The envelope please

9 01 2012

I saw War Horse the other day, officially bringing to a close my 2011 movie-going season. And while there’s still some 2011 films to be seen, either at the theatre or on blu-ray, I’ve seen enough to compose my annual Top 10 list. For the record, War Horse is not on it; in fact, it would be somewhere near the Bottom 10.

In no particular order, of 51 films seen, here’s The Big Ring’s Top 10:
Hugo
Martin Scorcese does a kid’s movie; who’d have thunk? And he does it so very very well, creating a film that bewonders children and the child in all of us while crafting a wonderful journey to the earliest days of film history. Scorcese has the utmost respect for his craft’s origins and his love for film’s forefathers oozes through every frame of this beautiful, magical movie.

 

 

 

 

Win Win

Paul Giamaitti excels at playing the everyday schlub who ambles through life often in spite of himself. Here he’s a small-town lawyer who volunteers as a coach with the high school wrestling team. Of course, his team is terrible. Until the grandson of one of his clients shows up on his doorstep looking to escape his wigged-out mom; he happens to be a champion wrestler. Giamatti’s inner conflict as to how to help the kid while exploiting his wrestling talent plays out perfectly, with touching and comic moments along the way.

 

 

 

Beginners

Since losing my own father almost eight years ago, i’ve become a bit of a sucker for movies about sons “discovering” their fathers. First it was Big Fish, and now it’s Beginners, in which Ewan McGregor recalls his final years with his late father who came out of the closet when he was 75 years old. Sentimental, funny, irreverent and joyful.

 

 

 
The Devil’s Double

Dominic Cooper is incredible in the dual role of Saddam Hussein’s crazed and misogynistic playboy son Uday, and as the everyday soldier who is recruited to play his body double. A brash, audacious and frightening film.

 

 

 

 
The Debt

An entertaining espionage thriller that reminded me in tone and execution of Munich, another face from a few years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Midnight in Paris

I do not like Woody Allen films. Full stop. And it’s a tragedy that the beguiling concept of Midnight in Paris in which a Hollywood screenwriter on vacation with his high-maintenance wife in Paris finds himself magically transported to the 1920s when the city was awash with the artistic and literary hoi polo. But it works because all the actors playing roles like Hemmingway, Picasso, Dali, Monet, Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, fill their parts with such gusto and verve.

50/50

A story about a young man afflicted with cancer in the prime of his life could easily swamp into Movie-of-the-Week swill, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan keep it afloat with just the right amount of dark humor, cynicism, and pathos.

 

 

 

 

 Pearl Jam 20
One of my favourite movies of all time is Cameron Crowe’s Singles, set in Seattle during the early days of its grunge music renaissance. Besides having a great soundtrack that turned me on to Paul Westerberg’s band The Replacements, Singles captured perfectly the zeitgeist of that time and place. In Twenty, Crowe recounts the history of one of that era’s most enduring bands, Pearl Jam, with humor, affection, respect, and a whole lot of previously unseen footage.

The Company Men
Unemployment statistics and corporate downsizings are usually little more than numbers until they touch us directly. The Company Men puts faces and lives to the numbers as a formerly vital shipping company diminishes in a contracting economy, pushing out some of the very men who built it.
Drive
Dark, sinister with a brooding performance by Ryan Gosling that propels this story about a Hollywood stunt driver who makes ends meet by hiring himself out as a getaway driver for criminals.
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One response

14 02 2012
Salena of The Daily Rant

I saw The Debt and liked it – wouldn’t gush over it though.

Not a lover of Woody Allen either but thought Midnight In Paris was “delightful” – Owen Wilson with his usual goofiness was just charming enough to make his Paris fantasy so very enjoyable. And who doesn’t love to look at and listen to Marion Cotillard? I also bought the soundtrack.

Drive, I loved. The elevator “stomping” scene was a bit uncomfortable (among other gore) but I just loved Ryan Gosling’s character. The tenderness he has towards Carey Mulligan’s character (she has something that just draws you) and his quiet demeanor give him a kind of an old fashioned chivalry. I loved his way, his “you have five minutes and then I’m gone” attitude. His world is spinning out of control yet he’s kinda calm. I don’t know, I just loved him in this.

I hadn’t heard of Beginners, but I’ll be seeing that after reading your blurb about it.

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