Sunday, January 22, 2012

CineCritical's Picks O' the Year 2011 - Matt's Picks

2011 ended 22 days ago, and we have 344 days left to enjoy 2012. In 2010 I did not see my favourite film of the year until the second weekend of January 2011. It is increasingly frustrating that films vying for Oscar glory do not open until the new year. I can only imagine how much angrier I would be if I lived in a less urban area!

Personally, I do not think that 2011 was as good as 2010 or 2009. There were quite a few standout performances, but the films themselves were inferior. Any of my top four picks could conceivably be ranked #1 on any given day. My list this year will go a step further. I am presenting my Top Eleven Films of 2011, but also my top performances, biggest disappointments and worst film of 2011 (though I try my hardest not to see too many terrible

Matt's Top Eleven Films of 2011

11. The Ides of March
George Clooney directs and stars in the political thriller The Ides of March costarring Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. The film, about a Democratic primary election, is incredibly topical this year as the Republican primary election is in the news. Clooney is subdued and Gosling shines, but Evan Rachel Wood deserves a lot of recognition for her mature performance.

Read my review here.

10. Coriolanus

Ralph Fiennes directorial debut tackles a modernization of Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus. Fiennes is electric as Caius Martius Coriolanus, but it is John Logan's screenplay and Vanessa Redgrave's performance as Caius Martius' mother Volumnia that power the film.

Read my review here.

9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tomas Alfredson directs an adaptation of John le Carré celebrated spy thriller. Gary Oldman is outstandingly brilliant as George Smiley. The plot is very confusing and the story has so many twists in turns that it is hard to keep up. After seeing the film I read le Carré's 1974 novel - part one in a three-novel trilogy. Even if you have no interest in the subject matter, watch it for all the incredible British talen
t, including Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Read my review here.

8. Beginners
Mike Mills directs Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer in this heartwarming comedy about a son (McGregor) dealing with the death of his father (Plumm
er), who had came out of the closet five years prior. And then he meets a beautiful girl (Laurent) who challenges his views on love. And now we will just wait and see if Christopher Plummer will win an Oscar!

Read Siobhan's take here, and my afterthoughts.

7. Hugo
Martin Scorsese won a Golden Globe for Best Director for his first family friendly film, an adaptation of Brian Selznik's children's book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Mortez are fantastic in the film, about a young boy's quest to discover a secret message after his father's death. This is the only film I have seen that fully merits 3D effects!

Read my review here.

6. Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen returns to his glory days with his film about a frustrated writer's (Owen Wilson) magical escape to the glory days of Paris. The film, what I call Allen-lite, draws from many of Allen's better films, and this is why it is so low on my list. Woody Allen, who wrote a love letter to Manhattan in Manhattan (1979), makes Paris look light the most beautiful and magical city in the world.

Woody Allen has been nominated for 14 Oscars for his screenplays (winning for Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters) and is the front-runner
to take home the prize this year.

Read my review here.

5. A Separation

The only foreign language film on my list is Asghar Farhadi's Iranian film about a woman seeking a divorce from her husband. The consequences of her actions have far-reaching and unforeseen repercussions. It is a fantastic film about truth with terrific performances from every member of the cast.

It is the must-see foreign film of 2011. It will be the surest bet to win on Oscar night.

A review of the film is forthcoming.

4. The Descendants
George Clooney gives his career-best performance in Alexander Payne's film about an absentee father who is forced to reconnect with his daughters after his wife is in a coma after a boating accident. Shailene Woodley, of television's The Secret Life of the American Teenager, is perfectly cast as Clooney's teenage daughter. The film is emotionally honest and beautiful acted.

Read my review from TIFF here.

3. The Skin I Live In
Pedro Almodóvar's horror film is a suspenseful thriller about a doctor (Antonio Banderas) and his inability to cope with his wife's death. It is beautifully photographed, like all of Almodóvar's films, and it certainly pushes the limits of comfort and sexuality.

Read my review here.

2. The Artist
Michel Hazanavicius' silent film is a revelation. It is beautifully shot in black and white. The subject matter - about a silent film star's refusal to be in talking picture - is incredibly topical (considering how 3D is trying to take over!). Jean Dujardin is George Clooney's only competition for Oscar glory on February 26. A more pressing question is whether or not the dog is more adorable in this film or in Beginners?

Read my review here.

1. We Need to Talk About Kevin
Two words. Tilda Swinton. She is the most fearless actress working today. It is a film that demands to be seen and one that will keep you talking for days.

I do not want to say too much. See the film!

Read my review here.

Most Overrated Film of 2011
David Fincher's needless adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A not-so-close second is Steven Spielberg's War Horse.

Worst Film of 2011
Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady is a close second, but my absolute worst film of 2011 is The Hangover II.

Most Disappointing Film of 2011
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 could conceivably fit here for slightly mishandling the ending of the Harry Potter franchise, but no film left me feeling more ripped off than The Muppets. Shame on you Jason Segel.

Best Performance in 2011
Tilda Swinton as Eva Khatchadourian in We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Most Overrated Performance in 2011
Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl the Dragon Tattoo.

And lastly, a few fantastic films that just could not find space in my picks of the year:
Win Win

1 comment:

  1. I truly believe the most overrated film of 2011 is Moneyball. I was going to write a rant about it but thought perhaps I should not subject our dear readers to that negativity ;)

    I would agree with Matt's pick for most overrated performance but in terms of best performance and most disappointing film I will have to bow out as I've seen neither of those films.