TOP 11 FILMS OF 2011

It’s that time of the year (the end of it) when people sit down and drum up lists of their favourite things of the past twelve months. Today, I would like to share with you (only because you care so much) my 11 favourite films of 2011…

Onward!


11HANNA – Directed by: Joe Wright
There’s a lot to like about HANNA, especially it’s odd-characters, it’s odd-pacing, and it’s incredible soundtrack, which just so happens to be the best soundtrack of the year — oh don’t mind me, I’m just trying to start a flame-war with all the DRIVE-soundtrack fanatics in the comments section (leave a comment, I dare ya’).


10MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – Directed by Woody Allen
My screening for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS could not have been more perfect for Allen’s whimsy: Saturday morning in the cinema, packed to the gills with giggling, giddy senior citizens. Leave your snarkiness at the door, Matthews. Avoid all spoilers of this film, and watch accordingly.


9WIN WIN – Directed by Tom McCarthy
I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a huge fan of writer, director and actor Tom McCarthy — the guy played a big part in inspiring me to write and direct my first short film, ROOM SERVICE. As with both of McCarthy’s other films (THE STATION AGENT and THE VISITOR), WIN WIN’s strength is in it’s characters. My expectations could not have been higher and I was not let down.


8RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Speaking of expectations… Any reasonable person would agree: this movie should have sucked. Really bad. But it didn’t. In fact, it was fairly awesome. Aside from a cringe-inducing final five minutes, the film had some of the best sci-fi moments of the year, and at one point (see photo above) literally made me gasp-out-loud. I generally don’t do that too often unless I’ve spilt a hot drink on my lap.


7 – A tie between:  DETENTION – Directed by Joseph Kahn
I’m sure I could be accused of bias here, but it’s nothing but pride for fellow-Haligonian, Mark Palermo who wrote the screenplay for Joseph Kahn‘s second feature film. Try and process this: a high-school, slasher-flick comedy that also has elements of time-travel. The film moves at an unbelievable pace, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s everything I wanted SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD to be.

Technically, I think DETENTION belongs in the 2012 category, I just wanted to get behind this movie early on and encourage you to embrace this madness when it’s available to you.


7 – &: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL – Directed by Brad Bird
In spite of the public’s opinion of Tom Cruise’s very public, very odd life, he just can’t help himself from being awesome when he steps in front of a camera. MI:4 has some of the most-thrilling action sequences conceived on-screen all year, and also a surprising sense of humour.


6DRIVE – Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
“This film will shock you” is such an incredibly lame thing to say, but it applies here. From the first minute, I was hooked in, and was convinced that I was witnessing a brutal, unforgiving, modern masterpiece unravel before my very eyes. It was in the final fifteen minutes that the film lost me with a (in my opinion) weak finale. The anger I feel towards the ending is only a result of how amazing the rest of the movie is, so there’s that.


5WARRIOR – Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Howard Hawk’s famously said that a great film must contain “Three great scenes, [and] no bad ones”. Off the top of my head, I can count six great scenes in WARRIOR, which isn’t surprising given the talent involved, and nothing that even resembles a “bad scene”. Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and (surprisingly – for me, at least) Nick Nolte all give beautiful, heart-wrenching performances.

The major flaw of the film is it’s premise: we are expected to believe that two brothers could end up in the finals of a worldwide mixed-martial-arts tournament, which is, to say the least, ridiculous. If you can get passed this, you’ll be enjoying one of the finest ensemble casts 2011 has to offer. Upon three viewings, I have been brought to tears all three times. Manly, manly tears.


4MELANCHOLIA – Directed by Lars Von Trier
This was my first foray into the world of Lars Von Trier, and although I’ve heard many a weird thing describing his films, nothing could prepare me for this. Beautiful, frustrating, brave, and overall: haunting.

If there’s a full moon in the sky, I am now incapable of looking away without first pondering the world’s end. Thanks for that, MELANCHOLIA.

Oh, and Kirsten Dunst can act!


3SUBMARINE – Directed by Richard Ayoade
The main criticism I’ve heard leveled against Wes Anderson‘s most-recent films is that they are increasingly lacking in a human characters, which I personally disagree with, but for anyone who has this problem with his films of late, may I recommend viewing Richard Ayoade‘s debut feature film, SUBMARINE, a quirky and whimsical coming-of-age story highlighted by some amazingly well-balanced performances.

This film has 2011’s second best soundtrack — that’s right, you DRIVE soundtrack enthusiasts! Meet me in the comments section!


