Friday, January 27, 2012

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011


The Great, The Good, and The Interesting!




Shortcut links:
BEST MOVIES: 2011
BEST DOCUMENTARIES: 2011
BEST TV: 2011



"And...Action!"


B E S T
M O V I E S :
2 0 1 1




E R O S




-THE ARTIST (France) ⇧
When the only thing one should say is, "I love you."

-CIRCUMSTANCE (Iran)
Two women in love, and the Morality Police who can't handle it.

-CHICO AND RITA (Spain/U.K.)
Moved me to tears.




T H I N K




-HUGO
A beautiful love letter to early film and classic books. Sweet, inspiring.

-THE KING'S SPEECH (U.K.)
A film about stammering told with impeccable timing. Razor-sharp cast, moving story.

-FOR COLORED GIRLS
Tough to adapt a poetic play. This is like an ensemble song cycle: some swagger notes are a bit stagey, but all the pain notes are devastatingly true.

-TRUE GRIT
A gripping story well-acted, with raw poetic dialogue so great you'd watch it again just to savor it.

-NORWEGIAN WOOD (Japan)
Elegant and bittersweet. Reject death, embrace life.


-THE TREE OF LIFE
The big picture, the little things. Love your life while it's happening.

-DRIVE
Cruises mostly on pure style, like the best film Michael Mann might've made in 1986.

-ONE DAY
Mixed feelings on the story structure, but Anne Hathaway was terrific.

-THE DEBT
Good thriller, great cast.

-THE HELP
The Civil Rights movement is too big to expect one film to carry it. Taken for its own merits of telling a part of that story, this film is generally strong, if sometimes mawkish or soft, with great performances from Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. If its massive success encourages people to learn more, then all the better.

To go further, make sure to watch the best non-fiction series ever made for television,
"Eyes On The Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965"


-A SEPARATION (Iran) ⇧
Distressed people at the mercy of bad luck, and the fundamentalist regime that makes it worse. Emotionally grueling, complex, and riveting, and worth every minute of it.

*****Because of its haunting humanity, this is the best film of the year for me.

-THE WOMAN KNIGHT OF MIRROR LAKE (China/Hong Kong)
In early 1900's China, a badass woman leads a revolution against repression with smarts, poetry, and martial arts. Count me in.
(Based on the true story of Qui JIn.)

-MARGIN CALL
An ensemble piece about the 2008 financial meltdown viewed through one company.

-THE IDES OF MARCH
When idealism collides with ambition.

-KINYARWANDA (Rwanda/U.S.)
Powerful expose on the Rwandan genocide.

-THE FLOWERS OF WAR (China)
Every film by Zhang Yimou is automatic viewing. This is a grittier take on his theme of championing humanity in the face of repression.


-THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (U.S.) ⇧
Telling the same good story again, just as well as the Swedish film and with added dimensions.

-A DANGEROUS METHOD
Freud vs. Jung and the woman between. Mortensen and Fassbender are low-key great, but Keira Knightley steals it with a truly brave performance.

-THE KID WITH THE BIKE (France)
A touching story of a kid with an unyielding spirit.

-TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
A Swedish director ("Let The Right One In") remakes the quintessential British spy games story, with brilliant success. Understated, fiendishly complex, period perfect.




S M I L E




-ELEKTRA LUXX
The sequel to WOMEN IN TROUBLE by Sebastien Gutierrez, the L.A. answer to Almodovar. Carla Gugino is always excellent.

-GIRL WALKS INTO A BAR
Another Sebastien Gutierrez film, an interlocking comedy of errors.

-WIN WIN
Nice character play, astute details.

-PAUL
A little soft, but carried by Kristen Wiig and some clever in-jokes.

-CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE
Could have been another Six Whiteys movie for the mallburbs, but there's enough touching scenes and manic surprises to elevate it. Good moments from Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, and Emma Stone.

-MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
A fun story beautifully shot, with a legendary cast of characters.

-THE MUPPETS
"Yes! The third greatest gift ever!"

-TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! (Norway)
A teen girl navigating between puberty and identity; a smart film with deft characters and a sly heart.




