2011 in film (Best Picture)

All in all it was a good year for the movies – you may or may not have known that from the Oscar’s, because as usual they looked over some of the best films of the year. Here is a look at my top 10 – but because I saw so many great things, here is a list of my runner-up’s:


Another Happy Day
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Take Shelter
The Muppets
Albert Nobbs
Midnight in Paris
Another Earth
Paranormal Activity 3
A Separation 


#10 – HUGO




#6 – DRIVE







2011 in Film (Best Actor)

This was a good year for actors, as you’ll see in the below performances. It was rather hard to rank all of these, and the amount of inspiration I got from these performances was immense. Below is my comprehensive look at the best of the best.


*Lucas Pittaway* in Snowtown
*Brad Pitt* in Moneyball
*Ryan Gosling* in The Ides of March

These 3 performances could easily appear on any top 10 list. Newcomer Pittaway tackles a tough role in a tough movie and comes off turning in one of the most realistic performances of the year as a wayward kid roped in by a serial killer. Brad Pitt had an amazing year with this and Tree of Life (which he ranked #1 in my best supporting actor list). His work in Moneyball is just as solid. Ryan Gosling proved again this year he is one of the best young actors out there. The fact that he didn’t get nominated for Blue Valentine still irks me. He was the driving force behind Ides of March and held his own with a cast of greats.

#10 – Antonio Banderas – The Skin I Live In

What an insane movie, what an insane character! This is the best performance of Antonio’s career. Reuniting with long time collaborator Aldmolovar – this is pretty tough stuff to stomach. Somehow Banderas make’s you understand the characters journey – no matter the disturbing his acts in the film. This is must see.

#9 – Ewan McGregor – Beginners

Christopher Plummer put this picture on the map – but the work done by its other actors is truly special stuff too. Thankfully Plummer always thanked McGregor in his speeches – and rightfully so. His performance would not have been as powerful without the support and brilliance from McGregor as his son. I am rather shocked that he didn’t get more accolades. I truly think he should have been in the mix.

#8 – George Clooney – The Descendants

I really enjoy this Clooney performance. I think he sometimes rests of his laurels, but here he truly is up to something new. He sheds that charming handsome guy image as the rather pathetic husband and father who has just found out his invalid wife has cheated on him. He has moments of true brilliance in this film which more than warranted all of the attention for the film.

#7  – Michael Shannon – Take Shelter

Michael Shannon, like this film, is a force of nature. I believe he is one of the most underused and always perfect actors. He never turns in a bad performance. I believe he should already have an Oscar for Bug, which got little to no attention. He tops himself here and finally has been given a role that is not a “character role” – but a living breathing flawed person – albiet an eccentric one. This performance will shake you to your bones.

#6 – Ryan Gosling – Drive

In a year with 3 great performances (Crazy Stupid Love and Ides of March) – this is the one that I feel was the best. With so little dialogue, Gosling turns in a multi-faceted performance that’s central power lies within his control as an actor. It’s hard when an actor is this good looking to be taken seriously, but this is a performance that is truly brutally real. He is the only one who could have taken the role to this place – brilliant.

#5 – Demian Birchir – A Better Life

I am so happy that this performance was nominated – or I may have never seen it. I did find flaws in the movie itself, as I do not believe the film or the other performances rise to the level of Birchir’s acting. However, his performance is an instant classic. We don’t get to see movies about this character – and I am so thankful that he was so convincing and so inhabits his character that it was nominated and will now see the light of day.

#4 – Jean Dujardin – The Artist

I was so overjoyed that Dujardin won the Oscar, as he was brilliant in the film. People in the U.S. needed his presence up on that screen. It’s a performance that is truly something special. With uttering only 2 words in the film (and a couple of breaths) he conveys so much emotion. More than that he fills audiences with a certain joy and excitement that very well could have been missing since the silent film era. Bravo and welcome to the US!

#3 – Michael Fassbender – Shame

This is the performance I was most shocked that wasn’t announced on nomination morning. Because it was that good! Fassbender has had a breakthrough year as well – however here he really strips it all away (literally and figuratively) and gets to inhabit a character that surely will make you a bit uncomfortable. Finding the humanity in a character who so desperately is afraid of love and true affection – makes this a hard to watch performance – but nonetheless a brilliant one. Everyone who has seen this knows he was robbed.

#2 – Michael Fuith – Michael

When I saw this movie at the Chicago film festival I knew this would be my favorite male performance of the year. Which just shows you how much I loved my number 1 choice. That being said, it really is a tie – as this performance is brilliant. Playing a child molester must be tough, but playing it in such a way that you feel for the character and question your own thoughts and beliefs on the matter (yeah that’s so sick but right) is quite a feat. I want to see this man in more movies and I want it now. This is acting at its rawest form. Brilliant.

