So if you have been following Lost In Reviews for a while, you will know that we like to give out our own form of an Oscar to deserving talent. We call this award, “The Bateman”, from Christian Bale’s fantastic performance as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. We have carefully scoured the films that have come out all year and whittled it down to the top ten best films overall from ten to one. Although, we always have to throw a bone to a few more with an Honorable Mention. Last year we came pretty close to what ended up being the Oscars 10 best films, this year I think we may surprise you, and in true Lost in Reviews form, you may need to do a little searching to find these films.
10. American Animal: When I first started doing my research for the SXSW film festival the trailer for American Animal stood tall as the film that I was most excited to see. With madness set to the tune of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” how could I not get excited? However, I’m not beyond the realization that excitement from a trailer can be a dangerous thing. Trailers can make even the worst film look incredible, just take a few exciting moments, string them together with a moving musical centerpiece and voilà, excitement ensues. Lucky for me American Animal is more than a trailer, more than a ball of excitement wrapped around a monumental song, it’s a real film and the kind of film that grabs your core and never let’s go.
In the first moments of American Animal we are introduced to Jimmy (Matt D’Elia) and the plethora of medication he must consume to continue his life of insanity. After this consumption of drug-store life-supports Jimmy coughs blood into a napkin and is ready to start his day, little does he know today will be the day that his world is turned upside down as his roommate James (Brendan Fletcher) has an earth-shaking announcement to make. This announcement, while it could be considered simple to most, is just the kind of fuel Jimmy needs to turn a night of fun and celebration into the strange and bizarre. To add more fuel to the fire James has invited his friends Angela (Mircea Monroe) and Not Blonde Angela (Angela Sarafyan) to enjoy the night’s festivities. You see James is about to move on with his life by starting a new job, a thing that for most would be cause for celebration, but for Jimmy it’s just the cause for realization that his friend is moving on. Continue Reading…
9. Hesher: Let me just say right away that I was looking forward to seeing Hesher since it premiered in it’s unfinished state last year at Sundance and the buzz on it began to roam. I also fully believe that Joseph Gordon Levitt has the skill to become one of the next great actors like Leonardo DiCaprio or Robert DeNiro. I became even more interested when I learned the film also starred Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson. Well I finally got my chance to take the film in and I was not disappointed. In fact, I would like to take in another screening here at SXSW before it’s over.
Hesher is the story of a loner that hates the world and everyone who bugs him. He has long hair, looks malnourished and is covered with homemade tattoos that also shout his hatred to the world. It’s obvious that he is near homeless when young TJ throws a rock through an abandoned building’s window and Hesher comes gliding out with hate in eyes ready to pounce on who ever just interrupted his day. From this moment, Hesher and TJ are bound together by a strange force that neither can shake.
Hesher is a crazy, radical and sometimes scary guy to be around. He seems to fear nothing and will only do what he wants, even if it means others around him get hurt. But somewhere, underneath the grime and filth and long greasy hair, there is a person that is serving a purpose to a family, whether he wants to or not. The first moments of this sincerity are shared with TJ’s grandmother, who also lives with them. She is old, and a little confused at times, but Hesher never scares her. Continue Reading…
8. Martha Marcy May Marlene: After seeing this film and last year’s Winter’s Bone one thing is for sure: John Hawkes is one scary dude. Martha Marcy May Marlene is a long title for a simple storyline. Martha is a young woman who found herself in a backwoods cult of sorts and the story comes in when she is ready to leave this not so humble abode. The events that lead to her decision to leave are sprinkled throughout the film as flash backs of horror. We find Martha, or Marcy May as she is called in her cult family, running from the house in the woods to a nearby town where she makes a phone call to her sister. After about a three hour drive away from there, she is welcome to stay with her sister and new husband in their lush, expensive vacation home.
Everyone always wonders what it actually takes to brainwash people into joining cults. This film paints a picture that’s not so black and white about that very detail. Through flashbacks and memories we learn that the “family” gains her trust by making her feel special, then brainwashes her with crazy ideas that seem okay at the time because there are no other families around to compare them to. Watching the breakdown of a young girl is no picnic. Director Sean Durkin does an excellent job of portraying the fear and delusions that were instilled in Martha in the two years she spent with this backwoods family. Continue Reading…
7. Another Earth: Imagine if you learned tomorrow that not only has another planet been discovered, but it appears to be an exact replica of Earth. This Earth 2 has appeared in our solar system and appears to be moving towards us. Questions arise about what is on this Earth 2, is it inhabited, are there people like us, is there another “you” living there? Curiosity is what keeps us going and knowledge about ourselves as individuals and as a people are what we strive to understand. Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) is a bright, young, girl about to embark on an adventure of excellence as she has just been accepted to M.I.T. On the night of the discovery of another planet in the solar system, she makes a terrible mistake and drunk drives herself straight to prison. When she is free to walk four years later, the Earth 2, as they’re calling it, has grown significantly in size, because it’s moving closer, and it’s all anyone can talk about.
