TC Candler

The Top 10 Films of 2011

1. A Separation

A virtually flawless Iranian film from director, Asghar Farhadi…  “A Separation” recounts the story of a tragic dispute between two families.  One of those families is dealing with divorce — the other with unemployment, poverty and pregnancy.  The masterful screenplay walks the tightrope with such precision that the viewer has the impossible job of choosing sides.  There are half a dozen perfect performances in this masterpiece.  The moral complexity is off the charts.  It is one of the most realistically thrilling dramas of all time.

9.9 / 10

2. Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen is near his finest in this beautifully shot and poetic fantasy film starring Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams.  Paris is also a co-star, in much the same way Manhattan was in most of Allen’s NYC masterpieces.  I loved the time-travelling concept.  I admired the philosophical ramblings about art and love.  Any film with Marion gets bonus points.  “Midnight in Paris” is a cinematic joy.

9.6 / 10

3. Drive

You have to have an affinity both for stylish, moody direction and a minimalist, virtually nihilistic philosophy, in order to appreciate Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive”.  Ryan Gosling does his classic Ryan Gosling impression and creates a blank slate human being with hidden depths that are so deep, we can only presume what he is thinking.  That may sound like an insult, but it works brilliantly in Winding Refn movies.

9.6 / 10

4. The Adjustment Bureau

You’d presume the concept of “fate police” with “magic hats” would be laughable.  You’d be wrong.  This film is so perfectly balanced on the edge of insanity.  One bad step and the entire project might jump the shark.  Nevertheless, earnest performances from Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery and Anthony Mackie manage to keep the film in the realm of believability.  Somehow, this crazy story develops into a profound and moving tale of fated love.  It is brilliant.

9.5 / 10

5. The Trip

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon squeeze out every bit of comedy gold from a very simple project.  Director, Michael Winterbottom brings a wistful mood to a road-trip movie, where two top-tier comedians play versions of themselves, as they roam around the English countryside, enjoying Michelin star restaurants.  Their banter is witty.  The movie-star impressions are nailed-on.  Their one-upmanship is both vicious and affectionate.  Laughs galore!

9.5 / 10

6. Oslo, August 31st

Anders Danielsen Lie is the Best Actor of 2011.  He creates a suicidal character that demands pure empathy and conveys utterly recognizable lonliness — resulting in one of the most nuanced and detailed role of the year.  All of this is accomplished with minimal dialogue and a total lack of histrionics.  This is A++ acting.  The film directed with such compassion.  It is a desperately sad film, but one that can fill you with the desire to be more observant and to be kinder to those who may need it.  A stunningly profound Norwegian film.

9.5 / 10

7. Source Code

I have an affinity for films or TV episodes that use the common sci-fi trope of repeating timelines.  With “Source Code”, that device is used to great effect as Jake Gyllenhaal is charged with the task of riding a train destined to explode in a few short minutes.  He has to find the cause and prevent the explosion from happening.  It is Hitchcockian in nature and features a twist so well crafted that M. Night Shyamalan would be proud.  An excellent action-adventure.

9.4 / 10

8. Shame

Michael Fassbender is devastatingly good in this intimate and explicit portrayal of sexual addiction.  The film is gorgeously shot and the two main leads, Fassbender and Carey Mulligan (as siblings), create an extraordinary dynamic on that celluloid canvas.  I rather like films that present extremely flawed characters without judgments.  “Shame” allows us to make all the judgments without forcing them upon us.

9.3 / 10

9. Sleeping Beauty

Here is a somewhat obscure Australian film, starring the always interesting Emily Browning.  She plays Lucy, a young woman who accepts a job catering to wealthy, lonely, older men.  Some of the duties require her unconsciousness for the night, being unaware of what transpires during the encounter.  “Sleeping Beauty” is a quiet, peacefully creepy film that asks a lot of questions and doesn’t seem to answer them.  I enjoyed the mood and the performances a great deal.

9.3 / 10

10. Super

This is the best superhero film I have ever seen.  Now, that may not be saying much, as I generally don’t enjoy the Marvel / DC plague that has been pummeled down our throats for the past decade.  However, when you present me a superhero whose superpower is hitting people in the head with a hammer — I will gladly take a look.  Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page make a delightful pairing in this excellent comedy.  It is strange and bizarre and it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. 

9.1 / 10

(Please Scroll Down the Page for More — Acting Awards / All Movie Ratings / The Worst 10 List… etc.)

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The GOOD

(Other Good Films Released This Year)

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9.0 / 10

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9.0 / 10

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6.0 / 10

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The Average

(Forgettable Films in the Middle of the Pack)

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5.9 / 10

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5.9 / 10

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5.9 / 10

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5.9 / 10

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5.9 / 10

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5.9 / 10

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4.0 / 10

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The BAD

(Movies That Just Didn’t Work on Any Level)

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3.9 / 10

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3.9 / 10

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3.9 / 10

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3.9 / 10

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2.0 / 10

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The Worst of the year

(Hate-Filled Pieces of Crap)

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1.9 / 10

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1.9 / 10

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1.9 / 10

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0.0 / 10

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Yes… There is a Section Lower than the Worst Movies of the Year!
I Present a List of Films That I Absolutely Refuse to Watch… (Because I am a Pretentious Film Snob).

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