As a preface, there were plenty of films that came out this year that I never got a chance to see. From Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia to Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block, there were just a bunch of things to see here in Chicago that I never got a chance to see in theatre or on a home release. This is a list made up of things that I saw and that I enjoyed in 2011.
1.Drive: This film just oozes with atmosphere and intensity that made it my number one film of the year. I’ve been a huge fan of Nicolas Rinding Refn since he made the Pusher Trilogy and this film was just another notch to add for him becoming a much larger voice in cinema. Just about everything in this film, from the entire cast of actors, to the music and everything else just create an absolute wonder.
2.13 Assassins: Takashi Miike’s remake of Eiichi Kudo’s 13 Assassins is such a fun time at the movies and is one of the best films that the cult director has ever made. The film is just straight forward and to the point and when you get to the last 45 minutes, for one long giant action sequence, you’re in for one wild ride.
3.I Saw The Devil: Kim Ji-Woon has made some really great films, but with I Saw The Devil, he pulls no punches. The cat and mouse game between Lee Byung-Hun and Choi Min-Sik is brutal as hell for the entire 141 minute running time. One of the best revenge thrillers ever made and the ending will just leave you on the floor, crying like a little baby.
4.The Kid with A Bike: The editor-in-chief of Film Monthly told me to see this because of the directors, The Dardenne Brothers and labeled them as some of the most gifted filmmakers to ever come out of Europe. Quite possibly one of the best films showing the transformation between childhood and adolescence, The Kid with A Bike is a wonderful work by these two Belgian filmmakers that have made me a fan for life.
5.Captain America: The First Avenger– Great adaptation, wonderful period piece and one hell of an action film, Captain America is just awesome. Just like Iron Man that preceded it, Captain America works on every level and Joe Johnston does a bad ass job with the material. Watching this made me want The Avengers movie to come out just a tad sooner.
6.Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Kudos to Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver for writing their asses off with this prequel/reboot of Planet of the Apes. I saw this a few weeks ago and was pissed that I didn’t get a chance to check it out on a large screen. Andy Serkis’ motion capture performance as Caesar is insane and the film leaves some room for a prequel, which if the writing is this good, will be amazing.
7. We Need to Talk about Kevin: Lynne Ramsay’s return to the big screen after 8 long years and it is quite the film. Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller ignite the screen with amazing presences and ferocity that just demand attention. I hope this film does very well and gives this Scottish director a bit more attention, because she damn well deserves it.
8.Coriolanus: Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut and gives Kenneth Braghnagh a run for his money, as far as Shakespeare adaptations go. Fiennes is ferocious in both front and behind the camera to give a raw and intense version of this tale of an exiled soldier. With the film co-starring actors like Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox and James Nesbitt, Coriolanus is just chock full of performances that keep you glued to the screen, until its final frames.
9.Hugo: Part children’s film, part cinema history lesson, this is a first for Martin Scorsese making something for a younger audience. While there are moments that could have been trimmed down, the aspects that celebrate the early years of cinema show make this film worth every minute.
10.Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest: This film is a heartbreaker and proves how much of a travesty it is that this group is no more. Micheal Rapaport’s documentary on the seminal hip hop act creates a somber moon from the very beginning and shows the impact that they’ve had. A great look into the history and legacy that these guy’s left on music and hip hop culture.