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The reel review with Alex:

Films in review: 2011, the year of sequels

By Alex Jabre
On February 2, 2012

The year of 2011 was officially the year of the sequel (28 to be exact), but was also a year that provided us with another generous offering of marvelous films. You won't find Hugo, The Artist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Midnight in Paris or The Help on this list. They're all good films but were not, in my opinion, the best of what this year had to offer. Here is my opinion on 2011's must sees:

Win Win – Paul Giamatti is winning (pardon the pun) in the year's best sports film about a high school wrestling coach who unwittingly forms a father/sonlike relationship with a troubled (but prodigious) teenage wrestler. Win Win is a wonderful film that always plays authentically from its whip-smart script and has a huge heart.

9 Sleeping Beauty – About as far away from the Disney cartoon as you can get. This polarizing, puzzling Australian indie stars Emily Browning as an aimless university student who becomes an escort without ever realizing what's happening to her body. Sleeping Beauty is filled with

gorgeous images — masterfully photographed with one-shot takes — and Browning gives the bravest, boldest and best performance by an actress this year.

8 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – A fantastic

finale to a great series, Harry Potter 8 starts off with a bang and goes out on a triumphant high note as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) finally faces off with Voldemort while the Battle of Hogwarts rages on. The Chamber of Secrets will always

be my favorite Potter, but this one's a close second.

7 The Ides of March - A great political film starring the

terrific Ryan Gosling and directed by George Clooney that wisely focuses on the relationships between politicians rather than left/ right minutia and, like a great thriller, keeps the tension thick and exciting enough to make your heart stop. I didn't just include this because Xavier is featured in it. Honest.

6 Everything Must Go - Will Ferrell gives an Oscar-level

performance in this wickedly funny and a deeply moving film about an alcoholic who is forced to live on his lawn and sell everything he owns. It's a shame that this didn't do

better when it was released, but thankfully, it's now out on DVD.

5 The Future - This one-of-akind indie treat from filmmaker

Miranda July is an original, creative and heartbreaking portrait of a couple who re-examines their relationship after they decide to adopt a stray cat. July's six-year follow up to

Me and You and Everyone We Know doesn't at all disappoint.

4 Sucker Punch - I'm not going to apologize for this. This

big-budget grindhouse epic from director Zack Snyder (300) is a sleek, stylish and dazzling mindtrip centered around a group of women — led by the main character

Babydoll (Emily Browning, again!) — as they try to break free

from an insane asylum, in reality and in their minds. Although trashed by critics, Sucker Punch affected me strongly in its beautiful, action-fueled, manga-like craziness.

3 Martha Marcy May Marlene – Elizabeth Olsen gives an outstanding performance as a fractured young woman who flees from an abusive cult, led by the sinister Patrick (John Hawkes), only to believe that they're still after her.

Well-acted and amazingly written and directed by (first timer!) Sean Durkin, Martha is a haunting, chilling film with an unforgettable ending that'll make you want to scream.

2 The Tree of Life – The latest film from visionary genius

Terrence Malick is a beautiful, poetic and awe-inspiring opus that attempts to capture the complexities of life from its beginning to ends by focusing on a man's (Sean Penn) childhood reflections of his stoic father (Brad Pitt) and angelic mother (Jessica Chastain). A transcendent experience.

1 Red State – The most powerful moviegoing experience

I had in 2011.,Kevin Smith's (Clerks) best movie ever is a pure adrenaline rush that doesn't let its choking grip off of you until the end credits. It represents what every horror

movie should be: a perfectly shot, tightly edited and brilliantly directed piece of art that isn't afraid to be brutal and uncompromising. Watching the film is a disturbing

experience and it's not the kind of movie I'd watch over and

over again, but coming from a staunch non-horror fan, Red State will knock you out.

Honorable Mentions: The Descendants, 50/50, Super 8, The Muppets, War Horse.

Worst Film of 2011: The Hangover Part II.


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