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Independent Spirit Awards: Seth Rogen’s Opening Monologue

Last night was the annual Indie Spirit Awards, and if you missed it, rest assured; we all know the open monologue sets the tone for the whole award show. Having Seth Rogen host, well, its a crap shoot between weed-ladden humor or sincere comedic moments. Watch the opening monologue and judge for yourself:

It was filled with highs and lows (which Seth humorously acknowledges), but had some great laugh-out-loud moments for me.

If you’re curious about the winners and speeches from the night, see them here

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.  

Best of 2011

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). 


High-bro (Pop culture)

Between the newest issues of GQ magazine and Details, there was much fun reading for me on the plane to San Antonio today (side note: it is cold as balls here in San Antonio right now!). Yes, I’m a girl that reads men magazines. Ladies, you should try it sometime. Beautiful pictures of attractive, stylish men and thought-provoking, witty articles. Win, win.

And with that, I always learn something new in the pages of men magazines, especially where pop culture is concerned. Apparently there is some rise in the sub-culture of the “high-bro”. It’s the year of the high-bro, didn’t you know? I guess I realized it, just didn’t have a name for it. “High-bro” is supposedly where the “bro” culture (think high adrenaline action flicks, comic books, sports) meet the more “highbrow” (think classical music, literature, arthouse films). And of course, GQ runs down some of “the stuff the high-bro likes”. I loved it (does that make me a high-bro? high-broette?). Here are some of my favorites straight from the GQ list with [my own comments] focusing on, you guessed it, all things indie:

Aaron Sorkin. Wins screenwriting Oscar for Facebook movie. Nails self-aware walk- and-talk cameo on 30 Rock. Pulls off Moneyball for the big screen. A colossus. [the high-bro we can only hope to channel when we put pen to paper open up our Macbooks]
Bridesmaids. Funny movie, with funny women in it! Note to high-bros: Enjoying it does not retroactively confer a women’s studies degree from Smith. [the movie the high-bro was initially ashamed that they wanted to see but ended up loving]

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Top Five: Ryan Gosling Films

To anyone who will listen, I call him “the best actor of my generation”, and I think it’s fitting. He can be dangerous, he can sport the cool, he can be the heartbreaker, and he can even be that weird, unconventional guy that you can’t help but love. To me, he is the embodiment of the contemporary leading man. Yes, he is very easy on the eyes and oh so dreamy (trust me, I can go on and on all day), but he also a profound and introspective actor. To top that off, he seems like a very kind, intelligent, genuine person for his interviews (see the January 2011 issue of GQ). I have complied a list of my top five best Ryan Gosling films. To me, these films offer his very best and my favorite performances to date.

#5: Half Nelson (2006)
Ryan received his first of soon to be many Oscar nominations playing an inner-city middle school teacher who bonds with one of his female students. She discovers that he has a drug addiction which sparks a reciprocal friendship in which they both go to lengths to protect the other. He plays this role with a perfect mixture of authority, vulnerability, and blurred social boundaries that only he can.

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