It is that time. A year has come to a close and critics have listed their favourite films of the year. I figure that, even though I haven’t seen that many films this year, I might as well do my own list. Now, I didn’t see films like The Skin I Live In, Shame or Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which many critics have praised, so I can understand if you disagree with my list.

The fact that I attended so few films this year is why I am listing 7 films and not more, like 10. So for my 200th blog post, here are the best films of 2011, out of those I actually saw:

7. Rise of The Planet of The Apes

Prequels and remakes are what many consider to be the worst and most unoriginal thing Hollywood can do. Many times this is true, hence why I was so glad to find out that The Rise of The Planet of The Apes is a surprisingly smart, enthralling and cool prequel to the Charlton Heston-classic. This version stars James Franco, but the most interesting cast member, I think we all agree, is Andy Serkis who provides the motion capture of all the increasingly intelligent apes, which are animated extremely well, I might add.

This film is going to ruin the twist for those who have not seen the original but it is such a well-known twist that you’d have to live underground not to know it. Heston travels to a planet which he believes to be a planet of apes. Turns out, though, that it is – *gasp* – Earth, thousands of years in the future. Well, this is the film that explains not only how the apes became so intelligent and humanoid but also how man kind was exterminated, so if you saw the original Heston-film first, you already know how this film will end. One film is a spoiler for the other, so to speak.

Rise of The Planet of The Apes is nevertheless a highly enjoyable film. The visuals are greatly put together, the characters – particularly the apes, to be honest – are interesting, the story is engaging and the connections to the orginal are clever ones.

Like most films I see, I attended this with my father, who had a few complaints, the biggest being one scene where a character is attacked by apes within an office building and in the next scene he is inexplicably outside. This was either a nitpick from him, or the rest of the film was just too clever and cool for me to notice this little error. It’s a goof. No matter.

6. Another Earth

Another planet. One that is a precise clone of our own. This is the kind of film that makes you lie awake through the night and think long and hard, not only about what lies hidden in the Universe but also about yourself, your mistakes and your life. Another Earth isn’t a Hollywood film, so some of you might’ve missed it. It tells us the story of a planet that looks exactly like Earth, right down to its people, but the major difference seems to be that the people on that Earth are either better or worse than their counterparts on our Earth. Which one is the better me, people wonder, this me or that me?

One should not be expecting an adventurous sci-fi film here. It isn’t as much about the twin planet as much as it’s about a woman (Brit Marling), who accidentally causes the death of the family of a man named John (William Mapother), traumatizing them both. When the new planet appears I’m sure the woman – her name’s Rhoda – is wondering what I’m wondering. Did the altarnate version of Rhoda not make this terrible mistake? Is the other Rhoda the better Rhoda? Is her life better on the other Earth? To find this out she joins a contest, the winner of which will be given a trip to Earth II, as it is referred to in the film, and thus possibly meet herself.

Fittingly, an astronomer named Dr. Richard Berendzen narrates the story, talking about what theories he has regarding the planet and the people there. I am fascinated by his narrations, just as much as I’ve always been fascinated by the cosmos and astronomy. Before I wanted to work with movies, I wanted to be an astronomer. When a film talks about space and just how bewildering it is, I’m all in.

It is fair to compare Another Earth to a greatly similar 2011 film by Lars Von Trier, called Melancholia. You’d think, naturally, I would place a film by an art filmmaker on my list, but don’t you worry; I’m not completely pretentious. It was a good film, but I preferred Another Earth.

 —

5. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn

You would think that a brand new re-imagining of Tintin would involve more action, modern talk and all that other stuff that attracts the attention of young movie-goers. Thankfully, Steven Spielberg knows better than that. There are times when the action is a bit cranked, yes, such as that over-the-top duel during the climax, but we shouldn’t complain to much. This film, I can tell, was made for the true fans of Hergé‘s comic books. Even that wild chase towards the end that seemed very over-the-top, reminded me of some of the eariler Tintin-comics, such as the one where he goes to Russia where all kinds of insane stuff happens to him.

The Adventures of Tintin is lovable and wonderful in a great number of ways. I went to see the 3D-version and hear the original voice-cast, as opposed to the Swedish dub, and I was amazed by how good it was, especially since it was in dreaded 3D. I could honestly not tell the characters where voiced by Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg or Nick Frost. I could tell Jamie Bell was there and I naturally expected the voice of  Andy Serkis to be unrecognizable, but other than that, the voice-acting was impressively well-done.

As for the visuals and the animation – what can I say? It is simply breath-taking. This film should forever be used as an example to show people of what kind of animated pictures we can create using modern technology. It is infinitely fantastic. I tend to dislike 3D, but this is one of those films where it is used to good effect, especially during the aforementioned over-the-top chase scene. When seeing the 2D-version I thought that scene was a little bit much. The 3D-version I could not stop looking at. This rarely happens to me when I go to the movies.

I must confess to being somewhat skeptic upon learning of this project a few years back. Could Hollywood really pull off a faithful adaptation of one of my favourite comics, I wondered. When I later learned that the project was in the safe hands of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, I was calm.

4. The Tree of Life

Here we have one of those movies that will be detested by the common moviegoer because of its lack of a clear narrative, or rather their lack of ability to handle a film that allows its audience to think for themselves. Even so, I’m sure every moviegoer, even those who were bored by the film, will agree that Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life is an unusually gorgeous-looking film.

In one of the year’s more bewildering and puzzling pictures, Sean Penn plays Jack, a man who is troubled by something that happened in his past. Much of the film is about how he remembers his childhood, his brothers, his old home, his friends ans his parents, played by Brad Pitt and newcomer Jessica Chastain.

