Thursday, February 9, 2012

End-Of-Year: Favorite Films #16-35

Took me longer than I anticipated, but that's okay since everyone is still catching up and thinking about 2011 films right? In any case, I've managed to narrow down my list of nearly 100 films to these 35 favorites (with my Top 15 posting in a day or two). Read on and make sure to watch them if you haven't had the chance...

35. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Even though I probably need to see this film again since I'm pretty sure I missed a lot during my first viewing, I still really liked it in no small part to the impeccable technical virtues of the film as well as the exquisite acting from a few British heavyweights including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy.

34. Super 8 - While this film is more flash than substance, I can't deny the wonderful job the kid actors did in this film. Get rid of of that (amazing) train crash scene, all the unnecessary lens flare, and the alien plot line and the movie would still have worked because of the kids.

33. Beginners - Not sure why this lovely, little film isn't placed higher. Perhaps it connect to me deeper than I thought it would be. Nonetheless Christopher Plummer gives a grand performance as an old man coming out late in life while Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent are wonderful together.

32. 50/50 - A few problematic choices with the script, but a great showcase for Joseph Gordon Levitt playing a young twentysomething diagnosed with cancer. Great blend of drama and humor had me laughing and crying in equal measures.

31. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Most of the human stuff especially anything to do with James Franco and Freida Pinto weren't anything special, but the crux of the movie, Caesar, was just phenomenal. Andy Serkis' portrayal was once again revolutionary and there's just way too many scenes I loved in this film.

30. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - This is the best MI film since the first one and possibly my favorite Tom Cruise film since Minority Report. The cast was the selling point for me, but it was the breathtaking visuals and sleek action that I remember even now.

29. Shame - Such a stark film that sits quite uneasy the more you think about it, but I think that's a testament to what Steve McQueen set out to do. Not to mention that harrowing and career-best performances from both Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. Calling it addicting is probably too on-the-nose.

28. Certified Copy - I had no idea what this film was about, but that was perfectly fine since going into this film blind as it explores what is real and what's not is almost a requirement in order to let the whole surreal existential experience take effect. Juliette Binoche astounds.

27. Hugo - If this movie had a little less train station action and was 30 minutes shorter, I probably would've LOVED it. As it is, I only really, really liked it in no small part because of its wonderful story about Georges Melies and the birth of cinema. No one else could've made this film other than Martin Scorsese.

26. Martha Marcy May Marlene - This was a far more psychological film than I anticipated with the audience really getting into the mental and emotional states of the main character played wonderfully by Elizabeth Olsen. The end chilled my bones.

25. Bridesmaids - The cast is hilarious and the film had plenty of hilarious moments courtesy especially from Kristin Wiig, Rose Byrne, and Oscar-nominated (yeah!) Melissa McCarthy. It probably could've used a bit of streamlining, but the heart was there.

24. Submarine - Loved this coming-of-age film starring relative newcomer Craig Roberts. His relationship with his mom (Sally Hawkins) and his maybe-girlfriend (Yasmin Paige) are highlights, but director-writer Richard Ayoade infuses the film with fun quirks that surely makes this tempting to rewatch.

23. Carnage - Off-the-bat, I'm not sure it was wise to actually turn this into a film, but I'm glad someone did and with this particular cast since I had a hell of a time watching this, laughing every other scene. Was it awkward? Most definitely, but seeing Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster get drunk and fight was too much awesome.

22. Moneyball - Even though I wasn't enamored with Tree of Life, I loved Brad Pitt's performance there and he does even better work in this film as one-time Oakland A's general manager Billy Bean. Who knew I'd actually find a baseball movie about numbers interesting?

21. Crazy, Stupid, Love - Take out the subplot of the creepy kid wanting to sex up his babysitter and this movie would be 100x better. As it is, it's still pretty amazing which makes sense especially with a cast containing Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, and Steve Carrell. Fun twist in the end and really dressed or undressed, Gosling steals the film.

20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - A fitting and epic end to a series that I still can't believe made it all the way. Great visuals, affecting performances, and a satisfied fanbase. There's not much else you can ask for a grand finale.

19. Contagion - Steve Soderbergh's apocalyptic tale was just this side of probable making it one of the more frightening films I saw last year. The all-star cast was predictably stellar, but I was surprised at just how smart the story was.

18. Captain America: The First Avenger - My favorite part of this film is probably how elated I was at how perfect Chris Evans was cast as the titular hero. So earnest, so all-American, so muscley. The retro feel was my other favorite part as well as the well coordinated action. Could've done without the end being a non-subtle Avengers promo, but it is what it is.

17. Rango - With Pixar dropping the ball hard this year, this film became my favorite animated film. Gore Verbinski's film is so beautiful in its ugliness and you can't help but love this wise-cracking chameleon trying to survive in such a harsh environment.

16. Hanna - After his early films, Joe Wright pretty much has a lifetime of free passes from me, but he didn't need it for this particularly visceral and cool film. I love Wright's willingness to experiment with the look and sound of his film which paid off handsomely here. Saoirse Ronan rocks.

As I said, my Top 15 list will be posted tomorrow or the day after that, though most of the films on that list shouldn't be too much of a surprised since I already posted my top 10 elsewhere. I do have to note though that I saw a film just very recently that knocked a film off that initial list of 10 so stay tuned to see my final top rankings!

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