Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Five Fave Flicks of 2011

Don't let all the "gloom and doom" reports about the box office deceive you - 2011 was stocked with plenty of quality product that was largely ignored by you the public. Just one of my five fave flicks, 'The Muppets', topped the $50M mark - and frankly, it should have raked in double that. Here's my top 5 - quite the year for films with "the" in the title:

1) Drive - A deliberate and devilish thriller that brilliantly devolves into utter destruction - Nicholas Winding Refn's ridiculously stylish film noir starring Ryan Gosling as "Driver" was hands down the best film of 2011. From Albert BrooksOscar-caliber turn as a dagger-adoring gangster to its stellar 80's-infused soundtrack - 'Drive' exudes "cool" - a raging race that's part Formula 1 and equal part demolition derby. The film's opening credits should quash any doubts you have about its #1 ranking:

2) The Descendants - Director Alexander Payne certainly knows quirky and while 'The Descendants' has its share of quirkiness - it's probably Payne's most accessible work thanks to one of George Clooney's finest performances. A bittersweet family dramedy featuring the most powerful monologue of 2011.

3) The Muppets - Kermit and crew returned to glory courtesy of one of the smartest scripts of the year. A loving and enormously entertaining tribute to the man who brought the Muppets to life - Jim Henson would be immensely proud of the man left in charge of his faux fur creations, Jason Segel.

4) The Artist - 2011's oddest gimmick turned out to be the biggest revelation - a film without sound that managed to contain more emotion than the vast majority of the year's "talkies". Who knew that silence could be so sensory?

5) The Interrupters - If the goal of a documentary is to literally drop you into the middle of a situation and let you feel  it as the participants do in their  lives - Steve James (Hoop Dreams) succeeded in spades. "Interrupter" Ameena Matthews may be the most memorable character of 2011.

5) (tie) Martha Marcy May Marlene - The other Olsen sister, Elizabeth, provided the breakout performance of  2011 - a young woman who extracts herself from a cult headed by the mega-menacing and typically masterful John Hawkes.