Friday, March 16, 2012

The True 10 Best of 2011

Would it be too cliched of me to preface this overdue list with "better late than never?"

It would? Well, OK. Think of it as me using the old Oscar timetable, back when they used to have the show in March. That's MY kind of March Madness. (Brackets? What brackets?)

Anyway, since I am running late and all, I decided to break the rules this year. Usually I restrict my list to films that played in the Dayton area in the calendar year. However, since I was such a slacker *cough* took so long,  I decided to make my list conform to films actually released nationwide in the calendar year of 2011. That means that my list has to start with:

  1. The Artist - C'mon, did you really expect this TCM nut to pick anything else? (OK, Hugo would have been an eminently reasonable guess, but more on that in a minute).
  2. The Descendants: This movie took me on the most wide-ranging emotional journey of 2011; the screenplay is chock full of moments that are so exactly right.
  3.  Hugo: Here's Marty's magical masterpiece. Just when I think The Man can't surprise me anymore, he makes 3D more transcendent than ever before.
  4.  Midnight in Paris: A movie about living in the past? No, the guy who liked the Beatles when he was a teenager in the 80s can't relate to that at all, nooooo.
  5.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The hypnotic visuals of this film grabbed me from the title sequence forward and they still haven't let go. Bravo to Rooney Mara for putting her own unique spin on Lisbeth Salander. Hers was the performance of the year.
  6.  Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol:  For the pulse-pounding, jaw-clenching Burj Khalifa sequence alone, this was the action film of the year.

  7.  Young Adult: This movie fragmented audiences; some people couldn't stand the film or its lead character, but I found them all too relateable. This movie hit me hard personally, in that it brought to vivid life the ideas that some people can't help being train wrecks - and some people can't help but stay on the tracks in front of them.

  8. A Separation: This movie won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, and its steeped in Iranian culture - yet it still offers a universal message about the perils of not truly attempting to understand one another.
  9. Moneyball: Sports are usually an anathema to me, but what really makes this movie work is that it's not really a sports movie. It manages to find the human heart amid a stack of statistics.
  10. Super 8: The best Steven Spielberg film of the year. In fact, it's better than either film Spielberg himself directed. I only wish Elle Fanning's terrific performance hadn't gotten lost in the shuffle. 

Most of these are available on disc; save The Artist and A Separation, which are still in theaters. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo arrives on disc Tuesday, MI:4 arrives April 17.

My runners-up will follow in another post, along with my choices for the worst films of the year. Trying to spread the wealth, ya know!

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