Thursday, February 16, 2012

Media Review 2011: Top Motion Pictures.

While my book-reading didn't have much of a spiritual component this year, my movie-watching sure did. I don't know if this was intentional on the parts of the filmmakers or if I just imported a lot of my faith into the theatre with me, but many of this year's film's spoke to me in a deeply spiritual way. That said, while I had a deep admiration for many of 2011's offerings, I only loved three of them to the degree where I couldn't stop thinking about them for days afterward. The fourth and fifth slots of this year's top five could well have been filled by many of the movies that wound up as "Honorable Mentions." Which, by the way, are:

The Adventures of TinTin
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Ides of March
Midnight in Paris
Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
X-Men: First Class

5) The Artist AND Hugo [Both of these movies are so steeped in nostalgia that I watched them with a big, dumb grin on my face. I have a feeling that Hugo will wind up standing the test of time better than The Artist, but either of them is worth the throwback factor. Oh, and both of these films broke the unbreakable rule: if a film has a cutaway of a dog putting its paw over its eyes in shame, then that film is a giant hunk of not-worth-it. Way to buck the system, movies!]
4) Super 8 [The first coming-of-age film I've seen that takes place roughly during the time period when I came of age. I'm officially old enough that my nostalgia is also becoming the nation's nostalgia. I was so very, very on board with this movie the whole time I was watching it. Just completely top-notch.]
3) Source Code [Basically, this film hit all my buttons. You know when you're scratching your dog's tummy and you find that spot where they kick their leg, wag their tail, rub their back against the carpet, and loll out their tongue at the same time? That's me watching this movie.]
2) Cave of Forgotten Dreams [A documentary on prehistoric cave paintings. Sounds scintillating, right? It actually is! Werner Herzog never makes a boring film, and he uses the conceit of these paintings to ask all sorts of questions about humanity, artistry, spirituality, and where all these things come from. Plan lots of time afterward for contemplation and/or discussion.]
1) The Tree of Life [It will have to be a strong, strong contender to knock this one from the top spot when I compile my "Best of the Decade" list in 2020. I cannot adequately describe how I feel this movie, so I'll quote film critic Walter Chaw instead: "...It's true in a way that has nothing to do with what happens in it and everything to do with what happens in me while I watch it." Exactly.]

A Separation
War Horse
The Mill and the Cross

The Help
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Albert Nobbs

Cars 2 [Man, was this thing disappointing. I doubt Pixar had any real creative reason to dip back into the Cars well, and it showed in a film that tried to preach that same worn-out message of "Be yourself" and wound up adding the parenthetical, "Even if you're a pretentious jerk with no cultural sensitivity." The upside is that it led to a great post-film conversation with my kids about how we all need to grow and learn and put aside our more coarse impulses.]

Transformers: Dark of the Moon [I can trash this all I want and I still won't be able to top the masterful review from (again) Walter Chaw. Go read it (warning: swears).]

Tomorrow: nothing! The media review is over!

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