2011 in Review
So this year, we at Slackerwood decided it would be fun to create an aggregated Top Ten Movies of 2011 list. Nearly all our regular contributors submitted lists, then I assigned points and tabulated the results and, well, here we are.
What I don't like about this aggregated list is that it doesn't reflect the amazing range of selections from our contributors this year. In several cases, you could look at two of the lists and find no movies in common. So along with the Top Ten list itself, I've added a few interesting statistics about the choices we made this year.
Individual lists aren't included here -- you can read all our 2011 in Review articles to find out exactly which movies our contributors liked. Also, I want to explain what "2011" means for the purpose of this list. I asked that contributors include either films that had a U.S. release in 2011, or that played a local film fest in 2011 but do not yet have U.S. distribution. This means our lists could include movies like Albert Nobbs, which played Austin Film Festival 2011 but won't open in Austin until later this month; as-yet-undistributed AFF selection You Hurt My Feelings; and Japanese film A Boy and His Samurai, a Fantastic Fest 2011 favorite that hasn't yet been released in America.
And now, the list:
Here's a handy list of all our "2011 in Review" columns featuring top-ten lists, favorite photos, don't-miss films and other contributors' selections from last year's movies. We'll update this list as more features are posted.
Here's a collection of favorites from photos I took at 2011 Austin film festivals and movie-related events, including the one above with John Corbett, Jon Gries and musician Tara Novick. The underlying theme of all of these photos would be that of serendipity, being at the right -- and sometimes wrong -- time but always being at the right place to capture the magic and infectious nature of Austin's film community and festivals.
Click the photos to find out more about them.
I sat down to create a top ten list last year, and found it stretched to 15. This year, my first pass found almost 35 worthy titles. When I removed from that list any films that won’t actually be released until 2012 or that never received a U.S. release, I still had 26 titles, and found it impossible to put them all in exact order, but I did whittle it down to a top ten.
But before I share that list, I also want to mention notable movies in the following categories:
Best Action and Stunt Photography: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The movie is great, revitalizing the Mission: Impossible brand. If you’re going to spend $150 million, your product better look this good. The scene shot in Dubai (you know the one) alone is an achievement worthy of an award. (J.C.'s review)
Here are my top ten and other notable films from last year. To be eligible for my list, a movie had to release in the U.S. in 2011 and screen in Austin in 2011 also. (Some well reviewed 2011 releases have not yet opened in Austin.)
Martin Scorsese leaves his cinematic comfort zone with this family-friendly film, and the result is spectacular. Set in 1930s Paris, Hugo is the story of an orphan absorbed in a mystery involving his late father. But it's really an unabashed love letter to the magic of movies -- something Scorsese understands as well as anyone. Combining a captivating story, amazing 3D visuals (far more than a gimmick in this film, they're used to great effect) and a deep and abiding love of filmmaking, Hugo is no less than a masterpiece. (Mike's review)
A frank, raw and unnerving look at sexual addiction with a rare NC-17 rating, Shame follows soulless, bitter New Yorker Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) and his depressed and directionless sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) on their downward spirals into emotional hell. Fassbender and Mulligan give the year's most fearlessly provocative performances in what is arguably the year's most fearlessly provocative film, one that lays bare many ugly truths about human relationships with brutal honesty. Looking for the feel-good film of the year? Skip this one. (my review)
It's January, awards season is nigh and it's already time to look back to a few weeks ago when it was 2011. Out of the many and various movies I saw last year, some included outstanding, memorable performances that deserve a little more attention. While I haven't yet seen The Iron Lady or We Need to Talk About Kevin, this list is my attempt to shine a light on my favorite onscreen performers from 2011.
1. Viola Davis, The Help
Davis' Aibileen speaks in stoic glances, gently assures her baby charge that she is loved, and slowly opens up to Skeeter (Emma Stone).
It's been months since I've seen the film, but the image of Aibileen running through the streets of Jackson after Medgar Evers' assassination remains fresh in my memory. In this moment especially, Davis has made her character so real and sympathetic that the viewer shares her fear. Davis is the standout of a marvelous cast. (my review)
2011 was a tough year for Texas with the lack of rain, and not exactly a bountiful year for cinema, at least for films with theatrical distribution. But there are some gems this year, often missed by the average audience. So instead of a top ten list, I've decided to do an alternative best-of list that highlights the eclectic mix of outstanding films of the year. While it is Austin-centric, I honestly think some of the best movies this year have strong local connections. So without further ado ...
The Damned Shame Documentary Oversight: Incendiary: The Willingham Case (review), The Interrupters (review), Where Soldiers Come From (review)
Let's get the one negative award over first, not because the films are bad, but because they deserve more attention than they've received. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn't publicize the long list of qualifying documentaries before releasing the short list, from which the five nominees will be chosen. And it's a damned shame, as they are topical, provocative and very entertaining -- and all very aptly named. You will laugh, cry, be outraged and leave the theater with your worldview permanently altered for the better. And it just happens to be a coincidence that two of the three have strong Austin connections (and the other played SXSW).
Most Sneaky Charm: The Way (pictured above)
I was very resistant to this movie until reading Mike Saulters' review. This tale of a man on an unexpected, melancholy pilgrimage completely won me over, even with the predictability and montages. The Way is a subtle charmer.
Here are some of my favorite photos that I took at Austin film events and festivals in 2011. You can click the photos to find out more about each subject or event.
Oh, and apart from the picture with Elmo at the top, these are not vanity photos ... so don't think this is going to be All About Me. The photos cover a variety of interesting and notable people, from Marc Savlov to Dominic Monaghan; from the Bellflower car to Jack Black ... and more.