#1 – Peter Mullan – Tyrannosaur

This is a performance unlike any I have seen. His co-star Olivia Colman gives the best performance of the year, and Peter Mullan is right there with his devastating performance in this tough and beautiful film. There are many flawed characters on all of my lists, but none perhaps portrayed so brutally than Peter Mullan. This performance, and this film, was overlooked and that is a crime. From the first scene Mullan scared me, then I felt pity, then I felt regret, then I felt love, and that was within the first 45 minutes of the film. You stick with him every step of the way. A brilliant film and a brilliant performance.

Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of my choices?
Who’s your pick? 

2011 in film (Best Actress)

2012 didn’t have a slew of “amazing” leading actress performances, but the ones below are MUCH better than the usual list a year gives us. These women blew me away. I think they are all fantastic, and you should for sure search all of them out. I cannot fathom how Oscar got it so wrong this year (with its choice of nominees and moreso with the ones it left off). All of these performances are pretty perfect.


*Elizabeth Olsen* in Martha Marcy May Marlene
*Felicity Jones* in Like Crazy

Both of these women actually belong on a top 10 list, however the above performances are just to perfect to ignore. However don’t let that take anything away from them. Elizabeth Olsen proved that flawless acting can come from an Olsen sister as MMMM escapes the cult and tries to escape her past. It’s a stunning performance. And Felicity Jones in Like Crazy is the kind of buzzed about debut you wish for. She is the girl you want to find and never to lose.

#10 – Kristin Wiig – Bridesmaids

Not only did she co-write the film, she is also its heart. Bridesmaids could have been just another run of the mill chick flick, but Wiig’s realness and true hilarity elevates the film to something completely different. She portrays desperation and wit side by side. It’s sometimes sad and sometimes lovable but always hysterical.

#9 – Viola Davis – The Help

I can just hear everyone railing me for putting this performance so low – and that’s fine. The fact is Viola is always fantastic. I preferred her in Doubt, but that takes nothing away from her performance as Abileen. It is a flawless performance. The movie was a bit of a let down for me, but the performance is as strong as ever. She made me tear up, and she delivered a performance which will be remembered after today and for many years to come.

#8 – Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Taking on a role that is so popular, and that was done so well (by Noomi Repace) so recently, was a daunting task. However, in the hands of Rooney Mara, it was the type of daring and dangerous performance that stood out for all the right reasons. The commitment Mara showed in making sure she nailed Lisbeth Salander is visible in her ever frame. This is a performance I cannot wait to see more of. I’m ready for part 2.

#7 – Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady 

I will start by saying I am very happy that Meryl won the Oscar. I preferred her to Viola (and it seemed to be down to those two). I think her work in Iron Lady is legendary. She truly inhabits Thatcher. I was not impressed with the film however, and that’s why she is not listed higher. That being said her work is (as always) amazing. As the elderly Thatcher, she really gets the chance to shine. As the character struggles with dementia and Alzheimer’s, Streep connects with emotions we have never seen her reach before. I don’t know how to say its the best work shes ever done .. as that’s tough. But when you compare it to her later great work – this is top knotch. Congrats Meryl and bravo to you.

#6 – Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin

Speaking of best performances, this could very well be Tilda’s shining moment so far (however you never know, I’ve been a long time fan!). I didn’t love everything about this movie either, but Tilda’s performance made it all worthwhile. This is a performance I couldn’t see anyone else doing – and I would never want to see another actress portray this character. Swinton shows the gamete of emotions as the mother who is trying everything in her power to connect with her children and can’t. I’ve read the book, and the role could have come off as cold and weak – however in the hands of Swinton she brought layers upon layers to the role of Eva. Such astounding work.

#5 – Charlize Theron – Young Adult

In this criminally overlooked film, Charlize tackles the toughest character out of the bunch. A woman who is so pathetic, so cruel, so mean, and so awful. Diablo Cody wrote the role with no sympathy. It’s not about a mean woman being changed through her circumstances – its about a hateful woman becoming more hateful regardless of what happens to her. Yet in the hands of someone as talented as Theron, you still get moments which help you realize why this woman is as nasty as she is. This is her best work since Monster (which is one of the best performances of all time). And how odd this is, because both women are different kinds of monsters. Theron get’s to let loose again, and it was a pleasure to watch (and cringe at).

