Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Best Films of 2011

As usual per the year in movies, I started off thinking this was the worst year ever. But, by the fall, I began to see an extraordinary collection of largely contemplative films that were, this year, in one way or another, pining for the past. Nostalgia is the dominant theme in 2011's movies: one could lump Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life, The Artist, War Horse, Hugo, General Orders No. 9, and George Harrison: Living in the Material World all into a category wanting for bygone eras, presumably because the present is so trying. Also, the prevalence of end-of-the-world scenarios in films like Melancholia, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Another Earth, Contagion, Take Shelter and 4:44: Last Day on Earth is related to worldwide discord being felt by all. But I also found 2011's films also to be filled with a shining love of life, nature and humanity. It was a resolutely extraordinary year in film, and many of these in my top 25 will deserve to be studied again and again in the assured future. By the way, me and my esteemed MOVIE GEEKS UNITED cohorts Jamey Duvall and Jerry Dennis discuss our top ten of 2011 here on the 8 January 2012 podcast, so check it out if you desire more commentary and variety!

My top 25 films from 2011:

1) The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
The universe lives inside us all.

2) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apiachapong Weerasethakul)
Ghosts of the past revisit the living, with mesmerizing visuals and sound.

3) Melancholia (Lars Von Trier)
Depression, so perfectly portrayed that the end of the world seems like a relief.

4) A Separation (Asghar Farhedi)
A steamroller of a movie that goes in directions you cannot possibly predict, leaving all with impossibly difficult choices.

5) Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
How statistics and economics influence the world of sports.

6) The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
A delightful truffle.

7) General Orders No. 9 (Robert Persons)
Filmed poetry obsessed with our longing for the trappings of the past.

8) We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay)
Horror reimagined.

9) Bridesmaids (Paul Feig)
Female relationships portrayed with feeling and laughter.

10) Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky)
The power, and impotence, of documentary filmmaking.

11) Tuesday After Christmas (Radu Muntean)
A most perfect drama about the implications of adultery.

12) Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois)
Divinity and bravery in the face of terror.

13) George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Martin Scorsese)
An artist's journey through fame and spirituality.

14) Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires) (Xavier Dolan) 
A lovely--and failed--menage a'trois.

15) Pina (Wim Wenders)
Movement and space, exquisitely filmed in 3-D.

16) A Little Help (Michael J. Weithorn)
Life, falling apart and in need of repair.

17) The Future (Miranda July)
Modern self-absorption comes under fire.

18) Contagion (Steven Soderburgh)
Viral terror.

19) Silent Souls (Aleksei Fedorchenko) 
A gloriously photographed trudge towards closure.

20) Buck (Cindy Meehl)
The values of quietude and understanding, seen through one unique artist's eyes.

21) Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)
A woman scrambled, attempting to re-enter the world.

22) Win Win (Tom McCarthy)
One family's strengthening in crisis.

23) The Autobiography of Nicolai Ceausescu (Andrei Ujica)
So much opulence and power, wasted.

24) The Devil’s Double (Lee Tamahori)
A fascinating, exciting peer into horrifying dictatorial power

25) Aurora (Christi Puiu)
What is this man doing?

OF NOTE: 50/50, Beginners, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Certified Copy, A Dangerous Method, The Descendants, Film Socialisme, The Guard, Hanna, The Help, The Interrupters, Into The Abyss, Jane Eyre, Meek’s Cutoff, Midnight in Paris, My Week With Marilyn, Pariah, Project Nim, Le Quattro Volte, Reagan, The Skin I Live In, Source Code, Successful Alcoholics, Take Shelter, The Trip, Tyrannosaur, War Horse, Warrior, Winnie The Pooh

BEST UNRELEASED MOVIES: 4:44: Last Day on Earth, Corman's World, Disabled but Able to Rock, Footnote, Goodbye First Love, Habemus Papum, The Kid with a Bike, Margaret, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Play, Sleeping Sickness

GUILTY PLEASURES: The Beaver, Crazy Stupid Love, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Muppets, Red State

