If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Now, to do the most irritating part of my list; the best of films for the year 2011. Why is it more irritating than my worst of? Obvious, because many films this year were very well done and there are some that I did like and others I really enjoyed and there are others that make me re think my greatest films of all time list. So, as I did with my worst of, there will be honorable mentions and the rest from 10-1 this time. No 0 because that is a rare piece of my WORST of films, no my best. And now, lets end this.
Short Honorable Mentions to:
Drive: the movie was a good 70's flick. Kind of like the older Martian Scorsese movies, this one takes its time and breaths before the big actions sequences start. That I did like about the story; however, what pulled me off the movie at points was the score and the chemistry between the two characters. First it wants to be an 80's score then it turns into orchestra then...the Social Network? Oooooook? Also, these characters don't have enough time for me to truly feel some care for these characters and make me say "Oh, they're in love and I completely agree with these transitions." I agree that the way it was presented was great, but it wasn't enough for me to feel emotionally involved with these two. Besides that, this was a good movie and nothing more.
The Artist: Good silent flick, but being a guy that actually feels as though he watches more silent films during his spare time, it was wasn’t all that special to me. I liked the art directions and, as all other silent films, the performances were top notch in the show don’t tell department of performing; however, it didn’t really stand out that much for me to say that it is my favorite movie of the year, let alone a favorite silent film.
Warrior: Entertaining, cliche and emotionally fulfilling. Warrior delivers its best action both inside and outside of the boxing ring.
I have actually seen a premise kind of like this, but watching it I didn’t really care all that much because it was presented in such a brilliant fashion. The performances were great; Bradley Cooper showed his chops to say that he can also be a dramatic actor and can hold his own. Robert Di Nero, surprisingly enough, returned to the stage as the good actor we know and love him to be; showing us the chops that he has to still say a few lines with great dignity and dedication. The characters themselves are relatively likeable and relatable in their own situations and in the context of the film. The direction is spotless and visually entertaining; using the visuals to tell the story and allow us to understand this character’s environment rather than just giving me a pretty picture and throw away my sense of the story. I am really surprised that this film didn’t get nominated for best editing because the techniques they used to make this film are unbelievable at times. What I loved most about this one was how unpredictable the film would be at times with its twists and turns in its storytelling that just made me lose my sense of saying “oh, this is going to happen, this is going to happen and this is going to happen” and increased my interest tenfold. If I were to say a problem though, the whole things with the pills isn’t explained that well enough for me to actually believe it, but that is a minor complaint because it is a fictional tale rather than a realistic one. Overall, Limitless was an enjoyably fun visual thrill ride with some good characters, great performances and some good techniques that still wow me after watching them.
For those of you who do not like this movie, allow me to say this...*akem*...*hits you with a wrench* DON’T DO DRUGS! James Gunn nails this film with such a great degree on the darker side of the humorous man becomes fake superhero story. He also does the representation of loneliness, religion and redemption to such a subtle and amazing degree that I was just entertained with what he was able to do with these themes. Not to mention, this film was hilarious as hell, in its own sick ways. The moments were so over the top that I just couldn’t stop myself from either holding my laugh to hear the next thing to come out of the Crimson Bolt’s mouth or I’d hurt my stomach from laughing so damn hard. The performances were amazing, especially from Rainn Wilson’s performance that is both humorous, relatable and sentimental all meshed up into this little bit of perfection. Ellen Page, to me, played a dark nerd girl, thanks to her body composition, and instead of becoming a hipster, she becomes a psycho comic book nerds to both widen your eyes with “what the hell?” moments that she does throughout the film. Sure, there is a lot of gore, but there is also a beating bleeding heard that makes you laugh and feel for these characters and the story.
Yep, Rango is a really well done western film with some great...stuff in general! Not only delivering with some CGI that would make Pixar run for their money but some legitimately clever writing to boot. It is one of those where it would be hard to describe it without saying that it pays homage to the western films. Now, when that comes into mind, many would wonder why this is in my best of and why Hugo and Super 8 are in my worst of? Simple; Rango is its own story with its own setting and characters and only pays homage through clever dialog and memorable sequences instead of lifting one's style to make the film more manipulative than entertaining or waiting until the last thirty minutes to become what it wants to be. I have absolutely no problem with a film being nostalgic, even though I do say it is one of my peeves when it is done wrong and for good reason. It is when paying homage is done well by having your own style and subtle ways of paying homage to something for the audience member to understand while still not become disjointed or indulgent while doing so and that is where Rango nails that balance of creativity and homage perfectly. The cinematography is amazing for a film that is CGI; using the environment around us to feel as though we are in the desert and I felt as though I had to drink more water while watching this film because the cinematography was that good. The voice acting is surprisingly amazing; from Johnny Deep's persona as the chameleon Rango or Timothy Olyphant's amazing cameo as *spoiler* who could have been easily mistaken as *spoiler*. Not to mention, Hans Zimmer, you have done it again; making an amazing score is what you do best and Rango is no exception to this rule. As I have said with many films; it is NEVER about the premise, but it is more about the execution. While Rango's story is pretty simple and strait forward, it is beautifully executed in all shapes and forms.
