Archive for January, 2012

Listomania is upon us once again. Here now are my 10 favorite films of 2011 as of January 13, 2012. I note the date because, as I’m not a professional critic, I’ve yet to catch a number of big-ticket titles (The Skin I Live In, The Arbor, and Margaret, for starters).

Unlike, say, last year, 2011 represented an absolute banner year for the movies. We got a staggering number of good-to-great films and at least two unqualified classics. Here’s my take on the 10 that led the pack.

#10: The Artist

It says something when the year’s “safe” and “boring” pick for Best Picture is a black and white silent film from France. The Artist is a featherweight crowd-pleaser with little on its mind beyond pastiche and simple entertainment. I don’t hold that against it. The film brims with inventive sight gags (the way Bérénice Bejo caresses herself through Jean Dujardin’s jacket), uniquely silent-era humor (the way Michael Hazanavicius punctuates 10 seconds of dialogue with a one-word title card — “Toys!”), and playful experimentation (the way sound erupts during Dujardin’s nightmare). The Artist breaks no new ground and has little of substance to say about cinema, but it remains a relentless charmer thanks to its lead performances and a gifted stylist behind the lens. Words like “trifle” exist for film like The Artist. I include it here — while excluding far more ambitious efforts like ShameUncle BoonmeeMeek’s Cutoff, and Drive — because it squarely hits its target and gives you very little to dislike. (more…)

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