Q & A: Which 5 Movies Do You Promise to See Before the End of 2011?

On the Film Misery Podcast we have begun playing a game of catch-up where we go back and look at early 2011 movies that we had missed. We decided to continue this idea with this week’s Q & A by asking the staff what movies they promise to see before the end of the year. This can include movies already in theatres or movies that are yet to be released.

QUESTION: What five movies do you promise to see before the end of 2011?

Casey Chapman

My choices for the 5 films that I will see before the end of the year I have included a little bit of everything. I looked at Alex’s list of the 51 movies to see before Oscar time, and some of these come from this list. But because I tend to always see everything nominated for an Oscar, I wanted to pick a couple of choices that are out of the box. So here is my list:

1. Beginners – I do not know why I missed this when it was in theatres. It features a talented cast and much Oscar buzz for the long overdue Christopher Plummer. I also believe that it is a timely film in that it confronts the question of “coming out” which is a popular topic of the time. It seems to be a very kind, gentle, and loving film focusing not only on self freedom but family and love. I certainly am sad I have missed it, and when it pops out on dvd I will be buying it the day it comes out.

2. A Serbian Film – This will not be mentioned anywhere awards season, that’s for sure. I don’t know how many of you that have heard about the film, but it’s apparently a doozy. Directed by Srdan Spasojevic, the film tells the story of a retired porn star who is down on his luck and has to return to the “hardcore porn” genre to earn one last big paycheck. This film has been banned everywhere, the director has been investigated for crimes, the list goes on and on. Even critics on popular horror blogs have warned to never see this film. On the other side of the coin, the director has said the film was his statement of life in his country which has endured years of violent conflict, civil unrest, and corruption. I have this sick streak in me that when I hear of a taboo film, I just have to seek it out. Well, I recently ordered this and will make the plunge soon. Whether or not it will be worthwhile or worse than The Human Centipede 2, remains to be seen. However with this much buzz – and the legal battles mounting, I will give it one shot.

3. Tyrannosaur – The fact that I missed this film at the Chicago film fest still irritates me. All the trailers and clips I have seen look fantastic, and in my heart I am wanting Olivia Coleman to triumph as the underdog in awards season.

4. Snowtown – The film based on the Snowtown murders in Australia got a special mention at the Cannes film festival. It quickly sold out at the Chicago Film Festival and I missed tickets, but I did hear glowing reviews. I am interested in seeing this because I do feel it will be overlooked from any large awards, as its subject matter is very intense. I am very interested in subversive cinema and this truly looks astonishing.

5. Albert Nobbs – I will be there opening day for this film. First of all I am an ultimate Glenn Close fan and secondly the journey this film has gone through is a very interesting one. It started as an Irish short story. Then it was turned into a stage play in London in 1982, starring Close. After its closing Close spent 15 years trying to turn it into a film, with little to no success. After production failed yet again in 2001, Close began writing the adaptation herself. And here 30 years later were about to see the finished product. It all has me very excited.

Vinny Tagle

1. The Artist – I am really looking forward to catching this movie after all the great buzz that it’s been getting. I am especially curious about the way in which director Michael Hazanavicius modernizes the conventions of silent films and how he adapts those for contemporary audiences. In any case, I will be watching this because it will definitely be a major contender during the awards season and it has already won audience prizes from different film festivals, which is always a good sign.

2. Take Shelter – Seeing Michael Shannon in the trailer already gives me an idea of how harrowing his performance in this movie is, and as a really big fan of his, this is a must-watch for me. I am also looking forward to watch Jessica Chastain, who really has turned in solid performances this year. Finally, the very premise of the movie intrigues me as I generally enjoy psychological thrillers and movies that explore the really dark, disturbing aspects of the human psyche. This looks like one of those movies.

3. The Muppets – For some light, Christmas fare, I want to watch Disney’s revival of The Muppets. I can’t wait to see Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang back in action, and seeing them in the many hilarious trailers that parodied other movies released this year amped up my anticipation even more. I expect this movie to have the right combination of pop (all those cameos!) and nostalgia (all those muppets!), and it should be one of the funnest movies of 2011 (or at least I hope so).

4. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Ever since I’ve heard about this movie when it was shown in Cannes, I’ve been drawn to its plot. I like movies that deal with heavy family issues and strained relationships, those are always a good source of drama. And Tilda Swinton’s pale, resigned presence in the movies trailers and posters have piqued my interest. Again, I like movies that explore the psychology of the perverted, and this seems like an artful cinematic exploration of what it feels like to be the parent of a killer.

5. Into the Abyss – I’ve seen Werner Herzog’s earlier documentary this year, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and found it to be really insightful and beautifully presented. I expect this documentary to do the same. It tackles a very controversial social issue (the death penalty), through the lens of a convicted man on death row, and I know that Herzog will do a great job showing the moral and ethical issues that surround one of the hottest political debates right now.

