"Something happened to British cinema this year: it got world-class again." Tim Robey builds a convincing case: the returns of Lynne Ramsay and Terence Davies, debuts by Paddy Considine (Tyrannosaur), Richard Ayoade (Submarine), Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley (Black Pond) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and, perhaps most encouraging, "remarkable second films from Ben Wheatley (the horror-thriller Kill List), from Joanna Hogg, whose bitterly insightful Archipelago confirmed all the promise of Unrelated, and from Andrew Haigh, whose Nottingham-set gay romance Weekend has been a sleeper hit here and in the United States…. The sheer range of subjects, periods, genres, styles and ambitions was as heartening as the quality of the movies, and proof that our industry is in great shape."
Also in the Telegraph, Robbie Collin looks back on 2011's highs and lows and the paper lists its top ten and ten worst films of the year. Speaking of the worsts, the AV Club lists 20.
Dana Stevens's top ten at Slate is in alphabetical order: "Not every film on this list qualifies as a perfectly honed masterpiece — I could have done without whole subplots in a few of them — but every one of these left me, as the closing credits rolled, in need of a spatula to scrape myself off the floor."
Stephen Holden puts "Alexander Payne's second-best movie (after Election)" at the top of his ten in the New York Times: "A pitch-perfect study of middle-aged male angst and family conflict, with some sharp comic moments, The Descendants is one of the most adult American films ever made about love, money, betrayal and the ties that should bind but sometimes don't."
Tom Shone lists his top ten films, scenes and scores of the year. He really likes Moneyball.
NPR's Linda Holmes sums up her 2011 in her headline: "How A Year Without A Favorite Was A Favorite Year."
The San Diego Film Critics Society goes for The Artist, director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), leads Brit Marling (Another Earth) and Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) and supporters Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) and Nick Nolte (Warrior).
The Chicago Reader's JR Jones's #6: Alex Gibney's Client-9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer.
Slant's Sal Cinquemani notes that "the ladies truly dominate the upper reaches of our 2011 albums list in a way they haven't ever before."
Los Angeles (and beyond). "The Cinefamily programs one of the city's finest lineups of repertory films, cult classics, carefully curated theme nights, and celebrity events, all in a low-tech, intimate setting that aims to make moviegoing a celebratory, communal experience, aided by cupcakes and beer," writes Sean O'Neal at the AV Club. "And normally you'd have to actually head down to The Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Ave and sit on one of Cinefamily's notoriously uncomfortable folding chairs to take part, but on Dec 17 that's not true: As part of its first-ever fundraiser, Cinefamily is hosting a free, 24-hour telethon filled with unusual screenings and even more unusual guests, and it will all be streaming online." Among the guests who'll be on hand: Spike Jonze, Benicio Del Toro, Elliott Gould and Michael Cera. More from Karina Longworth in the LA Weekly.
New York. The Museum of the Moving Image follows a screening of The Yards (1999) tonight with an onstage talk with director James Gray. So Moving Image Source is running a relevant excerpt from Jordan Mintzer's forthcoming book, Conversations with James Gray.
In the works. Scarlett Johansson doesn't really have all that much to say about either Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin, his adaptation of Michel Faber's novel, or her own adaptation of Truman Capote's Summer Crossing, but the Playlist's Drew Taylor gleans what he can from Mina Hochberg's Vulture interview, and it caught my eye at any rate.
Stephen Frears and screenwriter Peter Prince are reuniting for an American remake of their 1984 British gangster movie, The Hit, reports Ethan Anderton at FirstShowing, where he also notes that Saoirse Ronan has signed onto Kevin Macdonald's adaptation of Meg Rosoff's novel How I Live Now.
Obit. "One of Vietnam's best-known actors, Don Duong — once labelled a traitor by his country's armed forces — has died of heart failure and a brain haemorrhage aged 55," reports the BBC. "Don Duong appeared in Hollywood films such as the Vietnam war epic We Were Soldiers and the refugee drama Green Dragon. This prompted Vietnam's army newspaper to say he had betrayed his country…. The criticism prompted Don Duong to leave Vietnam in 2003: he became a US citizen. In 2011, after previously denying him a visa, the Vietnamese authorities finally gave him permission to make a return trip to Vietnam. But the visit was delayed and he died before it could take place."