Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Taking Flight...My Favorite Movies of Last Year

Now that the awards season is over and all the best pictures have been named, I figured it was about time to weigh in on my favorite movies that I watched this year. I must first admit that there are ton of movies I still haven't seen and wish to see, so this list is by no means final. There are a lot of movies that I'm still dying to see like Get Low, Winter's Bone, The Nutcracker, and Somewhere just to name a few. But that said, I have watched many movies that have inspired me this year. Many of them weren't even in the conversation at awards time, but that doesn't surprise me.

It's not that I'm one of these snobs that hates the Oscars. I think typically they honor a lot of great films. However, I think they also tend to honor very traditional films. The King's Speech (which I haven't seen) looks like it's a very fine movie, it just looks incredibly traditional. The Oscars have never been a beacon for celebrating innovation in story telling, and that's my main issue of contention with the pictures they nominate and reward.

There's nothing wrong with traditional storytelling. Some of my favorite movies of the year use very traditional means to get across powerful stories. (True Grit is a good example.) My list is also not filled with rarely seen art house pictures. For the most part, it's studio pictures that felt innovative to me, like Splice which is a surprisingly fascinating discourse on relationships, or Kick-Ass which felt like a refreshing take on a stale superhero genre.

I was glad to see Inception nominated this year. Christopher Nolan is a very smart storyteller, one I've admired ever since Memento. Shutter Island was grossly ignored however. It was one of the most intelligent suspense movies in a long time. Absolutely gripping. Micmacs was another clever movie that was able to be incredibly entertaining and funny to get a message across. Not all comedies have to be pointless.

Then there's children's movies. Toy Story 3 deservedly won everything. But the other one on my list, the new Chronicles of Narnia, has been slammed in reviews. I couldn't disagree more with those reviews. Yes, it's not perfect, but it's the kind of movie that brings another world to life without all the brooding or moodiness of certain wizard and vampire flicks. It's pure escapism and it does it very well.

And it wouldn't be a movie recap if I didn't mention my least favorite movie of the year...Alice in Wonderland. Now, granted, I'm a bit of Alice purist but I've also embraced things like The Looking Glass Wars, so I'm not absolutely against reinventing Alice, but this movie was all set design, costume, and mood while lacking any and all soul. It was an empty, bitter movie that I wish had never been made and now it is a double Oscar winning film. (Okay, so maybe I do have a little something against the Oscars.)


  1. Don't agree on Alice - which I think of as one long joke. Inception and Avatar were ground breaking and Kick Ass a lot of fun.

  2. Ah, Splice, how you disturbed me. I have another one for you: Moon. Seen it? Let's discuss.

  3. Don't know if you follow this blog Brian but the Jane Yolen discussion might be of interest?


  4. That may certainly be the case with Alice, I just didn't appreciate the joke :) And thanks for the that article. It was quite fascinating. She's a very wise writer and I couldn't agree with her more. I guess that's how you're able to maintain a career like she's had.

    Julie- Haven't seen Moon. But as with all your recommendations, it's now on the Netflix queue.

  5. I agree about Narnia. Love those movies. I also agree about Alice. I was so excited to go see it and I just felt like there was no real story to it.

  6. The Narnia movies are great entertainment and I the kids are very real characters even in their fantasy world