In a year filled with craptacular movies, there were in fact enough good feature films to fill a 10-best-list. You might not agree with me entirely, but a number of them have won awards at film festivals and rated high on critics’ year-end lists. Many are already available on DVD and Blu Ray. In any case, if you haven’t seen them, you’ve missed some of the best and the brightest 2011 had to offer. So here’s my choice for the year’s best film, followed by nine other fine ones. Happy new year!
Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a performance that is flawless in every detail as a 27-year-old public radio employee in Seattle who doesn’t smoke or drink, or even cross the street when the light is red—but all the same he’s diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. Seth Rogan plays his goofy best pal. More a personal film (Screenwriter Will Reiser was diagnosed with cancer at 24) than a farce, and it packs an emotional wallop. It won me over completely. Click for full review.
A violent, blunt and powerful movie that takes place in the world of mixed martial arts. But “Warrior” also possesses heart and finesse on its side, which is why I consider it as one of the year’s best films. Like a train wreck, it is surprisingly compelling, and Nick Nolte gives by far one of the best performances of his career. His scene on his son’s front lawn, pleading hopelessly to be let in and see his grandkids will rip you apart. “Warrior” gets in your head and refuses to leave. Click for full review.
Denis Villeneuve’s brilliant drama (which he adapted from a play by Wadji Mouawad) was a contender for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and it’s easy to see why. It begins with a twin brother and sister who go to a notary’s office to hear the reading of their mother’s will. Speaking to them from beyond, as it were, she says she will not rest in peace until they locate their father and brother. The film has enough emotional power and shocking revelations to keep you absorbed at every turn. “Incendies” is exactly what I call “terrific filmmaking”. It’s meant to hit us right between the eyes, and does. Click for full review.
7- The Help
An underdog for best picture of the year that sounds like a movie that’s been done so many times before: the well-to-do white folks and their black servants in a Southern Town in the 1960′s. But it doesn’t take this captivating and steadily surprising movie very long to draw a smile on your face, take a piece of your heart and pull you in deep. “The Help” is a total pleasure, and definitely one of the best movies of the year. And remember: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important”. Click for full review.
6- The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn
An epic adaptation of Hergés beloved books, “The Secret of The Unicorn” is a terrific action adventure movie that serves as a clever cross between “Pirates Of The Caribbean” and “Indiana Jones”. I was even pleased to see how respectful Spielberg was with the handling of the original material. The movie never feels like a ripoff, on the contrary, everything is precisely how the Belgian creator had imagined it: with that same sense of adventure, mystery, intrigue, action and fun. There’s enough adventure for five movies! Thank you Mr. Spielberg. Click for full review.
5- Midnight In Paris
“Midnight In Paris” is a wonderful achievement that recalls one of Woody Allen’s best and most enduring comedies, “The Purple Rose Of Cairo”. Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard are both likable and believable; they give us rooting interest, and that’s always essential, especially in a Woody Allen world, where it’s all about the characters and not the story. Woody Allen scores yet another bullseye. Click for full review.
That’s Ryan Gosling. He plays Driver, a Hollywood stunt performer and mechanic by day, and a getaway wheel man for criminals by night. There is violence, and plenty of it, but that’s what makes “Drive” so damn good. It has enough style to rival the best car pictures ever made. “Drive” is cinema at its best, and Gosling gives by far one of the best performances of his career. Just brilliant. Click for full review.
3- Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Possibly my most obvious choice, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallow: Part 2″ is even bigger, better and more exciting than any other film in the series. It’s a magnificent finale that pays maximum justice to Harry’s long awaited showdown with Lord Voldemort (the truly wonderful Ralph Fiennes). I waited 10 years for this. How can I not include it on my list? Click for full review.
A film for movie lovers made by someone who loves and appreciates movies. That would be Martin Scorsese, the genius behind such great movies as “The King Of Comedy”, “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas”. “Hugo” is a celebration of the early era of cinema, as seen through the eyes of a young boy in 1931 Paris. It is this joy of discovering the magic of cinema that elevates “Hugo” as one of Scorsese’s most beautifully crafted films. To quote my friend Ismail: “It’s a cinephile’s wet dream”. Open your eyes and dream with “Hugo”. Click for full review.
1- The Artist
My favorite movie of the year. No contest. “The Artist” is a black and white silent film with subtitles and all. There were times when I forgot I was watching a brand new picture. In the hands of director Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist” becomes art. And in Jean Dujardin’s performance, we discover something extraordinary and magical: the first great silent movie performance in over 80 years. “The Artist” could even become the first silent film to win an Oscar as Best Picture since “Wings” (1927). Now that would be something. Click for full review.