2ATTACK THE BLOCK – Directed by Joe Cornish
All too often, especially in the past ten years, we have been promised films with incredible premises such as “Nazi zombies”, “Pirates vs. Ninjas”, “Snakes on a plane” that have more often than not, ended up absolutely sucking. ATTACK THE BLOCK, which is essentially “Hoodlums vs. Aliens” is a film that finally delivers on it’s potential for awesome.

It’s not a surprise that SHAUN OF THE DEAD director Edgar Wright, was the executive producer on this film, as it has the same balance between comedy, action, and thrills, and perhaps it’s been even more finely defined here with ATTACK THE BLOCK. Anyone who knows how much I love SHAUN OF THE DEAD, knows how big of a compliment that is.


1MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE – Directed by Sean Durkin
I really don’t want to say too much about this film. It’s so much better to be discovered. It starts as one thing and slowly builds into an absolute masterpiece.

Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the Olsen twins (you heard me) is phenomenal (yes, you still heard me) in the lead as Martha, a young woman haunted by her memories of her time spent with a cult lead by John Hawkes (skinnier and better than ever), as she attempts to re-assimilate with her family. It sounds like an okay premise, but the execution is flawless.

If you take a recommendation from me just once this year, treat yourself to MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE.

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TOP 11 HONOURABLE MENTIONS (because why not): CEDAR RAPIDS, TYRANNOSAUR, BEGINNERS, 50/50, KUNG FU PANDA 2, X-MEN FIRST CLASS, HAROLD AND KUMAR 3D, THE DESCENDANTS, THE LINCOLN LAWYER, FAST FIVE, and BRIDESMAIDS.

(ASSUMED) TOP 11 FILMS I HAVEN’T SEEN: TAKE SHELTER, SHAME, CARNAGE, CAPTAIN AMERICA, SUPER, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE ARTIST, THE SKIN I LIVE IN, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and CAFE DE FLORE.

ABCs OF DEATH

I am pleased as punch to announce my inclusion in an upcoming short film by the creators of VAN GORE (the HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN fake-trailer contest winner) Keith Hodder & Jerrad Pulham.

The short, which we are shooting next month, will be submitted as part of the ABCS OF DEATH competition!

What’s the “ABCS OF DEATH competition”, you ask? Well, I really hate it when you interrupt me, but: THE ABCS OF DEATH is an upcoming feature length film wherein 25 different filmmakers are given a letter of the alphabet, and make a short film, ending with a gruesome death based around a word that starts with that letter (ie. W is for Waterfall).

For those of you who are a disappointment to your parents, there are actually 26 letters in the alphabet, and that 26th letter is what’s up for contention in the competition. Amateur filmmakers are asked to create a “T is for ___” submission, which is what we intend to do.

More info here: http://26th.theabcsofdeath.com/

Sound like fun? It is! For now, check out Hodder & Pelham’s most recent offering, VAN GORE…

UPDATE (09/16/2011): The project has unfortunately been scrapped due to scheduling conflicts. Lame right? Well hopefully I’ll be reporting my next project with these talented folks soon enough!

Favourite Movies ’09!

This is my definitive list (no more of those bullcrap ties) of my top ten favourite films released during 2009!


10) BLACK DYNAMITE – I’m happy to say that I participated in the bizarre experience of watching this movie 20 minutes after watching Barack Obama be sworn in as the first African American President of The United States. This movie blended comedy, action, and the funky grindhouse style of blacksploitation really well. On par with Pootie Tang greatness. Was that last part racist?


9) THE HANGOVER – Zach Galifianakis destroyed this movie. Tore it apart & puked it back out for millions to enjoy. I had so much invested in Mr. Galifiankis’ first big attempt at a mainstream movie since 2001’s OUT COLD, mostly because I loved him in 2008’s VISIONEERS, & because I have a beard-crush on him. However, Ed Helms’ musical interlude in the film sealed the deal for me.


8 ) MOON – Fun fact: MOON was directed by David Bowie’s son! Another fun fact: turns out he’s a really great director! That mixed with the superb talents of Mr. Sam Rockwell, and an awesome dark, ominous script create a film that unfolds at a comfortably manic pace.


7) UP & FANTASTIC MR. FOX – Alright, so I lied. I made up this list before I watched FANTASTIC MR. FOX, so we’ll just say that the number seven spot is reserved for my favourite animated films of the year? Deal. UP made me smile-cry three times, and FANTASTIC MR. FOX was one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, and also had some of Wes Anderson’s most-accessible characters to date; well, it was made (partially) for kids, so maybe that’s why. Me = plain.


