Lisa Marie Picks The 50 Best Films of The Past 3 Years


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As of this month, I have been reviewing films here at the Shattered Lens for 3 years.  In honor of that anniversary, I thought I’d post my picks for the 50 best films that have been released in the U.S. since 2010.

Without further ado, here’s the list!

  1. Black Swan (directed by Darren Aronofsky)
  2. Exit Through The Gift Shop (directed by Banksy)
  3. Hanna (directed by Joe Wright)
  4. Fish Tank (directed by Andrea Arnold)
  5. Higher Ground (directed by Vera Farmiga)
  6. Shame (directed by Steve McQueen)
  7. Anna Karenina (directed by Joe Wright)
  8. The Cabin In The Woods (directed by Drew Goddard)
  9. 127 Hours (directed by Danny Boyle)
  10. Somewhere (directed by Sofia Coppola)
  11. Life of Pi (directed by Ang Lee)
  12. Hugo (directed by Martin Scorsese)
  13. Inception (directed by Christopher Nolan)
  14. Animal Kingdom (directed by David Michod)
  15. Winter’s Bone (directed by Debra Granik)
  16. The Artist (directed by Michel Hazanavicius)
  17. The Guard (directed by John Michael McDonagh)
  18. Bernie (directed by Richard Linklater)
  19. The King’s Speech (directed by Tom Hooper)
  20. Bridesmaids (directed by Paul Feig)
  21. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (directed by Thomas Alfredson)
  22. Django Unchained (directed by Quentin Tarantino)
  23. Never Let Me Go (directed by Mark Romanek)
  24. Toy Story 3 (directed by Lee Unkrich)
  25. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (directed by Niels Arden Oplev)
  26. Young Adult (directed by Jason Reitman)
  27. Sucker Punch (directed by Zack Snyder)
  28. The Master (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)
  29. Incendies (directed by Denis Villeneuve)
  30. Melancholia (directed by Lars Von Trier)
  31. Super (directed by James Gunn)
  32. Silver Linings Playbook (directed by David O. Russell)
  33. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (directed by Edgar Wright)
  34. The Last Exorcism (directed by Daniel Stamm)
  35. Skyfall (directed by Sam Mendes)
  36. Easy A (directed by Will Gluck)
  37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 (directed by David Yates)
  38. The Avengers (directed by Joss Whedon)
  39. How To Train Your Dragon (directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBois)
  40. Win Win (directed by Thomas McCarthy)
  41. Les Miserables (directed by Tom Hooper)
  42. Take This Waltz (directed by Sarah Polley)
  43. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (directed by Werner Herzog)
  44. Rust and Bone (directed by Jacques Audiard)
  45. Cosmopolis (directed by David Cronenberg)
  46. Ruby Sparks (directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valarie Faris)
  47. Brave (directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman)
  48. Martha Marcy May Marlene (directed by Sean Durkin)
  49. Jane Eyre (directed by Cary Fukunaga)
  50. Damsels in Distress (directed by Whit Stillman)

Film Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene (directed by Sean Durkin)


Martha Marcy May Marlene was, for me, one of the most surprising films of 2011.  I wasn’t expecting much when I went to see it because so much of the film’s publicity centered on the fact that it starred Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the Olsen Twins.  Needless to say, we don’t usually associate the Olsen Twins with challenging and mature filmmaking and, even though they had nothing to do with Martha Marcy May Marlene, it was impossible to read or hear about the film without them being mentioned.  For a lot of people, this led to Martha Marcy May Marlene being dismissed by association.  That’s really not fair to the film or Elizabeth Olsen (or the Olsen Twins, for that matter).  Martha Marcy May Marlene is a haunting and disturbing little psychological thriller and one of the best films of 2011.

Olsen plays Martha, a young woman who, one day, shows up at the home of her older sister and her husband (played by Sarah Paulson and Hugh Dancy).  Though the film never gets into the specific details, it becomes apparent that Paulson and Olsen are the products of a dysfunctional background.  Olsen escaped by running away from home while Paulson found her exit by marrying the rather arrogant Dancy.  Hoping to repair their own strained relationship, Paulson agrees to let Olsen stay with them, despite both the objections of Dancy and Olsen’s refusal to say where she’s been.  No sooner has Olsen moved in then it starts to become apparent that she’s not the same person that Paulson remembers. When Paulson asks Olsen if she wants to take a swim in the nearby lake, Olsen responds by stripping off her clothes in front of Dancy and when Paulson and Dancy are trying to conceive their first child, Olsen sees nothing wrong with casually walking into the room and laying down on the bed beside them.  More ominously, Olsen soon reveals herself to be paranoid of strangers.  As Paulson struggles to understand her sister, we see flashbacks of a much more open (and trusting) Olsen joining a cult-like group, led by a magnetic John Hawkes.

Director Sean Durkin makes an assured debut with this film, subtly shifting between the present and the past and filling the screen with beautifully placid images that somehow manage to leave the audience with an unshakeable sense of menace and foreboding.  As a storyteller, Durkin keeps the audience guessing and wondering about both who Martha once was, who she eventually became, and who she’s going to be in the future.  Wisely Durkin doesn’t provide any easy solutions as much as he poses questions and then suggests a possible answer. 

