January Films, Ranked

Making a ranked list of films (of anything artistic, really) is tricky. Am I ranking based on technical achievement, watchability, viewing experience? Is a film like The Place Beyond the Pines, which has a masterful first act, pedestrian second and miserable third, higher or lower than a film like ParaNorman, which is sweet and consistently enjoyable, but spends 90 minutes never really moving the needle? What do I do with a film like Over the Top, which is by any technical measure an absolutely terrible film, but so perfectly encapsulates the blustery and misguided emotion of 1980s star vehicles that it's entirely rewatchable?

In the end, it's best to accept that these are entirely esoteric and just explain myself in the clearest terms I can muster. So here's the 41 films I watched in January, ranked by a strange amalgamation of watchability and technical mastery, with an emphasis on the former. So yes, I would rather watch In a World... (which I rated at a 2.5/5) than Swimming with Sharks (which received a 4/5). It's half film ranking, half atonement for their original rating. Enjoy.

Format:

Rank
Title (Year)
Director(s)
Writer(s)
Editor(s)
Original Rating

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41
Talhotblond (2008)
Director: Barbara Schroeder
Writer: Barbara Schroeder
Editor: Barbara Schroeder
Original Rating: 1.5/5

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40
Sharknado (2013)
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Writer: Thunder Levin
Editor: William Boodell
Original Rating: 1/5

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39
V/H/S (2012)
Directors: David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Wingard
Writers: Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Brad Miska, Radio Silence, Nicholas Tecosky, Ti West
Editors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Joe Gressis, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Wingard
Best Segment: The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger (dir. Joe Swanberg)
Worst Segment: Tuesday the 17th (dir. Glenn McQuaid)
Original Rating: 2/5

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38
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis
Editors: Harry Keramidas, Arthur Schmidt
Original Rating: 2/5

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37
The Frighteners (1996)
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
Editor: Jamie Selkirk
Original Rating: 2.5/5

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36
Miss Representation (2011)
Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Writers: Jessica Congdon, Claire Dietrich, Jenny Raskin, Jennifer Siebel Newsom
Editor: Jessica Congdon
Original Rating: 2.5/5

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35
Computer Chess (2013)
Director: Andrew Bujaski
Writer: Andrew Bujaski
Editor: Andrew Bujaski
Original Rating: 2.5/5

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34
The Butler (2013)
Director: Lee Daniels
Writer: Danny Strong
Editor: Joe Klotz
Original Rating: 1.5/5

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33
Super (2010 - TIFF, 2011 theatrical)
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Editor: Cara Silverman
Original Rating: 3/5

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32
Knowing (2009)
Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White
Editor: Richard Learoyd
Original Rating: 1.5/5

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31
Frances Ha (2012 - Telluride, 2013 theatrical)
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writers: Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig
Editor: Jennifer Lame
Original Rating: 2.5/5

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30
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With (2006 - Tribeca, 2007 theatrical)
Director: Jeff Garlin
Writer: Jeff Garlin
Editor: Steven Rasch
Original Rating: 2.5/5

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29
Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay (2012)
Director: Molly Bernstein
Original Rating: 3/5

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28
Mary and Max (2009)
Director: Adam Elliott
Writer: Adam Elliott
Editor: Bill Murphy
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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27
ParaNorman (2012)
Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Writer: Chris Butler
Editor: Christopher Murrie
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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26
Swimming with Sharks (1994 - TIFF, 1995 theatrical)
Director: George Huang
Writer: George Huang
Editor: Ed Marx
Original Rating: 4/5

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25
In a World... (2013)
Director: Lake Bell
Writer: Lake Bell
Editor: Tom McArdle
Original Rating: 2/5

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24
The Trip (2011)
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Editors: Mags Arnold, Paul Monaghan
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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23
Europa Report (2013)
Director: Sebastián Cordero
Writer: Philip Gelatt
Editors: Alexander Kopit, Craig McKay, Livio Sanchez, Aaron Yanes
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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22
The Browning Version (1951)
Director: Anthony Asquith
Writer: Terence Rattigan
Editor: John D. Guthridge
Original Rating: 4/5

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21
Tabloid (2010 - Telluride, 2011 theatrical)
Director: Errol Morris
Editor: Grant Surmi
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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20
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012 - TIFF, 2013 theatrical)
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writers: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Editors: Jim Helton, Ron Patane
Original Rating: 3/5

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19
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010 - TIFF, 2011 theatrical)
Director: Werner Herzog
Writer: Werner Herzog
Editors: Joe Bini, Maya Hawke
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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18
Beauty is Embarrassing (2012)
Director: Neil Berkeley
Writers: Neil Berkeley, Chris Bradley, Kevin Klauber
Editor: Chris Bradley
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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17
Electrick Children (2012)
Director: Rebecca Thomas
Writer: Rebecca Thomas
Editor: Jennifer Lilly
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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16
The Imposter (2012)
Director: Bart Layton
Editor: Andrew Hulme
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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15
Blue Jasmine (2013)
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Editor: Alisa Lepselter
Original Rating: 4/5

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14
Over the Top (1987)
Director: Menahem Golan
Writers: Stirling Silliphant, Sylvester Stallone
Editors: James R. Symons, Don Zimmerman
Original Rating: 1/5

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13
The Hunter (2011)
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Writer: Daniel Nettheim
Editor: Roland Gallois
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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12
Four Lions (2010)
Director: Chris Morris
Writers: Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Simon Blackwell, Chris Morris
Editor: Billy Sneddon
Original Rating: 4/5

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11
Captain Phillips (2013)
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer: Billy Ray
Editor: Christopher Rouse
Original Rating: 4/5

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10
Dredd (2012)
Director: Pete Travis
Writer: Alex Garland
Editor: Mark Eckersley
Original Rating: 4/5

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9
Submarine (2010 - TIFF, 2011 theatrical)
Director: Richard Ayoade
Writer: Richard Ayoade
Editors: Chris Dickens, Nick Fenton
Original Rating: 3.5/5

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8
Blackfish (2013)
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Writers: Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Eli Despres, Tim Zimmerman
Editor: Eli Despres
Original Rating: 4.5/5

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7
Life of Pi (2012)
Director: Ang Lee
Writer: David Magee
Editor: Tim Squyers
Original Rating: 4.5/5

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6
The Master (2012)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Editors: Leslie Jones, Peter McNulty
Original Rating: 4.5/5

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5
Gimme the Loot (2012 - SXSW, 2013 theatrical)
Director: Adam Leon
Writer: Adam Leon
Editor: Morgan Faust
Original Rating: 4.5/5

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4
The Act of Killing (2012 - Telluride, 2013 theatrical)
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Editors: Niels Pagh Andersen, Erik Andersson, Charlotte Munch Bengtsen, Janus Billskov Jansen, Ariadna Fatjo-Vilas Mestre, Mariko Montpetit
Original Rating: 5/5

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3
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Editor: Dylan Tichenor
Original Rating: 5/5

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2
The Apartment (1960)
Director: Billy Wilder
Writers: I.A.L. Diamond, Billy Wilder
Editor: Daniel Mandell
Original Rating: 5/5

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1
Starbuck (2011)
Director: Ken Scott
Writers: Martin Petit, Ken Scott
Editor: Yvann Thibaudeau
Original Rating: 5/5

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