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While compiling my 2011 list, I realized that I never published a 2010 list, mostly because it was such a weak year. 2011, however, is now looking a lot worse by comparison.

The Best:

  • Louis C.K.: Hilarious
  • Shutter Island
  • True Grit
  • Toy Story 3
  • Mother
  • The Social Network
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • Let Me In
  • Kick-Ass
  • Black Swan
  • A Prophet
  • The Town
  • Exit Through The Gift Shop
  • How To Train Your Dragon

Overrated:

  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • Winter's Bone
  • The King's Speech
  • 127 Hours

Most Pleasant Surprises:

  • Tangled
  • Let Me In
dec 8 2011 ∞
dec 8 2011 +
user picture Daniel W.: I realize that a stand-up special is a strange choice for #1, but let me explain myself by asking and answering a rhetorical question. Basically, this is going to be a High School-quality essay: What is the point of film? The answer to this is, of course, largely subjective and massive and nuanced. When I am attempting to quantify the quality of a film, there are three criteria which greatly outweigh the rest: Immersion, Relatability, and Themes/Ideas. I watch an unusual amount of films, and, to toot my own horn, I'm quite knowledgeable about the film-making process, so I often, somewhat unfortunately, see the artists' hands at work, which (usually) pulls me out of the experience temporarily. Optimally, a film will completely immerse me in its universe from beginning to end, with no hiccups. The technical feats within should be as unnoticeable as possibly while remaining effective. There must not be any obvious technical flaws (bad acting, continuity errors, bad CGI, anachronisms, visible equipment, unsynchronized audio, et cetera) as well. I also like a movie to feel like it was made for me. This often comes in the form of characters with which I have things in common, or plot-lines that I relate to, but it can also come from of a film simply fitting my sensibilities. I want some level of comfort. I also want to be challenged, however. I want to walk out with some new knowledge, or a new feeling. A new lens through which to see the world. Something to think about. I want to augment my ability to understand and empathize with others by viewing things from an unfamiliar perspective. If a film fulfills all three of these three criteria, they become a self-reinforcing cycle (or web). They feed off of and elevate each other, and along with it, the film as a whole. Hilarious fit these criteria better than any other film in 2010. I laughed until I cried. I laughed until I couldn't get enough air to make a laughing sound. I had to pause it because the laughter, if unimpeded, could have actually caused me physical, medical harm. It felt like he had taken thousands of undeveloped thoughts that I had swirling around my head and refined and compiled them into a thorough, honest, enlightening, and fucking hilarious portrait of the darkest and most beautiful aspects of humanity and of the human experience. The absurdly simple construction – it's just a dude talking on a stage – is very conducive to immersion. There isn't much room for distracting technical flaws (except perhaps an inherent lack of relatability). It's just words; a brain-to-brain transfer of ideas. It feels so casual that his technical skills – which, by the way, are extraordinary – are absolutely invisible. It sucked me into its world, connected to me on a deep level, and then proceeded to change me. I honestly feel like a better person now. At worst, it made a bunch of things in my every day life permanently funny, which should make me at least a happier person. dec 8 2011
user picture Daniel W.: Whoah. No paragraph breaks. That sucks. I don't intend or expect anybody to read that anyway. It was mostly for myself.