This list might look a little odd since most of the films I think are worth spending money on happen to be films not quite in the mainstream.
10. THE TREE OF LIFE – Terrence Malik takes on God! Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain are parents during a time that any adult over the age of 45 can relate to. It’s easy to look back and find fault with life and our parents. Malik tells a story mixed in with the fact that no matter how this short life is seen – there is so much we haven’t.
9. ANOTHER EARTH – If you haven’t had a chance to see this amazing film – do so. The young actress Brit Marling carries this film with her characters self imposes punishment for a life that doesn’t go quite as planned. The fact that there is literally another earth is secondary. It is a stunning story with performances worthy of praise.
8. CEDAR RAPIDS – This is just a plain out-and-out quirky and hysterical with loveable mixed into this comedy. Ed Helms plays insurance agent Tim Lippe who not only needs to loosen up, but seriously loosen up. Helms puts in a sweet and hysterical performance along with John C. Reilly, Anne Hecht and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr.
7. ANONYMOUS – This is a film that asks the question – did William Shakespeare truly write some of the most beloved pieces in the world? Or, was he a ‘patsy’ to use a better word, for an aristocrat who couldn’t show his own talent. This film told a tale woven with intrigue and mystery – as any good Shakespearean story should be. Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave turn in beautiful performances. Ben Johnson is riveting to watch.
6. SHAME – Yes, this film is the one everyone is talking about but for all the wrong reasons. Yes, there is nudity that will stop viewers in their tracks. Put that aside and watch a story of pain in a life that most of us will never understand. The performances by Fassbender and Mulligan are nothing short of striking. It is gritty, raw, and sultry with a performance by Mulligan singing “New York, New York”.
5. BRIDESMAIDS – One of the most hilarious “chick flicks” about getting married I have seen. Knowing a few gals who got married this year I suggest they not see it until after their weddings. It gives a whole new meaning to a girl’s luncheon! Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph along with Rose Byrne bring the lady fun in. This is also the break out role for the very funny Melissa McCarthy.
4. THE HELP – We have all seen films about this period of time and they have been good too. But “The Help” is something different and extremely special. Set in Mississippi in the 1960’s Stone’s character is a writer who wants to tell the story from the helps point of view. Viola Davis as Aibileen, on such maid and Emma Stone as writer Skeeter – are two forces to be reckoned with. Bryce Dallas Howard shows a side of the south that needed telling. Octavia Spenser as Minny Jackson serves up more than enough emotion and Jessica Chastain is adorable as Celia Foote.
3. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Pt. 2 – It is hard to believe that there won’t be any more Harry Potter films. These are films I actually waited for with excitement. We watched this small boy grow into a man and take on his own fears with love, friendships and loyalties. Something we can all learn from. We will miss you Harry, Hermoine and Ron! J.K. Rowlings brought reading back to the masses and Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint will forever be a part of the film going culture.
2. THE ARTIST – This film is beautiful and so extraordinary. Yes, it is a silent film and yes it is in black and white but, more importantly, it is a stunning thing to see! As a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society, this film was voted Best Film of 2011 and I stand by that decision. I fell in love once again with silence so that I was truly able to enjoy the story being told through music, body language and one heck of a cute dog!
1. THE WAY – I have watched this film three times and it still affects me the same way. Estevez managed to gather an amazing cast and take a journey into the heart of characters. He allowed us to know them, care, and relate our own pains and sadness. Sheen plays father Tom who, after disagreeing with his son’s lifestyle, is forced to come to terms with the loss of Daniel. Losing him to a pilgrimage from the Pyrenees of France to the Camino de Santiago, Tom takes over to finish the walk. Along the way he meets Joost, Jack and Sarah who also all make the pilgrimage for their own personal reasons. These four people will start out strangers and end in a whole other place in this life.
Well, that’s my top ten list for 2011. It is diverse, different, difficult and delightful. The films are from all over the filmmaking map. I wasn’t impressed by the names behind many of this years films. I don’t care who you are, who you think you are or how much money you manage to suck out of the coffers of Hollywood – if its crap, its crap! If it’s self-indulgent then own up to it, if it wreaks of pure selfishness then claim it – but don’t make people pay to see it!
Its time to venture out and see the different, the unique and the films are in smaller release. Don’t sell your movie-going-self short! This is the second year of non-impressive films and unnecessary remakes, retellings or what ever they want to call it. A perfect example is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – with the exception of a colleague who is madly in love with Mara Rooney – there was NO reason to remake that film. When I have asked “why?” the reason I received was “American’s don’t like to read” at a film.
Hmmmm…I think Harry Potter and the gang might prove them wrong! Give the viewers something worth reading/seeing and watch what happens. The original version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” with actress Noomi Rapace is an amazing piece of filmmaking that was beautifully done. Rapace as Salander leaves no room for error or a stupid thing like love. Make sure you see “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and “The Girl who Played with Fire” before Hollywood screws them up – Netflix these immediately!
I’m finding many moviegoers agree with me! So lets hope that 2012 gives us a little something more and something more worth paying for. Stay tuned and we’ll find out together.
Guilty pleasure: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. Rutger Hauer plays a hobo who comes into a town that has been sold out by the mayor and police department. Hauer takes on the bad guys and decides ‘enough is enough’ proving it with a shotgun instead of the lawn mower he really wants. This has such a 60’s feel with cheesy music, cheesy acting and bad affects that are good. It’s just a film to enjoy for the sake of enjoying it. The story is clear from the beginning and if the viewer expects anything less then they miss the point! After all, he’s just a hobo with a shotgun!!