My 2011 In Film

I don’t really remember when I began challenging myself to watch more films each year. It may have started when I was going to school in Chicago, or it might have been during my earlier days back in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Each year I would keep a general idea of the films I had seen and try to best it, whether by a few or by a wide margin. One year I decided to see all the Oscar contenders alongside of the films I was currently watching, something that took my movie-watching goals to the next level. The next year I added films that weren’t in my genres of interest. The year after that films during a certain decade….

I think you kind of get the idea.

Fast forward to 2011, the year I decided to keep a running tally of all the films I had seen. I had been watching my wife populate her movie list for quite some time and had wanted to do something similar, if a little less strict. What I came up with was my 2011 in Film page, where I put the posters up for all the films I had seen in 2011, dividing them by New Releases or New to Me. I also divided them up by Loves, Likes and Dislikes to give anyone who perused the page a basic idea of where I stood on the film.

Fast forward even further to the present and we’ve got this post: My 2011 in Film. I saw A LOT of movies last year and there were a few that REALLY stood out to me.

10. SOURCE CODE

I saw Duncan Jone’s film Moon not too along ago and loved it. Had all of the sci-fi trappings that I love and was able to bring out some good character moments for m Sam Rockwell, arguably one of my favorite actors. So when I heard that Jones was going to do another film, I was stoked. And while Source Code didn’t quite have the impact on me that Moon did, it certainly entertained. The premise was solid and the acting never distracted. When I left the theater, I remember turning to Jandy and lamenting that we didn’t have more adult thrillers like this in the theaters.

RANKED #222 ON MY FLICKCHART

9. JANE EYRE

I had heard of Jane Eyre before but had never really been all that interested in reading it or seeing any of the adapted films until I saw the trailer for this iteration, which promised something darker and more foreboding. I definitely like darker and more foreboding so I decided to give this one a change, and I’m glad that I did. This film is really well-done and the story took some quite unexpected turns. The acting on display from Fassbender and Wasikowska fit the period really well and I even enjoyed the brief interlude with Jamie Bell.

RANKED #221 ON MY FLICKCHART

8. HANNA

Oh god. Where do I even begin with this one? I’ve been sitting here for a good forty minutes, trying to put into words what I love about this film and all I can come up with is that I love EVERYTHING. That long-take action sequence where Erica Bana kicks everyone’s asses? LOVE. Saoirse Ronan’s escape from the military bunker with the Chemical Brothers’ pulse-pounding score? LOVE. Cate Blanchett as the villain? LOVE. Tom Hollander? LOVE. This film is an action-thriller dressed up as an art-house film, something which I never really thought was possible and something that I think I quite like. I really need to see this one again.

RANKED #213 ON MY FLICKCHART

7. KILL LIST

Kill List was the biggest surprise of the year for me. I was not prepared for this one AT ALL, and the ending pretty much knocked me on my ass. To review this one is to spoil it, so all I’ll really say is that this needs to be seen and it needs to be seen as soon as possible. If you are in the L.A. area, Cinefamily is playing the film from February 3rd through the 9th. Otherwise, there’s VOD or *ahem*download*ahem*.

RANKED #210 ON MY FLICKCHART

6. DRIVE

Drive is my first experience with Nicolas Winding Refn, and it was such that I plan on seeing the rest of his films in 2012. I wrote up a review for this film over on the Flickchart blog, which I’ve pasted a snippet of below.

I meant to write up my review for Drive last week when I had the film fresh on my mind, but I needed some time to mull it over and decide how I felt about it. You see, I’m a little fickle when it comes to car chase movies or movies in which automotive mastery is an integral part of the story. Films like The Fast and The Furious and its sequels don’t really do much for me, nor do films like Gone in 60 Seconds or Torque. They rely primarily on “high octane” action, which is not much more than fast, chaotic editing coupled with loud music to generate excitement. Drive, the latest film from Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher, Valhala Rising), eschews that and in turn ranks as my number two film for 2011 on Flickchart.

Read the rest of my review over on the Flickchart Blog!

RANKED #204 ON MY FLICKCHART

5. RANGO

Rango is Gore Verbinski’s love-letter to Spaghetti Westerns, and I consider it to be the best animated film of the year. The character designs are grotesque, which is something I absolutely love in animation (See: Rugrats, Rocko’s Modern Life) and the voice-work is stellar. And while the plot isn’t anything new or ground-breaking, the way it’s presented feels fresh. I’ll be bummed if this doesn’t win Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards.

RANKED #173 ON MY FLICKCHART

4. CAFE DE FLORE

It’s unfortunate that this film isn’t getting distribution here in the States because it is amazing. Got to see this at AFI Fest and absolutely loved it. Pasted a snippet of my review below, which you can also find on the Flickchart Blog.

