...or the amazing chronicles of everything that I like and stuff.
This is going to be a long blog entry about things that I liked this year. Sometimes it will be like a top fifteen or something, and sometimes it’ll just be naming stuff that I though was great, seemingly randomly. You will not agree with everything below. That’s okay. I’m not saying any of these are “the best” of the year, just what I liked, sometimes in order of how much I liked it. Feel free to look my opinions in the face and call them a little bitch, if that sort of thing is what you do (weirdo). Also very much worth noting: I haven’t seen/read/heard everything this year. There are movies that look fantastic that I haven’t had a chance to see (Juan Of The Dead is a good example, so is A Boy And His Samurai… Maybe I’ll make a list of good examples…) so don’t get too up in arms if something you think is awesome is missing from here. You can always write me a recommendation if you think I overlooked something, if I haven’t heard of it I’ll totally owe you one.
THE TOP TWENTY MY-FAVORITE-MOVIES OF 2011!!!!!!
(First, the two very different recipients of the coveted “It’s A Miracle That I Exist And The World Is A Better Place Because Of It” award for 2011)
A truly funny and wholly original movie about rival gangs fighting over control of a neighborhood in one on one Dance Dance Revolution face offs, sometimes to the death! Must be seen to be believed. Never Ignorant of Getting Goals Accomplished, yeeaaaaaaaah!
I feel very conflicted about this movie. On the one hand it is extremely lovingly and competently made, from the great retro opening credits to the sublime acting (more on that later) to the fantastic design, everything rings right and every shot is beautifully composed and lit. Even the aspect ratio is period-accurate! There are great little gags, clever touches through out the movie and I’m sure it’ll be a pleasure to revisit. The thing that breaks my heart is that I just don’t get why she loves him. I don’t see that it’s more than a fan being in “love” with Natalie Portman or Brad Pitt. Other than a great scene where they attempt to film a dancing scene together where there is a little spark between them, they don’t share enough screen time to make me believe that her adulation of him could become real, reciprocated love. So I’m left with this girl who is blindly obsessed (it gets almost creepy) with an actor who is, often and especially during the second half of the movie, very difficult to like. I needed more scenes of them together early on, I needed to see them fall in love, I needed to love them as a couple torn apart by one’s fame and the other’s over-baring pride and fading glory. Also, there are scenes toward the end that, even though the are very well executed, just don’t work for me. That being said, I have seen this very recently and wholly reserve the right to, upon revisiting, change my mind altogether.
OKAY NOW THE TOP TWENTY FOR REALSIES THIS TIME!
The best anime of the year, Redline is a sci-fi racing-themed animated movie that took lots of drugs as a child and fell into a toxic vat and was exposed to gamma rays and comes from krypton and it‘s parents got killed in front of it and a radioactive spider bit it. It’s the insane out of control superhero of sci-fi racing animes. It’s fucking crazy and gorgeous to look at and has almost zero plot but that doesn’t matter because motherfucker would you look at those insanely kinetic and brilliantly conceived racing sequences!!!!!! That is all. See it.
There are movies that you respect more than you enjoyed. Melancholia is that for me. The beginning sequence (a succession of slow motion painting recreations using the actors) floored me with it’s beauty and poetry, and the last 20 minutes might very well be the absolute most beautiful movie ending of the entire year and had me moved to tears at the simple yet staggeringly powerful imagery. But in between the movie got difficult to bear for me. It is certainly not bad, Kirsten Dunst gives a powerhouse performance as a woman who is tragically difficult to tolerate. It isn’t her fault, she either has a very real mental sickness or she is possibly aware of things that are extremely difficult to process and that no one else knows about (until much later in the film) that affect her moods and her ability to cope with the world to a point where even barely functioning becomes a real challenge. And it’s also a challenge to stick with this person for 2 hours because she can get really unpleasant and tests the audience’s patience on several occasions. Thank god for Charlotte Gainsbourg’s restraint and beautiful performance as her sister who is trying to cope with both Justine (the Kirsten Dunst character) and a worldwide event that could very well change their lives forever. It’s a movie I highly recommend but that I found at times extremely difficult.