Justin Jagoe

1. The Skin I Live In – As far as I am concerned, Pedro Almodóvar is the world’s warmest, most electrifying and transgressive filmmaker working today. I should have seen his foray into the horror genre the very night it came to my city, but for reasons far too boring to share here, I simply have not yet made it to a showing. I will absolutely see it within the next few days and – seeing as Alex and Phil review it on this week’s podcast, I have all the incentive I really need.

2. Moneyball – Don’t get me wrong. I love America, but I never quite understood why it chose baseball as its favorite pastime. Perhaps that’s because I have the athletic aptitude of an overweight housecat. Perhaps it’s because, as a Minnesotan, I refuse to partake in the masochistic practice known as Twins fandom. Regardless of the reason, my lack of excitement for the sport probably explains my reluctance to see Moneyball right away. I realize how atrociously unfair that is; that this movie comes from the minds of both Aaron Sorkin and director Bennett Miller should be ample reason to check it out. I simply need to get over myself and watch a movie that, by all rational accounts, I should enjoy regardless of its subject matter.

3. Submarine – It’s been a really great year for arthouse films. So great, in fact, that even some movies I heard nothing but amazing things about managed to slip through my fingers. Richard Ayoade’s acclaimed British teen comedy was one of those films. I know very little about the movie – except that I heard it is terrific – and I hope to keep it that way until I finally see it. That Davin gave it such high praise last month makes me want to see it even more.

4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – It may have been a great year for arthouse films, but it’s been a downright terrible year for mainstream Hollywood. Of the many movies I saw at the multiplexes this summer, I can only think of a couple that had any kind of lasting effect. Perhaps this ambivalence toward summer fare this year explains why I never made it to Apes, despite its reputation as one of the summer’s most well-received movies. Of course I realize how unfair that is and, before I even think of drafting my top ten list, I promise to give this sleeper hit a try.

5. Shame – I did my best to limit my list to movies I missed in theaters, under the implicit promise that I will catch every high-profile release this winter. The reason Steve McQueen’s sophomore effort is a top priority this hear has every bit as much to do with its newly-minted NC-17 rating as it does its fabulous pedigree (McQueen’s casts Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan for this movie as well). Call me a troll if you want, but my contempt for the MPAA runs so deeply that I have an uncontrollable knee-jerk urge to front my money to any film that receives that puritanical and hypocritical organization’s kiss of death. Thank goodness the buzz for Shame also happens to be absurdly strong as well.

Alex Carlson

For my list I tried to choose movies that I wasn’t already 100% positive that I was going to see. Obviously I will be seeing The Descendants and The Artist, because of my Oscar obsession, but here are some films I will make sure I see in addition to the Awards magnets:

1. Weekend – Based on Justin’s praise and general word of mouth from both critics and friends, this sounds like a film I would be a fool to miss. Apart from Midnight in Paris, which is more of a fantasy film, 2011 has been lacking in the romance department. Hopefully this independent effort will remedy that situation.

2. Margin Call – This is another film that is currently in theatres and has received a host of praise from my podcast co-host Phil Kollar. I was skeptical about this year’s Sundance hits after being disappointed by a few of them, but it sounds like the star-packed Margin Call is the real deal.

3. Shame – Steve McQueen’s sophomore effort is not likely to garner Oscars, but it will certainly be appearing on end of the year Critics top ten lists. Michael Fassbender’s phenomenal year will be capped off with ambitious effort that should cement his status as actor of 2011.

4. Le Havre – This Cannes Film Festival hit will be rolling out in a limited release over the next several weeks and it should make its way to Minneapolis before long. This will be my first exposure to director Aki Kaurismaki, but I hope that the film will inspire me to check out his earlier work.

5. Arthur Christmas – This may be the one unusual entry on this list, but it’s on here for a reason. Looking back I realize that I have only seen two animated films this entire year (Rango and Cars 2). This has been an admittedly weak year for animation and this film looks like the only chance to redeem the genre.

Davin Lacksonen

This list has changed a lot as the year has gone on based on reports and advertising. But my general anticipation is highest at this point for these five films:

5. Shame – Steve McQueen’s follow-up to 2008 hit, Hunger (also starring Michael Fassbender) looks visually and viscerally compelling to me. Carey Mulligan has always been one of my favoirites and I respect a film with the audacity to not shy away from the NC-17. It’s new to my radar and I haven’t seen Hunger, but I’m excited.

4. Hugo – I have expect this to be another Polar Express (that’s a negative comment from me). But the first screening had some reports that lead me to believe that I might really love it. I don’t mind the trailer that everyone likes to trash; I really thought the music was the only real detractor. If nothing else, it sounds like Scorsese has done something really unique with the 3-D.

3. The Girl wtih the Dragon Tattoo – I sometimes forget that I will have seen another David Fincher movie by the end of the year. But whenever I do remember that this film exists I get quite excited for it. Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, and Tilda Swinton is an epic cast for a fun story that is a good fit for Fincher. And Steven Zaillian wrote it. If it is anywhere near the quality of his early credit this year, Moneyball, this film will be fantastic.

