2011: The Year In Film So Far

Greetings from the former home of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Crossville, Tennessee!  Yes, Jeff and I are on our way back to Texas.  It’s been a wonderful vacation but I have to admit, I’m looking forward to seeing a movie at the Plano (or Dallas) Angelika on Sunday.  I’m not sure which movie but, as long as it’s a movie, I’ll be a happy girl.

That’s because I love movies.  Movies are what I schedule my life around.  My birth certificate says I was born in 1985 but I know that I was born in the year of Brazil, Prizzi’s Honor, Blood Simple, and After Hours.  If each year can be judged by the quality of the films then how is 2011 looking now that we’ve reached (and passed) the halfway mark?

Right now, as I sit here in this hotel room in my panties and my beloved Pirates shirt, I’d say 2011 is shaping up to be an average year.  There’s been a few films that I loved and there’s been a few that I’ve absolutely despised but for the most part, this year is shaping up to be comfortable and rather bland. 

Much as I did last year at this time, I’m going to take a few minutes to mention a few high points (and low points) of 2011 so far.  Agree?  Disagree?  Make your opinion known.

Best Film (So Far): Hanna, without a doubt.  Joe Wright’s stylish thriller hasn’t gotten half the acclaim that it deserves.  Runners-ups: The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Incendies, Jane Eyre, Kill The Irishman, Of Gods and Men, Red Riding Hood, Sucker Punch, The Source Code, Super, 13 Assassins, The Tree of Life, Win Win, X-Men: First Class

Best Male Performance of the Year (so far): Paul Giamatti in Win Win.  Runners up: Bobby Cannavale in Win Win, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Hesher, Matthew McConaughey in The Lincoln Lawyer, and Rainn Wilson in Super.

Best Female Performance Of The Year (so far): Sairose Ronan in Hanna. Runners up: Lubna Azabal for Incendies, Ellen Page for Super, Amy Ryan for Win Win, and Mia Wasikowska for Jane Eyre.

Best Ending (so far): The charmingly low budget zombie film that runs over the end credits of Super 8.

Best Horror Film (so far): Insidious.

Most Underrated Film Of The Year (so far): A tie, between Sucker Punch and Red Riding HoodRed Riding Hood, as a matter of fact, was so underrated that I had to see it a second time before I really appreciated it.

Best Bad Film: Beastly.  Silly but kinda fun in a really, really odd sort of way.

Worst Film of The Year (so far): The Conspirator, a bore of a movie that was apparently filmed through a filter of grime.  Runners up: Priest, The Beaver, Battle L.A. (sorry Arleigh, Leonard, and Erin), Season of the Witch, Your Highness, and The Green Lantern.

Biggest Example of A Missed Opportunity This Year (So Far): The Adjustment Bureau, which could have been a great Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind-type of film but instead, turned out to be just another predictable and shallow example of new age triteness.

The Get-Over-It Award For The First Half Of 2011: The Conspirator, a film that attempts to be relavent by using the 19th Century to comment on political issues from 2006.

My Prediction For Which Film Will Be The Most Overrated Of 2011: Last year, I predicted The Social Network and, surprise surprise, I was right.  In fact, the folks at AwardsDaily.com are still bitching about how The Social Network lost best picture to The King’s Speech.  (By the way, a few other choice pieces of wisdom from Awards Daily: The Beaver is Jodie Foster’s best film ever and only elitists should be allowed to comment on film.)  This year, I’m going to predict that the most overrated film of 2011 will be the unnecessary remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

My Prediction For What Will Be The Worst Film Of 2011: The winner here is another remake — Rod Lurie is remaking Straw Dogs and this time, he’s setting it in the South.  You know what?  Go back to Vermont and fuck yourself ragged, you dumbass, blue state elitist.  

So, that’s 2011 so far.  There’s still quite a few films that I’m looking forward to seeing: Another Earth, The Debt, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Hugo, and most of all, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

Lisa Marie Gets On Top of The Lincoln Lawyer (dir. by Brad Furman)

When I’m not writing about movies or reality television, I work for a lawyer.  Some people would describe me as being a receptionist but personally, I prefer the term office administrator.  (Actually, what I’d really prefer would be to have people refer to me as “Dr. Bowman,” but that’s in the future.)  As a result of my job, I’ve become jaded as far as “legal thrillers” are concerned.  The fact of the matter is that most lawyers aren’t slick, most trials aren’t exciting, and most surprise witnesses will probably have their testimony ruled inadmissable.  (Assuming, of course, that the testimony is allowed in the first place.  It won’t be.)  Add to that, attorney-client privilege is always presented as being some sort of grave and somber power like the one ring to unite them all.*

All of the usual legal thriller elements show up in Brad Furman’s new film, The Lincoln Lawyer.  Slick attorneys, melodramatic courtroom theatrics, and a lot of discussion about attorney-client privilege, The Lincoln Lawyer has them all but, fortunately, director Furman presents these cliches with so much energy and such a fine attention to detail that you don’t really mind the fact that you’ve seen this movie a hundred times in the past.

In the Lincoln Lawyer, Matthew McConaughey plays a lawyer who operates from the backseat of his car and who finds himself hired to defend a spoiled rich kid (Ryan Phillippe) who has been accused of raping a prostitute.  After McConaughey takes the case, it quickly becomes apparent to both him and his lead investigator (a nicely eccentric turn from William H. Macy) that not only is Phillippe guilty but he’s a serial murderer as well.  Phillippe, however, quickly reveals that he doesn’t care if McConaughey knows that he’s guilty.  After all, since McConaughey is Phillippe’s lawyer now, McConaughey can’t go to the police. 

Ryan Phillippe makes for an imposing villain and Margarita Leviera (she played Lisa P. in Adventureland) also gives a sympathetic performance as his latest victim.  However, the film is really a showcase for Matthew McConaughey who is at his full McConaugheyness here.  Not only do you believe him as the type of lawyer who would operate out of the backseat of a car but you also totally buy it when he has to deliver potentially awkward lines like, “I’m trying to set things right!”  This is probably his best performance to date, one in which all the bad acting habits of the past are totally appropriate for the character.  If nothing else, The Lincoln Lawyer is worth seeing if just for Matthew McConaughey.


*Seriously, if you call up your lawyer and tell him that you’re planning on trying to blow up California in three weeks, attorney-client privilege isn’t going to protect you.  So, don’t do it.