Top 10 of 2011 – Brandi’s Picks

2. The Future
written and directed by Miranda July

I love Miranda July. I love her first film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, and the brilliant oddities that are her short stories, and the strange, beautiful side projects she always seems to have going (just throw her name into YouTube; you’ll see). Where her first feature is about new beginnings, her second one is about endings, about dealing with real consequences that come from acting on fears. It has moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity in its first half that slide into events so sad that only a dip into magical realism, with the physical world at the mercy of emotion, can accurately convey how the characters feel in its second half. (And I love some well-done magical realism; it is the ultimate rarity of literature.) The film is weird and if anyone was off-put by it I suppose I wouldn’t blame them. I would, however, urge them to watch it again. I consider it a masterpiece.

It’s worth nothing that Mike Mills is Miranda July’s husband, only because I hope they decide to make a film together sometime and combine those brilliant forces.

1. Bridesmaids
directed by Paul Feig
screenplay by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

It’s no coincidence that my top four films of the year are all ones that focus on female characters and had a female behind the camera as a writer and/or director. And it’s not me actively trying to make a point; this is just how things came out when I ranked the films I’d seen based on my own personal reactions. I want stories that speak to me. I can enjoy many, many films about men—see last year, when A Prophet and The Social Network were my top two picks—but my love for film has always been rooted in relating to characters. These films at the top of my list were all stunning in their depictions of the experience of a female character, and this year of all years, I guess I just needed that.

I’ve written already on the site about what Bridesmaids meant to me, as a “funny woman,” as a writer, as a film fan. I understand any resistance anyone has to calling this one of the “best” films of the year; it doesn’t fit the mold. But it is the best to me. It is the most important. It was the most fun I’ve had, the most free I’ve felt, the most grateful I was at the movies all year. This is a film that filled a hole for me and then exploded and made the hole bigger, making me just want more. Give me smart comedy with women—multiple women!—at the center; for fuck’s sake, filmmakers, give it to me. I need more. I don’t know what else to say to make it happen.

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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.

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