Skip to main content

The Year of Nostalgia (Best Films of 2011)

Nostalgia hurts, so it came as a surprise that so many films this year were aimed at people opening old wounds and experiencing the joys of childhood again. Hugo mystified many this year and The Artist recreated a whimsical feeling in moviegoers that had gone unfelt since the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close made us wish for the innocence of a child before the fateful morning of September 11th. Midnight in Paris reminded us that nostalgia of an era we never lived in is just sentimentality.

But it wasn't just nostalgia for another time, it was for any semblance of normality. A return to a time when raising a family wasn't so damn hard. When your rivals couldn't simply outspend you. When your friend getting married didn't mean that she had to move away. When cinema could help audiences forget the troubles of the world. Few films have touched upon wish fulfillment in bulk the way that this year has. Even few have done so as well as Take Shelter, if there is a film that can better embody the feeling of the average family trying to pull through a recession, I never found it.

A lot has been said about 2011: that it doesn't compare with 2010's class of films; that is was weak; that it didn't have any heart. At the end of the day I would put this year up against any. It reminded us of a time we all longed for.

Colin's Top Ten
10. Bridesmaids
9. The Guard
8. 50/50
7. The Descendants
6. Hugo
5. Moneyball
4. Drive
3. Win Win 
2. Jane Eyre
1. Take Shelter

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Review: Selma

It may surprise many that Martin Luther King Jr. never received the celluloid treatment prior to Selma. Sure he had been mentioned in other historical pieces, but short of documentary footage, King was never given center stage. Quite shocking given the man's legacy and the lingering effect of his efforts still felt today. Several years of production and a director change later, Selma arrives as the film worthy of the man.

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…