OKAY, I GUESS: Captain America: The First Avenger, Carnage, Cold Weather, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Page One: Inside the New York Times, Paul, Rango, Texas Killing Fields, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Water for Elephants

OVERRATED: Cinema Verite, Drive, Hugo, The Ides of March, The Iron Lady, Margin Call, Shame, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Rampart, Too Big to Fail

WORST OF THE YEAR: Larry Crowne, We Can't Go Home Again, Chillerama, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, J. Edgar, Bad Teacher, Albert Nobbs, Super 8, Frankie and Alice, 30 Minutes or Less, Horrible Bosses, The Sunset Limited, The Conspirator, Our Idiot Brother, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, Another Earth

NEED TO SEE: Attack the Block, Immortals, Mildred Pierce, Mysteries of Lisbon, Poetry, Senna, Submarine

FAVORITE NON-2011 FILMS I DISCOVERED THIS YEAR: On The Bowery (Lionel Rogosin, 57), "I Know Where I’m Going!" (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 45), K Street (Steven Soderburgh, 2003), Brewster McCloud (Robert Altman, 70), Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007), A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 56), King of New York (Abel Ferrara, 90), The Constant Nymph (Edmund Goulding, 43), The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, 2007), River of Grass (Kelly Reichardt, 94), Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe, 2009), High School (Frederick Wiseman, 68), Storytime (Terry Gilliam, 68)

Best Picture: The Tree of Life
Best Director: Terrence Malick -- The Tree of Life
Best Actor: Brad Pitt -- Moneyball and The Tree of Life
Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia
Best Supporting Actor: Jonah Hill -- Moneyball
Best Supporting Actress: Sareh Bayat -- A Separation
Best Original Screenplay: Asghar Farhedi -- A Separation
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian-- Moneyball
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki -- The Tree of Life
Best Production Design: Jack Fisk -- The Tree of Life
Best Costume Design: Rolf Borzik and Marion Cito -- Pina
Best Editing: Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, Mark Yoshikawa -- The Tree of Life
Best Sound: Akritchalerm Kalayanamitz -- Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Best Music Score: Ludovic Bource -- The Artist
Best Special Effects: The Tree of Life
Best Thriller: The Devil's Double
Best Comedy: Bridesmaids
Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Best Animation: Winnie The Pooh
Best Action Film: Source Code
Best Entertainment: The Artist
Most Promising New Director:  Aleksei Fedorchenko  -- Silent Souls
Most Promising Actor: Jean Dujardin -- The Artist
Most Promising Actress: Elizabeth Olsen -- Martha Marcy May Marlene
Most Underrated Films: Contagion and General Orders No. 9
Most Neglected Films: A Little Help, Silent Souls and Tuesday After Christmas
Best Re-Discovery: Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004)
Most Imaginative Film: The Tree of Life

1 comment:

Shep. Burman said...


Joel here, the LAMB shepherd. I’m getting in touch with you mainly because we have you listed as having a podcast. For this year’s LAMMYs we’ve changed the eligibility rules for the podcasting award. It now requires that you are a member of the LAMB Podcasting Network, info can be found here: http://www.largeassmovieblogs.com/lamb-podcasting-network/

This years LAMMYs kicks off February 25th with a submission stage. On March 20th an eligible list will be published and for you to be on that list I need you to have joined the network with a written e-mail about joining the network (no need for a audio trailer and banner at this stage).

On April 1th (no joke) I'll be needing you to have entered the LAMB Podcasting Network fully (banner and trailer sent in). If not having done so you'll be disqualified from this years LAMMYs even if you have enough votes to get a nomination.

Finally I'll also take this opportunity to send you an informal reminder of our LION 4 LAMBs Best of 2012 poll to send in your rankings on a bunch of categories. You can find a link to that here: http://www.largeassmovieblogs.com/2013/01/reminder-lions-for-lambs-poll-2.html

Feel free to get back to me if you have any questions or if I was unvlear about something.