I’m not a big fan of ranked lists when it comes to movies, but I thought I’d muse a bit on some of the movies that I really liked in 2011. I wrote out a bunch of movies that I liked and whittled that down to 8 movies that I felt like writing about. That doesn’t mean that these are the best and these are not in any order.
I’m going to write about 4 movies here and write about the next 4 in another post, just to keep this post from being too long.
This is a movie about a young female who decides to be a boy after her family moves to a new town. After watching it, I said that it appealed to the 10-year-old girl in me who is still pretending to be a boy. That was a joke, but I think we all can relate to the attempts to learn how to be our particular gender, especially around that age. This is not a complicated movie, but it’s unusually sensitive and observant, which is where most of its power comes from. A scene in which the main character goes swimming with all the other kids while wearing nothing but the bottom part of a swimsuit with a makeshift Play-Doh penis tucked inside was the most suspenseful thing I’ve seen all year.
You can catch director Céline Sciamma’s first movie, WATER LILLIES, on Netflix Instant now. While I liked TOMBOY more, WATER LILLIES is still a beautiful work about longing and sexual confusion. I’m always a fan of movies about that.
UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES
I like weird movies, and this is a weird movie. But it’s so delicately handled that it never feels like there’s anything all that weird about it (save for a scene in which a fish fellates an aging princess). Weird movies can often be distancing, but this movie feels like a wise, serene smile from an old friendly soul. Beautifully made on 16mm film, the perfect format to capture green trees and friendly ghosts. It’s haunting in the sweetest way. I feel like I shouldn’t say too much about it, as it’s better to let the movie surprise you. (Now available on Netflix Instant)
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
I’m a big Lynne Ramsay fan, and I had been waiting for a long time to see this movie (her last movie was 2002’s MORVERN CALLAR). From the first shot, I was blissfully back in Ramsayland. I love this movie because I love Ramsay’s sensibilities, so while there are a few things I can nitpick about, particularly regarding the portrayal of Kevin, my criticisms don’t matter. All I ask for from a movie is something to swim in, and Ramsay, along with Tilda Swinton, gave me the ocean. Every gorgeous shot, every odd sound, is so wonderfully orchestrated to plunge us into the broken mind of this ruined woman, forever doomed to swirl around the hows and whys of her relationship with her sociopathic son.
This movie is rolling out in the U.S. over the next couple of months. Look out for it and catch it if you can! Oh it begs to be seen on the big screen!
This movie originally had the perfect title of THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, which was truncated to HUGO for some stupid reason, which, along with the horrendously candy cane trailer, gave everyone the wrong idea about what this movie really was. As it turns out, it’s a heartfelt and beautiful love letter to Georges Méliès and the magic of cinema. Martin Scorsese turned out to be the perfect director for this because of his deep love for cinema and film preservation, and he’s having oodles of fun here. It’s apt for this story to be told through the eyes of children, as the movie contains several moments of pure wonder and magic, and as we see the wonder wash over the face of a child, it’s impossible not to feel that child-like wonder ourselves. Beyond that, it’s genuinely funny and moving. The 3D is pretty good if you like that sort of thing, though not at all necessary. Go catch this one in cinemas while you still can!
Part 2 of this list can be found here.