Strapping Production’s Favorite Films of 2011
1. Tree of Life | Ideally, the Best Picture Winner will impress audiences 25 years after it was made. Shakespeare In Love, Titanic, Crash, Chicago and Dances with Wolves certainly won’t fit this criteria. I’m hoping The Help isn’t added to that dismal list of undeserved winners. While this year wasn’t the strongest, I believe Tree of Life and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will both go down as classics. Tree of Life gets the slight edge for its excellent performances, beautiful cinematography and earth shattering depiction of the earth’s creation. Using very little digital effects and almost no studio lighting, this is still one of the most visually striking films ever made.
2. Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy | When Colin Firth and Tom Hardy are willing to take a supporting roles, you can expect the film is going either going to be great or Great Britain’s answer to New Year’s Eve. Luckily, it is the former. This expertly crafted spy thriller has all the intrigue, acting talent, and film grain necessary for greatness.
3. The Descendants | In an NPR interview, Alexander Payne said he considered George Clooney for the role of Jack in Sideways. After deeming Clooney too good-looking for the role, he chose Thomas Hayden Church instead. Luckily, Payne made the right aesthetic choice for The Descendants. Free of a nude Kathy Bates and a cast of normal looking people, this is Payne’s most beautiful film. And his best.
4. Take Shelter | In a year of films that were good but didn’t quite hit the masterpiece mark, this might have been 2012’s most complete film. The script, acting and cinematography were all top notch. Young writer and director Jeff Nichols perfectly executed this methodical and mysterious thriller.
5. Midnight In Paris | Owen Wilson was fantastic as a more self-assured Alvy Singer. I wasn’t really excited about the yellow-tinted trailer for the film, but this was easily the best comedy of the year.
6. Pruitt-Igoe Myth | A truly remarkable documentary, the Pruitt-Igoe Myth examines the rise and fall of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project while subtly examining the intricacies of white flight and racial division in St. Louis, Missouri. Not only are the narrative and research entertaining and compelling, the editing and art direction are superb. The blindingly backlit interview setups were excellent and the use of archival footage is the best I have ever seen in a documentary.
7. Moneyball | Aaron Sorkin’s sharp humor certainly played a major role in the rewrite of this script. Brilliantly written and executed, Brad Pitt leads the way with his second Oscar nomination-worthy role of the year.
8. Beginners | In some ways, Beginners works as a companion piece to Tree of Life. While a completely different type of film, both portray the subtleties of human loss and emotion better than any movie this year. The three main actors all deserve nomination consideration.
9. Hugo | Fifteen minutes of cinematic fat kept Hugo from reaching Best Picture quality, but it was still a fantastic film. Creating one of the few instances of worthwhile 3D cinematography, Martin Scorcese succeeded at capturing images that would have made Georges Méliès very proud.
10. 13 Assassins | Since the disappointing 3 Ninjas Kick Back, I’ve never been huge martial arts movie fan… but I did really enjoy 13 Assassins. The 40 minute fight scene was tasteful and still substantive and the whole movie was an impressive production.
Movies I Missed Out On: Melancholia, The Artist, Martha Marcy May Marlene, We Need to Talk About Kevin, A Separation, Drive
Other Films Worth Watching: Hannah, Warrior, Jayne Eyre, Mission Impossible 3, Crazy Stupid Love, Insidious, J Edgar, Ides of March, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Movies not worth their metacritic.com score: The Help, Source Code