Top 10 of 2011 – Brandi’s Picks

I think Top 10 lists are fun. Many critics write beleaguered sorts of “I don’t really want to be doing this and it’s stupid and rankings are meaningless” disclaimers at the beginning of their lists. Ugh. Look, it should go without saying that any list (or review) is a reflection of the writer’s personality and their un-duplicate-able individual experience. If you’ve read the rest of my writing this year, you will not be shocked by my list. What I’d like to say before I dive in I don’t consider to be a disclaimer, but just necessary context: the films I didn’t/couldn’t see that are on my mind anyway.

Top 5 films of 2011 I didn’t/couldn’t see:

5. Hugo (my own failure entirely)
4. Melancholia (ditto in the extreme…I could have gone yesterday but I watched Sherlock on Netflix instead because it was stormy outside)
3. A Separation (no screenings in Seattle yet)
2. Pariah (same)
1. We Need to Talk About Kevin (same; and you can believe me that I’ll have plenty to say about this film in due time when it finally fucking opens)

Now! My Second Annual Top Ten. Thanks for reading.

10. Beginners
written and directed by Mike Mills

Ewan McGregor was in another film this year, which I saw at SIFF and loved, that hasn’t been officially released yet: the apocalyptic romance Perfect Sense. With that film and Beginners, I remembered what a phenomenal actor he can be. Pair him with Mélanie Laurent, my intense girl-crush of the present, and I was primed to be invested in their characters’ story. Mills gives each an uncommon but compelling issue to deal with (McGregor’s Oliver has just seen his elderly father come out, live an honest life for a few years, then die—a situation based on Mills’s real life; Laurent’s Anna is a jet-setting actress who cannot reconcile her circumstances with building committed relationships). Their first clicking conversation during silly Halloween festivities is the sort that I as a single person fantasize about with every party attended. Their problems afterward are real. Mills does a wonderful job with the story, told in a quirky fashion with flashbacks to Oliver’s father’s coming out (Christopher Plummer is lovely in the role) and with interludes of Oliver wondering how his melancholy life now compares to his parents’ when they were young. A charming film.

9. Weekend
written and directed by Andrew Haigh

Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New) end up going home together after circling each other until last call at the bar. After a pleasant, supposed one-night stand, morning conversation turns deeper, unveiling potential for something more. But, since neither went into the encounter searching for a boyfriend, and other circumstances may complicate matters, they have a brief window of time to decide what they mean to each other. This British indie is a film of conversations, funny and bold ones that take the characters seriously and showcase actors who prove that you don’t need to be loud or acrobatic for wordplay to perfectly play off of a scene partner. The film can be described as “small”; what is experienced by the characters cannot.


Pages: 1 2 3 4


Brandi is one of those people who worries about kids these days not appreciating black and white films. She also admires great moments of subtlety, since she has no idea how to be subtle herself.

Follow her on Twitter or email her.

View all posts by this author