Which I also appreciate.
Case in point: The following oddball ten - which I consider to be the best of 2011. To date. Be forewarned, however. The choices are a tad eclectic.
1. Hans Petter Moland's “A Somewhat Gentle Man” (“En ganske snill mann”) - A veritable one-man film, showcasing the estimable talents of Stellan Skarsgård, who gives a deft, droll performance as an ex-con/ex-murderer trying to redeem himself in an ugly world. A small, wry film with an amusing supporting cast - the women are especially, well, colorful.
2. Woody Allen's
“Midnight in Paris” - Woody Allen doing Woody Allen, with Owen Wilson also doing Woody Allen. And perfectly. The Paris setting is the whipped cream on this dreamy confection.
3. Dan Rush's “Everything Must Go” - A slip of a Raymond Carver short story has been ever-so-gently molded into a feature-length film about the melancholy - and euphoria - of losing everything. Will Ferrell is our guide through his hero's travails, both witty and sad.
4. Giuseppe Capotondi's
“The Double Hour” (“La doppia ora”) - At once creepy, sexy, sordid and compulsively watchable, Capotondi's Italian crime drama stars Kseniya Rappoport as a hotel maid and Flippo Timi as an ex-cop turned security guard who meet intially at a speed dating seminar - and elsewhere. Their paths keep crossing, lethally.
5. Dennis Dugan's “Just Go With It” - A genuinely hilarious modern comedy about deception/mistaken identity, an update of Abe Burrows' "Cactus Flower" (by way of a French stage comedy by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy), with Adam Sandler continuing to hone his soulful side and Jennifer Aniston proving, as The New Yorker's Richard Brody so aptly put it, to be "a genre unto herself." She has great comic timing, terrific rapport with Sandler and does a mean Mean Girl duet with good sport Nicole Kidman. This hastily dismissed film "nicely combines Adam Sandler's acerbic sweetness with Aniston's down-to-earth warmth," as critic Mick LaSalle wrote in The San Francisco Chronicle.
6. Tom McCarthy's
“Win Win” - McCarthy (that's him on the left), who seems like Sturges, Wilder and McCarey roled into one, delivers another of his sharp character-driven dramedies, in which nice people do bad things and often - now get this - on purpose. Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Melanie Lynskey, Burt Young and the magnificent Margo Martindale make fine company here.
7. J.J. Abrams' “Super 8” - Abrams brings the Spielberg oeuvre kicking and screaming into the New Millenium, replete with a knockoff John Williams score by Michael Giacchino.
8. François Ozon's “Potiche” (“Trophy Wife”) - A slight, very slight love letter to Catherine Deneuve, which actually ends with the cast applauding the star. Shameless. (Based on a play by the aforementioned/ubiquitous Barillet and Grédy.)
9. Brad Furman's “The Lincoln Lawyer” - A throwback to the 1970s, an era of filmmaking that Furman nails. Matthew McConaughey channels Burt Reynolds.
10. Terrence Malick's “The Tree of Life” - Sure it's pretentious and ponderous and ever-so-entitled but it's a Malick, after all. Which also means that it's gorgeous and, more to the point, thoughtful, a rarity in modern movies. Once again, Malick has made a film in which his actors are so muted they're almost irrelevant to his filmic mission statement. And once again, Malick has made a film difficult to ignore.
And the fascinating combos:
“Source Code”/”Unknown”/”Limitless”/”The Adjustment Bureau” - All wannabe Hitchcocks and all fairly effective.
“Twelve Thirty”/”Lebanon, Pa.” - Two genuinely old-fashioned indie films, the kind made before film festivals and studio boutique branches bastardized them.
"Bridesmaids”/”Bad Teacher” - A duo that proves that filthy-mouthed women are more palatable than filthy-mouthed men. There's been no greater guilty pleasure in movies this year than the sight of Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids" - stradlding a sink, sick with diarrhea - ordering Wendi McLendon-Covey (who is busy vomiting in the toilet) to "Look away!" Her reading of that two-word line is perfect.
The dinner that leads to all kinds of intestinal mayhem