Thursday, February 16, 2012

MY UNOFFICIAL LIST OF BEST FILMS OF 2011 / The 2nd Anonymous Theatre 3000 Awards (Part IV)

Now we get to the point. The question that everyone (well, not everyone) would be asking. What are your favourite movies of the year? It's a good question and given how I'm never really up to date with so many critically acclaimed films due to many movies with its limited and delayed release, but at least caught up with a few to make a list. But note. This list is unofficial. It's probably so because I've haven't seen so many films (and I've lost count). Note: Melancholia, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Skin I Live In, A Seperation, Shame, 50/50, Take Shelter, Young Adult, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Guard and Warrior are the following great films I've haven't seen yet. However movies critically acclaimed such as The Help, The Tree of Life, Albert Nobbs, War Horse, Bridesmaids and Beginners are movies I'm really less interested in seeing.

Here's what I'm going to do. I am going to do at least six slots. The last being what almost made my top five which is of course this category is going to have. At least five will make it although this is my unofficial list. And it doesn't mean these are my favourite movies. More like movies that I think more about throughout the year. You know what I'm saying. But first let's go to the honourable mentions, movies I've seen but never felt like Best film material:

HM: Paul, Never Let Me Go (though it was released in 2010), Thor, X-Men: First Class, The Ides of March, Moneyball, Captain America: The First Avenger, Super 8, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

The 6th Nominee:

The sixth nominee are the movies I would wish to place in my top five but were excluded because there was basically no room. These movies were exhillerating, electric, exciting and emotionally resonating and they are still movies I would remember for an amount of time.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - I am very happy to say that I was wrong to think that the reboot to this franchise would suck. This instalment delivers the best motion capture I've ever seen, especially from Andy Serkis who is commanding as the revolutionary Caesar pointing out any time soon the Apes will rise from the oppression of humans. This has the best climax from a summer movie. Apes for the revolution.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [US] - Having read the novel by Stieg Larsson, watched the Swedish original, I think it's safe to say for me that Hollywood's take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is superior than its predecessor. David Fincher takes the helm and turns this adaptation into a visceral, visually eerie and multi-layered mystery. There's no doubt that Lisbeth Salander is a perfectly written character with Rooney Mara pulling herself into someone cold, angry, alienating and vengence seeking. With Jeff Cronenweth's cinematography and Trent Reznor's soundtrack easily grabbing myself in, it's within roots of Fincher's previous detective thrillers Se7en and Zodiac. They're dark, electric but most importantly addictive.

The Adjustment Bureau - This underrated science fiction gem reminds me a lot of Minority Report and its conflict on determinism and free will. Matt Damon's life is totally planned by a group of men wearing hats and is preventing him from falling in love with Emily Blunt. This film reminds me a lot of Vertigo in where the romance is startled through conflict thanks basically to the lover. Cleverly tight, The Adjustment Bureau would still thrill me at a second viewing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II - Now I'm only giving this on one condition that I felt shocked that this has little recognition by film critics in many best movies lists despite having rave reviews while The Tree of Life gets the most places with an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Seriously guys, your favourite movie of the year is not great as everyone's favourite movie of the year. But what a way to pull off J.K Rowling's megapopular series an enthralling finish, although the ending felt kinda anticlimatic and this is basically their last goodbye to the people who have been following us. The great thing about this film is that it leaves enough gradual progression throughout the franchise to show that these characters, actors and stories have already evolved into something that can be deservedly described as epic. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are at their best here and so is Alan Rickman as Severus Snape in which we learn more about during the movie's mid point.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - What should've been just a BBC telemovie, the latest adaptation of John le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy from Let the Right One In director Tomas Alfredson works. With some fantastic production design and simply a deep and mist performance from a solid cast particularly with Gary Oldman who received an Oscar nomination, it is filled with intricately complex and minimalist detail that shows the superior inner darkness of authority. There's little action and is a certain brain-plug-in for the attention seeker, but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy delivers.

The Descendants - Alexander Payne's emotional journey into the aftermath of an incident within the family is painfully realistic, featuring a superb script from him, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (aka - Dean Pelton). George Clooney and Shailene Woodley plays a father and daughter whose dark secret ultimately ties the family together and they put in almost flawless performances/

Alright, let's get on with the list.

There are some people who didn't like this movie for several reasons and one of them is that this is about a street gang trying to ride off an alien invasion. And they can't seem to understand their language (a la A Clockwork Orange) Um... did you expect ninjas who actually spoke American accented English? Seriously anyone can fend off aliens, because they are taking a bite on this Earth and their inhabitants. 

Edgar Wright protege Joe Cornish has delivered a film so kinetic and basically new, that it provides what Battle Los Angeles and Super 8 should have been: an alien invasion movie with unlikely but gradually sympathetic characters taking stakes against it. Casting unknown actors to play certain people in the gang may have been a breakthrough with John Boyega earning props as the ring leader Moses. Throughut 90 minutes we have a lot of character development that makes the gang incredibly human. It's scary, hilarious and most importantly gripping as Cornish brings a mixture of The Goonies and Alien with the contemporary issue of today's urban youth.

