The Best Damn Films of 2011
What a year it was at the movies! Just reflect for a second all the places we've traveled together on our cinematic voyages of 2011 in that theatrical transport known as film. Alternate worlds and realities. All over the map of our own. Forward to the future. Back in time. Into the psyche. Hell, half of it being in the third dimension!
Gary Oldman from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, one of our runner-ups. Also, why not lead a blog post with Gary Oldman?
We've witnessed life, death, love, hate, peace, war, violence, tragedy, racism, happiness, acceptance, adversity and an overpowering, overcoming spirit in the face of it. Some with happy endings, others not. Hundreds of different stories told up there on that silver screen but all shared one similarity; they brought us together for a shared journey into the great beyond, with their storytellers as our tour guides. Here are the ten adventures I most enjoyed this year:
Who would have ever thought that a film about a stunt man by day/getaway driver by night (Ryan Gosling) who drives around the streets Los Angeles listening to pop music could ultimately be the violent yet oddly beautiful neo-noire masterpiece painted in '80s pastiche that is Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive? Not to mention my favorite film of this year. I swear the parallel Gosling mania of 2011 (he's a real hero and a real human being, you know?) had nothing to do with it!
A prime example of what happens when you give Steven Spielberg free reign to open his imagination and let spill out on screen whatever it is that's inside that brilliant brain of his. The Beard's first foray into animation and 3D is what going to the movies is all about. Popcorn most definitely required.
Another example of what happens when you give the keys to the kingdom (pun intended) of new school filmmaking to one of its old school auteurs. In Martin Scorsese's self-reflexive ode to the magic of filmmaking, The Brows proves that he still deserves to be king in the modern age of movies.
When a film gives you a new emotional understanding of one of our country's most tragic events, it's a feat. But when you don't have a dry eye throughout the entire run time, it's another. Stephen Daldry's exploration of one boy's (the young but remarkable and perspicacious Thomas Horn) pain and subsequent attempt at assimilating his father's (Tom Hanks) death on 9/11 is the year's best tear jerker for sure. One that is extremely emotional and incredibly insightful.
Yet another film about filmmaking itself, Michel Hazanavicius' silent, black and white picture about an old Hollywood actor trying to cope with the new innovation of sound reminds us that no matter what new "gimmicks" may come along, it all comes down to storytelling. If you're wondering why a silent, black and white film in 2011 could be so beloved, well, that's a testament to Mr. Hazanavicius' ability to tell a story.