If you’re like and you’re a true crime and/or exploitation junkie (I’m both), you’ll realize immediately that the character played by John Hawkes is pretty blatantly based on Charles Manson and his followers are the equivalent of Manson’s “family.”  What’s interesting is how Hawkes manages to keep his character both threatening and intriguing even after this become apparent.  Hawkes radiates such charisma in the beginning of the film that the scenes where he eventually reveals his true colors are shocking, despite the fact that you know they’re coming.  It’s a performance that proves that Hawkes is one of the best character actors working today and Durkin skillfully contrasts Hawkes’s more subtle form of domination with Hugh Dancy’s more obvious technique with the film ultimately suggesting that both of these patriarchal characters are just two sides of the same coin.

Ultimately, though, the film is dominated by Elizabeth Olsen who gives a performance that is simply brilliant.  Alternatively innocent and calculating, Martha is a fascinating character and Olsen brings her to haunting life.  As a result of Olsen’s brave performance, Martha Marcy May Marlene joins with Hanna and Shame as a great modern film about the search for identity.  This has been a year full of strong female performances and Olsen gives one of the strongest.  The next time some shyster tries to sell you on the idea that Rooney Mara is the actress of the future, tell them to go see Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Boston Demands To Be Heard


The Los Angeles film critics weren’t the only ones to vote on their favorites of 2011 today.  The Boston Society of Film Critics voted today as well.  Now, as I’ve stated quite a few times on this site, I’m a Southern girl and I have a feeling that if I ever went up to Boston, everyone up there would ignore the fact that I’m an Irish Catholic and would probably just make fun of my accent.  Eventually, the conversation would turn to politics and I would let slip the fact that not only am I not a Democrat but I didn’t even vote for Barack Obama in 2008.  A big fight would follow and I imagine we wouldn’t even get around to talking about our favorite movies…

Sorry, I lost my train of thought there.  Anyway, the BSFC voted and here’s what they came up with:

Best Picture: “The Artist”

     Runners-up: “Hugo” and “Margaret”

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”

     Runner-up: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

Best Actor: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

     Runners-up: George Clooney, “The Descendants” and Michael Fassbender, “Shame”

Best Actress: Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

     Runner-up: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, “Drive”

     Runner-up: Max Von Sydow, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”

     Runner-up: Jeannie Berlin, “Margaret”

Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, “Moneyball”

     Runner-up: Kenneth Lonergan, “Margaret”

(If I was writing for AwardsDaily.com, I guess this is where I would say, NO MOVIE HAD A BETTER SCREENPLAY THAN THE SOCIAL NETWORK)

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “The Tree of Life”

     Runner-up: Robert Richardson, “Hugo”

Best Documentary: “Project Nim”

     Runner-up: “Bill Cunningham New York”

Best Foreign-Language Film: “Incendies”

     Runners-up: “A Separation” and “Poetry”

Best Animated Film: “Rango”

Best Film Editing:  Christian Marclay, “The Clock”

     Runner-up: Thelma Schoonmaker, “Hugo”

Best New Filmmaker: Sean Durkin, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

     Runner-up: J.C. Chandor, “Margin Call”

Best Ensemble Cast: “Carnage”

     Runner-up: “Margaret”

Best Use of Music in a Film: (tie) “Drive” and “The Artist”

     Runner-up: “The Descendants”

Special Commendations:

Ben Fowlie, Sara Archambault and Sean Flynn of DocYard

The Museum of Fine Arts for “The Clock”

The Brattle Film Foundation

Best Rediscoveries:

“The Shooting” at the Harvard Film Achive

“The Makota Sisters” at the Museum of Fine Arts

“Deep End” at the HFA

“Days and Nights in the Forest” at the HFA

“Children of Hiroshima” at the HFA

Obviously, the Boston Film Critics were big fans of Kenneth Lonergan’s film MargaretMargaret was actually filmed in 2007 but, because of various lawsuits between Longergan and the film’s producers, it was not actually released until September of this year.  Unfortunately, it only played down here for about a week and I didn’t get a chance to see it but hopefully, I will in the future.  If nothing else, I want to see it so I can have something other than politics to talk about if I ever go up to Boston.

2011 Gotham Awards Recap


In my previous post, I announced the start of “Oscar season” by offering up a recap of the films and performers honored by the New York Film Critics Circle earlier today.  However, the Oscar season was actually kicked off on Monday night with the Gotham Awards.  Much like the Independent Spirit awards, the Gothams are meant to honor the best in the year’s independent films.  Below is a recap of which films were honored at this year’s ceremony.

Best Feature

Beginners(tie)
The Tree of Life(tie)

Best Ensemble Performance

Beginners

Best Breakthrough Actor/Actress

Felicity JonesLike Crazy

Best Breakthrough Director

Dee ReesPariah

Best Documentary

Better This World

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You

Scenes of a Crime

The big news here has been that Beginners and Tree of Life tied for best picture.  (Actually, I’m not surprised as both films pretty much explored the same themes of memory, aging, and love.)  It’ll be interesting to see if either one of these films manage to maintain the momentum of their victory through the rest of the Oscar season. 

As for me, I have a new mission and that is to see Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same.