18- The Tree Of life
Look, the more I think about it the more all the Sean Penn stuff really bothers me. So you have a truly masterful film that is bookended with heavyhanded, almost abstract scenes of Penn being not really sure what the fuck is going on. BUT!!!!!! Everything else in this movie is seriously fantastic. Stellar filmmaking every bit of it. Gorgeous shot composition, incredible score and possibly the best acting by kids ever put to film. Very poetic. It’s just too bad about brooding Penn & the mystery of being eternally bummed out…
I love Matt Damon and Emily Blunt together on screen. I believe their romance. This film feels very old fashion, in the perfect sense. It’s a great film about destiny and love. The sci-fi elements are very subdued and never over-used. The dialogue (especially between the two leads) is cracking. I think this is a movie that, if I happen upon it on TV I will always watch all the way up to the end. It’s just comforting.
I’ve watched Paul four times so far since I’ve had the bluray. It’s a damn fine film. A great riff on friendship and a wonderful homage to all things sci-fi. As a digital character Paul looks fantastic and never ever feels added on. The chemistry between all the leads always feels genuine and earned. Also it manages to be both really funny and raunchy (it has the most creative swearing EVER, courtesy of the always great Kristen Wigg) and yet feel completely honest and heartfelt. I love it.
Others have said this but it bears repeating: This is Woody’s best in a long, long time. Owen Wilson can be so great when he’s in the hands of a director who knows how to use him (read: Wes Anderson) and Woody Allen knows exactly how to bring out the best in him. The movie is a joyous, magical, and often hilarious wish fulfillment time travel fantasy. All the more so if you’re any kind of a fan of literature.
Tight tight tight political thriller. Superbly written and performed. Restraint direction that focuses on all the right things. Dialogues that burn off the screen. Clooney plays a president candidate I would vote for in a heartbeat. Ryan Gosling in one of two truly remarkable performances this year. Seriously great cinema.
First, a truth: there isn’t a single shot in this movie where Cesar (the ape the entire movie is centered around) looks photo real. It is super close but there’s always a weird eeriness, like he’s just a bit too clear or pixel-y. Another truth: it matters not one bit. Cesar is one of the most compelling characters who has graced the silver screen this year. He is a fully rounded character with an amazing yet believable story arch and clear motivations and desires that are always communicated subtly through the great acting choices of Andy Serkis (help by the wizards at Weta digital – responsible for the effects in the movie). I walked into Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes not really sure I would like it (the trailers were a little on the clumsy side) and I walked out raving. There are moments in this movie when it gets very hard not to cheer loudly as Cesar rises from being, well, basically a household pet, to the leader of a revolution. See it.
12- 13 Assassins
That first hour is all set up. You get to know the tyrant that needs stopping and he’s more than a bastard and a half. You. Hate. Him. And this is fantastic and indispensable for the second half of the movie to have any weight. During that first hour you also have the 13 assassins recruited and their mission taking shape, a plan forming to stop this insane and sadistic lunatic. Then the glorious second half of the movie is set loose upon you and you just fucking bask. The 13 Assassins take on the tyrant’s small army in a locked down empty small village and the result is brutal, thrilling, horrifying and the absolute best samurai action the silver screen has seen in years. Instant classic.
The more I watch Captain America, the more I love it. It’s earnest, it looks amazing, it’s never cynical, it has a giant tank. It’s funny because the movie makes a lot of mistakes (the action montage that marks the middle of the film is chief among them – if you don’t give me context, your cool action shots have no impact) but I give them all a pass because to me the good far outweighs the bad. I love Chris Evans in this, and I love Hayley Atwell – she gets the dialogue so right, that 40s intonation, perfect – and she’s gorgeous! I read somewhere about how it made no sense that she was always perfect looking. That frustrates me, because everyone looks perfect in this film. Chris Evans is just as perfectly coiffed as her (the dude NEVER has helmet hair!) and always looks great, so do all the soldiers. Everyone is gorgeous, but for some reason that’s only a problem with the girl. Why the fuck? Also: Is it so unbelievable that – in a movie where we are able to create super soldiers through the miracle of science – a girl takes fifteen minutes every morning to do her hair and put on make up? Even during wartimes, why wouldn’t she want to look pretty? Anyways, she looks fantastic and I have no problem with that, and ladies? Feel free to feel the same way about Mr Evans. Oh and did I mention how the design for the movie is flabbergastingly great? It is. Oh, also worth noting that Tommy Lee Jones steals every damn scene he’s in. Oh, Stanley Tucci, ditto.
