1. The Tree of Life– Terrence Malick’s epic tone poem weaves in and out of the life of a typical American family in 1950s Texas, zig-zagging between the creation of the universe and the afterlife in the process. By placing the location of his own childhood at the center of these celestial events, he puts a very personal spin on his warring perceptions of creation; the way of nature and the way of grace. As his camera weaves in and out of the O’Brien family’s lives (a three son household run by Brad Pitt’s nature and Jessica Chastain’s grace), the element of visual improvisation makes their everyday life and afterlife beautiful. Even if you hated it, you’ll never forget it. Read our review.
2. Certified Copy- Unexpected in every way, the romance film by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami follows two strangers as they meet up in Tuscany one afternoon and divulge into their passionate opinions on art, originality, philosophy and love. Over the course of a single afternoon, their relationship takes twists and turns, leaving the audience in awe of the puzzle laid out before them and clinging to the aesthetic beauty of its settings and characters to reveal clues. Sophisticated filmmaking technique brilliantly interlaces heavy academic, multilingual conversation with a flowing narrative to sculpt this as one of the most unique and thought-provoking films of the year. Read our review.
Young Adult Directed by: Jason Reitman Written by: Diablo Cody (screenplay) Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson and Collette Wolf
Mavis Gary is one of the most fully realized movie characters in recent memory, and certainly of 2011. In the span of Young Adult’s 90 minutes, Diablo Cody’s writing, Jason Reitman’s directing and Charlize Theron’s acting fuse together seamlessly to show us her demented, delusional inner workings.
In an early scene, Mavis is going to meet up with an old flame from high school named Buddy (Patrick Wilson). She enters this small town bar with a tight, skimpy black outfit. As she looks around the bar, judging every other patron there, the camera shifts to a POV shot as if asking us to judge them too. When the waiter comes to her table, she rudely tells him to take back the silverware and bring her a drink. Buddy enters, and she lights up with a grotesque fakeness that she dons almost as often as her snide glare.
Sure, there will be plenty of crap released this year just like any other. We all have another delightful Transformers installment to look forward to in the summer, and the coming winter months are when Hollywood dumps its crap that wouldn’t make money during prime Christmas season. So, while the award contenders from last year and the buzz-kills duke it out in January and February, here are our picks for what to watch for the rest of the year.
The Tree of Life (May 27)– Terrence Malick has made some of the most visually stunning movies ever to grace the screen. Film-wise, he hasn’t made as many as other auteurs his age, but his mark is no less indelible. With The Tree of Life, he will most likely twist audience expectation for what a “summer blockbuster” with A-list stars is. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are headlining in this tale about a young boy in the 50s who “witnesses the loss of innocence.” The hypnotic trailer is almost as vague as that description, but infinitely more beautiful. It draws you in without ruining it.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (December 21)- Fresh off his hot streak with The Social Network, David Fincher attempts to Americanize the already explosively popular book series and its Swedish film adaptations. It will be hard for him to do worse than the original Dragon Tattoo movie, which captured the atmosphere but gutted the story of Stieg Larssonn’s original. The story, about a hacker and a disgraced journalist teaming up to hunt down a serial killer, is the perfect fit for Fincher. Here’s hoping Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are also up for the dark twists and brooding revelations.