My Top Ten Films of 2011
Well my friends yet another year has come and gone for the film industry, and as the golden globes have shown us, this was one sucky year for awards films.
There are plenty of films that are going to be overlooked compared to vastly inferior films, all because some of them have that certain “Oscar appeal” that others do not. But, tonight (or this morning) as we enter awards seasons, I will redeem most of the films that shall be overlooked, and I HIGHLY recommend that you go see all of these films as soon as you can! So let’s get cracking!
Tree of Life: I am sure that Terence Malick’s newest venture into the artsy fartsy will be one of the locks for Best Picture nominations, but still I must give credit where credit is due. Even though I am not the biggest Malick fan, Tree of Life was without a doubt one of the biggest cinematic achievements on the list. What it lacks in dialogue (big surprise) it makes up for with the best cinematography driven storytelling of the year. Great performances by Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain (who is having a monster year), and I highly recommend it to all who can appreciate a quiet/inspiring film.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: If I don’t say that I fell asleep during this one, I’ll be a huge liar. But, in my defense I had no sleep the night before and I was very comfy in the theater. Luckily I only missed ten minutes of what was the best spy film of the year. Un-naturalistically slow for a spy thriller, TInker changes the game in the spy world and delivers a somber, cold look at MI6 in the ’60s. A dazzling cast led by Gary Oldman (who will not get any credit at the awards this year) are what drive the film to be a great one. Filled with twists and turns, and lacking some subplot, TInker still delivers where others don’t.
Hanna is the most over-looked film on the top ten list. It is unbelievable how many people did not know about this film it was released, nor what it was even about. A teenage girl, trained to kill in order to survive is put to the test as she is finally unleashed upon the world. Joe Wright, who is better known for his British dramas, directs a pounding, (at some points) jaw-dropping action film. The fight scenes are at Bourne-level awesome, and the music by the Chemical Brothers is hands down the best score of the year (sorry Mr. Reznor). It has one of the most memorable villains of the year played by a creepy whistling Tom Hollander. Its ending nearly ruins the beautiful visuals and dazzling acting, but in the long run, it still holds true. As I will say with most of the films, if you missed this one, go see it immediately.
Best scene: The container chase is the perfect combination of score, editing, acting, and action that perfectly shows off the strong points of the film.
9. THE SKIN I LIVE IN
This was one film I had not planned on going to see, but after one of my buddies dragged me to my favorite theater (Landmark Sunshine) I did not regret it in the slightest. Skin was the most twisted and shocking movie that I saw all year. You have no idea what to expect from the opening five to ten minutes. Antonio Banderas is finally given an incredible role to sink his teeth into as it is never clear whether he is playing the protagonist or the antagonist. In a business where recently there have been very little fresh/new/surprising ideas, Skin stands above all as one of the most original films of the year. I can’t say anything about the plot without spoiling it, but PLEASE go see this if you’re in the mood for one hell of a shocking story.
Best scene: I won’t give it away, but minus the last ten minutes AKA the sappy ending, the REAL ending (picture above) is such a bad ass dramatic scene in which you will not be able to take your eyes off the screen.
8. YOUNG ADULT
If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I am a slightly bigger fan with dialogue driven films than I am with artsy pure visual films. Young Adult defines a dialogue driven film. Diablo Cody is able to shake off the odious stench that was “Jennifer’s Body” and deliver a fresh “Juno-language”-less story that feels fresh and original, and a hopeful sign of things to come from the young scribe. (yes although she is older than me and in her 30’s i believe, i just called her a young scribe. the pretentiousness of this blog is astounding to me…i hope you too appreciate it). Patton Oswalt and Charlize Theron both deserve the Oscars in their respected categories (more so for Oswalt). if you liked Reitman’s past cynical films like “Up in the Air” and “Thank You For Smoking” you will definitely enjoy Young Adult.
Best scene: The final speech between Oswalt’s sister and Theron is a showstopper, and a salute to the movie’s dark message.
7. THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
I know I know; everyone says Spielberg is beginning to loose his touch. I mean the guy hasn’t made a truly great movie since “Munich” in 2004. So, he’s clearly becoming more Lucas-y, right? WRONG! With new best bud, Peter Jackson, by his side, Spielberg is able to create his most inspired and fun (yes FUN!) film since Jurassic Park. Everything about this film was enjoyable from its John Williams score, to its beautiful action scenes, to laugh out loud performances from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Andy Serkis. Serkis easily steals the show playing the drunken Captain Haddock, who continues his incredible streak of acting in performance capture films. It’s a downright sin this film wasn’t a huge blockbuster, and hopefully that won’t hinder the studios from making this the full trilogy that Spielberg and Jackson want it to be.
Best Scene: The final chase between Tintin, Snowy, Haddock, the hawk, and a squadron of villain cronies is mind blowing and shows the true beauty behind CGI animation and it’s power for story telling.
6. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
The biggest reason this film isn’t higher up on the list is because it had basically already been made. Don’t get me wrong, Fincher’s vision of Dragon Tattoo was vastly superior to the original in terms of visuals and music; But as far as key elements go such as acting and script, the film is extremely close to the original product. This isn’t Fincher’s fault in the slightest, however, there was still no reason for this film to be made. The original Dragon Tattoo is fine as is. Both versions nail the chemistry between Lisbeth and Mikael, and both versions perfectly tell the story taken from the original novel. Yet again, the hollywood system looked to cash in on an Americanized foreign film. I don’t mean to bash it because I really love Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo. It’s much more stylized and of course you can never go wrong with a Reznor soundtrack. My opinion is watch both versions, and you be the judge on which is better or if it is just a draw.
Best scene: The final confrontation/tattoo scene between Lisbeth and her new guardian is still shocking no matter how many times I see it.
5. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
FINALLY! After (in my opinion) a long tenure of mediocrity, Woody Allen finally returns to true form. I think that Allen really works best when he isn’t being such a pessimist. Most of his films that have optimistic messages usually seem to me his better films as opposed to his more bitter ones (Match Point being the rare exception). But just something about Midnight really reminds you of why Woody is a master filmmaker. The warmth of the visuals, the wit of the dialogue, the classic music he puts in all just transcend (wow now the pretentious deuche said transcend) into this amazing portrait on how we feel about life. Owen Wilson’s performances is a tad overrated, I mean let’s face it, he’s playing Woody Allen; but still he brings a nice sweet character that perfectly goes with the rest of the film.
Best scene: Gil finally realizes that no matter what time period we live in, we all feel nostalgia for another time.
4. ATTACK THE BLOCK
How did this not get any Golden Globe nominations?!? Aside from being probably the best comedy of the year, Attack was also the most entertaining film of the year. I went back twice to theaters to catch this one. The entire movie is just filled to the brim with so much brilliant humor and storytelling, it was a breath of fresh air during one shitty summer season. On a very low budget, director Joe Cornish still brought you back to the good ol’ days of the Goonies and ET when kids actually talked liked kids, and some adventures weren’t all fun and games. Complete with a thumping score that sounds like a Brit night club, and a cast of characters that look like they escaped from a Guy Ritchie film, Attack the Block is one film that everyone must go see.
Best scene: Moses VS the Monsters “Kill ’em bruv…Kill ’em all”
Yes I will admit it, I have a man-crush on Michael Fassbender. I mean c’mon this guy was Lt. Hilcox in “Inglourious Basterds” and then he was freaking Magneto in “X-Men: First Class.” Well in my opinion, if the man doesn’t win best actor for Shame, the academy is truly blind. Shame was without a doubt, the best acted film of 2011. Both Carey Mulligan and Fassbender are able to portray insanely deep characters whom we know next to nothing about in the beggining, but over the course of the story, you are able to put the pieces together. The film is visceral and gritty and reminds one of the dirty ’70s movies like “Taxi Driver” where New York wasn’t all about air surfing Spider-Man in a subway or being home to seventy characters on “New Year’s Eve” (did I really just make that reference). Anyways, Shame is able to break Mulligan out of her innocent girl demeanor, and thrust Fassbender into the acting spotlight. You will have the ride of your life as you watch Fassbender’s Brandon delve deeper and deeper into the underworld of New York City. And the answer to your question is “yes” it isn’t just about sex addiction.
Best Scene: As Sissy is in his apartment, having sex with his boss, Brandon goes for a jog.
2. THE ARTIST
What else can be said about the Artist? It’s beautiful? It completely and flawlessly recreates the dead art of silent film? It has two of the best performances of the year? Yes you’ve heard it all from the critics, and now you’ll hear it from me, The Artist will win Best Picture at the Oscars. Even though it is not my number one movie of the year, it is still an extremely close second. The way it is able to tell the story, and remind us all of such a lost time and era, it just perfectly captures what a timeless film is. If you’re as obsessed with film as I am, go find a small theater playing this picture, and see it as soon as you can.
Best Scene: The fire in Valentin’s apartment is beautiful and heartbreaking, and defines what the film is all about.
Surprise, surprise. For some reason Drive has been number one on a lot of internet critics’ lists, but has barely shown up on any of the regular print critics’ lists (minus my favorite critic, Peter Travers). I don’t know why the critics aren’t so keen on Drive being a better picture over such films as Hugo or War Horse. I think it is because they are afraid of new styles of filmmaking. From the same mouths that say film is dead, film is unoriginal, are also the same mouths that don’t give Drive the credit that it is due. The movie is the best film of the year, there is no doubt in my mind about that. It has the best cast of the year, the best soundtrack (not score, score still goes to Hanna), and some of the best visuals of the year (visuals not cinematography). Gosling gives a haunting performance as the Driver (how did he not get nominated for this but for the freaking Ides of March) as he beings his evolution into a super hero (yes I got that from an article I read, but who cares). I’m so happy Refn was able to go beyond his previous endeavors (Pusher trilogy and Bronson) and move on to bigger and better productions such as Drive. Do yourself a favor and buy the soundtrack that’s out now, and then buy the BluRay when it’s released because this is one film that everyone will be talking about for years to come.
Best Scene: “I drive” The opening scene will have you begging for more, and you will surely get it.
Well, that was a hoot! Please comment on what a psychopath I am or how wrong I was or how many grammatical errors there are in this article! (it’s 3am cut me some slack). Keep on reading, I’ll keep on writing.
– Movie Addict