This is a cheat. It’s just mean to put this movie on the list because you can’t see it. I saw it because it was screened at the Fantasia film festival last Summer but technically it’s not out yet. So why put it here? Well, as a heads up. Eventually this movie will be released and I don’t think a lot of money will be spent for marketing so I want to let you know in advance that you should see it! Because it’s fucking crazy. It’s the best genre-bender movie of the year! I don’t want to give you a synopsis (I very rarely write those, I usually let people know what genre a movie is in and then I tell you why I liked it, but I want people to walk into a movie knowing as little as possible) but it’s a teen comedy / slasher / sci-fi /whodunit. And it succeeds in every single one of these genres. I can’t wait to see it again.
09- War Horse
Cynics will hate this movie. They’ll hate the emotional stuff. I don’t. Spielberg gave us two wonderfully different gifts this year, two very different but equally great sides to this master-class filmmaking. One is featured elsewhere on this list, and the other is War Horse. You know what I love about it? It’s about the horse. The boy (young man?) is there and he’s very important but no, this is the horse’s story. And the horse has an amazing story, full of beauty and horror in equal measure. He changes owners a bunch of times so we meet and get attached to many different characters (even though we secretly hope throughout that he will be reunited with the kid from the start of the film), most of whom are, to varying degrees, kind to him. But he does experience the first world war, and he experiences it from more than one side. Those moments are amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch leading his men in an (on horse) attack against German troops ends in a mesmerizing way. How he gets untangled from life-threatening barbed wires might be one of my favorite scenes from the movie. There is a lot of sadness and a lot of sacrifice in this story, but also a lot of hope and kindness.
08- The Muppets
This is how you bring back the Muppets. This is how you do it perfectly. This is, also, how you introduce the Muppets to a new generation. The cynics will weep and the grumpy will smile and the non believers will, well, you get where this is going. It took days for my smile to fade from my face after I saw the movie. It made me so damn happy. It’s so joyous and contagious and completely at ease with what it’s trying to be, silliness and musical numbers and all. I’m throwing the gauntlet here, seriously, I DARE you to watch this movie and not like it. I DARE YOU.
NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!! Brad Bird out-actions everyone else this year with the rollercoaster ride to beat. The fourth movie in this franchise turns out to be possibly it’s strongest entry (I’m a big fan of the first but I’ll say this: it may be a better movie overall but it isn’t a better action movie). Sure, this is a film with very little depth or character development, but that isn’t what it’s trying to do. It’s trying to thrill and excite and grip and shake you and it does that so fucking well you just have to hope other action directors are taking notes. Here’s another one of those films that I’ll watch again and again…
This movie has the best use of 3D I have ever seen. Martin Scorsese is a master and, as such, he thought about his shit before stepping into the 3D ring. The result is a magical love letter to the golden age of cinema and all the wonders that this entails. It is so lovingly all about cinema and the doors that it can open in our imagination that as a film lover I couldn’t help be transported to a place with which I’m at once totally familiar and yet feels utterly new. I knew as I was watching Hugo that I was watching something very special. If, as you read this, Hugo is still playing in 3D theaters I urge you to go see it. This is a movie that will lose a lot from playing on a television, no matter how big your TV is. This is a big screen 3D movie, see it that way.
05- I Saw The Devil
Man it is tough to watch this film. It is violent as FUCK. I have seen it once at the theater and once more on bluray at home. I know I’ll muster the courage to watch it again because it is truly a fantastic film and one of the great revenge movies, but man, it is tough to watch. Not for the faint of heart. It is anchored by two rock-solid performances by Byung-Lee Hun (A Bittersweet Life, The Good The Bad The Weird) and Min-Sik Choi (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) and directed by the always fantastic Jee-Woon Kim (A tale Of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, The Good The Bad The Weird). This movie, Oldboy and Kill Bill would make a revenge-themed movie night for the ages.
