Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best Films of 2011, Vol. II

Here's my official list of the year's best films as posted on Patch.

The list has not changed - at all, in fact - from the cinematic roundup I posted last week. However, I have a chance to flesh out my reasoning for picking each of my top 10 movies as well as include my second 10 best and a brief note on the year's worst.

This week, I've been able to catch up with "War Horse," which is a solid war movie/family drama that I will review this coming week, and "The Adventures of Tintin," which is, admittedly, not one of my favorite Steven Spielberg films. It's not bad, just not great either. I also watched "Margin Call," which I thought was quite good.

Tonight, I'll be watching "Pariah" and "Pina," which will be included in next week's roundup. I won't be able to see "A Separation" until next week.

So, here's my Best Films of 2011, Vol. II.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fell in Love with a 'Girl'

I'm in the midst of holiday travel, so I'll keep this week's post very, very short. In essence, this week's reviews include David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which is a solid thriller and more of a re-imagining of the source material than a remake of the 2009 Swedish film. I also caught up with "We Bought a Zoo," which is not one of Cameron Crowe's best, but still quite charming.

Here are my reviews for Patch.

I also saw "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," but after my deadline for posting reviews. It was a lot of fun and most likely the best of the series since Brian De Palma's 1996 picture.

This coming week, I'll review "War Horse," "Pariah" and "Pina" as well as catch up with "The Adventures of Tintin." Sadly, I won't be able to get to "A Separation" until the new year, but I'll post a review at that time.

Later this week, keep an eye out for my extensive awards for this year's movies as well as my Patch roundup of the year's best.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Best Films of 2011, Volume I

It ended up being a solid year for film following a slow start in the spring and some long stretches in the summer.

This is my unofficial Best of 2011 list. Next week, I will post my best of the year list on Patch that will include explanations for my choices as well as my worst of the year.

I will update this list as necessary.

Also, I would be remiss not to mention that I've missed a few notable pictures this year. I currently have "Margin Call" at home and plan to view it this week. But I won't be catching up with "United Red Army," "Mysteries of Lisbon" or "Margaret" until the new year.

For now, here are my acting choices for 2011:
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Best Actress: Keira Knightley, "A Dangerous Method"
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, "Drive"
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, "The Tree of Life"

And, here are my ten runners up and ten best films:

Ten Runners Up:
20. Higher Ground (Vera Farmiga)
19. Contagion (Steven Soderbergh)
18. The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodovar)
17. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher)
16. Shame (Steve McQueen)
15. J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood)
14. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
13. Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
12. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
11. Bellflower (Evan Glodell)

Ten Best:
10a. Hugo (Martin Scorsese)
10b. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicious)
  9. City of Life and Death (Chu Luan)
  8. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
  7. The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
  6. Le Havre (Aki Kaurismaki)
  5. A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg)
  4. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols)
  3. Melancholia (Lars Von Trier)
  2. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)
  1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Carnage' and 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows'

Roman Polanski's "Carnage" does not rank among the director's best films, but it is still a pretty sharp, well-acted and often very funny chamber piece.

The filmmaker has proven before that he works well with confined spaces, such as in the case of "Repulsion," "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Tenant." "Carnage fits into that crowd of "apartment films," but aims more for satirical social comedy than horror.

As I've said, it's a minor Polanski picture, but still an enjoyable one.

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" is a pretty standard Hollywood blockbuster. It does not particularly improve upon the first film, though it has several decent set pieces.

Check out my reviews for Patch.

This holiday weekend, I'll definitely see "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "War Horse." I'm also hoping to catch up with all of the following pictures: "We Bought a Zoo," "The Adventures of Tintin," "Pariah," "Pina" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."

Unfortunately, I will not be able to see "A Separation" or "The Iron Lady" before making my best of the year list, which will be posted early next week. I will, however, catch up with both and will update my list, if necessary. "A Separation" is getting terrific word of mouth.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why the Long Face?: 'Kevin,' 'Tinker' and 'Young Adult'

This week's cinematic selection was a gloomy one, indeed.

From Charlize Theron's depressive, alcoholic writer of youth novels in "Young Adult" and Gary Oldman's emotionally reserved spy in Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" to Tilda Swinton's distraught mother of a psychopath in Lynne Ramsay's "We Need to Talk About Kevin," the films I caught last weekend featured some heavy performances. Which is a good thing.

Reitman's latest challenges expectations, especially for those moviegoers expecting to see some sort of redemption story. No such luck. "Young Adult" is scathingly funny and happy ending free. It's a solid picture, if not quite as good as "Up in the Air," the director's previous film.

"Tinker" was also good but, alas, not as compelling as Alfredson's breakthrough, "Let the Right One In." That being said, it's a well-shot and directed entry into the spy genre.

My favorite of the week was "Kevin," a disturbing and provocative film that questions parental culpability. Swinton is marvelous as the mother of a young man who carries out a school shooting. But the film is more concerned with the lead-up to the tragedy, rather the incident itself. An interesting movie, to be sure.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'll check out Roman Polanski's "Carnage" and two potential blockbusters: "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'Shame' and 'My Week with Marilyn'

Gotta keep it quick this week.

Check out my Patch reviews for Steve McQueen's controversial "Shame" and "My Week with Marilyn," the first of which was quite powerful and the second pretty entertaining. Both feature terrific lead performances.

Click here to read the reviews.

I also caught up with Julia Leigh's "Sleeping Beauty," which I didn't review. That picture received mixed notices at Cannes this year and I can see why. The film has some evocative and provocative imagery, but it doesn't quite hold together.

This coming weekend, I'll review "We Need to Talk About Kevin," "Young Adult" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."