I suffer through an annual end of the year meltdown. As we get closer and closer to the close of the year, I get more and more concerned that I won’t have enough films to fill out my top ten. Now how sad would that be? Fortunately, this is merely a bad habit I’ve gotten myself into and not only did I come up with a nice selection after running through everything I’ve seen in 2011, but I had a pretty tough time narrowing the list down to just ten.
Per usual, my goal as a critic is to find the happy medium between my growing film studies background and simply being able to sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Over the past year, being enrolled in Columbia University’s Film MFA program has undoubtedly affected my reviews, but focusing on a film’s entertainment value is still a top priority with filmmaking quality a close second and that’s as evident as ever in my list of the top ten films of 2011.
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There’s a reason why Steven Spielberg is so successful; he knows how to make a movie for everyone. Jaws, E.T., Jurassic Park, Catch Me If You Can and more. Sure, not all of them can be considered pristine filmmaking, but still, generally all of his films are incredibly enjoyable and not only does War Horse follow suit in terms of entertainment and emotional value, but quality-wise, it’s certainly on the top tier.
After his pride gets the better of him during an auction, Ted Narracott’s (Peter Mullan) son, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), becomes responsible for making the young horse Joey worth the hefty price his father paid. Albert dedicates every waking hour to Joey, training him to pull a plow so the Narracott’s can get their failing farm back in order and keep them from losing their home. However, just when everything seems to be going to plan, Joey is snatched up by World War I.
Never forgetting Albert’s training and care, Joey goes on to ride with the English army as well as the German army, making additional bonds along the way including British soldier Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) and a young girl named Emilie (Celine Buckens). Meanwhile, Albert’s distracted from his longing for Joey by the war, getting thrown into battle himself.
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Sure, it only makes my job tougher sorting through a slew of successful promotional material in an effort to narrow down the top three, but that’s a painstaking process I’m beyond thrilled to tackle as it suggests the feature film future is looking good.
Sadly, that also means some impressive pieces won’t receive their due honor. Captain America: The First Avenger was on the verge of snagging two spots in the promotion section courtesy of its incredibly thorough and exciting new trailer, as well as an amusingly clever Dunkin Donuts commercial. There’s also the new trailer for Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which blew me away, not necessarily because it’s a well cut piece, but more so for its ability to make me curious when I’m not the slightest bit interested in the franchise.
Settling in somewhere in the middle of the spectrum are the new trailers for War Horse and the teaser for Brave. If you’ve been keeping up with this feature, by now you likely know I’m big on story, and while the visuals in the War Horse trailer are stunning, without reading a synopsis I get nothing more from this footage than it being a film about a boy and horse — and that’s certainly not enough to get me to buy a ticket. Similarly, Brave continues to flaunt its stellar animation, but has yet to deliver that emotional clincher to create a connection to the film’s heroine.
As for our weekly dose of demotions, one genre managed to snag them all. Check out the new Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week for the breakdown.
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