It's a little over halfway through the year, so it's only appropriate that we do a mid-year top-ten films list. Typically, most of the year's best are released closer to its final quarter, so it'll be interesting to see what selections from this list make 2011's final cut.
1. X-Men: First Class:
Of all the many superhero flicks that have come out this Summer, First Class is a cut above the rest. There are some moments where the film deteriorates into the standard fare, but they are few, far between and easily forgettable when considering the film's many bright spots. Michael Fassbender knocks the Magneto role out of the park, as do Kevin Bacon and James McAvoy in their respective roles. Unlike this month's Captain America, First Class also nails mostly every aspect of the period setting.
Could be. You never know, especially considering the quality of films released during the final quarter of the year. However, I'm very high on this film and could easily see it taking up the spot in my top-ten typically reserved for Summer blockbusters.
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2:
An excellent ending to a solid series. Unlike the equally excellent Part 1, Part 2 is defined by a definite "let's do this thing" attitude, filled with emotion and thrills.
This is also a possibility. Again, this depends on the crop of films going forward, but this film could succeed where Part 1 fell slightly short last year.
3. City of Life and Death:
This Chinese WWII drama depicting the Rape of Nanking perpetrated by the invading Japanese forces is hard to forget. The film is shocking and upsetting, but also hauntingly beautiful in its portrayal of war and all those involved. City of Life and Death is probably the best war film I've seen in years.
Strong possibility. (Though the film was released a couple years ago abroad, it hadn't made its way to the States until recently)
4. Meek's Cutoff:
Kelly Reichardt's newest, a wagon-train western of sorts isn't for everyone. It's slow and utterly without cliche, which makes it foreign territory amongst most mainstream modern westerns. Besides being visually stunning, Meek's features a reserved-yet-dynamic performance from the always-excellent Michelle Williams, who can't help but look great even in a bonnet and peddicoat. Over the course of the film, you become greatly invested in the characters and their plight - a search for drinkable water with an inept guide in Meek himself. The film comes to a conclusion at an unlikely point and that's initially frustrating, but once that feeling passes, it becomes thought-provoking and entirely too fitting for the type of film Reichardt was making.
Also, highly possible.
5. Midnight in Paris:
Woody Allen's latest is one of his best in years. Wilson gives a great performance as do the actors in the historical roles. Midnight's time-travel aspect is magical and without unnecessary explanation. The whole movie, in fact, is quite (for lack of better word) whimsical.
I'd doubt it, but it's destined to be the year's best comedy. Sure to be on many senior citizens' best of 2011 lists though.
6. The Tree of Life:
Malick's latest gets better with every viewing. The visuals are stunning throughout and anyone who cares to scratch the surface of the film's titular implications will get something out of viewing it. There is likely to be no other film like it this year or next.
A possibility, though it might just fall short when the time comes.
7. Source Code:
Like director Duncan Jones' feature debut, Moon, Source Code examines some interesting existential issues in an effective and engaging way - though this sophomore effort is definitely higher on action. Gyllenhaal gives a solid leading performance and the film comes to a satisfactory conclusion that is likely to elicit some audible "hmmm"s from viewers.
Probably not, but an above-average effort from the first third of the year.
Joe Wright's edgiest film to date features some solid performances, especially from its leading lady, as well as a great soundtrack and some creative action sequences. Hanna makes the list because of its originality and uniqueness.
Nah. See Source Code.
Definitely the better of the two Marvel offerings this Summer - Thor is a lot of fun. Hemsworth owns the role and Branagh captures Asgard admirably.
Not likely. Not ahead of First Class anyway.
10. The Troll-Hunter:
A foreign, found-footage horror/fantasy, you say? A silly film, for sure, but also quite imaginative.
Well, no, but that's not to say it isn't awesome though.