Friday, February 24, 2012

Best of 2011: Nos. 2 & 1 (Dan)

My countdown of the best movies of 2011 continues with Nos. 2 and 1.

First let's recap the list:

10. "Horrible Bosses"
9. "Rango"
8. "Super 8"
7. "Incidious"
6. "Attack the Block"
5. "Moneyball"
4. "50/50"
3. "Ides of March"

2. "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"

If not for the out-of-left-field dark horse "Red State," "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is the best and most Oscar-worthy film of 2011.

Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is an aggressively introverted computer genius who joins journalist Mikail Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) on a mysterious adventure into a rich families nightmarish past in order to solve a case of a missing girl. In the process, you get the kind of visuals and slow but satisfying pacing that only director David Fincher could deliver.

Imagine this is the next Bond movie, but instead of half-baked villains and muddling around for some action sequences, the writer pours their heart into their work, filling it with detail (for better or worse) and horror at times.

(By the way, make sure you know the lyrics to Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" before you see this. You'll want to see the opening sequence a dozen times.)

1. "Red State"

When Kevin Smith announced he was pretty much done with the film scene and was going to take a shot at a horror flick, my ears perked up. As a horror savant, the idea of Smith's attitude brought to a thriller was intriguing. Over the months, as everything he did regarding the film was documented, reviewed and passed around via word of mouth, the initial novelty wore off.

By October, when the film finally made it to a semi-wide release, I went into the film expecting just another film.

Then my mind was melted by unrelenting terror, uncomfortable characters, and a tour de force by Smith that is my No. 1 of the year with a bullet.

Three high school students (a centerpiece for Smith's comedies) go out to the country for a hook-up with a mysterious woman. In a twenty-four hour period, hell breaks loose for not only the teens, but for terrorists and the lawmen who fight them. And on a meta level, God vs. Logic is the core of the film. The movie is glossed with slick storytelling and two Oscar-level monologues delivered by Michael Parks (the morose bigot Abin Cooper) and John Goodman (FBI lead and only man with a conscience Joseph Keenan.)

If you're a fan of action movies, horror movies or just solidly written films, "Red State" is a must see.

(AFTER-THE-FACT NOTE: I just saw "Red State" is bolstering a 48 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. I was honestly shocked. Then I realized it was due to critics expecting Smith to just try to push buttons. Of course they left underwhelmed; they wanted a controversy and got a smart film!)

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