6) DISTRICT 9 – This film was my favourite film all year in terms of delivering on expectations. The trailer, and other short films by Neil Blomkamp had my expectations so high, that I feared that they could not be met. This year has been fairly heartbreaking for me in terms of getting way too excited for films based solely on their trailers (ie. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, ZOMBIELAND), so when I was sitting (literally) on the edge of my seat, hoping for Wikus to redeem himself, I knew that the film delivered.


5) (500) DAYS OF SUMMER – This is a damn cute film with Joseph Gordon Levitt & Zooey Deschanel. Moving on.


4) A SERIOUS MAN – I would definitely nominate the Coen Brothers as my favourite film makers working today, considering that my favourite film of all time is THE BIG LEBOWSKI (and I love 99% of their stuff), so when they released BURN AFTER READING, which I had mixed feelings for, I had a lot invested in A SERIOUS MAN. And now it sits in my number four spot.


3) CHE (Part 1 & 2) – I reccomend that you watch the two parts seperately (but close together) to maintain a proper sense of the narrative. The first film fills you with inspiration and hope, and the second film robs you of everything that you gained from the first, and manages to take a little bit more than you came in with (in a very good way). Steven Soderbergh + Benicio Del Toro = Yes. Clear your schedule, and get ready to watch a very long movie crafted by very capable hands.


2) THIRST (Korea) – This is a twisted vampire movie brought to you by the director of OLD BOY, one of the most effed up films I’ve ever seen. THIRST manages to be a bit more accessible (even though there was still 11 people who walked out of my screening) balancing wonderfully comedic moments, with disturbing & spellbinding imagery. One of the best performances of the year I’ve seen coming from Kang-ho Song who plays the lead. Check it out, if you’re alright with a bit o’ blood.


1) INGLORIOUS BASTERDS – I think this films’ advertising campaign was one of the greatest bait & switches in history. The trailers and television advertisements advertised this film as a bunch of guys (lead by Mr. Handsome Brad Pitt) who ruthlessly murdered Nazis in war-torn France.

Murdering Nazis appeals to “dudes”, while Mr. Pitt appeals to “chicks”. That covers two very large demographics. Another large demographic is the one who is going to see anything that Tarantino decides to serve up. This is the demographic that I belong to, and this is why I was worried when the trailer seemed to feature no real story, just a lot of hamming it up by Pitt, and Nazi’s getting their asses killed.

It should also be noted that I never read the screenplay that was leaked online (although I did receive it for Christmas this year).

I’ve worked at a movie theatre. I know movie going audiences. They’re too stupid to tolerate a film with subtitles, if there had even been a hint of that in the trailers, I think they would have instantly lost 20% of their box office bounty.

So I think you know how I feel about the film’s ad campaign. T’was brilliant.

At the end of the film, Brad Pitt’s character says “You know somethin’, Utivich? I think this might just be my masterpiece.”, well put. I loved the film, through & through. I think Tarantino masterfully released a magnificently crafted artsy film under the disguise of a blockbuster release.

Honorable Mentions: STAR TREK, that should not have been so good! 17 AGAIN, Zac Efron can act! TAKEN, Liam Neeson can kick ass!

What I haven’t seen: Crazy Heart, Nine, Precious, The Brothers Bloom, The Informant, Coraline, Jonas Brother’s Concert Experience, Sin Nombre, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, The Carter, The Girlfriend Experience, Cold Souls, Paper Heart, Ponyo, Broken Embraces

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

My Top 6 Anticipated Films Based Solely on Their Trailers

The summer is creeping up on us, and with it, comes a shiny new batch of blockbuster motion pictures for us to throw money at. I have compiled a definitive list of my Top 6 Anticipated Films Based Solely on Their Trailers (in case you missed the title).

#6: Terminator: Salvation
I decided to only allow one spot to a film about giant robots, and Terminator gets the nod. Sorry Transformers 2, I’m sure you’ll do just fine without my endorsement.

#5: Crank 2
Okay, you may have seen the theatrical trailer, but that is NOTHING compared to the balls-out not suitable for work red-band version that was released. The atrocity that was the theatrical trailer just reminded me how much I hated the Crystal Method back in grade 9. Watch the red-band and get amped!

#4: Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt
Child-endangerment = funny. Not suitable for work. Definitely not.

#3: Public Enemies
Johnny Depp playing the infamous bank robber John Dillinger, being chased by a top FBI agent played by Christian Bale. Bring on the tommy guns! Add to this that it looks like a very professional film school production, and I’m sold.

#2: Where The Wild Things Are
This is possibly one of my favourite trailers of all time. I would probably cry watching it if I were any less of a man.

#1: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN
Really, when have I ever missed an opportunity to self-promote?
What are you bastards looking forward to?