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Top Ten Films Of 2011

by Antisuttree
1) The Tree Of Life - USA, dir. Terrence Malick. Probably the most impressive cinematic achievement in half a decade and possibly the greatest film at least since Mulholland Drive. Terrence Malick’s fifth film in 40 years, The Tree Of Life is ambitious, beautiful and moving, artful, inventive and new, profound, subtle, thought-provoking and intellectual, unbound and passionate, and grandiosely original. The story of a family with similarly-aged boys in Waco, Texas in the late 1950s and the relational hurdles they face. The various classical pieces, especially the sporadic inclusions of “Les baricades mistérieuses” by François Couperin, are… Read more

1) The Tree Of Life - USA, dir. Terrence Malick. Probably the most impressive cinematic achievement in half a decade and possibly the greatest film at least since Mulholland Drive. Terrence Malick’s fifth film in 40 years, The Tree Of Life is ambitious, beautiful and moving, artful, inventive and new, profound, subtle, thought-provoking and intellectual, unbound and passionate, and grandiosely original. The story of a family with similarly-aged boys in Waco, Texas in the late 1950s and the relational hurdles they face. The various classical pieces, especially the sporadic inclusions of “Les baricades mistérieuses” by François Couperin, are exquisite. Saw it four times in the cinema and cried for the first time the third time. A film showing everything that cinema is and has the potential to be. Trailer



2) Shame - UK, dir. Steve McQueen. A gorgeous, unsexy film about sex, or, more specifically, sex addiction. Protagonist Brandon, played by Michael Fassbender, is a successful New York gentleman whose mind derails at every turn. A close look at a provocative subject that is all-too-often shunned with a hush-hush approach and shut eye. Bach’s Goldberg Variations touchingly set the tone at various points. Trailer



3) Drive - USA, dir. Nicolas Winding Refn. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn aptly captured the mood and feel of Los Angeles in Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and adapted from James Sallis’ eponymous novel. Be prepared for turns and twists in these Hollywood hills and valleys, and pay mind to the reference to classical fable The Scorpion And The Frog when it transiently arises. Trailer



4) The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito) - Spain, dir. Pedro Almodóvar. One of Almodóvar’s finest works to date. I saw the film at director Q&A in New York and found Almodóvar surprisingly personable. A well-told, creatively originated story, and again Almodóvar films women wonderfully. A complete, crafted work and easily worth the viewing. Trailer



5) Another Earth - USA, dir. Mike Cahill. Nuanced, melancholic, and mature, Another Earth was made for less than $100,000 and contains all the beauty and touching profundity of a large-scale film, exploring the concept of duplicate planets and selves. Co-written by, co-produced by, and starring Brit Marling. Occasional narrative interjections by scientist Richard Berendzen add metaphysical insight as final, moving touches. Brought me to tears. Trailer



6) Hanna - UK/USA/Germany, dir. Joe Wright. Probably the fastest, most fun flick on the list, Hanna is an international high-action thriller, and its heroine couldn’t be any sweeter and lovelier nor any fiercer and deadlier. The Chemical Brothers’ hip, intelligent score accentuates the performances of the strong cast, consisting of Saoirse Ronan as Hanna, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Olivia Williams, and others. Trailer



7) The Guard - Ireland/UK/Argentina, dir. John Michael McDonagh. The rare black comedy that actually works in both a genuinely humorous and tastefully constructed manner, and one of the strongest Irish films in some time. Taking place in western Ireland, Sergeant Gerry Boyle, as played by Brendan Gleeson, is a dry-witted good cop disguised behind a dubious persona. Trailer



8) Melancholia - Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany/Italy, dir. Lars von Trier. A beautiful, epic filmic overture opens the work, which becomes increasingly strange and inexplicable with its every passing minute. An examination of the impenetrability of the human psyche and its uncontrollable emotional tangents through a bifurcated, two-chapter study of sisters. A sweeping score with occasional super-slow motion shots exists throughout the film, as is becoming a von Trier norm. External scenes were filmed on location at Tjolöholm Castle (in the Halland province of western Sweden), which I had the fortune of visiting a few summers ago. Trailer



9) Sleeping Beauty - Australia, dir. Julia Leigh. One of the more enigmatic, ambiguous, and therefore divisive art films of the year; novelist Julia Leigh’s debut as filmmaker subverts Charles Perrault’s classic story in a modern, new way. Here is a mystery that remains one, but one that prompts viewers to analyze themselves in a world of voyeurism within voyeurism and to reassess femininity and feminism in different lights. Other details in the film are not explicated in any real capacity by design. Sleeping Beauty invokes likeness to Buñuel’s Belle de Jour and Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and though it falls short of both, it deserves to be in the same class. Trailer



10) Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da) - Turkey/Bosnia and Herzegovina, dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan. A lengthy, slow, poetic drama with humorous moments. Fourteen men search for a dead and buried body on the Anatolian steppe in Turkey, and finding the body takes longer than planned; as it turns out, no one is significantly purer or more innocent or honest or ethical than his neighbor. The first hour and a half takes place in the dark, and the film takes alternate routes in the latter segments, all-in-all reminiscent of Antonioni’s L’avventura or L’eclisse. Trailer



Other Years’ Top Ten Lists: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2012

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