If a couple of years ago you would have told me that Ryan Gosling was going to play one of the truly great badasses of the decade in a 2011 movie called Drive, I would have shrugged, because I didn’t give two shits about Gosling back then. I do now. With The Ides Of March and now this, Gosling proved himself an actor of interest for me. Drive is a unique movie that was unfortunately advertised as a type of Fast And Furious action fest. It is not that, but it is no less thrilling. This is bravura filmmaking of the highest order. Everything happens in the faces of the all around wonderful cast, on which the camera is never afraid to linger for as long as it needs. When violence hits, it hits harder that any Fast & Furious movie could ever get away with. I was riveted for the entire running time of this amazing movie and the second it’s available to buy it’ll get a cosy spot in my collection. It’s brilliant.
This movie has for my money the best performance of the year by a mile, courtesy of Rainn Wilson. It also has the voice (and finger) of God. Also anal rape. Also the best superhero catchphrase ever. It’s uber violent (okay, less than I Saw The Devil, but still), it’s very very funny, thrilling, incredibly moving and uplifting, staggeringly pathetic and completely awkward. Sometimes all in one scene. It is tour the force filmmaking and has “cult” written all over it (because I took a black marker and wrote “cult” all over it). Oh and Ellen Page, sweet sweet innocent Ellen Page…
I grew up with Tintin. I had all the books and I poured through them all dozens of times. I don’t know how this movie plays if you’ve never heard of Tintin, how can I? I’m a guy who knew and loved the property but who hadn’t revisited it in a good twenty years, easy. That’s me walking in. And I LOVED the movie. I loved the color palette. I loved John William’s jazzy up beat score. I loved the slapstick. I loved the adventure. I loved seeing Spielberg unleash his dreams onto the screen in a way that he never could with live action, like he was finally set free. I loved Snowy. I loved the pirate flashback scene. I loved the crazy attention to details. The rendering of Tintin’s freckled skin, the way his hair moved in the wind and how it reacted to light, how real it all looked all the while retaining that magical simplicity that Hergé gave his character design. I loved how badly I rooted for the captain through out the movie. I love it all. What a special gift Spielberg gave us…
01- Attack The Block
I’ve written so much about this film this year that at this point I feel like a broken record, but let’s do this one last time: Attack the block is perfect. In every way. From performances to music to editing to effects to pacing to thematics to lighting… It’s perfect. It has the best monster design I have seen in literally AGES. It is suspenseful when it wants to be, downright scary when it wants to be, hilarious when it wants to be and uplifting when it wants to be. It has something important to say. It is fine filmmaking for a fraction of the budget Hollywood usually coughs up for this type of genre film (or for any film, for that matter). I will watch every movie writer/director Joe Cornish makes forever, he’s made me a believer. Oh, one last thing on the subject: Look, let’s be honest here. I know you won’t like the movie as much as I do, I mean come on, I’m just left of fanatical about it. We all look for different things in movies and respond to them differently and this one got to me in all the right ways. So you probably won’t like it as much as me. But you’ll like it. I guarantee you will. You’ll like it or you’ll love it or you’ll wanna celebrate the day you first saw it every year from now until the end of time because it’s so damn good. It’s one of those.
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
Listen to Adult Goth, from the album.
Such a great mix of live instrument and techno sounds. And the vocalist is so eerie sounding, so hypnotic.
Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Listen to My Ma, from the album.
When the first album from Girls came out it was either my number one or number two of the year, not sure which but it was up there. So I came at this, the sophomore effort, one with very high hopes. My hopes were met with glorious open arms. This is a more varied album that finds the band mining rock history for all it has to offer. They invent nothing but they do everything right. It’s brilliant.
M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Listen to Intro, from the album.
