Saturday, December 31, 2011

Love, Blood & The End of the World: The Top 10 Movies of 2011

The picture above is from the Q & A after a rare screening of Sidney Lumet's "Prince of the City" before the 30th anniversary of its release. For me, this was the best movie theater experience of 2011. Alas, they do not make them like this anymore.

I still haven't seen all the movies I have wanted to see, such as "A Separation", "Poetry" and "Rampart". However, as things have worked out for yet another weak year at the movies, these actually are 10 films, as of today, that were a cut above everything else (which amounts to 34 movies total I actually watched this year), which I present to you in a rare non-Press Play post. 

In alphabetical order:

Certified Copy (dir./scr.: Abbas Kiarostami)

 The Descendants (dir.: Alexander Payne; scrs.: Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash)

Drive (dir.: Nicolas Winding Refn; scr.: Hossein Amini)

I Saw the Devil (dir. Jee-woo Kim; scr.:  Hoon-jung Park)
Margaret (dir./scr.: Kenneth Lonergan)

Melancholia (dir./scr.: Lars von Trier)

Shame (dir.: Steve McQueen; scrs.: McQueen & Abi Morgan)

Take Shelter (dir./scr.: Jeff Nichols)

13 Assassins (dir.: Takashi Miike; scr.: Daisuke Tengan)

 The Yellow Sea (dir./scr.: Hong-jin Na)


Craig said...

I saw five of your top ten and would likely put four of them on mine. Forgot I'd seen "13 Assassins," which certainly wasn't bad but didn't stick with me for some reason.

Besides "Prince of the City," were there any other revivals of note in 2011? I seem to recall several good ones on your list last year. The theme for my year-ending post (coming, belatedly, maybe next week) will be having seen almost as many revivals of classic films as new releases. "Metropolis" (with a live score from the IU School of Music orchestra) and "Taxi Driver" were the two best experiences I had in theaters all year.

Steven Santos said...

I would add a few experiences, such as seeing "The Thing" (for the first time on the big screen) and "Barry Lyndon" at the Loews Jersey. I would also say seeing both "Days of Heaven" and "The Thin Red Line" in the theater ultimately overshadowed "The Tree of Life", a film which has largely dissipated from memory.

There was also seeing "The Last Detail" in Brooklyn with both Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell sitting in my row. Or there was the "Battle Royale" screening at the New York Asian Film Festival, which is another film that is rarely screened publicly. There was also my favorite audience reaction after seeing Lumet's "The Verdict", when the woman behind me told her friend that it was so much of a better film than anything new she had seen recently.

I singled out "Prince of the City" because it was such a rare screening that came coincidentally after I already planned to do a video essay on it. Combined with the Q&A afterwards, it seemed the most fitting tribute to a great director we lost this year.

Craig said...

All those sound great. I saw "Thin Red Line" during its initial release and enjoyed the apathetic-to-mystified audience reaction, which seems typical to Malick's films. My favorite audience reactions are to Paul Thomas Anderson's films; I've seen his last four in theaters and witnessed outright hostility on each occasion, best of all from the Sandler groupies.

I plan to write something about lousy audience experiences this year, and how for all the usual kids-these-days complaints about young'uns spoiling movies, that from my POV the oldsters have been much worse. One talked audibly all through "War Horse," though, between checking my watch and rolling my eyes, it was a rare instance where I didn't mind.

Your "Prince of the City" piece was a high point of film essaying this year, video or otherwise. Happy New Year to you.

Jake said...

13 Assassins was on my top 25 right up til the end but I eventually had to drop it for other choices. I don't take to Miike all that often but this was easily my favorite of the (admittedly few) films I've seen of his giant filmography.