D R E A M




-ANOTHER EARTH
A carefully etched character drama. The soulful silences are enriched by the breakout star (and co-writer/co-producer), Brit Marling.

-THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
A 'Twilight Zone' premise underlined by romance.

-SOURCE CODE
Taut, engaging, twisty. From the director of MOON, Duncan Jones.

-LOVE
MOON was a fine complement to 2001 and SOLARIS. This finely-crafted indie is another.


-HAUNTERS (S. Korea) ⇧
The bridge between UNBREAKABLE and PUSH.
Sharply made, great characters, constant surprises, a rousing finish.

-SUPER 8
J.J Abrams brings it all full circle with this mysterious and tender homage to the 1977-1982 sci-fi movies that ignited everything since.

-HARRY POTTER And the Deathly Hallows, Part II
The craft of director David Yates has been exponentially impressive for the final three films.

-RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
On the surface, a 'popcorn flick'. Underneath, a deeply clever prequel to the original 1968 film.




N I G H T M A R E




-THE THING [new prequel] ⇧
John Carpenter's 1982 film was ignored on release and trashed by critics. It found its cult audience later on cable and video, and now is recognized as a classic cast-driven thriller.
And so will this one eventually, as perfectly dovetailed a prequel as has yet been made.

-BLACK SWAN
Darren Aronofsky's companion piece to THE WRESTLER. They are essentially the same story, exposing the traps and pitfalls of enforced gender roles.


-ATTACK THE BLOCK (U.K.) ⇧
One of those great debuts that transcends 'b-movie' into first-rate.

-APOLLO 18
Impressive debut delivering a great deal from deep constraints.

-BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW
Mainly for the vibe and craft, which recaptures the chilly vibe and stunning shots from early 70's-early 80's arthouse SF and Horror perfectly.

-ABSENTIA
When you have no money, tell a gripping story with a good cast, directed well.

-MARY MARCY MAY MARLENE
A nuanced psychological antidote to 'shock-and-chop' films, with great leads in Elizabeth Olsen and Sarah Paulson.

-THE SKIN I LIVE IN (Spain)
No means no.




G R A P H I C
I M A G E S




-The Adventures Of TINTIN
> Four Color Films review
Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson wed artist Herge's clean-line world and rich plots to 3D realism, noir lighting, and Hitchcock angles...and pull it off spectacularly. A breathtaking avalanche of smart fun.

-SUPER
A bent Indie comedy take on what would really happen if you tried to be a superhero, featuring an unhinged Ellen Page.

-THOR
> Four Color Films review
Kenneth Branagh really went for it all. The Earth stuff was a little rushed, but Asgard was glorious.

-CAPTAIN AMERICA
> Four Color Films review
A refreshing surprise. No irony, no jingoism, just a great Pulp adventure homage with all the right instincts.

-GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (Austrailia)
A modest take on homemade superheroes, with an engaging romance and some twists.

-BATMAN: Year One
An anime take on the classic Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli origin.

-The Extraordinary Adventures Of ADELE BLANC-SEC (France)
> Four Color Films review
The grumbling adventurer gets a fine film treatment of her illustrated exploits by Luc Besson.




A R T F L I X




-CHICO AND RITA (Spain/U.K.) ⇧
Beautiful to watch, to listen to, and to feel. Wonderful.

-THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
> Four Color Films review
It isn't the 3D 'realism' that makes this come to life; it's the faithfulness to the canny plots, crafty heroes, and slapstick ballet of Herge's timeless books that gives it such spirit.

-RANGO
Excellent and mediocre at the same time. Baffling. The craft and sequences are inspired, the dialogue and plot strangely uneven. The finale sold me.

-A CAT IN PARIS (France)
A joy to watch, in style, story, and score. Just gets better and better as it goes.

-THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (Japan)
Another gem from Studio Ghibli, this charming tale of miniature people is a winner all around. Smart, heart, art.





B E S T
D O C U M E N T A R I E S :
2 0 1 1


-FREEDOM RIDERS
Young people with compassion can change the world for the better.

-THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975
All power to the people!

-THE INTERRUPTERS
The real war is at home, where racism and poverty doom communities to destroy themselves.



-REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR
The sequel to the great 'WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR?'

-PROHIBITION
The dangers of zealous lobbies and capitalist corruption...

-WOMEN, WAR, AND PEACE
Death leaves the wound that never heals.

-WE WERE HERE
The shadow of death unleashes compassion and love of life.



-GEORGE HARRISON: Living In The Material World
The great spirit who happened to be in the greatest band.

-GRANT MORRISON: Talking With Gods
Grand writer holds forth.



-THE STORY OF FILM: An Odyssey
A 15-part rethink of the world history of film by critic Mark Cousins.
Essential entry point into discovering all cinema.





B E S T
T V :
2 0 1 1


D R A M A




-THE KILLING
The expansive remake of the Danish series FORBRYDELSEN, with richer character and new directions. (And a healthy dose of TWIN PEAKS.)

-BOARDWALK EMPIRE
Basically the roots of THE SOPRANOS and THE WIRE. At its best, an allegory of the corrupt politics and social repressions of today.

-TREME
By the makers of THE WIRE (a.k.a., the greatest television show ever made).
What are you waiting for?




W O N D E R




-GAME OF THRONES
Only 5% of this is 'Fantasy'. The other 95% is the best character drama about court intrigue one could imagine.

-THE WALKING DEAD
I like it enough, while others love it. It's playing one note pretty well.

-FRINGE
X-FILES never paid-off any of its set-ups well. FRINGE always does, in an unwinding tapestry that only gets better as it goes.




U K




-SHERLOCK
The only Sherlock Holmes that matters, alive on today's streets. A marvel to watch.

-DOCTOR WHO
They caught lightning in a bottle again casting Matt Smith. This second season is less focused and more chaotic, but he stitches it together.

-TORCHWOOD: Miracle Day
Sprawling, ambitious. Too many great notes in the symphony to be sniffed at.


-MISFITS
The Sex Pistols of 'superheroes'. Sacrilegious and hilarious.

-THE FADES
A supernatural thriller, with pop culture in-jokes galore.

-DOWNTON ABBEY
At the height, a layered look at class relations in transition. At the base, a smart Soap.

-THE HOUR
The dawn of tough investigative journalism in repressed '50s Britain. An amazing pilot episode propelled the strong new series.

-BLACK MIRROR
Rod Serling now. Excellent and essential.




C O M E D Y



-ENLIGHTENED
A star turn for Laura Dern, playing a fragile light surrounded by black holes.

-30 ROCK

-PARKS AND RECREATION



-THE DAILY SHOW, With Jon Stewart
The real News ridiculing the fake News.

-THE STEPHEN COLBERT REPORT
Ditto.





A N I M A T I O N



-FUTURAMA
Hey...It's Futurama!

-BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD
A love letter to the Silver Age Of Comics. Fun, wonder, and impossible non-sequiters.




V I D E O
B O X
S E T S


-DRAGON TATTOO Trilogy: Extended Edition (Sweden) ⇧

I love the first film and really like the other two. The first is an essential thriller with a terrific lead in Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). The follow-ups show some plot strain but they pull it all off nicely.






THINGS TO CATCH UP ON, Dept.



Hey, who has time (or money) to see everything?

(animation)
-ALOIS NEBEL (Czech)
-WRINKLES (Spain)


(documentary)
-RESURRECT DEAD: The Mystery Of The Toynbee Tiles
-THUNDER SOUL
-CONNECTED: An Autobiography About Love, Death & Technology
-THRIVE
-MAGIC TRIP


© Tym Stevens




See also:

Four Color Films, THE Comic Movies Review Site!


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BEST MUSIC: 2016
BEST MOVIES & TV: 2016
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BEST MOVIES & TV: 2015
-BEST COMICS: 2015

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BEST MOVIES & TV: 2014
-BEST COMICS: 2014

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BEST MUSIC: 2013
-BEST COMICS: 2013

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2012
BEST MUSIC: 2012
BEST COMICS: 2012

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011
BEST MUSIC: 2011
BEST COMICS: 2011

BEST MOVIES: 2000-2010
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How STAR WARS Is Changing Everything!


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