M83 release a motherfucker of an album, an epic sonic voyage through the fevered dreams of an 80s soaked romantic hero. The album jumps from anthem to retro pop hits and back again like it was nothing. This is an album that makes me want to cheer.
The Vaccines - What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?
Listen to Wetsuit, from the album.
In some ways this album reminds me of Is This It? from The Strokes. Not that the music sounds the same, but it’s one of those album where every single track works. You skip nothing. It’s just straight up pop-punk-rock that seems effortless in it’s inherent catchiness. Seriously: Every. Damn. Song.
Various Artists - Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Listen to A Real Hero, from the album.
This album opens with a few pop tracks, soaked in 80s influence, one mesmerizing song called Oh My Love, where a woman (Katina Ranieri) sings longingly over a piece of classical music, and then we dive into the meat of the record. Cliff Martinez’s 15 instrumental tracks of pure retro-electro badassness. It’s epic.
Wye Oak – Civilian
Listen to Two Small Deaths, from the album.
Wye Oak singer/guitarist/song-writer Jenn Wasner has a beautiful voice and writes songs that are amazing for staring out the window of a moving vehicle while wondering if you’ve made the right decision. This album is beautiful, perfectly executed and full of honest, often darkly heartbreaking songs.
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan - Yt // St
Listen to Hoshi Neko, from the album.
Here is a Montreal band mixing metal influences with 70s psychedelic rock with loops and pop. It’s weird and feels dangerous and always works. Possibly my very favorite album of the year. Ruby Kato Attwood’s vocals are simply haunting, as demonstrated in the fantastic album cut Hoshi Neko, that you can here up there.
The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar
Listen to Austere, from the album.
This albums reminds me of bands I listened to in Cégep, so maybe there’s some nostalgia involved here. But I really think it’s a great album. I think one song leaves me cold (the second track), but everything else is just so damn epic. These guys reach for the stars on every fucking track. Anthem after anthem after anthem. And they’re only 3 band members!!!!! I put this music on and I’m indestructible.
Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation
Listen to Cannons, frim the album.
This is my obligatory low-fi indi-pop album of the list. It’s just really really good pop that mixes real instruments with cheap keyboards and drum machines and drowns everything in reverb for that perfect reverby sound all the cool young kids love to love. They’re right, it’s great.
Dom - Family of Love – EP
Listen to Happy Birthday Party, from the album.
Just five songs that make me want to jump around and be young and make out and punch the air and dance on my bed and have a shot and do it all again.
Efrim Manuel Menuck - plays “High Gospel”
Listen to Heavy Calls & Hospital Blues, from the album.
This is a beautifully sad, often difficult but always rewarding album. The selection of songs go from two minute long to nine, from minimal piano ballads to noise-driven experimental epics, from despair to, well, almost hope. Immensely rewarding for those who take the journey.
The Dodos – No Color
Listen to Black Night, from the album.
I still think Black Night is one of the best pop songs of the year, and there’s many more treasures to be found on this album. The Dodos have a sound very much their own, the strumming guitars and banging, relentless drums accompanying the vocals like a runaway train. A runaway train OF CATCHY POP!!!!!! Also, as a bonus, you get Neko Case doing backing vocals. Some people were disappointed with this record. Fuck them, it’s great.
Ema - Past Life Martyred Saints
Listen to Milkman, from the album.
This album reminds me of being in college and listening to independent music and realizing that desire, youthful rebelliousness and inspiration were often more important than dexterity or needlessly complex song structures. This is an album like that. It’s simple and says fuck you a lot, both literally and figuratively, and it feels slightly naïve, and it is better for it.
MOVIES I DIDN’T GET A CHANCE TO SEE BUT WISH I HAD AND KNOW I WILL AND MIGHT HAVE BEEN ON THIS LIST IF I DID!
THE I-NEED-TO-TALK-ABOUT-THESE-GUYS OF 2011!!!!!!!!
Say what you will about that Green Hornet movie, Kato was AMAZING in it. Everytime he was on screen his charisma was undeniable and the movie just lit up. His action scenes were amazing and still measure up to anything else Hollywood offered us this year. He was perfect and elevated the movie to joyful heights whenever he showed up.
