Sunday, January 8, 2012

Top 10 Films Of 2011

I personally thought it was an amazing year for film. Much better than years prior where deciding my top 10 list was as easy as picking up a drunk and hot girl. That is, easy because of the lack of options of that standard. This year was difficult. So many high quality films have come out, or maybe it’s just my increasing love for film and consistent consumption of it. Either way, I’m thoroughly satisfied with this year’s outcome. Not only have we been introduced to great films this year but have also become aware of a few great first time directors. We saw great films by Joe Cornish (Attack the block), Evan Glodell (Bellflower), Dee Rees (Pariah), and David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American sleepover), and a few more. I look forward to the new projects from all of these directors and hope they continue on their successful paths. If you haven’t seen their work, please check it out!

It would seem that we also may be on the heels of a new black film movement. Reminiscent of the crime melodramas of the Blaxploitation era with Shaft and Super Fly, and the more recent 90’s, lead by Spike lee (Do the Right thing and Jungle Fever), John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood and Poetic Justice), and Mario Van Peebles (New Jack City and Panther), comes THE NOW. Ava DuVernay (I Will Follow), Dee Rees (Pariah), Qasim Basir (Mooz-lum), Alrick Brown (Kinyarwanda), Steve McQueen (Shame), Salim Akil (Jumping the broom), and a few more. This is something that especially makes me proud. This “movement,” also brings forth not being able to fit the black character in a box, as an ideal. As Toure’ would say, the post-black (his book: Who’s afraid of Post-Blackness) era. Where blacks are of a variety of character, morally, sexually, and rid of any other stereotype that’s been assumed upon our culture. All of these films do a great job clarifying that we’re all different, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I wish the greatest success and longest careers to said directors and also to the directors, writers, and actors that I left out.

Disclaimer: I’m a regular person. I’m not a paid critic. So I wouldn’t say that there are any hidden agendas or secret politics behind the making of this list (also not saying critics do). Also to that point, I don’t get paid or asked by anyone to go see these films. I haven’t seen as many films as a professional critic and everything I do see comes out of my own pocket in some manner and is done in my limited free time. If I haven’t listed something you love, forgive me. I may have not seen it or it just may suck. Let’s begin.

10. Attack the Block

As mentioned in my introduction, Attack the Block is from first time writer/director Joe Cornish. The film is about a teen gang in London doing their best to defend their block from an alien invasion. Gathering comparisons to J.J. Abrams’s Super 8, it deals with children and aliens but much better in my opinion. Nostalgia isn’t the goal of ATB as in Super 8 which to me felt like an homage to the earlier work of Steven Spielberg. ATB is simple, gritty, and worth every penny used to see it.    

9. The Interrupters

From the documentarian of Hoop Dreams, Steve James, comes this GEM. This documentary follows the lives of three “Violence interrupters” in Chicago.  Like most documentaries, this allows you to be the fly on the wall. You witness some heartbreaking things, motivating things, and the people that live and work in this environment. One of the interrupters, Ameena Matthews, shines on the screen as she negotiable the streets, motivates the young people, and wears her heart on her sleeve trying to make a change. Steve James does a 
marvelous job conveying the fact that this is how it is and ultimately there may not be a way to fix it, but there are people who care and try. What are you doing?  

8. The Trip

One word precisely describes this film. Hilarious!! One of the few films this year that literally had me laughing out loud. You can YouTube the impressions of Michael Caine for of a taste of the hilarity that takes place in this film. I’d say that this definitely isn’t for everyone. Nothing really happens, it just follows two men on a trip, like the title insinuates. Tons of conversation (which I love), but am aware that everyone doesn’t have the patience for. See this, bring a diaper!

7. Another Earth

Drama and science and fiction. This is a film about a girl celebrating her acceptance to MIT and following that with the killing a family during a drunk driving accident. The movie picks up 4 years after the accident at which point the main character, played greatly by co-writer Brit Marling, is released from Jail. This movie was such a surprise, but very reflective of the vibrant indie scene currently existing.

6. Warrior

The tale of two brothers. For that fact, my opinion here may be a little biased, considering that I have a brother and we’re the only children. None the less, this movie is great. I was already a huge fan of Tom 
Hardy who is great in this film, but it was the performance of Nick Nolte (yes, I said Nick Nolte) who really just steals this for me. So moving, so emotional, so much more than a UFC fighting film.

5. Bridesmaids

Often called the woman’s version of The Hangover, which in my opinion doesn’t do it justice. Things we learned from this movie: Kristen Wig is a star… Women can do it too… Melissa McCarthy should be a household name. All in all, this movie is all kinds of funny.

4. Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen is back? He quite possibly could be with the amazing piece of work. This is any writer’s dream in screenplay form. I was so jealous while watching this movie. What I would give for this plot to be my life. The dialogue in this film is sharp, funny, and leaves you (or just me) yearning for more. I loved this!

3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Strangely, I feel connected to these anthropoid mammals and their struggle for freedom… something seems awkwardly familiar about the whole thing… or maybe not. This Movie is as close to perfect as it can get. Improperly promoted, I went into this expecting something less deep. Andy Circus is the MAN!! And Caesar says NO!! Do more than go see this, buy it.

2. Shame

Steve McQueen is an amazingly powerful director. He was able to make something that I love so much, which is sex, seem so damn unsexy. Filled with long takes of superb acting by Michael Fassbender, who deserves and Oscar nod for this performance, and content that’s dark and provocative. This is definitely not for everyone. It’s quite disturbing. I have it ranked this high primarily because it’s not often that a film can make me feel that way this one did. It lingered in my head for days, made me question a lot about myself, and required the viewing of something light (preferably Disney) after. Definitely go see this! If you can handle it…

1. Drive

Gosling + Winding Refn = Great. Then sprinkle in Albert Brooks at his best and Sick 80’s music and you get Incredible. There’s not much I need to say about this film, it’s quite the Masterpiece. See it now!

Honorable Mentions
Meek’s Cutoff
I Will Follow
Sarah’s Key
Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Movies I haven’t seen yet that I believe would have been contenders
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Take Shelter

1 comment:

  1. Great List and totally agree excluding Attack of the Block. But if comparing it to Super 8 then maybe it is a top 10