The issue many seem to have here is how Jack’s past is told to us. It jumps alot between shots – beautiful ones, mind you – of locations he used to be to and moments from his childhood, almost like a montage. Well, isn’t that how many of us see our childhood’s when we try to remember? I for one see my earliest year not as complete scenes, but rather very short bits I distinctly remember, almost like a montage. I see images of places I’ve been to and brief moments from things I’ve done. If you interpret The Tree of Life as a voyage into Jack’s memory, you might understand.

The Tree of Life‘s beauty comes not only from its magnificent cinematography but also from early scenes that depict the creation of the Uinverse as well as planet Earth, while it was still inhabited by dinosaurs. When we are also shown micro-organisms that somewhat resemble the things we saw in space eariler, we must wonder how small we actually are and how puny our Universe might be in comparison to something else. Makes one think, it surely does. Makes one feel little. Makes one ponder on so many things about this Universe.

3. The Muppets

On my list is The Adventures of Tintin, as you might have noticed. Astounding CG-films is what we create these days, hence why I trust that very few are interested in something as simple as Muppets. They are outdated, and this new film knows it.

There was a time when Jim Henson‘s little puppets astonished audiences with many well-made movies; a time before we had any of what we have today. The Muppets shows us all our favourite childhood characters seperated and bereft of the fame and popularity they used to have. Kids are no longer interested in their shows and acts. One of their most loyal fans, a puppet named Walter (Peter Linz) tracks them all down with the help of Jason Segel and tries to convince them to reuinte and return to the Muppet Theater before it is destroyed by a bad guy played by Chris Cooper. What follows is an immensely touching tale where old friends meet again and speak of old times, back when they were huge, back when they were adored by all.

The last time a film made me feel such sympathy towards some of my childhood icons was in 2010 when Toy Story 3 was released; a movie that also was cruel towards characters many of us grew up with. It made me pity Woody and the other toys, just as this film made me ashamed that I haven’t looked at any movies starring Kermit and his team in so many years. I’m hoping that The Muppets serves as a reboot, with new endearing Muppet-adventures to come and that the children of today will get to see more Muppet-movies after being introduced to it with this film.

Children might indeed like it, despite it not being animated or in 3D, but in any case, those who have loved the Muppets since childhood, will certainly love this movie. It is sad, funny, witty, touching and simply wonderful.

2. Rango

I have made no secret of how tremendously I admire what Gore Verbinski did with his masterpiece Rango. This is a an animated film that doesn’t live in the illusion that every animated comedy needs to be cute, bright, cheerful, colourful, in 3D and dumb just so that kids will adore it. No, this is a divine miracle of a film for smart movie-goers, who will get every reference and in-joke as well as admire how grotesque and disgusting the film dares to be, in spite of being animated and therefor, according to many, should be cute and lovably stupid.

Rango is trippy Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas crossed with gritty Western. We follow a lizard (the great Johnny Depp) who gives himself the name Rango when attempting to come off as an intimidating outlaw when visiting a small Wild West-esque town in the Mojavi desert, where the townsfolk are all nasty little animals, and hilarious-looking in their ugly filthiness. The story is inspired by many classic Westerns, but I think few are focused on the plot as much as they’re focused on the wonderfully strange-looking characters, their disturbing conversations and the simply astonishing visuals and animations. It might very well be the most superbly made, intelligent and refreshing animated film ever. I did not hesitate when writing that, my dear friends.

I know that there are those who didn’t enjoy Rango and I have found only three reasons as to why anyone could possibly dislike this film: 1) They think it is too disgusting, 2) They are bored by it because they don’t get the jokes, and 3) They are blind and missed to see how great the visuals are. I love to say “If people dislike Rango, they probably don’t get it”. 9 times out of 10 I’m proven right.

I have went on so many times about why Rango is simply a masterpiece. I gave it a 5/5-review and I included it in my MOVIES MAGNIFIQUE-segment, so you might be wondering why I gave it the #2 spot on the list? What movie did I see that I loved more than Rango? Let’s take a look:

1. The Artist

Anyone who plans to make a film about filmmaking should immediately attend a screening of The Artist, a breath-takingly great film that is not only in black-and-white, but it is also the first silent film in quite a few years. It follows a silent film star, George Valentin, and it accurately shows how people with his kind of fame lost it when it was becoming clear that films with sound were the way of the future. This, ladies and gentlemen, is film about filmmaking done not only right but with absolute perfection.

Too make the film look older than it is, it doesn’t star big name actors in the leading roles, which easily could make the audience not feel like they’re viewing an old picture; instead it stars two well-selceted actors, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, who are given the difficult task of acting with subtelty whilst also having to mimic the over-the-top way actors behaved in pictures during the 20’s, and it is absolutely perfect. Neither of the actors strike a wrong n0te in their astonishing performances. There are some known actors, though, like John Goodman as a studio boss, James Cromwell as Valentin’s driver and Malcolm McDowell as a butler, but they also give great performances.

The Artist is not only this year’s finest film, but it is the best in many years; a masterpiece that will become a classic and almost certainly going to last throughout the ages, making even the people of a futuristic society remember what films used to look like over 100 years ago. It is beautiful, splendidly acted and simply perfect. Again, if you want to see how films about filmmaking should be made, I can assure you that along with films like Ed Wood, this is one of the best examples in the history of cinema. The Artist is nothing less than a masterpiece.

So there was my list. I hope you all have a great 2012. Always know where your towel is!

Advertisements