The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline Monahan's Top Ten of 2011

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Jacqueline Monahan’s Top Ten Films of 2011

Not having seen every single film to come out in 2011, I can only comment on what has penetrated into my own cinematic consciousness thus far.  The following ten films have stuck with me for varying reasons.  I hope I have veered somewhat from some of the “safe” choices, adding a dash of eccentricity, quirk, and discovery.

1.    Albert Nobbs
Glenn Close is back like you’ve never seen her in this 19th century cross-dressing story of repression and heartbreak.  Janet McTeer is a scene-stealer as well, and the two make for a fascinating, out-side-the-box tale. Director: Rodrigo Garcia

2.    The Debt
If you thought Helen Mirren was a badass before, catch her in this no-nonsense tale of retribution and deception.  Jessica Chastain is all guts, too.  The pair of them, playing the same character decades apart, reap all of the resulting glory, and they deserve it.  Director:  John Madden

3.    The Artist
A novelty yes, but a welcome one.  This nearly silent film about the advent of talkies on two actors’ careers has all of the panache of that vintage era, incorporating the incandescent charm of the two leads without verbal assistance.  You will have to read a bit, but it will be a pleasure.  In this day and age, that’s a miracle in itself.  Director:  Michel Hazanavicius

4.    Another Earth
A stunning first film by people who paid for it with credit cards.  What they’ve created is a thoughtful (sometimes ponderous) tale on the proposition of “What if?”  They’ve tied it all up in an earthbound tragedy with an ending that will initiate conversation and disagreement.  Bravo!  Director:  Mike Cahill

5.    The Help 

Kathryn Stockett’s colorful book becomes a colorful film about small minds and racial divides.  Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, in breakthrough performances, inject humanity into an era that somehow forgot its manners. Director:  Tate Taylor

6.    The Ides of March
Dark but realistic drama about the maneuvering of politicians and their minions.  George Clooney plays an upstanding candidate, made that way by his rationalizations.  Ryan Gosling is the idealist that learns to do the same.  Director:  George Clooney

7.    Drive
The ride is a dangerous one, and Ryan Gosling proves he’s up to it.  With a snaky, treacherous performance by Albert Brooks, this vicious tale of heists and corruption has the two actors playing against type for effective, surprising chills.  Director:  Nicolas Winding Refn

8.    Win Win
There are no real highs or lows in this one, just a steadfast decency that pervades the everyday life of a lawyer/wrestling coach who takes in a runaway and battles his own ethics.  Director:  Thomas McCarthy

9.    Money Ball
Even if baseball isn’t your cup of tea, this based-on-fact story of statistics and trades will enlighten and fascinate.  Brad Pitt embodies the maverick spirit as a club executive who trades players from a radically different set of criteria.  Director:  Bennett Miller

10.    Restless
I’m in the minority here.  This visual poem and love letter to Death will miss the mark with many, but is refreshing because it doesn’t look away or deny the inevitable end of us all.  It accomplishes this through the quirky, doomed relationship of a teen couple and a Kamikaze pilot.  You heard me.  Director:  Gus Van Sant

Honorable Mention:  Source Code,
This well-done Groundhog Day-like film is a do-over’s dream come true.  How many of us would like a second chance at something?  Director:  Duncan Jones

A word about Hugo and Tintin:  Visual feasts but narrative famines.    Other than that, they were fine.


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