Wednesday, December 14, 2011

BEST OF 2011!!!! (*UPDATED*)

TOP 11 FILMS OF 2011:
Every year I try to see as many movies as possible in order to make the most concise end of the year list. I hit up festivals, preview screenings and other special events so I don't miss anything. When I was in D.C. this past spring to judge the DMC DJ Battle, I managed to make time to see 'Bill Cunningham New York'. On 2 recent trips to Paris in the last few months I saw 'The Tree Of Life' and Roman Polanski's 'Carnage' (a film you'll be reading about in a few days on here) weeks before being released in the U.S. I mean what's the point of making a "Best Of The Year" list when you haven't really seen anything, right? As some of you my know from reading the reviews of 'Shame' and 'The Ides Of March' on the flud site, this year in addition to my regular attendance at the New York Film Festival (to see 'Once Upon A Time In Anatolia' & Von Trier's 'Melancholia'), I went to the Toronto Film Fest where I saw over 40 movies in 8 days. This top 10 list below is made up of mostly stuff that I saw in Toronto ('Shame', 'God Bless America', 'Faust', etc). 2011 turned out to be just what I hoped for and more (with the exception of David Cronenberg's disappointing 'Dangerous Method' and Lynne Ramsay's 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'). It was full of surprises like Bobcat Goldthwait's hilarious road movie killing spree/criticism on America in the form of 'God Bless America' and Woody Allen's romantic comedy; 'Midnight In Paris' (this was a surprise for me because I'm not the biggest fan either Allen or Owen Wilson). In fact, the majority of the films on this list below were pleasant surprises with the exception of Nicolas Refn's homage to classic car movies and vintage Michael Mann-style ('Drive'). Michael Fassbender has officially confirmed his spot as one of the top actors with his performance in 'Shame' and we got a nice homage to classic cinema in the form of the Guy Maddin/Mel Brooks influenced 'The Artist'.
Some of these films like the Greek dark comedy; 'Alps', 'Once Upon A Time In Anatolia' and the Venice Film Festival best picture winner; 'Faust' probably won't be released until early 2012, so be on the lookout for those.

So the list goes (in no particular order):

Midnight In Paris
Monsieur Lazhar
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
The Artist
God Bless America
The Black Power Mixtape
*A Separation

*UPDATE 02/28/11- at the beginning of January I finally got around to seeing 'A Separation', which is easily one of the best films of 2011.

Not everything reaches the U.S. in a timely fashion. From Errol Morris' amazing documentary about Mormons, kidnapping & cloned dogs ('Tabloid') and Takeshi Miike's homage to classic samurai films ('13 Assassins') to Xavier Dolan's surprisingly great film about a love triangle between three French Canadian hipsters ('Heartbeats'), there's a lot of great stuff that may have fallen under the radar between late 2010 and early 2011. Below is a list of the 10 best films from last year that didn't reach U.S. theaters until this year...

I Saw The Devil
Bill Cunningham New York
The Silence
The Arbor

From Bertrand Bonello's beautiful period piece on prostitution ('House Of Tolerance'), or the problematic yet rewarding films ('Tree Of Life' & 'Melancholia') to the strictly entertaining ('Bridesmaids', 'Source Code' & 'The Ides Of March'), there were plenty of other great movies this year than just what's listed above. It wouldn't feel right wrapping up 2011 with just 10 movies (sorry but I saw WAY too much this year to not at least mention theses). So here's 10 more movies from 2011 worth mentioning...

House Of Tolerance
The Ides Of March
Standing Silent
Tree Of Life
Source Code
Dark Girls
The Skin I Live In

2011 was also great because not only were there so many great movies, but great acting to go along with them. And outside of the disappointing 'Rampart' (starring Woody Harrelson as a crooked cop in one of his best performances to date) there weren't too many performances that carried an entire movie (if you notice, most of the entries on the list below comes from films that are in my Top 10). We saw Albert Brooks step outside of his comfort zone and play a mean, throat stabbing crime boss in 'Drive'. And speaking of comfort zones, how about Vincent Gallo playing an unnamed terrorist trying to survive in the wilderness in the Rambo-esque 'Essential Killing'? And if Michael Fassbinder doesn't at least get nominated for an academy award for best actor this year then somethings wrong.

Vincent Gallo (seriously) - Essential Killing
Michael Fassbender - Shame
Albert Brooks - Drive
Woody Harrelson - Rampart
Charlotte Gainsbourg & Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia
Hunter Mckracken - The Tree Of Life
Christopher Plummer - The Beginners
Brad Pitt - Moneyball & The Tree Of Life
Joel Murray - God Bless America
Aggeliki Papouli - Alps
Forest Whitaker - Mary**
Goegre Clooney - The Descendants
Jean Dujardin & Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Sophie Nelisse & Emelien Naron - Monsieur Lahzar

**movie was made in 2005 but not released theatrically until 2011

Well...2012 is almost here and we're about to begin PINNLAND EMPIRE'S 3rd year. Because a nice portion of my followers are from the myspace days, I suppressed my urge to constantly write about David Lynch (with the exception of "movies for Halloween part 4" and the david lynch tv entry) in an effort to not repeat myself. But in 2012 we're gonna get in to his stuff a little more as well as Apichatpong Weersakul (somehow I manage to go from hating his work to loving it in a matter of months).
I think I've squeezed all I can outta Claire Denis & Michael Mann, so we're gonna take a break from them and focus on new and/or different filmmakers in 2012 (but I do have a review of 'Heat' set for January. But after that I'm done for a while). But don't worry, I'll still find an excuse/reason to write about something Alice Houri-related as I plan to look at Bertrand Bonello's Tarkovsky/Bresson influenced film; 'Tiresia' as well as another short film she recently appeared in that she gave me a copy of back in May. And speaking of shorts, we're gonna explore a lot more shorts from people like Matthew Barney to 'Donoma' director Djinn Carrenard.
There's a few more films from Toronto I'd like to get in to ('Alps' and 'Faust') as well as 'Once Upon A Time In Anatolia', which I saw at this years New York Film Festival.
Naturally, there will be more reviews on the Flud site as well as The Pink Smoke, and I've also slowly been working on an interesting Robert Deniro blog entry. I also didn't really get in to the other films I saw in the Abel Ferrara retrospective at Anthology Film Archives this past year like; 'Mary' (one of Forest Whitaker's finest and most unseen performances), 'Chelsea On The Rocks' and the 'Gommorah' influenced 'Napoli, Napoli, Napoli'. And lets not forget that in 2012 we have new films from Michael Haneke, Terrance Malick, Jim Jarmusch and Steven Soderbergh.

Thanks for following and/or reading and I hope you continue to enjoy the content on the blog.


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