For me, The Help was runner-up as my favorite film of the year. The more movies I watch released in 2011, I can’t help but notice how weird, raw, cold, and depressing the films were that year. Here are eleven examples:
From the opening sequence filmed in Finland of the icy beauty of nature to the intense father and daughter relationship in the secret cabin, the film Hanna, directed by Joe Wright is a British/German thriller of the highest caliber. Have you seen it? Watch out for the hide and seek scene at the creepy Brother’s Grimm amusement park, including Cate Blanchett’s green shoes clicking across the floor as the protagonist Hanna holds her breath under the bed. It has surprising twists. The acting, the color palettes and overall cinematography made this my favorite film of 2011.
Everyone on the planet seemed to have read the Millennium series first written in Swedish by Stieg Larsson. The film adaptation(2009) was raw and cold due to the acting by Noomi Rapace. Don’t fear the subtitles, and watch the trilogy if you have time. You can compare it to the Hollywood version. Surely director David Fincher is set to film Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, soon? The adult film has disturbing scenes, but you are so impressed with the quick wit of the protagonist Lisbeth, you somehow forget about the sadistic scenes. Mostly you empathize her, the pretty girl so tortured she has become an animal keen to survive. You just don’t see strong female roles like this often.
Critics everywhere loved the creative, directorial vision of Melancholia directed by Lars von Trier, starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, and Kiefer Sutherland. The end of the world is imminent. In this confused world, our lives are absurd and random. Spoken like a true atheist. Depressing. You should see it for the cool cinematography and great acting by Dunst. Counter this message with its polar opposite, The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick and starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain. Life is orchestrated by the divine creator in this film. We are all connected and part of the whole tree. Ah, much better. Through the impressions of a boy growing up and its satisfying explanation of life, it is not a gooey, feel-good movie. The experimental risks taken by these two directors outweigh one’s personal belief system. The artful expression in Melancholia and Tree of Life leaves one breathless.
The best foreign films of 2011 were heavy and dark with fantastic acting and staying power long after viewing.
The kid movies were tinged with loneliness and darkness. Gorgeous films to watch, but well, depressing.
Even the best comedies were dark and cynical.
Maybe that’s why The Artist won? Everyone was surprised. It was bouncy, happy, and left me tapping my feet. Also experiemental and beautiful to watch, at least this one didn’t make me cry or feel the need to shake off the dark cloak of depression.
What do you think?