Here is what I watched this month. Happy Holidays!
The Descendants (dir. Alexander Payne, 2011)
So far, The Descendants is one of my favorite movies of 2011. It has been about a week since I’ve seen it and I realize now that I like it more than I originally thought. [Read my review of The Descendants.]
The Muppets (dir. James Bobin, 2011)
Two words: Loved it.
Philadelphia (dir. Jonathan Demme, 1993)
Philadelphia is an incredibly powerful drama but I also find it incredibly frustrating. I’ve seen it many times. Tom Hanks’ performance along with the social issues Philadelphia tackles are riveting. Then the last 20 minutes or so I feel as though my emotions have been manipulated.
Waiting for ‘Superman’ (dir. Davis Guggenheim, 2010) — Davis Guggenheim’s documentary about American public education is a must-see. It follows several students and their families as they enter lotteries, hoping to be accepted into charter schools. Harlem Children’s Zone president and CEO Geoffrey Canada is prominently featured in the documentary. Even it you don’t agree with the politics of the film, Canada’s presence makes this worth watching.
The Big Sleep (dir. Howard Hawks, 1946)
I still don’t know what happened in The Big Sleep. [Related post: Five Great Movies According to My Mom]
Fever Pitch (dir. David Evans, 1997) — Nick Hornby adapted the screenplay for this romantic-comedy from his 1992 autobiography about his relationship with Arsenal Football Club. Colin Firth stars as Paul, a teacher who’s love for Arsenal affects his new relationship with Sarah (Ruth Gemmell). It’s a very sweet and enjoyable film (and book). (Sidebar: I can’t relate to romantic-comedies about women who balk at being in a relationship with someone who has a fervent love for a sporting team. These women are ridiculous.) Fever Pitch was remade into a 2005 romantic-comedy starring Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, and the Boston Red Sox, but let’s not talk about that.
The Piano (dir. Jane Campion, 1993)
One of my favorite films from one of my favorite directors.
Crazy, Stupid, Love (dir. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 2011)
Crazy, Stupid, Love is enjoyable despite Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore having absolutely no chemistry. But really it is fantastic because of Ryan Gosling.
Hugo (dir. Martin Scorsese, 2011) — If you love cinema, Hugo will delight. [Related post: My review of Hugo]
Melancholia (dir. Lars von Trier, 2011)
Never has the end of the world been so devastatingly beautiful. Can’t wait to see this one again.
Heathers (dir. Michael Lehmann, 1988) — Somehow I had never watched Heathers in one sitting, despite knowing everything that happens in it. Thank you Netflix for allowing me to right this egregious wrong.
Paul (dir. Greg Mottola, 2011) — I could have lived without ever watching this.
We Need To Talk About Kevin (dir. Lynne Ramsay, 2011) — In We Need To Talk About Kevin, Tilda Swinton plays Eva, a mother dealing with her son’s violent crimes. Told mostly through flashbacks, Eva tries to determine what went wrong in her son’s upbringing and if anyone is to blame. It’s a frightening maternal drama/ horror film.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (dir. Tomas Alfredson, 2011)
Gary Oldman plays George Smiley, a retired British intelligence officer who investigates a possibility of a long-term mole within the Circus. Oldman’s subtle performance dominates the film and resonates long after. Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, and Benedict Cumberbatch co-star as Smiley’s former colleagues, allies, and potential suspects.
Young Adult (dir. Jason Reitman, 2011)
I really enjoyed Charlize Theron’s turn as an alcoholic ghost writer who returns to her hometown to win her high school boyfriend back. Theron was born to play this role of a woman who is so messed up, she is just out of touch with everything. It’s a funny, enlightening, and deeply disturbing. You probably know someone just like Mavis. (Related: The Ally and Joanna Show – Episode 19)
Love Actually (dir. Richard Curtis, 2003) — Love Actually is a romantic comedy on steroids… and I adore it, even the stories and characters I could care less about. (Sorry Keira Knightley.) I watch it every year to kick of the holiday season. (Related post: 5 Days of Christmas Movies: Love Actually)
A Christmas Carol (dir. Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951)
Arguably the best adaptation of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. British character actor Alastair Sim stars as Ebenezer Scrooge and by the time the film ends, his laugh will be one of the most enjoyable you have ever heard. (Related post: 5 Days of Christmas Movies: A Christmas Carol)
The Fabulous Baker Boys (dir. Steve Kloves, 1989) — Three great performances from Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Also, who knew that Steve Kloves had a career before the Harry Potter movies?
A Christmas Tale (dir. Arnaud Desplechin, 2008)
A wonderful French drama starring Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Paul Roussillon as the heads of the Vuillard family. The film follows the family during Christmas five years after son Henri (Mathieu Amalric) was banished by daughter Elizabeth (Anne Consigny). Family melodrama during the holidays at its best. (Related post: 5 Days of Christmas Movies: A Christmas Tale)
Miracle on 34th Street (dir. George Seaton, 1947)
Another Christmas classic that is great for kids. Watching it as an adult, Miracle on 34th Street is rather comical. (Related post: 5 Days of Christmas Movies – Miracle on 34th Street)
White Palace (dir. Luis Mandoki, 1990)
Question: Does Susan Sarandon only ever play a saucy, working class, older woman with a younger boy toy? (Except that one time when she played a nun and won an Oscar.)
It’s A Wonderful Life (dir. Frank Capra, 1946) — I ended the week before Christmas by watching It’s A Wonderful Life for possibly the millionth time. I imagine I’m not the only person.
The Artist (dir. Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
This is the best film of the year (allegedly) and I was left underwhelmed. (My review.)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (dir. David Fincher, 2011)
I was excited to see what Fincher would do with this story that I really don’t love. (Okay, I really hate the Stieg Larsson books.) Unfortunately, I don’t think Fincher could even improve on the problematic source material. No matter how badass Rooney Mara is as Lisbeth Salander.
You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (dir. George Marshall, 1939)
One of W.C. Fields‘ final films and one of his only films I had yet to see until this week. It wasn’t one of my favorites despite being incredibly enjoyable. (See the ping pong scene embedded below.) Fields’ films are always worth checking out at least once.
Weekend (dir. Andrew Haigh, 2011)
This is the last film I saw this year and it is one of my favorites from 2011. Weekend even made it into my year-end post and I hate ranking movies. That is how much I loved it.