#4 – Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs

It takes a real talent to make this script work. Glenn Close has lived with the role of Albert for over 20 years now. And it shows. As I mentioned in my pick for best supporting actress (Janet McTeer from the same film) a lot of people give this movie a lot of flack. I think its a great film. And that is because of the passion of Glenn Close and the subtle brilliance of her performance as Albert. I can see how this wouldn’t appeal to a broad audience. Close is known for her over-the-top scenery chewing performances, and she abandons all of that here. But I believe it works wonders. With a small curl of the lip, or twinkle in the eye – Glenn says so much more than a monologue could allow. It’s a brilliant performance. Out of the nominated performances – it was my favorite. I hope this leads to more screen work for Ms. Close as she is one of our best talents, who is too often overlooked.

#3 – Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia

I dare you to say Kirsten Dunst isn’t a talented actress. Actually dare you. Like, I will fight with you for the whole night if you try and tell me otherwise. All the proof is in the pudding! As Justine in Melancolia – she turns in one of the best performances of the year (man or woman). I haven’t seen depression portrayed so realistically on screen in quite some time – if ever. But its growing depression – as the movie goes on she continues to deteriorate right in front of our eyes. The fact this performance didn’t get nominated for every award is criminal.

#2 – Ellen Barkin – Another Happy Day

Yet again I am choosing a performance from this film. So if you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting on? This is the type of performance that gets me so excited! Barkin hasn’t done much lately (onscreen .. she recently won a Tony though) and if this doesn’t lead to better and more mainstream work I will eat my shoe. This is a performance that I knew would be one of my favorites within the first 15 minutes of the film – and yet it only got better and better and better. As the central character of one of the most dysfunctional families ever – Barkin proves she is an actress who can handle any material thrown her way. The fact that this was not widely released or nominated – is sick. Brilliant performance!! Please see (its on dvd!)

#1 – Olivia Colman – Tyrannosaur

This is not just the best female performance of the year – this is the best performance of the year. This is probably the best performance of the past 5 years. I cannot get over the SICK lack of support for this film or this performance. I haven’t been so devestated by a performance in memory. Those I have shared this movie with have all watched it and suddenly agreed with me. Folks – THIS IS THE REAL DEAL – it doesn’t get any better than this! I promise! Olivia Colman is truly haunting in this tough film. I could go on and on about this performance, but why waste my time when you can pre-order it on amazon and in April see for yourself. But I go on record saying THIS IS THE PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR!

Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of my choices?
Who’s your pick? 

2011 in Film (Best Supporting Actor)

There have been better years for supporting male performances, that being said – the Oscars got it all wrong. Some of the nominated performances were huge misses for me – and the fact they left some of these off really offends me quite bit. Here’s my comprehensive look at the best supporting male performances of the year.


*Hunter Mccracken* – The Tree of Life
*Keifer Sutherland* – Melancholia
*Phillip Seymore Hoffman* – The Ides of March
*Ezra Miller* – Another Happy Day
*Stellan Skarsgaard* – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

All of these fine men turned in wonderful performances this year. As the center of the family in Tree of Life, Hunter McCracken turned in the best teen performance of the year. Keifer Sutherland proved he is back in business with a stark and subdued performance in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. Phillip Seymoure Hoffman proves again he can do no wrong as a cutthroat political strategist in Ides of March (he was also great in Moneyball). Ezra Miller had a stellar year as well turning in a performance as the sons from hell in both We Need to Talk About Kevin and the under seen Another Happy Day. And finally the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo wouldn’t have contained as much of a tense punch if it weren’t for the terrifying work from Stellan Skarsgaard (also great in Melancholia).

#10 – Albert Brooks – Drive

Uh-oh, here comes trouble. The comedian couldn’t be found anywhere in Albert Brooks threatening performance in Drive. An excellent movie all around, Brooks brought a level of danger to an already dangerous film. Some of his one-liners in this film rank among the best lines of the year.

#9 – Sasha Baron Cohen – Hugo

In a role which screams typical Baron Cohen quirkyness – Sasha turned the tables on us. His character in this film has as much heart as the adorable children, or the recluse old filmmaker. Bringing the movies big laughs is easy for him, but making the villainous character lovable and  likable takes true talent. I loved a lot about this movie, but I believe I may have loved him most.

#8 – John Hawkes – Martha Marcy May Marlene

Following his stunning performance in Winter’s Bone, Hawke’s returns as another backwoods character you won’t soon forget. Here he channeled his inner David Koresh as a dangerous cult leader. The miraculous part about the performance is that he provides the audience with the charm needed to prove the point of why people followed this man. Also his song which he performs, is the best scene in the film.

