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BEST FILMS of 2011 (Read 4321 times)
Dec 27th, 2011 at 3:46pm

L.A. Connection   Offline
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End of the year wrap-up time. Tis the Season for Best of lists. Well, for pro critics at least --they get special screeners and screenINGS. Even living in L.A., there are still a bunch of films I want to see before putting down a formal list. Some have still not be released in theaters even here.

Ed - where is YOUR list?


Now, because of a combination of my usual procrastination and the previous board's crashing, I never did do a Top 10 list for 2010. Until now..............

TOP 10 films of 2010

10. THE KING'S SPEECH - The best picture winner got a lot of flak from those who thought SOCIAL NETWORK was far superior. I have them in a virtual tie for the 10th spot on my list. The acting here, particuarly by Geoffrey Rush was impeccable and the production top notch. Tom Hooper's direction may not have been flashy, but he was unfairly tagged as unworthy of the Best Director Oscar.

9. MESRINE: PUBLIC ENEMY NO.1 & MESRINE:KILLER INSTINCT - A terrific pair of French crime thrillers by Jean-Francois Richet starring a magnetic Vincent Cassel as the title criminal. The studio made a curious decision in releasing them only a week apart, confusing audiences and asking them to basically see the films back to back. Why the rush?

8. GENIUS WITHIN: THE INNER LIFE OF GLENN GOULD (Michel Hozer, Peter Raymont) - The second brilliant film about the enigmatic piano master (the other, 32 SHORT FILMS FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD was an extraordinary docu-drama). This documentary evokes not just Gould's musicianship, but his personal passions as well.

7. I AM LOVE - A true Love It, or Hate It movie. Luca Guadagnino's Italian film is like an opera, visually and aurally stunning with a fierce performance by Tilda Swinton as it's center. The music by minimalist master John Adams will either have you swooning - or trying to cover your ears.

6. FISH TANK - Small British coming of age tale of a young woman sorting through her maturing years. Katie Jarvis is heartbreaking in the lead role, and this year's "it" actor, Michael Fassbender is creepily oily.

5. A PROPHET - Jacques Audiard's French entry in the Foreign Language Oscar race is another tight crime thriller, this one taking place mostly behind bars in a frighteningly real prison. Tahar Rahim is the prisoner "prophet" and Niels Arestrup (now in WAR HORSE) is the nasty crime boss behind bars.

4. MOTHER - Boon Joon-ho, Director of Marathon hit THE HOST, had an even more frightening 'monster' as the focus of this film - A mother who will do almost anything to save her son. Hye-ja Kim is a force of nature here, and the director lends a lot of visual style to a tale that isn't necessarily that compelling on paper.

3. THE AMERICAN - Perhaps the most hated film to top the box office in 2010. The Cinemascore rating given out by the nation's filmgoers was a D-. Yes, a D MINUS! It's the second good George Clooney film where I saw a substantial number of moviegoers walk out and BOO at the end! (the other was Soderbergh's SOLARIS) A lot of the blame goes to the studio for selling this as a BOURNE type action flick. It's a moody arty exercise with a 70s or 80s vibe (similar to this year's much disliked DRIVE) by former Rock Video Director Anton Corbijn who did the terrific Joy Division film CONTROL. I'm really looking forward to his future films, for he has far more depth than the typical flashy MTV director (take that Michael Bay!). 

2. VINCERE - Marco Bellocchio has been directing since the early 60s, but VINCERE is the work of a still vital filmmaker. A gripping drama about the illegimate son of Mussolini, features a pair of superb perfomances by the luminous Giovanna Mezzogiorno as the Dictator's mistress and Filippo Timi in a dual role as both Mussolini and his son. Stunning camera work by Daniele Cipri.

1. WINTER'S BONE (Debra Granik) - Readers of the old board will recall my admiration for this tiny indie. Features breakout performances by Jennifer Lawrence (X-MEN FIRST CLASS) and John Hawkes, in a story that's both a coming of age drama and a gripping thriller. While it was gratifying to see it get several Oscar nominations, it's too bad that most everyone just assumed that giving it nominations was enough of a reward. It was a great film, period. Big budget, Big Name Stars or not. Director Granik was born in Cambridge and went to Brandeis to boot.

