Best I Watched in 2011

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Tally

Regardless of the year released, these were the best movies I saw in 2011.  I’ve recently made a concerted effort to catch up on many classics, so 2011 was likely the best movie year of my life.

10. CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER WOMEN (2005) — A better movie overall than many of the “honorable mentions” below? Probably not. But the performances by Eckhart and Bonham Carter are damned near life-affirming.

9. DRIVE (2011) — The epitome of “cool.”

8. PELADA (2010) — This documentary about “pick up” soccer was, unexpectedly, the most emotionally moving film I saw in 2011.

7. LE TROU (1960) — The cinematic equivalent of the odd pleasure of peeling sunburned skin. A cousin of RIFIFI.

6. THE AMERICAN (2010) — It wasn’t until my second viewing that this really hit me.  I can’t imagine any other actor doing what Clooney achieved here; and it’s perfection.

5. DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) — This script, especially the dialogue, is pure joy.  I’m glad it’s kind of stagey.

4. NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950) — This thing hasn’t aged at all.  Jules Dassin was far ahead of his time.

3. HARAKIRI (1962) — Alternatively both thoughtful and furious.

2. RIFIFI (1955) — The best Michael Mann films have this movie to thank.

1. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968) — What stood out for me, aside from it being perfect, was Henry Fonda as Frank — dude’s terrifying.

Honorable Mentions:  The Long Goodbye, Fandango, Point Blank (2011), Suburbia (1983), The Sword of Doom, Le Deuxieme Souffle, Grand Illusion, The Loved Ones, The Puffy Chair, The Driver, Papillon, Control, The Great Dictator, Rango, Julia, The Italian Job (1969), Beyond the Black Rainbow, You’re Next, The Whole Shootin’ Match, A Fish Called Wanda, The Bridge On the River Kwai, Anatomy of a Murder, Hanna, Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten, Martyrs, Sugar, In the Name of the Father, The Apartment, Deep Water, The Battle of Algiers, Tell No One, Moneyball, Bedevilled, Down by Law, Breaking Away, High Noon

Date viewed:  2/19/11

Venue:  Home (Blu-Ray)

Alec Guinness in incredible here, in what has to be one of my favorite performances by an actor, ever.  The rest of THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI is appropriately “epic,” but I was surprised how quickly I was bored with the “commando” stuff compared to Guinness’ character’s behavior in the prison.

Rating:  8.5


Posted: May 12, 2011 in 2009, 5.0, Home, NWI, Tally

Date viewed:  2/18/11

Venue:  Home (NWI)

SURROGATES avoids most of the interesting questions in exchange for shoddy action sequences.  And Bruce is wasted — they could’ve plugged anyone into this role.

Rating:  5.0

Date viewed:  2/18/11

Venue:  Home (NWI)

Mostly a Tarantino riff by Carnahan, but that’s OK, everybody has to start somewhere.  The characters were entertaining enough, and the story was somewhat original, but still, it isn’t much more than a curiosity for people like me who’ve become fans of the director (A-TEAM notwithstanding).

Rating:  5.5


Posted: May 11, 2011 in 1950s, 9.0, DVD, Home, New, Tally

Date viewed:  2/17/11

Venue:  Home (DVD)

Jules Dassin is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors.  The guy was way ahead of his time, and his movies have a sense of realism that is missing from even the (generally accepted) greatest movies of the period.

The fact he was blacklisted during the making of NIGHT AND THE CITY is a fucking travesty.

Rating:  9.0


Posted: May 11, 2011 in 2009, 8.0, Blu-Ray, Home, New, Tally

Date viewed:  2/16/11

Venue:  Home (Blu-Ray)

A great extreme horror movie from Australia.  I heard quite a bit of hype prior to checking it out, but it lived up to my expectations.  It manages to be both glossy and depraved in a way I can’t recall another movie pulling off.

Rating:  8.0


Posted: May 11, 2011 in 2010, 6.5, Home, New, NWI, Tally

Date viewed:  2/14/11

Venue:  Home (NWI)

A funny little documentary filled with people (both the parking lot attendees and their customers) I would probably dislike if I met them in person.  The guy in the hat above — yeah, he’s one of the “good” guys.

Rating:  6.5


Posted: March 18, 2011 in 6.5, Blu-Ray, Home, New, Tally

Date viewed:  2/13/11

Venue:  Home (Blu-Ray)

Despite having some of the coolest actors of the last 50 years, ABTF left me a little cold.  Maybe it’s the SAVING PRIVATE RYAN effect, but I found ABTF clunky and downright confusing.  There are too many characters, too many different military operations going on.  I suppose I prefer my “epics” to concentrate on one character.  The scope of some of the action  is pretty damned remarkable though.

Rating:  6.5


Posted: March 18, 2011 in 7.5, DVD, Home, New, Tally

Date viewed:  2/13/11

Venue:  Home (DVD)

Richard Donner has made some really good movies over the last 30 years, but he’s also kind of hit-or-miss.  INSIDE MOVES demonstrates his better movies haven’t been accidents, because this is a story that easily could’ve been boring and/or overly sappy, but instead it’s pretty enthralling.  There is some flat-out wonderful character work by David Morse and John Savage here.

Rating:  7.5


Posted: March 8, 2011 in 1960s, 7.0, Home, New, NWI, Tally

Date viewed:  2/12/11

Venue:  Home (NWI)

Somebody on Twitter mentioned being an admirer of Peter Watkins, who directed THE WAR GAME and several historical docs.  The name was new to me, but I was glad to find this on NWI.  THE WAR GAME is a fairly shocking pseudo documentary about the potential nuclear fallout in Britain after WWIII.  Of course I have no technical knowledge of such things, but THE WAR GAME feels entirely authentic and believable.  Scary shit.

Rating:  7.0