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Michelle's Top 10 of 2011, Part 1

Posted on the 29 December 2011 by Cinefilles @cinefilles
It's been an unexpected year for movies for me. If I'd seen this list at the start of the year, I'd have thought it was wrong. Most of these movies I didn't care to see, or wanted to see so bad that I thought disappointment was inevitable. But I was thankfully so wrong.
Be forewarned, there's much horror, sci-fi and even a golden-haired singing sensation ahead. So, for all the geeks out there like me, enjoy.
10) The Tree of Life

Michelle's Top 10 of 2011, Part 1
When I first saw this trailer, I couldn't figure out what this movie was about, but it looked amazing. Quick shots, beautiful cinematography, and with Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain on the roster, I was sold. Though truthfully, all I could say about the story was it looked like some kid had a tough dad growing up. But it was a whole lot more. That's an understatement. This film was extremely ambitious and daring, paralleling the narratives of the creation of the universe with one man's life, and underneath that, the meaning of life. It's the kind of thing you'd expect from an indie film on a minuscule budget, trying something strange and knowing that only a handful would ever watch it. But that's not at all what this was.

9) Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Michelle's Top 10 of 2011, Part 1

OK, hear me out. I know a lot of people think Justin Bieber is over-rated, that he's just a teen sensation that's going to fizz out in the next five years, that he has no real talent except that he's beyond marketable (if you can consider that a talent), but give the Biebs a chance to prove you wrong, because clearly if you think these things, you aren't giving him a chance. Before Never Say Never, sure, I liked him, he was putting Canada on the map and that was nice. But I didn't consider that he might actually be more than this generation's BSB. After this movie, Bieber is a damn talented musician. Seriously. He plays drums, guitar and piano, and he's got his own twist on it, half drumming, half strumming on a guitar at once. He's also a charmer, picking a "one less lonely girl" at his shows to sing to and give a bouquet of roses. This movie has turned me into a proud Bieber preacher. And isn't that what a good bio-doc does?
8) Grave Encounters

Michelle's Top 10 of 2011, Part 1
Finding gems like these is the reason I watch low-budget, campy horror movies. It starts out as a mockery of ghost hunting TV shows and turns into something chillingly real. A team of ghost hunters with camera crew in tow spend the night in an abandoned psychiatric hospital, chasing ghosts they don't believe actually exist, until hunt turns haunt. It's creepy, it's jumpy, it's dark and spooky. And it's Canadian! (How I love Canadian horrors.) It's exactly what you're looking for if you're looking for a paranormal horror. It pulls you in makes you feel like you're a part of the madness and fear, praying for an escape.

7) Red State

Michelle's Top 10 of 2011, Part 1
Kevin Smith should write the guide on how to become a cult classic, ie. do something unlike anything you've done before, spend millions on it, self-distribute and stir up controversy (both in the movie and in real life). In large part thanks to this scheme, this movie has become highly underrated: not enough people saw it and it put itself under close scrutiny. But it was actually well-acted, sharply-directed and story-wise, bizarrely-compelling. Plus it didn't shy from a little gore. It shook me up and made me feel uncomfortable, but that's just what it intended to do.

6) The Ides of March

Michelle's Top 10 of 2011, Part 1

I don't like politics. And I don't like political movies. But that's not what this movie is about. This movie is about ethics and knowing who you are. This George Clooney-directed, written and starring film follows a hot shot Junior Campaign Manager (Ryan Gosling) through his spiralling demise as he fights to come out on top. It  was the most dramatic film I've seen all year, both stylistically and narratively. Shots are cropped tight, the score pulses throughout and you can feel the story pulling in tighter and tighter until you can barely breathe. It's intense.

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