10. Fast FiveMy wife, and several friends for that matter, did not believe me when I said that Fast Five would probably make my end of year list. Yes the film is ridiculously over-the-top, not to mention a blatant rip-off of the Ocean’s Eleven series, but I cannot deny that I had a blast watching it. While the highbrow thing would be to use this spot for another more esteemed picture, sometimes going lowbrow is just as rewarding.
9. MelancholiaSadness has never felt, or looked, so beautiful. Lars von Trier’s most accessible film to date manages to take depression, which some would consider a weakness, and turn it into a strength. Visually stunning and filled with great performances, Melancholia was a truly wonderful experience. The slow pacing of this film will turn off some, but I found the film mesmerizing from being to end.
8. HugoScorsese’s first attempt at a family film felt more like a university lecture at times, but oh what a lecture it was. The film is a cinephile’s wet dream as Scorsese, a master filmmaker himself, shines a light on one of the directors that influenced his love of cinema. Best of all, for a first time attempt, Scorsese seems to be right at home using 3D technology.
7. DriveTaking cues from Michael Mann and Brian De Palma, Nicolas Winding Refn offered an action thriller that exuded 80’s cool. From the killer soundtrack, to its protagonist who spoke more with his actions than with words, everything in Drive worked well. I am still amazed Refn was able to create so much tension out of scenes where not much actually happens.
4. Beauty Day2011 saw the release of many great documentaries that could have easily made my top ten list. However, the one that I keep going back to is director Jay Cheel’s Beauty Day. To some Ralph Zavadil was merely a man who would do crazy stunts on local television, but Cheel presents Zavadil as a man who cared deeply for his family and friends. Through his wonderful cinematography and sweet comedic touches, Cheel creates a documentary that manages to leave a lasting smile on my face.
3. 13 AssassinsMy experience with Takashi Miike up to this point has been equally divided between hits and misses. 13 Assassins is a film that would definitely go into the “hit” column. Featuring one of the cruelest villains to appear on screen in a while, and a epic fight scene that never gets dull despite its length, Miike’s film was a treat. Delivering both an engaging story and a strong dose of action, 13 Assassins was an exhilarating rush.
1. The ArtistAt some point along the way films that evoked uncontrollable glee out of an audience began to get dismissed as frivolous cinema. It seems only films that punched audiences in the gut with raw emotion became regarded as legitimate filmmaking. The Artist harkens back to a time where making the audience smile was the acceptable norm. Making a modern day silent film that laments the end of the silent film era is a difficult thing to do, but director Michel Hazanavicius pulls it off wonderfully. Cynacism has engulf many of us film lovers over the years, so it is refreshing when a joyous film like this breaks through and reminds us that “feel good” does not have to be a dirty term.
Honourable Mentions: Tabloid, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Super 8, Rango, Margin Call, Meek’s Cutoff, Source Code, Contagion, Into the Abyss, Wiebo’s War
Films to keep an eye out for in 2012: The Journals of Musan, Breathing (Atmen), Jump Ashin!.