cipher upon which I can imprint my own thoughts and feelings. While this might be a bad quality in other films, I personally think it works in Cloud Atlas because it’s a film about how our lives are inextricably intertwined, and how we are all ultimately connected. While I don’t think that Cloud Atlas is particularly successful in pulling this off (the theme is often expressed in hokey, obvious ways, and the interracial make-up is terribly done), I think that the emptiness gives us space to fill the film with ourselves. We see ourselves in the stories going on onscreen, no matter how disparate or far removed these stories seem, and that’s what the whole movie is about, really.

3.) Silver Linings Playbook

It’s refreshing to see a film that doesn’t treat mental illness as a figurative death sentence. I think critics of the “easy” third act are misinterpreting the film–it’s not a dramatic film about mental illness with comedic elements; it’s a romantic comedy involving two people who deal with mental illness. Both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence give real, immensely charming performances as two people who, against all odds, find some kind of solace in entering a dance competition together. Like many, I never thought that Cooper could give a performance like he does in this movie. His character is brash and inappropriate, but also utterly vulnerable and guileless. His struggles with being bipolar feel human and relatable; this isn’t a martyr put onscreen for us to gawk at, or feel sorry for. Whether or not the people in the audience have dealt with mental illness, they will find something to relate to in Cooper’s character (and Lawrence’s as well). I think Silver Linings Playbook is also adept in showing how everyone has issues, even if they seem “normal” on the surface. The film goes down easy, which almost makes me want to hate it, but the uplifting themes of loving one another warts and all, and the unassuming triumph in getting by, makes Silver Linings Playbook completely irresistible.

2.) Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is a triumphant return to form for Wes Anderson. This may be a somewhat controversial opinion, but I don’t think he’s made a truly great movie since Rushmore (although I do enjoy The Fantastic Mr. Fox quite a bit). Because Anderson has such a rigid personal aesthetic, both in the visuals and the writing, it’s easy for him to fall into self-parody. Luckily, Moonrise Kingdom has the perfect combination of stunning visuals, a truly moving story, and great performances. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward give completely natural performances as two troubled, lonely children who find comfort in one another. When they run away together, they are pursued by flawed adults struggling to understand their own relationships and places in the world. Every character is sympathetic, and a pervasive sense of melancholy undercuts a film that could otherwise threaten to be precious. I think my favorite scene is a montage depicting the letters that Gilman and Hayward send to each other; it explains perfectly why they connect in a world where they usually feel so alone. Moonrise Kingdom shows how, when you’re young, everything can be so simple and complicated at the same time–yet getting older is no guarantee of getting wiser.

1.) Zero Dark Thirty

I’ve already given Zero Dark Thirty its very own post, so there’s not much more for me to add. It’s awesome. Everyone should check it out.

And bonus categories:

Movies I haven’t seen this year, but plan to watch in the future: The Loneliest Planet, Safety Not Guaranteed, Prometheus, Lola Versus, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Magic Mike, The Queen of Versailles, Ruby Sparks, Paranorman, Cosmopolis, Premium RUsh, Save the Date, Anna Karenina, The Sessions, Flight, Wreck It Ralph, Lincoln, Promised Land, Rust and Bone, Amour

My least favorite film of the year: This Is 40