I grew up with all the Tintin books, read them all dozens of time and Snowy (Milou for us crazy French folks) was my favorite character. That made me nervous walking into the movie. I wanted Snowy to be involved in the action, not just a cute dog. I guess Spielberg heard my prayers because through out the movie Snowy is 100% undiluted AWESOME! He deserves his spot in this list.
When the news came that Nathan wasn’t coming back for series three of Misfits, I seriously considered dropping the show. I’m glad I didn’t. Rudy Wade, as played by Joseph Gilgun, is one of my favorite TV characters of the year. Gilgun plays the character so fucking well, so hilariously well, that you cannot help but root for this scummy little bastard of a man. He is flat-out amazing. And he just has a great damn face.
I didn’t know Allison Brie could be this fucking funny. As Annie Edison, over three seasons of Community, she has had a chance to work those comedy muscles until she has become the character that makes me laugh the most on the show (okay, it’s a tie with Troy Barns). The more Annie is featured, the funnier shit gets. Now get me more goddamn seasons…
Fast Five was a really great dumb film! It had spectacular chases and big guys punching eachother’s skulls very much, and in the middle of it all was Sung Kang’s Han character not doing much except looking fucking cool as ice. He seriously does almost nothing in the entire movie and yet he is indisposable because of how much cooler the movie is with this guy in it. Even the clip I embedded has him just sitting around looking cool while the girl does all the work. Oh he gets the girl, too. Spoiler. You don’t walk out of the very fun movie wanting to be like Vin Diesel or The Rock or Paul Walker, you wanna be motherfucking Han, and that deserves props.
Super is already up there in my favorite movies of the year but Ellen Page deserves special mention because Boltie, faithful (and slightly rapy) sidekick to Rainn Wilson’s The Crimson Bolt, is disturbingly awesome and brought to life by the actress in what has to be one of this year’s most fearless performances. You. Do not. Fuck. With Boltie.
There’s a lot of talk about Jean Dujardin’s terrific turn as silent-era movie star George Valentin in the movie The Artist, and rightly so, but for me the real stand out of the movie is Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller. I have no idea if that girl can act in a conventional movie but as a 1930s movie start she is perfection. The way she moves on screen, whether she’s dancing or walking or just giving some lucky guy a wink and a smile, she oozes the confidence and bravado of a cinema legend in the making. She is sublime and by far the best thing in the movie (after the dog. The dog is awesome).
SORRY I WAS SO DAMN LATE ON THIS!!!!!
Jee-Woon Kim directs the FUCK out of this little crime movie that could. I had to wait superlong to see this because it simply wasn’t available in North America (at least for Region A bluray/DVD players). But now it is! And I own it! And it is utterly fantastic!!!!!!!!!! Great badass script! Great camera work! Great leading man (Lee Byung-Hun oozes cool)! By the way this truly great Korean director is RIGHT NOW working with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his first film since he left his political career behind to kick more ass on the big screen. If that doesn’t get you excited, it’s to you see A Bittersweet life!
Sherlock Holmes Jr (Click on the title to watch the entire thing for free!!!)
I had seen a bunch of Buster Keaton’s movies in my life and recently I decided I needed to own that shit. The first one I ordered was Sherlock Holmes Jr and upon playing it for the first time I realized I had actually never seen it. The shocking truth is that I prefer it to (the absolutely excellent – don’t get me wrong) The General. It’s so damn creative, it gets so crazy and also it’s so sweet. I laughed out loud many times while watching it. It’s quite simply brilliant.
(Amazing fan art by Aysha Shehim)
Yeah I’m super late on this. It was on the list since 2005 to be honest, I just never got to it until now. I now believe David Tennant is a man-god. Goddamn did I love him in this. He was perfect. Funny, gripping, passionate, possibly insane and very smart all at once. Then he was gone and this kid was in his place and for a while I was at war with that. But, fuck, Matt Smith is actually perfect as the latest Doctor, at least as much as Tennant if not more. That’s the truth. And all the companions? Much like the first doctor (Christopher Eccleston), only the first one left me somewhat cold (only somewhat, not all the way cold. That’s important to point out). All the other companions were, to me, fucking awesome in their own ways. At the end of the day Doctor Who is a perfect show for the entire family. It hovers between watchable to bloody brilliant, never ever boring or tedious. I want to find it in French so I can get it for my nephews and nieces, they would love it and it would make them super smart and even more awesome.
