Extraordinary in its cinematic confidence and style. Visually, it's one of the best-looking films of the year, and it's one of the most compelling and mesmerizing pieces of pulpy-sexy-cool greatness ever. Drive simply IS what's exciting to me about cinema.
The most elegant and visually masterful film of the year. Scorsese's love letter to cinema/masterpiece of film-making runs an extremely close second. It probably is the "best" or "most accomplished" film of the year, and falls only a railroad stitch shy of my favorite.
Pedro Almodovar's latest (and perhaps darkest) soap-operatic examination of those silly things called humans and the emotions that afflict them. It's got all the visual flourishes and strange paths of interconnectedness between characters that one would expect from an Almodovar film. It's a movie that has banged around in my head a good deal since I watched it. I plan on watching it again to decide just where exactly I stand with it (and where it stands on my list).
A darkly fascinating work of contemporary genius that evokes at once Gothic class and pulp delight. The second watch was even more compelling and rewarding than the first.
One of the best screenplays to come around in recent years, and one that provides tremendous fascination within the story, while also providing ample room to wrestle with myriad Big Ideas. This is an important movie and one that truly excited me in the way it demonstrates the amount of social and political gravitas the film art-form is capable of providing.
Takashi Miike's film didn't score high with me because of his name alone. I've downright hated the guy's work as much or more than I've enjoyed some of the rest. It's the sheer epic awesomeness that lands 13 Assassins on my list. It's a big, thrilling, bloody marvel of a film with plenty of classic touches. While it will never receive the same cult status as some of his other titles, I have no doubt that this one is his true masterpiece thus far.
Fun, exciting, smart, fresh, and all around great to look at. This impressive directorial debut film was one of the standout highlights of going to the movies in 2011. It's a remarkable genre effort and in my opinion a better movie than most of you think.
Intensely personal, without ever feeling self-consumed. A remarkable debut effort that handles moments of gritty reality with grace, dignity, and an authentic feel. Pariah deserves a much wider audience than it's ever likely to get.
I left the theater elated that this movie did everything I ask of a summer blockbuster. Equal parts high drama, exciting action, and playful humor neatly bundled up in a good-looking movie that doesn't cram an obnoxious attitude about itself down our throats. And I thought a rewatch from my living room was just as entertaining. Now that's my kind of big, noisy movie!
Worth seeing for Michelle William's performance alone. It's a movie about Marilyn, a movie about movies, and a movie about what it's like to fall helplessly under someone's spell. And all of this works inside a flawless looking period piece. It's simply, but gracefully told and while it's not Best Picture material by any means, I have a quiet, but sturdy affection for it.
Director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor) wins again. This one is perhaps a touch less memorable than those previous credits, but there's still plenty going for this movie that once again expands notions of "family" and examines how unlikely connections can be made between unlikely people.
Understated doesn't begin to describe it, but that's what you're likely to get when you adapt a short story from a minimalist writer into a feature length film. But strong and quietly powerful performances from every major player had me absorbed the whole way through.
Woody Allen's latest effort manages to be magical, funny, and delightfully charming when it's at its best. Owen Wilson excels as a warmer, better-rounded stand-in for Allen's often-recurring neurotic self-performed lead character. It's not Allen's most insightful or thought-provoking work (though it makes a couple of its own interesting observations) but it's likely among his most whimsical, and for the most part that's not a bad thing here. This is a film I didn't take too kindly toward upon first viewing, but a second look has quieted a few frustrated expectations and allowed me to really enjoy it for its strengths.
If the entire film was as interesting, dynamic, and purely delightful as its first 20 minutes this really would be every bit as deserving as its Best Picture frontrunner status would indicate. Unfortunately the film gets bogged down a bit by an almost painfully straight-forward approach that hits us over the head with repetition of theme and idea. It rights itself by the end and once again approaches something truly special, though in truth this is an extremely fluffy affair throughout, albeit an often elegant one. But it's many charms are hard to dismiss, the performances are excellent, and there is something to be said for novelty.
I understand (though disagree with) the arguments for some of them. But I still don't understand why Moneyball is so "great".
Probably won't watch if I live to be one hundred
Well, 2011 is behind us which of course means another year in film has come to a close. I don't think it's been a terribly good year for movies, but it's come a long way since the rather dismal first half. While there are still a number of movies out there that I haven't yet viewed, they'd pretty much have to all shoot bulls-eyes before I begin considering 2011 in film much more than "middle of the road".
Even so, there are a couple very special movies that arrived this year, and a number of very good ones too.
Also worth noting is that this list exposes some of the relativity/silliness that goes into the way I assign star-ratings, so you may notice for example that here and there a 9/10 film appears higher up on the list than a 10/10. Sometimes it's simply because one movie has "stuck with me" better than another. Sometimes it's for different reasons. But it is what it is, and this is how it all shakes out for me.
Oh, and I'm allowing for 20 titles on my list but I'm still a few "worthy" titles short. Somehow or another none of the honorable mentions feel quite right. Hopefully I'll have no problem rounding out the rest once I've caught up with the unseen movies.