We're Halfway There!

Midnight in Paris is tops, but what else should be remembered come the year's end?

Well, we have approached the midpoint of 2011: how have the movies fared so far? Not bad. It’s been a good year for movies, but not a great one at this point. That could end up being a good thing, since the Randy Newman Fan Club once again switched the rules for Best Picture, changing the fixed number of ten nominees to a flexible range of five to ten. Regardless of the Academy’s potentially flawed system, a few gems should be remembered come December. Midnight in Paris, for example, is not only the best film to hit theatres thus far in 2011, but it’s also one of the Woodman’s best. Even though he doesn’t care about awards, it would be nice to see Woody in the Best Picture race, since it’s been 25 years since one of his films was up for the top prize (Hannah and Her Sisters). 

Like Midnight in Paris, Many of the other strong offerings of 2011 have been smaller productions; however, a few Hollywood hits really delivered (e.g. Bridesmaids). There are also some strong films looming in the release schedule, such as The Whistleblower and Project Nim, but I have omitted them from the lists because they have not yet had their theatrical release. They’ll surely be cited at the year’s end, though.

While the number of great films this year has been limited, I struggled to whittle this list down to ten. A few titles – The High Cost of Living, Glorious 39, and Somewhere – just missed the cut, but no amount of juggling could omit another film and yield a satisfactory ten. Anyways, here are my picks for the best films and performances for films released so far in 2011. ***One further caveat, Tree of Life has yet to open in Ottawa …feel free to rub it in.
So, in alphabetical order, the Top Ten films so far in 2011 are...
(Paul Feig, USA)
Certified Copy
(Abbas Kiarostami, France/Italy)

The First Grader
(Justin Chadwick, UK/USA/Kenya)

(Joe Wright, USA/UK/Germany)

The Housemaid
(Im Sang-Soo, South Korea) 

Jane Eyre
(Cary Fukunaga, UK/USA)
Last Night 
(Massy Tadjedin, USA/France)

Midnight in Paris 
(Woody Allen, USA/Spain)
(Ingrid Veninger, Canada/Slovakia)
Win Win
(Tom McCarthy, USA)

And, of course, the best performances of the year so far:

Top 5 Performances in a lead role:

Juliette Binoche, Certified Copy
Mel Gibson, The Beaver
Jeon do-yeon, The Housemaid
Keira Knightley, Last Night
Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender in Jane Eyre

The Top 5 performances in supporting roles so far:
Cate Blanchett, Hanna
Martha Burns, A Wake
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris
 Tommy Lee Jones, The Company Men
Christoph Waltz, Water for Elephants

Did I forget anything? (Don't say Tree of Life!)