The list continues of some of the things I have learned over the years from watching independent films. Life is reflected in film after all…
11. You can’t hide in memories forever. Also, opposites often do attract. Oh, and changing your hair color with your mood just may be the way to go. [Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind]
12. Even demigods could use some time off. [The Nines]
13. Don’t even try to “keep up with the Joneses”. You will never be able to. [The Joneses]
14. Playing the “what if” game gets you nowhere. What happened has happened and may have happened regardless. [Another Earth]
15. You exist where you want to exist. [The Jacket]
16. If you want something from the universe, just ask for it, and then say thank you. Plus, you just can’t “adopt” any kid you find on the subway. [Happythankyoumoreplease]
17. Never get into gambling, especially betting on horse races. Also, it takes a special kind of guy to pull off a sweater vest. [Lucky Number Slevin]
18. You can’t split yourself into two; just make a decision and stick with it. Plus, yellow and green are both really dynamic colors. [Uncertainty]
19. Everything worth saying is best said through poetry. [Love Jones]
20. Never knock classified ads placed in your local Pennysaver-like periodicals. [Juno]
More to come…
2011: William Mapother, Brit Marling, and (director) Mike Cahill for Another Earth
Best of 2011/ My best in film list, including (from top to bottom) Shame (best of the year), Beginners (drama), Bridesmaids (comedy), 50/50 (dramedy), Drive (action), Martha Marcy May Marlene (psychological thriller), Another Earth (sci-fi), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (remake/adaptation), and Margin Call (social commentary). Read more on why I choose these here.
Today marks the end of a great and memorable year for film. I’m excited to see what 2012 will hold. Here is what I considered to be the best in film for 2011, and therefore great suggestions if you haven’t seen them, depending on your mood:
Best Film of the Year: Shame
The movie that showed the brilliance of the collaboration of Steve McQueen as a director and Michael Fassbender as a breakout star. I can’t say enough great things about this film that was both stunning in a visual sense and in the raw emotions it conveyed.
Best Drama (which made you both smile and reach for a tissue): Beginners
My favorite film of the year next to Shame, I was drawn in by Mike Mills’ story of his father’s coming out after the death of his mother that he brings to the screen so thoughtfully. Christopher Plummer is a frontrunner for supporting actor for the major awards and he definitely deserves it. For me, this film is also Ewan McGregor’s reemergence as an actor to watch for his touching portrayal of a man who carries a sadness with him only exacerbated by the death of his parents.
Best Comedy (which made the thought of getting married even more fun): Bridesmaids
No one can deny that this movie was a force all its own. Mistakenly dubbed a “click flick” initially, it was the little movie that ignited laughter through masses of women AND men. While everyone was anticipating the release of Hangover II, Bridesmaids stole our hearts instead. Big props for this strong cast of women that demonstrated just how funny and wonderful we can be.
Best Dramedy (which made you glad you have a BFF): 50/50
I think the formula appeared to be a simple one at first - combine the bro humor that Seth Rogen provides with the enduring everyman nature of Joseph Gordon-Levitt to bring to life this film that mirrors the struggles of the screenwriter’s battle with cancer and support from his best friend. What we learned however is that Seth Rogen is sweet and enduring in his own way and JGL, in one of his best performances, can bring the funny.
Best Action Film (which was so much more than choreographed fight sequences): Drive
I’m not one for action movies and violence but I tolerated it in this stylish, arthouse entry starring Ryan Gosling and a certain white leather scorpion jacket. Sure it wasn’t some Jason Stathom action flick but that’s why it was so good. I could have done without the movie soundtrack but Ryan’s performance as the mysterious Driver made it worth it.
Best Psychological Thriller (which made you look over your own shoulder): Martha Marcy May Marlene
The film that introduced us to the great potential of Elizabeth Olsen and made us invest in her performance as a young woman who flees from an abusive cult but she is working on her psychological escape. Is she paranoid or are they really after her? That is the question this film explores. Did it make us paranoid in the process? Yes.
Best Sci-fi Film (which really wasn’t sci-fi): Another Earth
Set against the backdrop of the discovery of a second Earth, or “Earth 2”, the story is really an engaging drama of a woman who struggles to live with what she has done and in some way make it up to the man who has lost everything. Though it probably wasn’t “sci-fi-y” enough for some, the second Earth that literally hovers background and the constant wonder of what we would say to our doppleganger if we were faced with them keeps you on edge.
Best Remake (which showed it can be done right): The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
A worldwide best-selling novel. A popular, original Swedish source film. David Fincher. Trent Razor. Oscar-winning editors. Rooney Mara in the role of her career. And that’s how it’s done, folks.
Best Social Commentary Film (which justified OWS): Margin Call
If you are like me, you sometimes wonder what the point of OWS protests. Then you watch a movie like this and get it. Loosely based on the Lehman Brothers debacle, the film was both fast-paced and a slow-burn on corporate ego, greed, and backstabbing, highlighting pros in film (Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey) and newer kids on the block (Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley).
Synopsis: Rhoda, a bright young woman accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program, aspires to explore the cosmos. A brilliant composer, John, has just reached the pinnacle of his profession and is about to have a second child with his loving wife. On the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth, tragedy strikes and the lives of these strangers become irrevocably intertwined.
I highly suggest seeing this; its a great concept film and leaves much to be discussed when its over (I have my own theory). Don’t let the sci fi quality of this film scare you away; the concept only serves as the backdrop to this engaging drama. No disrespect to the lead actors Brit Marling (also co-writer) and William Mapother who both did a great job with this film, I offer my own picks on who I would have cast in these roles:
Elizabeth Olsen (Rhoda): What knew that there was another Olsen sister…that could act? I really enjoyed her performance in “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and because of it, I’m convinced that she would bring alot to this character who is on one hand young and naive but also carries wisdom with her that builds with her experiences. I think she would also bring to Rhoda the emotional heaviness that was lacking for me.
Joshua Jackson (John):
Pacey Joshua has already proven to me that he can carry a sci-fi drama (see: “Fringe”, currently my favorite show on TV), and he has the acting chops and experience to pull of a grieving husband and father who goes on to shut out the world. Plus, he has that quiet charisma that would make the bond these two characters form believable.