#7 – Nick Nolte – Warrior

This performance is one which could get Nick Nolte back in the mix. It seems to be a performance which hit quite home to the man himself. Nolte is well known for his struggles with drugs and alcohol – so playing the father who is struggling to stay sober I am sure was quite a painful experience. But from pain comes moments of true perfection – of which Nolte gives in spades. His best work in years.

#6 – Patton Oswalt – Young Adult

This movie was criminally overlooked! In a shockingly funny yet mean script, there was a lump of gold sitting right in between all of the selfishness of the characters – and that was comedian Patton Oswalt. Building upon what he started in the film Big Fan, Oswalt really shows he has dramatic chops. Who would have ever thought of him next to the glamazon Charlize Theron, in a romantic-ish relationship? Well it works – to a heartbreaking level.

#5 – David Henshall – Snowtown

Out of all the “dangerous men” on this list .. no one holds a candle to Henshall’s John Bunting. This is the performance I wouldn’t recommend to everyone, because I do not know if everyone could handle it. I’ve seen many films that try to delve into showing us a realistic portrait of a serial killer – I doubt there’s been one in the last 10 years that feels as realistic as this. Watch at your own risk – but it surely is a brilliant performance.

#4 – David Rauchenberger – Michael 

11 year old Rauchenberger turns in a performance that many will never give in their entire career. As the captive of pedophile Michael (the title character), Rauchenberger handles insanely difficult and mature material in a sensitive and mature way which highly surpass his age. I am hearing this movie is getting a wide release very soon, and my hope is that you will hunt it out.

#3 – Michael Parks – Red State

Here we go, another nutter! But this is something altogether different. Growing up in the South I have come into contact with many a nutty preacher – none hold a candle to Abin Cooper. A replica of the true life Phelp’s family clan – Abin is like all of them wrapped into one. This is a no-holds-barred over-the-top insane performance – and it works oh so well. I am honestly shocked that he didn’t get more attention. I think people ran away from this movie because it assaults religion, because Kevin Smith may not be “the cool guy” he once was, and it was billed as a horror film. I beg of you to give it a shot – its a great film and this is an award worthy performance. His opening sermon alone deserves an award.

#2 – Christopher Plummer – Beginners

Oscars pretty much got it right here. Plummer is a fantastic actor, and has been for many of his 82 years. However he truly has given his career best performance in Beginners as the newly out father. After his wife’s death, he is now able to live the life he has always wanted – as a gay man. Plummer brings his own life experience to a role that couldn’t be more different to himself on paper. The character and Plummer mold into one and the performance is one that won’t keep a dry eye in the house. Bravo to you Mr. Plummer!

#1 – Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life

Speaking of turning in career best performances, Brad Pitt did just that this year. No, not in Moneyball, but in The Tree of Life. As the father of the world’s “first family” Pitt made me think of my own father. Those moments where he loved me so much, those moments he tried to make me tough, those moments he made me mad, those moments he made me proud, etc. And the fact of never being able to “be the man your father is” was all there. With very little dialogue and elongated screen time – Pitt gets across emotions that have taken a lifetime to build. This performance is a marvel.

Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of my choices?
Who’s your pick? 

2011 in Film (Best Supporting Actress)

2012 was a strong year for actresses. Best supporting actress being no exception. Last night we saw Octavia Spencer take home the little gold man for her performance in “The Help”. Well on my list, she didn’t even make the top 10. Am I crazy? I don’t think so. Here’s my comprehensive list.


*Rose Byrne* in Bridesmaids
*Sarah Paulson* in Martha Marcy May Marlene
*Melanie Laurent* in Beginners
*Evan Rachel Wood* in The Ides of March
*Octavia Spencer* in The Help

In a year of some wonderful comedic performances, Rose Byrne was rather overlooked for her fantastic work in Bridesmaids. I am a huge friend of Damages, which she is stellar in! This was a side I had never seen before. And outside of Kristin Wiig and the wonderful Melissa McCarthy, Byrne was the other shining star in a great movie. Sarah Paulson’s work in MMMM was something special and really was the solidarity the movie needed. Beginners was a fantastic film, which was overlooked outside of Christopher Plummer. Melanie Laurent was no exception, proving she is on track to huge acclaim one day soon. Evan Rachel Wood is sometimes a tabloid target, but she pulled out the unthinkable and turned in my favorite performance in a cast filled with brilliant actors. Then we have Octavia Spencer who was wonderful in The Help. I, however, feel that it was not quite all it’s been made out to be. Hysterical and occasionally moving, she was a force on the screen. But the film didn’t allow her much to do outside of be the witty best friend. However it’s easily a mention able performance at the end of the year.

