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Archive for January 9th, 2012

The Best Films of 2011

by Sam Juliano

I toyed with doing a Top 20 or a Top 25 for the past calendar year.  In the end, I stood with the method I have used for decades, one that is noted for the discipline that a longer list disavows.  Be rest assured it was arrived at after intense scrutiny and the successful navigation of every 2011 film that I was able to see, most in theatres a small handful on DVDs.   But numerical listing is like the weather or human temperament.  It can change at any time, and even today’s placements would be altered if I followed up with a listing a day later.  This is the list I came up when I finalized the numbers on Sunday, and this is the list I will stand by.  I saw close to 200 contemporary films this year exclusive of the additional ones I saw at retrospectives, which would have taken the total to over 300.  As a result I have made sure to offer up a “Honorable Mention’ list of 20 films that will follow the Top Ten in alphabetical order.  After the painstaking and nearly impossible task of ranking the Top Ten, I opted to leave the follow-up 20 as relatively equal in merit.  All of the titles in this runner-up 20 are films originally rated at the diaries with either 4.0 or 4.5 ratings.  Another reason I preferred the Top 10 list, was because it limited the number of capsule essays.  This makes the limited choices stand out and doesn’t make the presentation cumbersome.

2011 was one of the best years in cinema I’ve ever had the pleasure of investigating and enjoying.  A few others have challenged me on this position, but I have steadfastly cited the newest works of venerated directors from around the world and an impressive year for American indes.  I’m still not sure how many good to great films would have to release in any given year to satisfy some viewers, but it was clear from the very first months of overlap films from the previous twelve month period that the year was starting off superbly. (more…)

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Stage grab from Irish Repetory Theatre's '20th Anniversary' production of 'Dancing at Lughnasa'

by Sam Juliano

Peter Lenihan’s John Ford retrospective will begin this coming Friday (Jan. 13) and will then commence on ‘every other Wednesday’ on the dates Jim Clark won’t be posting.  Dennis Polifroni is also moving toward a staring date for his Kubrick project, which he is hoping to launch in February.  Otherwise the coming week will showcase the year-end lists that have caused their authors so much grief in the form of second-guessing and painstaking preparation.  The list from Yours Truly is heading up today, while Maurizio Roca’s will appear on Wednesday.

Here in the NYC area local football fans are rightfully ecstatic after the Giants mauled the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday, though the prospect of a meeting next week at Lambeau Field in Wisconsin against the Green Bay Packers is a fearful one.  Still, the Giants have traveled further than most would have predicted.  Most award groups have checked in with their choices, leaving only the Oscar nominations and Golden Globes to unveil, though any serious cineastes looking for representative accolades should look elsewhere, as always.

Lucille and I attended the celebrated Irish play by Brian Friel, Dancing at Lughnasa at the Irish Repetory Theatre on Saturday night, and watched four films in theatres, three classics and one new opening: (more…)

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