Friday, January 6, 2012

2011: The Best of the Best

Okay, it's hard to keep up a blog without at least self-made deadlines or goals.  (Paid deadlines would be even better, but, hey, can't have everything...yet.)  So I am officially back with a new goal to post one entry every week!  And this time it doesn't end on New Year's Day 2013.  This goal goes on until my computer breaks, my hands stop working, or I run out of movies.  So HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!  Welcome to 2012!

I thought I'd start out this year with the quintessential January post - the year in review.  2011 was a great year, I must say.  Personally, I moved in with my boyfriend and got engaged (yay me!), but even movie-wise, there were some amazing films.  However, my favorite of them all has to be "The Artist," hands down.  If you ever, EVER have a chance to see it, do!  I'm not a big silent movie fan, due to a couple of factors.  One - my love of movies started from watching big musicals like "The Sound of Music."  I love the huge numbers, and tend to sing along with them.  Hence, I like sound.  Two - I never really liked the over-the-top pantomiming of silent actors.  After seeing "The Artist," though, my perception of silent films completely changed.  Jean Dujardin, who plays the titular artist George Valentin (a wonderful mix between Errol Flynn and Gene Kelly), did an amazing job!  Not only was he able to do the silent era pantomime to a tee without over-hamming it, he also portrayed such believable, subtle, emotions during the dramatic parts.  He is definitely my favorite performance of the year.  If you love the history of film at all, "The Artist" is a must see.

Also in my tops for the year is "Hugo," a great choice for a double feature with "The Artist."  When I first heard Martin Scorsese was directing a children's movie, I was very curious.  What made Scorsese, of all people, want to direct this fanciful film about an orphaned boy living in a Paris train station.  Then I saw the film, and I understood completely.  It is a magical story that ultimately tells a tale about the beginning of film.  Both the young boy playing Hugo (Asa Butterfield, who is set to star in the upcoming "Ender's Game," which I'm stoked about!!) and Ben Kingsley, a lowly toy shop owner, give beautiful performances.  And Scorsese's art direction along with his use of 3D was breathtaking (and I'm usually not a 3D fan).  Unfortunately, "Hugo" suffers from some common flaws.  It is an adaptation of a novel, so some of the minor characters' importance in the book doesn't translate to the film.  And also, I don't think it was marketed properly.  The nature of the story changes course halfway through the film, so I believe Paramount didn't quite know how to promote it properly.  It is worth seeing, though.

My second favorite film of the year was "Rango," my definite choice for Best Animated Feature.  Going in to see "Rango," I was very, very skeptical.  It's trailers where just odd.  But while watching it, I had one of those great movie experiences, where you are so pleasantly surprised by how much you are loving it, you are smiling from ear to ear.  It has one of the most original stories I have seen in a while, let alone in an animated film.  Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp together once again - never a bad combo.  Plus the actors actually acted out their parts all together for the entire film, and then the animators copied their expressions.  Not with motion-capture technology, but with good old side-by-side comparison.  I think it's a little over the top for young kids (there are some very grown-up jokes in there), but my four-year-old niece absolutely loves it too.

Finally, the best franchise conclusion ever was last year - "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2."  I had been waiting for this for a long time, but I also didn't want it to end.  I watched the live broadcast of the premiere in London and cried.  I watched JK Rowling hug and thank the main three and cried.  I even read all the articles about everyone saying goodbye and cried.  But when the night came, and I had my Potter glasses on, my handmade lightning bolt pin on my shirt, and my tickets in hand, I could not help but bounce up and down.  And I was not disappointed.  It was a great conclusion.  "Part 1" is still my favorite, but "Part 2" is a resounding second.  The only thing I wish was different was the ending of the battle, without the small "that scene should be bigger" feeling in it.  But all in all, I hope and wish it gets more awards recognition than it probably will.  That team did an amazing job over the last decade.

So, those are my tops for 2011.  I highly recommend each of them.  See or rent them this month while the crapper stuff of 2012 comes out in the theaters.  Until next week!

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