January 22, 2012

MOVIES: Best Films of 2011

It was a year filled with movies that I liked, but not offering very many that I loved without reservation. The top two this year are a mile ahead of the rest of the pack.

Starting with #10 and counting down to #1:

  • Tabloid -- documentary as farce, in which Joyce McKinney narrates her own delusional fantasies of romantic heroism.
  • Midnight in Paris -- Woody Allen's fascination with the paradoxical appeal/danger of nostalgia takes center stage, in a movie that is impeccably cast; Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, and Michael Sheen are all perfect choices for their parts.
  • Pariah -- a relatively familiar coming-out story in some ways, but we haven't gotten the lesbian version of the story nearly as often, or the African-American version. A calm, melancholy tale of simple courage and dignity.
  • Rango -- a deliriously goofy homage to a wide range of Hollywood movies and traditions, with a fresh, distinctive animated style, and a terrifically creepy villain in Bill Nighy's Rattlesnake Jake.
  • The Skin I Live In -- Almodovar mixes many of his favorite motifs -- women in jeopardy, wild melodrama, twisted sexuality -- with the Frankenstein story to spectacularly entertaining effect.
  • Take Shelter -- not only a powerful allegory about the economic and social anxieties of the moment, but a dark nightmare about a man slowly losing his grip on reality.
  • The Artist -- yes, the story's fluffy and light, but there's nothing wrong with fluff when it's this precisely crafted. The most joyful movie of the year.
  • Weekend -- the year's best love story, and the year's best acting duo. Tom Cullen and Chris New bring remarkable spontaneity to their unexpected whirlwind romance.
  • A Separation -- it's a legal thriller, it's a family drama, it's a glimpse inside Iranian society -- and it does all of those things extremely well. There are no easy answers, no clear-cut heroes or villains to be found here -- only complicated people, struggling with complicated problems in ways that we can always empathize with.
And the year's best movie:
  • Melancholia -- the gentlest, most humane movie Lars von Trier has ever made; a movie that finds thrilling joy and magical ecstasy in the apocalypse.

2 comments:

MR. GREENWOOD said...

No room for 'Drive' in the top ten?

Good list though...

Keith said...

I thought Drive was all style, no substance. And not very interesting style at that.