Media Sickness Top Films of 2011: This is Fact not Opinion!
On Sunday, the 82nd Academy Awards will take place and the voters, of whom are 94 percent white and 77 percent male, will decide on best film of the year. The favorite is The Artist, while Hugo could provide an upset. Both are excellent films, I’ll be rooting for the upset. My top two picks of the year were not nominated, but I figured as a prelude to the show, I’ll post the Media Sickness top films of the year. No, I haven’t seen everything from 2011 yet. There was also no overwhelming favorite for me; I could change my mind tomorrow. The order these titles come in is almost interchangeable.
1. Into the Abyss: As usual, Werner Herzog was snubbed of a best documentary nomination this year, not once, but twice (see later in the list). As much as I’d love to see Herzog give an acceptance speech, it’s probably for the better. Werner is above such inane distinctions. This was a big year for documentaries about the death penalty, and the fascinating Paradise Lost 3 is up for an award. Few films, however, can carry the poetic weight that a Herzog doc does, and no film this year had a stronger emotional impact on me than Into the Abyss. Leave it to Werner Herzog to find beauty and vitality in a brutal triple-homicide.
2.Take Shelter: Michael Shannon may be the one actor around today that I would pay to see in anything. Fortunately for us, he almost always takes roles in excellent films (or television shows, see Boardwalk Empire). In Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter, he offers up another harrowing performance as a blue-collar Ohio man who suffers from apocalyptic dreams. Take Shelter plays on modern anxiety about the environment, terrorism, and the economy to offer a terrifying portrait of a crumbling American family.
3. Hugo: Hugo was hands down the most fun I had in the movie theater this year. Maybe this is partly because I saw it directly after Clint and Leo’s drab J. Edgar. Whatever the case, here is an invigorating film, a product of Scorsese’s love of cinema. Hugo is brought to life by exuberating performances from all involved, including Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield and Christopher Lee. Sure this is a children’s movie, but not because it is for kids, it makes everyone watching it feel like a kid.
Well it’s Friday and it’s 5 o’clock. That means I’m going to stop writing and start cracking open PBRs, so I’ll cut to the chase. You have my three favorites of the year. Here are the runner-ups.
4. The Skin I Live In: Pedro Almodóvar at his most macabre.
5. Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen has as much fun here playing with his literary heroes as Scorsese does with cinema’s early history in Hugo.
6. Tree of Life: Disclaimer — not for everyone — but beautiful and deep.
7.Cave of Forgotten Dreams: The second best documentary of the year, same director.
8. A Separation: Wonderful Iranian film about morals and family. Ingmar Bergman would be proud of this. A Separation involves a dispute in which nobody is really wrong, but no one is really right. Everyone must suffer.
9. The Descendants: Clooney is on his a-game and Alexander Payne returns to show he is still one of the best directors of our generation.
10. The Artist: The Jack Russell Terrier in this film should have been nominated for best supporting actor.
Yet to see: Drive; Princess of Montpensier; a fuck-ton of others.