By Coop Cooper
10. “Battle: Los Angeles” – This remake of “Independence Day” mixed with “Black Hawk Down” got very little love from critics and a lukewarm response from audiences but I maintain my opinion that it’s the most visually satisfying, most action-packed sci-fi film of the year. I have re-watched “Battle: LA” more than any other film on this list.
9. “Captain America” – This lead-in for “The Avengers” superhero team movie (opening in May of 2012) is second only to “Iron Man” in the series of Marvel Comics films. A “Cap” film was previously regarded as too difficult to sell to a foreign market and potentially corny. Director Joe Johnston allayed all fears by creating a Hollywood blockbuster and introducing new fans to the star-spangled hero.
8. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” – As the last film adaptation in the popular series of books, all that fans required it to do was stick the landing. It did.
7. “I Saw the Devil” – This South Korean film is about a secret agent who tracks down the serial killer responsible for his wife’s death and torments him by constantly foiling his murders, beating him up then letting him go. When the killer begins to turn the tables on the agent, it results in an escalating circle of violence, leading up to a powerful conclusion. Korea consistently produces at least one outstanding film per year and this one has quickly become a favorite of mine.
6. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – Superior to the Swedish version in vision and acting, this film solidifies director David Fincher as one of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood. It also gave the superb Daniel Craig something to do between James Bond films and made Rooney Mara a household name (and a possible Oscar contender).
5. “Hugo” – A highbrow love letter to one of the greatest of filmmakers of the early 1900’s, disguised as a film for kids… such a formula shouldn’t work but the masterful Martin Scorsese did a fantastic job. I still don’t think a general audience will get it, but for film aficionados, this one is a must-see.
4. “Footloose” – Not only was this the best musical of the year, but also one of the best 80’s remakes of all time. Memphian director Craig Brewer showed proper respect, not only to the original, but to the South in which the film was set.
3. “Martha Marcy May Marlene” – This chilling, disjointed tale of a young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) trying to re-adjust to reality after living under the influence of a Charles Manson-like cult might be the surprise hit of the Academy Awards. The out-of-sequence story structure was masterfully executed and Olsen could get a Best Actress nomination… possibly a win.
2. “Drive” – This stylistic throwback to late 70’s – early 80’s crime films won over critics and audiences alike. I’m holding out hope star Ryan Gosling receives a Oscar nomination but his mostly-silent, stoic performance might cause Academy voters to turn up their noses. Regardless, this mature and expertly-crafted thriller could influence the next wave of crime films in both style and story.
1. “The Help” – If you haven’t seen it already, it’s readily available on video. If you’ve already seen it, I reckon you’ll want to see it again when it gets all of those well-deserved Oscar nominations.