Rhoda struggles every day with the decision she made four years ago that changed more than her own life. She seeks out the man she hit with her car and tries to find the words to apologize, but loses her nerve. She ends up sticking around to get to know him better, in hope of making his life a little brighter. She takes a chance and enters into a writing contest to win a ticket on the shuttle going to Earth 2 in a few months. As time passes, we learn that this planet not only looks like ours, but may in fact be a mirror image of our own planet, thrust into our solar system from where ever they originated. The possibility that the other planet has everything and everyone that we know here on our own planet on Earth 2 is mind-boggling. Everything we are planning, they could be planning as well. If we decided to start an intergalactic war with the other planet, we could be sure that they were planning it on us as well. Rhoda wants to go for the possibility of a second chance at life. Perhaps, she didn’t screw up so bad on Earth 2, she could see what her life could have been like. Another Earth centers on the theme that forgiveness may be the hardest concept to receive from yourself. Continue Reading…
6. Shame: Michael Fassbender has been in a lot of films, but it wasn’t until Shame, that we really noticed him. Shame is the story of a New York man that keeps to himself. He has sexual urges that he fills in strange and various ways, all without love being involved. His private life is disturbed when his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay. Throughout her stay, we see the meticulous break down of a very stoic man. The direction of the film really impressed us as Steve McQueen used long, leering shots that had us feeling like a fly on the wall. The cinematography was absolutely stunning at times as we see Fassbender go for a jog in the midnight streets of New York and the camera is right there with him the whole way, as if you are his running partner. The film isn’t afraid to take risks with silence at times as we are forced into the uneasy nature that Fassbender’s character is suffering from and it leaves us feeling just as uneasy at times. The film’s ending is brilliance that will have you talking with your friends for some time after. This is not an easy film to watch, but it comes highly recommended from us. Fassbender is in one of the best roles of his life and although the dialogue may be short and to the point at times, all the emotion is in his eyes. This is the best form of acting on film. Carey Mulligan is amazing in her role of the catty, younger sister. She truly transformed herself for this role and it pays off as you like her, then hate her character then quickly feel empathy and pain for her.
5. Attack The Block: There were two movies in 2011 that made me remember why I fell in love with film and Attack the Block is the better of those two. Director Joe Cornish made me feel like a kid again with scene after scene of Attack the Block. A film has a flair and a style that can’t be replicated, but still respectful to the films that helped create it’s legacy. Cornish took kids right of the streets of London and shaped a film that felt more natural than anything on the screen today.
Attack the Block is a film that will live on in cult history with midnight screenings and echoing chants of “Moses” in an amped up fanatic crowd. The film never lets you take a breath and has no problem waiting in your Blu Ray player for the next spin. If you haven’t yet seen the urban scifi epic then I highly suggest you do, especially if you plan on watching any of the other films on our list as you’ll need the pick me up.
4. Bellflower: Bellflower is a film that came out of nowhere and shook my inner core. Mostly due to the fact that my expectations were turned on their head. There are some films that you just can’t say enough about. I find that Bellflower is the complete opposite of that statement. There is nothing like seeing this film dry and without any carnal knowledge of it’s inner workings. When I first saw the film all I had heard was that Evan Glodell had made a bad ass car and a fully functioning flame thrower and by the end I was looking for the rewind button. Bellflower is a film that will leave your jaw on the floor and your mind twisted and ready for more!
If in a studio driven world the indie film maker is god then Evan Glodell is a saint, putting it all on the line with Bellflower. Evan risked everything to make the movie of his dreams. Thankfully it turned out for the best and we all can share in his nightmare. If Bellflower doesn’t have what it takes to shake you and open your mind to what the future of film may look like then you may want to head back to the multiplex and stay out of the art house, because you’re lost.
3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: While I loved the Swedish films it only took David Fincher a year to make me forget their greatness. Where it took a trilogy to dawn the 7th spot on our top ten last year, David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo stands on it’s own as one of the best films of the year. We are always the first to say something shouldn’t be remade, but in this case, we were wrong.
David Fincher delivered a film more brutal than the original and with the help of Trent Reznor’s score I felt like I needed a shower by the third act. I left the theater thinking I had finally seen a film that could rival Drive and at times thought that this should be the best film of the year. Like Drive it has it all, the only differences being the acting. Not to say there is anything wrong with Daniel Craig or Rooney Mara, they were brilliant, but just not quite as captivating as Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling.
If Drive had not been made The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo would be our best film of the year. If you have not seen it yet, do so! Just make sure you’re ready to take the ride.
2. Melancholia: What makes Melancholia our number two film this year is a variety of things that lead it to perfection. Lars Von Trier is known for films that stimulate the mind, entertain the eye and cause a scandalous uproar at times. Melancholia is split into two equal parts about two sisters, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Part One centers around Justine’s wedding and its ultimate failure. We see the struggle that Justine has with following the norm as there is a much deeper turmoil within. Part Two centers on Claire and her struggles with the change happening in the world now that another planet named Melancholia is headed toward Earth. She fears what will happen because she has a young son to care for, but Justine embraces it and this is where the film shines. Part One is absolutely gorgeous, but its all a set up of characters and background so that Part Two can sweep you off your feet. The score is absolutely amazing and even though its bold enough to remember long after the film, it does perfectly what it sets out to do, cause emotion. The acting was also superb as Kirsten Dunst has truly outdone herself in this film. All the roles were filled perfectly, but without the raw emotion on Dunst’s face, the film would not have sailed to this spot on our list. Lastly, the direction Von Trier put into this film is some of the best cinematography to be put on film yet. He used his signature look of slowing the camera down on certain scenes and letting orchestral music play over it, but with Melancholia, the colors are so much more vibrant than films in his past and it truly is breath-taking how beautiful this film looks.
AND THE BATEMAN GOES TO…
1. Drive: It was never hard to pick our number one movie of the year. After the first viewing Drive screamed “The Best Film of The Year.” It has it all: a mind-blowing score, jaw-dropping cinematography, and the best acting I have seen all year. You never want your time with the driver to end, you hope that everything will turn out okay and that the plot will become some sort of happy love story. That’s just not the case in this twisted film. It’s nothing you have ever seen before and something that you hope you can see again.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn had me screaming his praises after seeing Bronson, but after the credits rolled on Drive I was speechless. Refn put a mussel on Ryan Gosling, placed an emotionless mask over his face, and helped him conduct the best performance of the year. Drive takes risks and is unapologetic and there is just nothing that comes close to it’s cinematic power and that is why our Bateman winner and the best film of the year goes to Drive.