7. Rise of the Planet of Kickass...I mean the Apes
First movie of 2011 I got on DVD and it deserves to be on that shelf. Not a person who actually watched the Planet of the Apes films (Say what you will, but there will be THAT movie you haven’t watched...) and I just feel in love with this movie most of the time. Sure, the human motivations aren't great, but it is good enough to be believable to an audience member like myself. The story is extremely emotional without being manipulative and relies more on the character's situation rather than the score or the cinematography. It is a rather beautiful movie and deserves a sequel. Great build up with some amazing results, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the best prequel I have seen since....Godfather Part II? (Not as great, but still)
6. A Separation
From the very beginning of this film, I felt as though I was dumped into the situation and even said out loud “I’m sorry lady, I don’t know what is going on.” But as the film moved further and further into what it was about, I took a deep breath and held it again because of the way this film was shot. It might be because of the direction and the performances, but I just felt for these characters so much that I couldn’t even breathe at times. The tragedies between these characters are so well done and give such great depth to these characters that it is difficult to not disagree with their decisions. The father doesn’t want to leave but the mother does. At first, I was with the father, and then the mother didn’t want to go for reasons that were well explained in the film. When the officers came in, I first said to myself “oh no, the evil government is going to be evil and such, lovely.” But when they are actually used to tell this tragedy, it is more like “This is what we have to do in a society like this” rather than “we’re evil fear us” kind of stereotypical writing 101. The rest of the film tries to tie up this tragedy and I was all for it. Even then...the movie isn’t all that kind to these characters and plays out as a really dreadful tragedy. Sure, some good things happen, but damn its bittersweet to say the least. In the end, I would say that I hope to see more films from this director who knows how to tell a story, get some emotion into the story, get people to act as well as they did in this film, even the kid was really good in this, and just make this feel feasible and interesting.
5. I saw the Devil
Well, damn this was the most suspenseful and the most unpredictable film I have seen all year. Korea, you have peeked my interest yet again with a film that not only some great storytelling but with a fun-as –hell good time. I really enjoyed this film because the really good use of gore, the main storyline and a story of “how far would a man go to achieve true vengeance?” That has been an idea that I’ve always wanted to tell, but in different circumstances and this film basically gave me a how-to guild on how to do it. Both actors, Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik, really put the nail on the head on every single one of the gore sequences that turned from a cringe to a “DAYUM!” moment for me. I never minded the large bloodbath because that was what the film was going for so it didn’t bother me for a split second. Each turn in the story kept the film from becoming a predicable story of vengeance and turned it into an unpredictable thrill ride of destruction and true insanity which is always a plus with me. I do have an actual question to ask about this film; was it actually two and a half hours? Because this film, with its great pacing and storytelling, felt almost Seven Samurai and seemed to be half that time. With its with amazing direction, the great use of visuals and a film oozing with style and great substance, not to forget the unforgettable performances in the film, ‘I Saw the Devil’ is amazing thrill ride that I will watch again and again and again just to understand how this story needs to be done as well as become entertained as hell.
4. Attack the Block
This is the alien film of the year, bar none. Attack the Block does everything right when it comes to making this a blending of action, horror, science fiction and horror. It develops the characters in a very intellectual manner; forcing us to see these characters, in the first ten minutes, as traditional knife wielding thugs and then revealing them as scared children, especially in a situation at hand. The result is making these characters both sympathetic and well researched to never feeling forced or patronizing. This not only the result of some good writing, but also from the natural performances to make the audience feel something human rather than something robotic. These performances create a dynamic that never made me scratch my head and become unable to decide if they are actually friends or not. The score is rather interesting, coming from a guy who doesn’t listen to much dub step. It was well suited for what the film was trying to combine and added the already existent emotional tension as a score should. The aliens are very well made and are extremely threatening; with the darker than black color, the neon eyes and their instinctual behavior not only feels threatening but looks like something that can live and breathe here. And even then, they aren’t the focus because it is more of a character piece than an actual alien film; focusing on the dynamic, identity, strengths and weaknesses of the main cast and allow themselves to fight against the odds. Attack the Block delivers in humor, action, horror and, above all, entertainment.