This has been a slow year for comics in terms of how much I read them, so I missed out on a lot, but there is a trade paper back that I wanted to tell you about because it’s brilliant. It’s called Daytripper, by brothers Gabriel Bá (The Umbrella Academy) and Fabio Moon (Casanova). It’s a beautiful reflection on the effect our choices have on our life. It’s perfectly execute, both from a literary stand point and in terms of the sublime artwork. Every one involved is on top of their games. This is not an action comic, by the way, but it’s a beautiful, moving story that is extremely well told and uses a narrative device that I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I can’t recommend it enough. I do think this was out in 2010 but please tell no one or else it has to get off this list and we don’t want that, do we?
For me there are three real standouts this year:
(Amazing fan made poster by Tristan Reidford)
The absolute, no contest what-so-ever, best game this year is Portal 2. It has the best voice acting, the best story, the best music, the best game play, the most scope, it’s the most original and rewarding and it’s graphics are amazing. Plus it’s really really funny. No one did better this year. Oh and by the way I think this game has the most fun coop game play I have ever witnessed.
Many have accused this game of being a little short on decision-making. This is true, you basically follow the path the game designer laid out for you and you press the buttons when you’re supposed to. But man is it ever thrilling and epic. No game does action sequences better that the folks at Naughty Dog and I was genuinely screaming of excitement as I played this. Also, no game looked better this year.
It’s a little buggier (due to the enormous amount of content) than the first one but this is a completely original and amazing take on the side scroller that just gave you more of everything the first game had. It is an astonishing game in every way and the replay value is basically endless. Incredibly beautiful worlds and simple gameplay mechanics coupled with really amazing physics make this one a winner.
That’s it for this year!
I didn’t know what Midnight In Paris was even about. Hadn’t seen a single trailer. I saw a movie yesterday, so my one-movie-per-weekend quota was filled, and yet I woke up this morning and only wanted one thing: to go back into that big room, wait until the lights dim and the screen starts shining images into my eyes and to share a movie with a couple of hundred people I don’t know. I looked through a list of what was playing around town and I saw this title, Midnight In Paris. I knew it was Woody Allen and coudn’t remember the last time I saw one of his at the movies, so I shouted “fuck it” to absolutely no one in my bed room and I headed out the door towards the cinema.
Well, let me tell you that I don’t regret it. I think it’s possibly my favorite movie of the year so far. It’s simply magical. I don’t know exactly what movie I was expecting but I know it wasn’t this. Such a sweet movie…
It stars Owen Wilson as a hack Hollywood screenwriter who wants to write novels (he is working on his first). He’s in Paris on vacation with his future wife played wonderfully by Rachel McAdams. This is, by the way, the Owen Wilson that you like. The one from Wes Anderson movies, not the one from every terrible movie Owen Wilson has made over the years. He is terrific here, nuanced and funny and nostalgic and unhappy but hopeful and utterly in love with Paris.
One night after having quite a few glasses at a wine tasting, he goes exploring the streets of Paris without his fiancée (she chooses to go dancing with friends instead). He quickly gets lost and sits down on some steps to take a little breather when a old car driving by, something from the 20s, stops before him. A door opens and jovial French people invite him inside. After some prodding he decides to accept the invitation and thus begins a number of nights filled with wonderful encounters he makes that help him figure out all the problems that plague him in his daily life.
It is amazing, filled with dialogue written by a Woody Allen at the very top of his game, and bursting with truly wonderful performances by a great many actors who clearly showed up to have a really good time on set, but didn’t forget to bring their a-game.
This movie made me long to be creative, it made me bask at the power of words, the importance of art, the beauty of life, the fragility and brilliance of love and, most of all, the magic of Paris…