I have been commissioned to write some sort of “Best of 2011” list. The problem is I don’t believe in “Best of” lists. I think they are as harmful to society as no-kill shelters. So this is just a list of 15 movies from 2011 I liked, in alphabetical order. (Disclaimer: You can blame Ally (and some other Tweeps) if you don’t enjoy this list.)
Beginners – dir. Mike Mills
Quiet, affecting, and charming… Christopher Plummer is simply wonderful.
Bridesmaids – dir. Paul Feig (My Review)
This is the best comedy of the year. Not just because it proves that women can be funny and raunchy. Or because it features the year’s breakout star, Melissa McCarthy, crapping in a sink. Bridesmaids finds the touching moments that come with those rites of passage women experience during weddings. And did I mention Melissa McCarthy?
Cave of Forgotten Dreams – dir. Wener Herzog (My Review)
This is a shout out to my boyfriend Werner and his weird love of radioactive albino crocodiles. (Herzog is also responsible for one my favorite Colbert Report interviews from the year.)Vodpod videos no longer available.
Drive – dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
Some weak performances bring Drive down (looking at you, Mulligan). But ultimately its sleek aesthetics, music selections, and Albert Brooks win out.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DSVDcw6iW8]
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 – dir. David Yates (Nicole’s guest post on the end of Pottermania)
The Harry Potter franchise ended. I was more than satisfied with the ending, despite the hilariously cheesy aging make-up during the epilogue. I’ll always adore this book/film series. Now I can move on with my life and finally stop reading Oliver Wood-centric fanfiction.
Martha Marcy May Marlene – dir. Sean Durkin (My Review)
This is one of the best and most under-appreciated films of the year. Elizabeth Olsen is a revelation in her performance as a woman struggling to adapt to life outside of an abusive cult. Martha is paranoid and beyond repair. Maybe the lack of a resolution and the very slow pacing leaves some wanting more, but everything about Martha Marcy May Marlene, for me, is just brilliant.
Meek’s Cutoff – dir. Kelly Reichardt (My Review)
Another under-appreciated independent film that I caught earlier this year. Kelly Reichardt is one of my favorite directors and what you see in Meek’s Cutoff was a true artist challenging herself.
Melancholia – dir. Lars von Trier
Here the end of the world is just devastatingly beautiful and that alone makes Melancholia a cinematic treat.
Midnight in Paris – dir. Woody Allen (My Review)
Woody Allen showed that he still can make the best films. I loved everything about this movie, even Rachel McAdams unfortunate shirt dresses.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs_DD_7C8_A]
Red Riding Hood – dir. Catherine Hardwicke (My “Review”)
Everyone should have a favorite bad movie of the year. This is mine. Mostly because it’s pretty twisted and Gary Oldman rocks the purple court jester look.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – dir. Tomas Alfredson
A espionage thriller that condenses a hefty source material into an exciting, stylistic puzzle. A stellar cast led by Gary Oldman’s subtle and brilliant performance as George Smiley, a retired intelligence officer looking for a Soviet double agent in the British secret service.
The Tree of Life – dir. Terrence Malick
Confession: I sobbed like a baby during the final part of this movie. (I’ll explain why one day.) If I had to pick, this is the best film the year.
The Skin I Live In – dir. Pedro Almodovar (My post on Concha Buika)
This is one of Pedro Almodovar’s most conceptually challenging films. Sex, gender, violence, melodrama all come together in a horror film. Antonio Banderas reunites with Almodovar, the director who gave him his break, and the result is phenomenal. I don’t even think this one Almodovar’s best films but he could direct a movie about cat feces (actually…) and I would include in a “best of the year” list.
Weekend – dir. Andrew Haigh
I watched this just last night and instantly loved it. Weekend is another of the year’s under-appreciated films; you can watch it on Netflix. It is about two gay men who intend to have a one-night stand but it turns into a more meaningful encounter. The film is slightly ne0-neorealist (something I love) and a wonderfully touching film.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUU_WzRBHX4]
We Need to Talk About Kevin – dir. Lynne Ramsey
Tilda Swinton. Should win. All of the awards. Her performance as a mother dealing with her son’s violent crimes is devastatingly powerful. The film itself is haunting and more of a horror film because it is frighteningly realistic.
Bonus: Tom Hanks’ Thumb
What do you mean you don’t casually read Tom Hanks’ tweets like I do to check the progress of his broken, gnarly thumb nail? (I won’t post the picture because it is nasty.) So every couple of weeks, I check the Hanx’ twitter account to see how his thumb (he slammed it in a gate) is healing. (Stars! They’re just like us!) Also. Tom Hanks’ Twitter feed is far more enjoyable than any of the movies he was in this year.
The Movies I Still Need to See: Into the Abyss; The Iron Lady; Margaret; A Separation; Shame; Take Shelter; War Horse; probably some other movies.
And that is it. 2011 is over. How does my year end list compare to yours? What am I missing? Sound off below.
And as always, thanks for reading. I’m still amazed that people actually read this blog. Happy New Year!