Oh, how I love a good list. And seeing how it's nearly the end of 2011, lists are in abundance.
Because I live in a tiny town on the prairie, I haven't been able to see as many of the year's finest films as I'd like. For example, I've only seen two Michael Fassbenders and a shameful single Gosling. So rather than compile a "Best Of" list (see here and here for selections from two of my favorite critics), I've catalogued some of my favorite flicks that might indeed be among the best movies the year had to offer, but are memorable to me for other reasons. Happy New Year!
Favorite movie about the economy that's about the economy: There seems to be something about the global financial meltdown that has captured the imaginations of directors from Brett Ratner to Jason Reitman. I was really impressed with J.C. Chandor's Margin Call, which traces a really bad twenty-four hours in the life of an investment firm based on Lehman Brothers. Though it suffers a bit from too-many-endings syndrome, this film is smartly shot, scored, and scripted like a horror movie, which in a lot of ways, this crisis is. It stars always awesome Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons, and Stanley Tucci, and recently awesome again Kevin Spacey. Additionally, this is the first feature-length film from Chandor, who wrote and directed. Talented little bleeder.
Favorite movie about the economy that's not about the economy: Like the Vietnam War (and unlike the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan), the economic crisis has probably affected you or someone you know quite directly. Warrior is in some ways a pretty typical sports movie (though the sport is MMA), but the motivations of the two fighters are directly tied to the country's un/underemployment problem, as well as the struggles of returning veterans, and their families when they don't return. It stars it-boy Tom Hardy and future Tom Buchanan Joel Edgerton, as well as Nick Nolte as "not a train wreck Nick Nolte." Alisa reviewed it here.
Favorite nostalgia-drenched film from a noted auteur: It was a tight race, with J.J.'s Super 8 and Scorsese's Hugo giving strong showings, but I'm going with Woody's Midnight in Paris, if only because I think that's *exactly* what it would be like to hang out with Hemingway. It stars Owen Wilson as Woody Allen, Rachel McAdams as the shrewish Allen girl, and too many fun cameos to list here.
Favorite movie I liked that no one else did: Though the feministas were furious and beat it bloody with the undeniably better Bridesmaids baton, I quite enjoyed What's Your Number? It stars the still criminally unfamous Anna Faris and Captain America.
Favorite gritty reboot: For your consideration: Andy Serkis for Best Supporting Actor in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And, despite the Franco factor, I though this film was clever, provocative, and knew how to shoot a balls-to-the-wall CGI-enhanced action sequence. In addition to Gollum and Franco, it's also got Draco Malfoy.
Favorite novel adaptation (contemporary): Well, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 of course! It stars D-Rad, Ru-Grin, E-Wat, and a host of British thespians, including the perpetually crush-worthy Alan Rickman.
Favorite novel adaptation (classic): The forbidden love! The dark and tormented Byronic hero! The madwoman in the attic! The FASSBENDER! It has to be Jane Eyre. Though Fassbender's presence should be enough, it also stars Mia Wasikowska and Dame Judi Dench.
Favorite novel adaptation (graphic): Yeah, he didn't wear the helmet, but I quite liked Thor. I enjoyed the light and unpretentious touch and, of course, the upcoming Avengers implications. It stars Kirk's Dad, Erik the Vampire's Dad, and the Black Swan.
Favorite indie darling: When enough people tell you to see Weekend, you start to believe them. I'm glad I did, and now I'm joining the chorus. It's like Before Sunrise, except with more sex, more drugs, and two hot dudes instead of one hot dude and one hot chick. And it streams, so you really have no excuse. It stars no one you've ever heard of, unless you're a lot hipper than me.