I tend to go into a lot of films at the AFI Fest 2011 Presented by Audi blind, doing little to no research beforehand. What ends up happening is that there’s a fairly even mix of films that impress and films that just don’t do anything for me. Then there are a few that just outright surprise me and end up ranking ridiculously high on my Flickchart. This would be that film.

Café De Flore has two stories happening in parallel, the first about Antoine, a popular Montreal DJ struggling with a recent divorce. Despite ruining the lives of his family with the separation he’s the happiest he’s ever been in his life. Happening in tandem to this is the story of Jacqueline, a single mother in 1960s Paris taking care of her special-needs son. Both stories are connected by the song Café De Flore and perhaps much more.

Read the rest of my review over on the Flickchart Blog!

RANKED #145 ON MY FLICKCHART

3. THE TREE OF LIFE

This film is quite divisive amongst my friends. In one camp you have the friends who think this is the dumbest film of the year, and in the other camp you have the friends who were deeply moved by the experience. Naturally the people in the second group are right. The Tree of Life is an amazing film that deserves all the praise it gets. It’s thoughtful and poetic on a universal scale and manages to weave the Brad Pitt storyline quite effectively. Similar to my experience with Drive and Nicolas Winding Refn, this is my first time with director Terrence Malick. I really need to go back and check out this guy’s other stuff. It doesn’t look like I have a huge filmography to go through either so that will make things easier.

RANKED #96 ON MY FLICKCHART

2. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

I don’t like preachy films. Naturally, films about school shootings tend to get this way or they try to cram some kind of moral down my throat that I’m not interested in consuming. With We Need to Talk About Kevin it’s different. Instead we’re given a nightmare about a mother who was never really ready for parenthood and who blames herself for birthing something that could do so much damage. Essentially this plays out like a horror film, which is why it’s so damned effective. I was shaking as I left the theater, more disturbed than I have been in awhile.

RANKED #66 ON MY FLICKCHART

1. MELANCHOLIA

And we come to my favorite film of the year, not to mention my first experience with Von Trier. Wonderfully gloomy and full of amazing performances. It’s the less-hopeful Tree of Life, which is what drew me in immediately. The performances are great and I left the theater saying “wow” repeatedly. Wrote a review for this one over on the Flickchart blog, which you can read an excerpt of below!

My first foray into the filmography of Lars von Trier happened the other night at AFI Fest 2011 Presented by Audi with the film Melancholia. Admittedly it was tough going into this screening without some degree of expectation given all the buzz surrounding the film. Pretty much everything I read up until the screening itself called this film the best of the year. As the the first few moments rolled by, I was mentally prepared to be disappointed. All you need to do is look at my ranking of the film above to see that that wasn’t the case.

Melancholia is the story of Justine, a depressed young woman who has found herself married to Michael (played effectively by Alexander Skarsgård). Try as she might, she can’t bring herself to celebrate with her family and makes multiple attempts to escape the festivities, each time angering a different member of the family. As she traipses around the lovely estate of her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg, 21 Grams), she notices an odd star up in the sky. As the film progresses we find out that the star is actually a planet and that it’s on a collision-course with Earth. Naturally, this leads to a lot of drama.

Read the rest of my review over on the Flickchart Blog!

RANKED #65 ON MY FLICKCHART

  • I can’t really comment on any of these ’cause I haven’t seen any of them (yet; several are on my ever-expanding To See list). Out of curiosity, how many movies did you wind up seeing in 2011? Did you track just new releases or all movies that you saw for the first time?

    Also, I’m disappointed not to see a special mention of your personal victory finally getting Jandy to see the masterpiece that is Wayne’s World. That seems the defining moment of your 2011 in film to me.

    • I ended up seeing about 103 films in 2011, much better than I had done the year before. I tracked all the movies that were new to me, whether they had come out that year or not. I also tracked how many films I had seen in the theater versus how many had been home viewings. I really should have linked the page in this post.

      If I can ever get off my lazy ass and write up my whole “just married the girl of my dreams” post, I’ll most definitely add a bit about how I got her to watch Wayne’s World and that our love was solidified when I found out she loved it. :)

  • I still want to see CAFE DE FLORE, after reading a wildly enthusiastic review for the picture.

    Glad you hold it in such high regards too.

    Best of luck to you, and keep up the solid site. 

    • Thanks. I’ve let the site go these past few months, unfortunately, as my schedule filled up with work related nonsense. :P I do hope to get back to posting regularly again in the not too distant future.

      And yeah. If you haven’t seen Cafe De Flore YET (I see you posted a month ago), then STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND GET YOUR HANDS ON A COPY OF THE FILM. You may have to use any means necessary as I don’t believe there’s been any distribution planned for the states.