Monday, February 27, 2012

Obligatory Favorite Films of the Year Post

You all knew it was coming up. Here is a list of some of my favorite films of the year:

Note: I really hate ranking films, so please don't give too much weight to the rankings. These films are all worth seeing.

Almost Got In There But Not Quite:

-The Help
-The Ides of March

Top 10 (11):

10. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo- While I consider this flick to be a lesser addition to David Fincher’s body of work—I still thought it was pretty damn solid. Rooney Mara deserves to be in the best actress race come award season, hell she might even deserve to win. The story is what it is, whether you like it or not, but I don’t think anyone can argue that Fincher nails the dark murky tone required to make this film worth seeing.

9. Win Win- The thing I loved the most about this movie was that it was about...wait for it...normal people. Flaws and all. As deep a hole as Paul Giamatti has digs for himself in this movie, he never ceases to feel like the hero of the story. In real life people make mistakes, act mean and harsh, and sometimes things get better and sometimes they don’t. This movie portrays that sentiment perfectly.

8. Super 8- From the moment I heard the first few notes of Giacchino’s score I knew that I was going to be in for a treat. I was really surprised that a lot of critics stated that the movie was not able to stand on its own, and that the Spielberg fingerprints were too distracting. I was sucked into the story from the very beginning. If I had seen the movie when I was 9 or 10 it would have been my favorite movie ever—and I mean that in the best possible way.

7. Beginners- A lovely study on how loneliness and sadness can be passed on through family members, both intentionally and unintentionally. Matched with loads of heart and pathos, this film has just enough quirk to make it different, but not too much to where it becomes annoying. Christopher Plummer delivers a heartbreaking, yet hysterical performance.

6. Tree of Life- I think it is safe to say that this was the most divisive film of the year. There were people who hated it with a passion, people who thought it was just alright, and people who loved it. I loved it. I had never seen the emotions presented here caught on film before. I loved the scene where young Jack (who was brilliantly acted by Hunter McCracken) is coming back from breaking into that house and taking out the woman’s slip. Innocence has been lost and it shows in Jack’s face as he walks home on a muggy afternoon. Brilliant stuff.

(Tie) 5. The Artist- I saw this one post hype and of course I went in thinking, this one couldn’t be as good as everyone says it is, but dammit, I really loved it. It was sweet, moving, witty, and charming to boot. The acting was perfect, I felt as though I was watching genuine actors from the silent film era. It is so refreshing to see such a charming feel-good movie be praised up and down--and actually deserve it.

(Tie) 5. Hugo- I mean, how can you go wrong with Scorsese directing a love letter to the history of cinema? When I first saw the trailer for this movie I had my doubts, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “it’s Scorsese, even his misses have value.” Well my doubts were squelched completely. Martin Scorsese is dubbed a master for a reason, and I thought Hugo was one of his best efforts.

4. Moneyball- I read this book over a vacation in like two days and thought it was one of the most fascinating non-fiction books I had ever read, and it translated perfectly to screen. Pitt disappeared into Billy Beane’s persona. I loved how it was almost the anti-sports movie. A look into the behind-the-scenes of baseball, warts and all. Wally Pfister's shots were really and inventive aided to the story beautifully. I’d have to say this film takes the cake when it comes to best acting from an ensemble cast. Everyone was fantastic.

3. Midnight in Paris- For me, this is Allen’s best work since Crimes and Misdemeanors. I loved how light-hearted, yet meaningful it was. Owen Wilson took the “Woody Allen Persona” and made it into his own thing—which worked wonderfully. I also really appreciated how un-sci-fi the time travel elements were. It basically worked like a dream, you get into a car and then poof—you’re in a different era. Simple and effective.

2. Warrior- On paper this film should be a clich├ęd mess of macho-stereotypes, obligatory dialogue, and manipulated emotions—but it isn’t. It’s a study of a broken family learning what the idea of forgiveness is. Tom Hardy is awesome and Nick Nolte gives perhaps the best performance of his career, but it’s the writing that elevates the film. It is just so perfect. Not in the Aaron Sorkin sense where it is poetry on screen, but in a brutal, bruised honesty type of way. The words are so delicately chosen and heartbreaking. I missed the film in the theater, but I ended up redboxing it one night. I went out and bought it the next day.

1. Drive- Cool, capital “C.” This film is so drenched in style that it at times reaches absurd levels and I couldn’t have loved it more. But what keeps Drive from being "style over substance" is its beating heart. Underneath the blood and oil there is a classic love story being told. Gosling gave a stunning, subtle (apparently too subtle for a lot of people) performance as the classic silent hero. And Albert Brooks shocked the hell out of me by playing the most convincing and unnerving villain I've seen since Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds. His performance really gives new meaning to the phrase "playing against type." The brilliant soundtrack only added to the gleaming neo-noir style.  Slick yet gritty, tender yet violent, Drive was my favorite film of the year.

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