2. The Artist – I’ve had a soft spot waiting on this one since I first heard about it, a month or so before it premiered. It sounds wonderful and looks even  better. But if the film isn’t absolutely magical, I think it will be a turn-off. There is about a 50% chance I’ll walk out of this film moved in some fashion and a 50% chance I’ll walk out feeling slighted by a cold imitation of Hollywood melodrama (how I felt about The King’s Speech). I’ve got an odd feeling it will be the former this time around though. At least I can hope for the best.

1. Young Adult – I haven’t been giving this one a chance all year. Up in the Air is one of my favorite films from the past decade and I deeply enjoy Thank You for Smoking and Juno. But after Jennifer’s Body (which I actually don’t mind), I felt like Cody’s success with Juno might have been a fluke. Or at least a one-time phenomenon. The trailer looks like what I feared it would be. But incoming reviews (and a closer analysis of the trailer) have me convinced that there is something really edgy drifting under the surface of the mainstream press and advertising of the film. The R-rating is a good sign here, too. Coming off of Up in the Air, I feel like I should have been waiting for this film all along. My instincts tell me I’ll love this film. At any rate, it’s the one I’m the most curious about.

I feel mostly caught up with the already released films. I haven’t seen The Help or Super 8. But neither are particularly striking my fancy at the moment. 50/50, Like Crazy, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy are also high on my list. It will be interesting to see how many films each of us wrote here that will end up our favorites come January.

If you have a question for the Film Misery staff, please send it to Alex@filmmisery.com

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  • If I had to nail down five that I absolutely had to see before the year was out…

    1. Martha Marcy May Marlene
    2. Shame
    3. Miss Bala
    4. Young Adult
    5. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

    Though those are the ones I’d most feel like going out of my way to see.

  • okay first of all ….. i am from Asia so we don’t get to see many of the movies too soon :P so i am going to choose all the November release movies. or the one that are out already but i couldn’t see.

    1. The Descendants
    2. Moneyball
    3. The Artist
    4. Take Shelter
    5. 50/50

  • Genadijus

    My TOP 5 movies for must-see till the end of 2011:
    1. “Shame” – hope that distributors and cinema theatres won’t change the premiere date in Lithuania :)
    2. “Moneyball” – just to find an answer why that kind of movies is still popular and what kind of buzz is goint for B. Pitt.
    3. “50/50” – conjuction between drama and comedy always looks intriguing…
    4. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” – this is/was the most anticipating movie of all the year for me.
    5. “A Dangerous Method” – just very very interesting why D. Cronenber decided to create periodic costium thriller about the most famous figures of the psycho-analysis.

    My TOP 5 of what I’ve seen already:
    1. “A Separation” (dir. Asghar Farhadi)
    2. “The Artist (dir. M. Hazanavicius).
    3. “The Skin I Live in” (dir. P. Almodovar).
    4. “Melancholia” (dir. L. von Trier).
    5. “Faust” (dir. A. Sokurov).

  • Brandon Cooley

    @ Justin Jagoe Moneyball wasn’t very good in my opinion and I’m not a fan of baseball either.

    • Jose

      Agreed.

    • Aw, shoot! I know Alex really liked it. Brandon, what were your issues with it?

      • I would give it a B- or C+. The first twenty minutes were quite good, but then it went downhill from there. Most of it was bland and not very interesting to me. It would have worked better as a documentary for people who were interested in baseball. A full review is on my blog for anybody who’s interested.

    • That’s too bad you two didn’t like it. I don’t think viewers had to be interested in baseball, though, as many people I know (including podcast co-host Phil Kollar) enjoyed it despite being baseball neophytes. Bennett Miller really did a fabulous job of telling us a lot with a little and the focus was more on the persona of Billy Beane, a man who has been so hurt by his chosen profession that he can’t even watch the games. Beane could have been obsessed with any other sport, or profession for that matter, and the results would have been similar.

      • Jose

        My main problem was that it was too long, it it was shorter I probably would’ve enjoyed it. And I remember feeling emotionally cheated by the games, don’t remember much of the other reasons why the movie didn’t impress me though.

  • Jose

    There’s a lot of movies I want to see, but of the limited ones that I really want to see they’ll either pop up next year or I’ll have to wait for the DVD (they are like Margin Call, Take Shelter, and The Skin I Live In), out of the ones I can realistically see are:

    1) The Tree of Life, its already on DVD
    2) Melancholia, even if I have to go to travel elsewhere to see it
    3) The Artist
    4) We Need to Talk about Kevin
    5) Tabloid

  • I wanna join this too:
    I did top 10 months ago and I’ve seen some them so these are the rest:
    Carnage, A Dangerous Method, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Ext Loud and Inc Close.

    I’m still waiting on the expansion for Like Crazy and Martha Marcy May Marlene.

    I need to see some docs too like Page One and Tabloid. Heard they’re good.

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