Honorable Mentions: SOCIAL NETWORK, GET LOW, AGORA (the most criminally underseen film of the year), NEVER LET ME GO, CYRUS, 127 HOURS and LEBANON.

WORST FILM I SAW (There were probably many worse - I try and avoid as many bad films as I can!): ALL GOOD THINGS (and it wasn't actually poor, just mediocre).
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Reply #1 - Dec 28th, 2011 at 5:20pm

ed symkus   Offline
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                THE TOP FILMS OF 2011
                           By Ed Symkus
My Top 10 list? Yeah, OK, here you go. They’re the 2011 films I enjoyed or was challenged by so much, I’d watch ’em again, soon. They’re in alphabetical order.

The Adventures of Tintin, The Artist, City of Life and Death, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Incendies, Midnight in Paris, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Trip.

But I also have 10 more that won’t be on a lot of lists, I would urge you to find, to watch, to savor.
     These, too, are in alphabetical order.

Anonymous – A mystery-thriller about who really wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare. Fantastic performances by Rhys Ifans as the sad Earl of Oxford, and Rafe Spall as the lusty Shakespeare.

Crazy Stupid Love – My favorite comedy script of the year, dizzily mixing and matching all kinds of people with stories of dysfunctional families, puppy love, friendship, angst, jealousy, booze, machismo, and coincidence.

The Debt – The English language remake of the 2007 Israeli thriller about three Mossad agents who botch a long-ago job and have to live with the consequences is a sharp-edged nail-biter from start to finish. Watch out for the damn Nazi!

Hanna – The mysterious young woman of the title can speak a dozen languages, knows her way around firearms, and can break you in half if she wants to. And she’s going after the person who wants her dead.

Hobo with a Shotgun – Yes, I am guilty of having guilty pleasures. Rutger Hauer plays the hobo, he has and uses a shotgun, and the movie is violent and lurid. You get exactly what you expect with a title like that.

Le Quattro Volte – Everything you wanted to know about life and death and nature and the wind and goats, told in documentary style, with very few words, and long, long camera shots. Mesmerizing moviemaking.

The Skin I Live in – Pedro Almodovar is a sick and twisted writer-director who usually also offers up a sense of humor. This mad scientist story involving love and revenge and plastic surgery isn’t funny. But you’ll probably get a kick out of cringing while watching it.

The Tree of Life – The American dream goes sour in Terrence Malick’s exploration of life in 1950s suburbia. The film loses some ground when it jumps forward to present day and jumps back to the dinosaurs, but Malick knows how to create a mood piece.

Trollhunter – It’s another one of those “found footage” deals in which something awful has happened, then some lost cameras are located, with film intact. The locale is Norway, and there are big hungry three-headed trolls and ... well, this needs to be seen to be believed.

Warrior – Shakespearian family tragedy played out in the octagon, or as most people know it, the mixed martial arts arena. Two brothers must compete against each other, with their father as one of the coaches. Way over the top, but still down to earth.
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Reply #2 - Dec 29th, 2011 at 12:57pm

L.A. Connection   Offline
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Ed's list is interesting. Still several films that I have to see from it. One or two of the 20 he mentioned may make my Top 10.

I just didn't buy THE DESCENDANTS and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is too liteweight for a Top 10. HUGO is getting to be the most overrated film of the year. It's so obviously schizo that it collapses into itself.

LE QUATTRO VOLTE is very interesting to see on Ed's list. It's not the kind of arthouse experiment I would think you'd go for. I found it fascinating, but a bit lacking in its filmmaking to make an abstract movie about "Goats in Calabria" (my Italian family got a kick outta that description!) really work. Still, it would be a decent linking short middle piece of a Meaning of Life triple bill with TREE OF LIFE and MELANCHOLIA!

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Reply #3 - Feb 9th, 2012 at 6:50am

R_F_Fineman   Offline
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Maybe I missed it in another thread but the BAFTAS include:

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer

Attack the Block (2011): Joe Cornish

Black Pond (2011): Will Sharpe, Tom Kingsley, Sarah Brocklehurst

Coriolanus (2011): Ralph Fiennes

Submarine (2010): Richard Ayoade

Tyrannosaur (2011): Paddy Considine, Diarmid Scrimshaw


21st Century Man
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