Best films of 2011

Mon, Jan 9, 2012

Le Quattro Volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)

With 2011 slowly receding into the memory banks and year-end lists filling up websites, newspapers, and blogs, our Director of Film/Video David Filipi and Associate Curator of Film/Video Chris Stults have thrown their hats in the ring and have given us their year-end picks for 2011.

These are films that were released in Columbus, Ohio, during the 2011 calendar year, so if you see a few stragglers from 2010 that's why.

Have a list of your own? Post it on the Film/Video Facebook page.

Without further ado:

David Filipi: A Top 20

My top five are ranked; the rest are in alphabetical order.

1. Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
2. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
3. Hugo (Martin Scorsese)
4. Le Quattro Volte (Michelangelo Frammartino)
5. Nostalgia for the Light (Patricio Guzman)

In compiling his year-end lists for the Chicago Reader, the great Jonathan Rosenbaum often paired films linked by a shared theme or other property. For me, Melancholia and The Tree of Life are thrillingly ambitious contemplations of our existence separated by completely different philosophies. For Malick, it's enough that we existed. For von Trier, that we existed means nothing. Hugo, too, is ultimately, about a death, an ending, a last gasp. It's hard to imagine any director other than Scorsese making the film.

Regarding Le Quattro Volte and Nostalgia for the Light, I wonder: A) if most local critics were scratching their collective heads when they saw these titles on nearly all of the cumulative top ten lists from around the country, and B) if they realize these films actually played in Columbus this year, and C) if curiosity will inspire them to track down the films to see what they missed.

13 Assassins (Takeshi Miike)
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausecu (Andrei Ujica)
Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (Joann Sfar)
The Interrupters (Steve James & Alex Kotlowitz)
Keyhole (Guy Maddin)
Marwencol (Jeff Malmberg)
Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)
Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
Putty Hill (Matt Porterfield)
The Robber (Benjamin Heisenberg)
Terri (Azazel Jacobs)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
White Material (Claire Denis)

Best Installation

The Flight of the Tulugaq (André Guerreiro)
The Mirrored Curtain (Lori Felker)
Soft Palate (Martin Arnold)
Trypps #7 (Badlands) (Ben Russell)

Best Re-releases

Charlie Chaplin Retrospective (Janus Films)
Onibaba (1964) & Kuroneko (1968) (Kaneto Shindo)
On the Bowery (Lionel Rogosin, 1957)
Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1975)

Best Films Unfortunately Forced to Watch Online

The Black Power Mixtape 1967–75 (Goran Hugo Olsson, 2011)
Cocksucker Blues (Robert Frank, 1972)

Best TV

Boardwalk Empire (Terence Winter)
Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes)

Best “How is this not a Cult Classic” Screening

The Ship of Monsters (Rogelio A. Gonzalez, 1960)

All I can say about this one is you were either at the Wex on January 14 or 15 or you weren't. Robots, singing cowboys, scantily clad aliens, and some sad-looking monsters.

Chris Stults: Blackjack!: 21 favorite films that played in Columbus in 2011

2011 was a great year for moviegoing in Columbus, with many of the most significant recent films from around the world passing through town. Unlike the deluge of year-end film lists that seem to only acknowledge feature films that had expensive marketing budgets or “for your consideration” award campaigns, this list of highlights from my local moviegoing year indicates the diverse spectrum of films being produced today: feature films, documentaries, big budget productions, personal artists' films, short films, works made on 35mm or 16mm film, works made on video, works made in 3D, films that can only be performed live, etc.

Some played at multiplexes. Some played at independent theaters like the Gateway or the Drexel. But 13 of the 21 films on my list played only at the Wexner Center—often for only one or two shows. It does take a certain amount of nimbleness and adventurousness to discover the best film playing in town on any given night, but those extra efforts are often handsomely rewarded when you explore less-traveled cinematic paths and discover something truly extraordinary. Here's hoping that 2012 provides a similarly bountiful array of cinematic experiences! And if you haven't seen (or heard of) some of the films on this list, many of them are now (or will soon be) available on home video and are well worth tracking down.

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
2. Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)
3. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
4. Film for Invisible Ink, case no. 323: ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (David Gatten) [short]
5. Putty Hill (Matt Porterfield)
6. In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails (Fern Silva) [short]
7. Let Each One Go Where He May (Ben Russell)
8. Double Pipes (Bruce McClure) [projector performance @ Skylab – 09.24.11]
9. Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes) [TV miniseries]
10. Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino)
11. Tin Pressed (Dani Leventhal) [short]
12. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
13. Cry When It Happens (Laida Lertxundi) [short]
14. Hugo (Martin Scorsese)
15. Marwencol (Jeff Malmberg)
16. Keyhole (Guy Maddin)
17. The Arbor (Clio Barnard)
18. Cold Weather (Aaron Katz)
19. Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois)
20. These Hammers Don't Hurt Us (Michael Robinson) [short]
21. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)

Favorite Performances

Julie Sokolowski, Hadewijch
Ameena Matthews, The Interrupters 

Underrated

Crazy, Stupid, Love 

Overrated

Midnight in Paris

Most Pleasant Surprise

Night Catches Us
Rango
Winnie the Pooh 

Favorite Rerelease

The Soft Skin (François Truffaut, 1964)

Most Enjoyable Communal Screening Experiences

Alamar (Pedro González-Rubio)
The Ship of Monsters (Rogelio A. González, 1960)
13 Assassins (Takashi Miike)
David Gatten retrospective

Two extraordinary films to look out for in 2012

House of Pleasures (Bertrand Bonello, 2011)
Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2006-2011)