#10 – Rachael Blake – Sleeping Beauty

Julia Leigh’s movie was all over the place, however it featured this stellar performance which makes it all worthwhile. Leaving the theatre a little confused (and very intrigued), my biggest thought was – I want to see Clara’s story. Blake played Clara – the madame of a very exclusive and very dangerous sexual fetish club. With a different script, and a bit more screen time, this could have been one of the best performances of the year.

#9 – Jessica Chastain – The Help & Take Shelter

Yeah it’s my list – I can have a tie! What a year for miss Chastain. She was in 6 films (these along with Tree of Life, Texas Killing Fields, Coriolanus, etc). And she was stellar in all of them. In any other year, I think she would have been a big winner, but this year I don’t think people could decide what their favorite Jessica Chastain performance was – myself included. She was easily the best thing about The Help. Taker Shelter was phenomenal all the way around. This year was all about her rise to our consciousness – and I hope she’s here to stay! (With her lineup for next year .. my guess is she will be)

#8 – Louise Harris – Snowtown

In yet another “worst mother of the year” performance, Louise Harris turns in something really spectacularly difficult to watch. As the matriarch of the Harvey family, she proves to have the worst intuition around as she falls for a psychopathic serial killer and allows her children to form very strong bonds with him. But this is a wounded woman, not an evil woman. Somehow her performance rides that very fine line. I love an evil mother role (and so does Oscar). This one lies somewhere between Mo’Nique in Precious and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom.

#7 – Carey Mulligan – Shame

As Sissy Sullivan, the sister to Michael Fassbinder’s sexaholic, Mulligan turned in my favorite performance of her career. Although the film wasn’t plot heavy, Mulligan’s performance gave us back story – which is sometime’s very hard to do. She turned in a subtle performance, that always seemed to be about to rip at the seams. I look forward to her getting recognition she deserves in “The Great Gatsby” this year.

#6 – Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life

After much thought, this is my favorite Chastain performance of the year. In Mrs. O’Brien we could all see our mother’s growing up. An endlessly loving and kind figure struggling to catch her footing as her children grow and mature. She got to express a lifetime of emotions without much dialogue and interspersed between half hour nature segments, and she never lost her power. This film was lovely, and the performance of her and Brad Pitt as maturing parents are the key factor in making it work.

#5 – Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids

What a sigh of relief I expelled when I saw the Oscars had noticed McCarthy’s work in their nomination list. Traditionally comedic performances do not get recognized. This was something different altogether. First there’s the visual, which McCarthy put together herself. A rather loose butch look complete with wrist guard and strand of pearls. Then there’s the over-the-top comedic raunch which rarely we ever seen done so well (especially by a woman). Then there’s the humanity that McCarthy brings to the character. The scene in which she reports on her past traumas in high school is unbelievably real – because she connects with this character and in a rip-roaring “crass” comedy, to be able to break through to emotional realness – is rare.

#4 – Charlotte Gainsbourg – Melancholia

Attempting what not many women have done (doing 2 Lars Von Trier films), Gainsbourg turned in a remarkably different performance. She was last seen as the self mutilating psychopathic “woman” in Antichrist (another brilliant performance). Here she plays Claire – a woman who is surprisingly together (or so it seems). A lot is crumbling around her and she stands strong trying to create a balance in her family. Von Trier always turns out the best in his actresses, and this is no exception – the second time around.

#3 – Berenice Bejo – The Artist

In the years most charming film, Bejo turns in the years most charming performance. I dare you not to smile at Bejo whenever she is on screen. Just like her character, Peppy, Bejo is the fresh face on the scene that is stealing all the focus. There’s not much more I can say about how likable she is, not only as the character, but as a screen presence. I liked the movie quite a bit, but she was truly the standout for me.

#2 – Ellen Burstyn – Another Happy Day

So few people saw this movie that I fear I could be alone in how much I loved it – and this performance. Burstyn is always strong, and here she gets to really chew the scenery up. As the matriarch of a truly dysfunctional family – Burstyn gives new meaning to the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. Her sparring matches with Ellen Barkin (you will hear more about her later in a different post) are things of legend. She mixes humor with hurt – and no one does it better. This film is on dvd, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

#1 – Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs

There was a lot of talk about Albert Nobbs. A lot of people expressed dissapointment. You won’t find that here. I loved the movie – and this performance by the fantastic Janet McTeer was a revelation. Glenn Close’s work was brilliance, but McTeer was other wordly. I didn’t doubt her as Hubert Page once throughout the film. There wasn’t a false note. I’ve seen it 3 times now and each time I appreciate the movie more – and this performance blows me away each and every time. If you’ve heard Albert Nobbs was a mess – don’t believe it. See it, if only for McTeer.

Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of my choices?
Who’s your pick?