3. The Skin I Live in
GOD DAMN IT, this film beat me to a similar story I was thinking of, just like I Saw the Devil, and they probably did it better than what I was going for. I will say this is a film that I love and I hate with intense jealousy. I always wanted to tell a different take on Frankenstein but instead of bring humans back to life I...yeah, like I’m going to tell you. The Skin I live in nailed almost everything perfectly with the dark tone and atmosphere, the ideas of sexuality, the performances and so on. Sure, the first half of this movie was not that great, but because it was trying to build up the film. If I would complain about it is that it built itself up a bit too much. Not that the pay off didn’t make up for it, but it was just at the point where I looked at my watch saying “Come man, don’t let me down here” right before it became the amazing film that it was. Even then, I just had this feeling in the back of my head that “**** is about to get real in this film.” But when it slowly walked me through the pay off and what the film was about, I just put my fist towards the screen and said “You deserve the imaginary bro fist. You did a perfect 180 and you deserve to be in my best of the year.” My eyes popped with excitement and my jaw popped off my head. This film was complex, but it wasn’t that hard to understand. It was filled of emotion and great themes of sexuality. The characters are really interesting, especially with the Ilayitonya actress. Every moment in the second half just felt as though I had to take notes and say “This is how I need to make a Frankenstein~esque film”. So, to sum up, this is a film that is not only great, but it is also a film that I have wanted to make since childhood that made me have to put it back in the shelf and cry onto a corner, saying to myself...
Just as someone who goes to film regularly, I went into this film thinking to myself "Ohh, great another Precious film. I wonder how Queen Latifa will go crazy this time." As a result of coming out of it...I was emotionally involved, visually astounded and just plain entertained. As a person who enjoys independent black films like Killer of Sheep and Nothing But a Man, Pariah is a film that fits perfectly in this genre; simply making characters relatable to an audience without relying on many stereotypes of the quote-unquote "Jive-Talking" African American or looking down at the black lesbian as a cardboard cutout. This is just a story about black people with a black lesbian and their issues rather than a film with black cardboard cut outs and the crazy black lesbian stereotype. The characters were truly relatable and are very well developed, allowing the emotional scenes to have a lot more weight than there already is. It takes these characters into a relatable situation of their child going through a change in her life and takes it the way any other parental figure would in their conditions. It is a film more about a family trying to stay together and a coming of age story rather than just something like Precious. The breakout performance in the film, even though I did really enjoy Adepero Oduye’s performance as this coming out lesbian, but the mother character played by Kim Wayans. I was with Co-Host by saying “Hey, she’s back Wait… she’s not funny in this movie…not at all” and that is a good thing to show that she actually has some range. With her performance, and the way the film was written, I didn’t think of her as antagonistic at all; I just saw a mother trying to do what is best for her daughter and I liked that realistic aspect to this film. I will say the best part about this film was the feeling of belonging; I myself would say that there were points on my life where I feel completely uncomfortable in my skin. This film nails that theme to such a degree that it would hit me emotionally at points with that feeling of invisibility and the inability to become comfortable of my very self. I will be honest with everyone and say this was the only film this year that gave me a TINY tear coming out of my weak eye. AND THAT WASN’T DUST! The movie doesn’t even center on being a lesbian, but more about growing up and being someone that wants to be different. There is just a lot of emotion without going to the extra route to force me to cry, but a story that I was able to believe and allow the tears to flow out of my eyes. The cinematography was beautiful, the acting was superb, the direction was top notch, the writing was top notch and the film overall is an unbelievably great example of black independent film making. Now, the worst part about this movie is that I have to wait until it comes out on DVD and that will be a long and PAINFUL wait, making this my number 2 film of the year.
1. Midnight in Paris
OF COURSE! This movie would make it into my favorite movie of 2011. Not only that, but along with Pariah and Attack of the Block, they may be on my favorite movies of all time (It is too damn hard to make a real list, so don't ask me to do so). As an actual wannabe writer, Midnight in Paris was a great film to wake me up and say "HEY! Quit looking in the past and actually make something!" It wasn't really nostalgic at all to me which is probably why I loved it so much. Besides that...what else could be said? That this is my favorite Woody Allen film since Crimes and Misdemeanors? That this was Owen Wilson's pest performance and hope he does more good stuff like this? That the story flows perfectly from real to not so real? That I though every reference was either made me laugh my ass off or made me learn something about one of these figures of history? I can't, because I already said it. Midnight in Paris is just a great film with everything else being great that I haven’t mentioned and that is why it is my favorite film of 2011.
Thank you all for reading this post. Please comment for any comments, mistake I may have made a mistake or whatever. Lets hope for the best of 2012!
@All films and videos are owned by their respective companies and therefore, I have no ownership nor do I take ownership.