Scott Weinberg has tallied the votes from 20 Movies.com contributors and come up with a top 20. #1: Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive.
"Refn's pulp fantasia — with the iconic Ryan Gosling sporting a cheesy scorpion jacket, a toothpick and a lack of dialogue unrivaled since Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns — reminded me just how much I love movies," writes Sean Burns. "Refn's boldly artificial flourishes, graphic violence and swoony romanticism conjured an alternate universe I adored basking in, over and over. Throw in Albert Brooks as the villain, and I don't want to admit how many times I went back to see it again."
Also in the Philadelphia Weekly, Matt Prigge, whose #2 is Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret, on his #1, House of Tolerance: "Like Margaret, Bertrand Bonello's dreamy look at a tony, turn-of-the-century Parisian brothel was initially hated, with some at Cannes calling it the fest's worst. It fared better at Toronto, where its fans succumbed to its opium-induced vibe, its fearless silliness (anachronistic use of the Moody Blues, plus a moment involving, well, 'semen tears') and its deeply sad look at an era on the wane. In a year stacked silly with films about end times (Melancholia, Take Shelter, etc), this mini-apocalypse was my favorite."
Refn's just been named Best Director by the Austin Film Critics Association, though they've gone with Martin Scorsese's Hugo for Best Film. Adam Cook agrees, noting that "some auteurs embrace digital technology and 3D, while others resist it… Hugo represents the most enthusiastic embrace of 3D, Soderbergh continues to explore the digital medium with Contagion, while [Kelly] Reichardt shot Meek's Cutoff on film in the abandoned ratio of 1.33 : 1 and [Alex Ross] Perry shot The Color Wheel in 16mm black and white. The wonderful thing is that both directions are providing beautiful works of art, as emerging technologies inspire filmmaking with either its presence or its deliberate absence."
"Considering that the vast majority of movie viewing is digital, including home viewing, why are filmmakers still shooting on film if virtually nobody will ever see it projected on film?" Jamie Stuart in indieWIRE on "Why 2011 Marked a Shift in the History of Cinematography."
Jim Emerson looks back on a few of the films he fell in love with this year. In the New Statesman, Ryan Gilbey hands out a slew of made-up on-the-spot awards such as "The 'Good Film, Shame about the Ending' Award" (The Tree of Life). Similarly, Tom Carson for GQ; e.g., "Best Surefire Crowd-Pleaser That Wasn't: Warrior."
"Mysteries of Lisbon is the best film of 2011." And of course, Glenn Heath Jr writes about nine more as well for SanDiego.com. #1 on Stephanie Zacharek's top ten at Movieline: Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist. Critics for the Philadelphia City Paper go alphabetical for their top 20 list.
Andrew Schenker's seen a hell of a lot of films this year. He's ranked his top ten, then grouped 11-20 and 21-30; the rest string on and on behind. JR Jones's #1: Xavier Beauvois's Of Gods and Men. Also in the Chicago Reader: Ben Sachs on the best repertory screenings in the city. At Twitch, Jim Tudor lists his top and bottom tens.
"Whore Week comes to a head at eFilmCritic today as we unleash our annual breakdown of the worst that junketeer, TV-centric, faceless radio voices and members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association have to offer." Erik Childress compiles the top ten. And he's gathered all the incriminating evidence as well.
FilmFestivalPosters.com picks its favorites of the year.
Viewing (9'30"). Guardian critics discuss the British, foreign-language and documentary films of 2011. Related listening (68'10"). Jason Solomons and Xan Brooks discuss their top tens.
In German. "Die besten Filme des Jahres" at Spiegel Online: Lars-Olav Beier on Andreas Dresen's Stopped on Track, Hannah Pilarczyk on Lars von Trier's Melancholia, Martin Wolf on Asghar Farhadi's A Separation, Christian Buß on Gore Verbinski's Rango and Jenni Zylka on Mike Cahill's Another Earth. And at Perlentaucher, Lukas Foerster, Thomas Groh, Ekkehard Knörer and Maximilian Linz write up some of the best films that did not make it into German cinemas: Uruphong Raksasad's Agrarian Utopia, Sergio Caballero's Finisterrae, Manoel de Oliveira's The Strange Case of Angelica and Rene Frölke's Führung. And then there's the year in Berliner Filmfestivals.
And in French. "US Cahiers du Cinéma - Positif FC : le Match du siècle" at Nightswimming.
In other news. The International Film Festival Rotterdam, running January 25 through February 5, has announced its lineup for the For Real portion of the Signals program, "in which not the cinema screen, but everyday reality constitutes the canvas for unforgettable performances."