After seeing Midnight in Paris, I went on to explore two movies by Woody Allen, Annie Hall and Manhattan in which the latter is in my Top 10 movies of all time. This is a simplistic yet hilarious, whimsical love letter to Paris from Allen. He's never really indulgent with his direction nor does he turns his characters into caricatures. There's no actor other than Owen Wilson who can either pull off his neurotic persona and be as believable as he is in real life. Allen's screenplay is as wittier and funnier as ever bringing about a sense of nostalgia and inspiration for the open-minded.

Featuring a classy cast involving Kathy Bates, Eric Stoll, Marion Cottilard, Tom Hiddleston and Adrien Brody, playing well-respected literary figures and gorgeous cinematography by Darius Khonji, Midnight in Paris is a movie appeals to everyone who may never heard of Ernest Hemmingway or Scott Fitzgerald or Salvatore Dali and it will make you laugh and smile all the way to the end.

IT's a tie between two films with greater similarities and they were way too hard for me to place one of these out of my list because they are absolute delights. They are love letters to cinema: one of them referencing silent cinema while the other's taking on its birth. They are nominated with the most Oscars, but one half is probably going to win Best Picture. Both are novelties of our time and they both worked.

The Artist is perhaps the most ballsiest, risk taking film I've seen in a while that succeeds in using silent cinema as the focus, the story, and the format of the film. But it's the charming performances of Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo that turns this into more of a feel good film. It goes with the flow that's fast paced, emotionally charged and funny, but when the film is on a deeper serious note, it's about Dujardin's refusal to adapt as the film industry is moving into sound.And that's tend to be more of a crowdpleaser and a critics' favourite altogether.

If there was any problem I had with Hugo, it's that, liked I said, it's a novelty and for that movie it would wear out on second viewing. Martin Scorsese's latest film is a kids film, a movie WITH kids and if it was actually a film aimed at kids, it would be the best one I've seen in eons.

Hugo is a visual treat ranging from the exqusite art direction and cinematography to the remarkable 3D which serves into the storytelling about the birth of cinema and why it's a daily routine for us film lovers. There are great performances from Asa Butterfield and Sasha Baron Cohen, but what grabs me the most was Ben Kingsley as the grumpy old toykeeper who had made something valuable to his world but in the end has a moment of regret. It may not the first time Scorsese had done something different and had succeeded (see The Age of Innocence and Kundun) but this film has an edge and innocence kids films had rarely done.

Here's a movie that takes action up with a notch of arthouse and yet still conforms to the standards of the genre. This is as if Jason Bourne hits himself in the head but this time he ends up living in the vast lands of Europe. This is a cat-and-mouse game of a girl with a fake identity and her search for it when she's set free by her supposed father. Saoirse Ronan is fairly awesome as the title character as she gives Hit Girl a run for her money.

I'm not surprised that people were confused by this film because it's inexplicitly complex at a small-scale and there's a certain amount of style mixed to its visceral action sequences placed coming off Joe Wright's obsession with camera shots and the electric soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers; more than enough to make this film qualify as a Euro-thriller. But for me, Hanna is a great film that will result in more viewings to gain a better perspective on this film

I'm actually surprised that this made the top of my list because having seen the movie back in October, I was left cold that this film was overly carried away by the amount of attention it's received. But the more I thought about the dozen of scenes in this movie that I would remember for the rest of my life, the better the movie will be in my head. It's a movie about one last job that was ultimately fucked up and Ryan Gosling has to pick up the pieces so that Carey Mulligan would be safe from Albert Brooks. Seems simple right? Though there isn't enough driving that would impress the average movie goer who wants another Fast and Furious movie, it does provides an alternative for those that are open minded. 

Ranging from the soundtrack to Gosling's jacket, Drive has an 80s vibe that look exactly like a film either directed by David Lynch or John Hughes during that decade or a mixture of both. There are moments where it turns into a horror film, a comic book movie not based on a comic book and a Western together. Winning the Best Director award at Cannes last year, Nicolas Winding Refn provides this film a certain edge and quality that'll look cool for the artsy and the hip. Gosling, who has little dialogue, is playing a character I will never forget (and it's not only because of how much I idolise him). He plays a driver who'll only drives because he's great at that. He's reminiscent to Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly  and Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. He has little or less of an identity but beneath that he's a sociopath. Yet one who's also relatable. His eyes sells his threatening personality, however his face masquerades as a certain charmer. However it's Albert Brooks who completely blew me away as the cold burdened Bernie Rose and I'm seriosuly shocked that he was given the cold shoulder by the Academy.

Drive drives for tension allowing in scenes of sweatiness whenever it goes too quiet and it does that so well since it adds to the fact that this is a modern day exploitation film and a modern day blockbuster without all the action and huge name actors. It ain't all that inventive, but it brings back fond memories of pulpy violence and romantism of the 80s to give this more to talk about in a conversation.

1 comment:

  1. Rewatched Drive last night, cannot stop loving it. It deserves first place, and great to see some love for Attack the Block and Girl with the dargon tattoo, good job.