Saturday, February 18, 2012

Top 11 of 2011: Number 1

Scroll down to see my numbers 11-2 of 2011.  I broke this up into two posts because I ended up writing a lot of about my favorite film of the year.  Before that, here’s a few films, in no particular order, that almost made the cut:

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Midnight in Paris
Martha Marcy May Marlene
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Muppets
Cedar Rapids

#1: Hugo (Martin Scorsese)

As most of you know, I’m the type of nerd that likes to see as many films nominated for Oscars as I can, and there hasn’t been a year in the past five that I failed to see all Best Picture nominees ahead of the Academy Awards ceremony.  Fulfilling this duty, I went to see Hugo last week not only because of that, but also because I decided I needed to see it in 3D before it left theaters.  It ended up being the best movie decision that I’ve made this year. 

Hugo tells the story of an orphaned twelve-year-old boy in 1930’s Paris, who works the clock at a train station.  He has an affinity for fixing and working on machinery.  His principal focus is repairing a mechanical man left to him by his father, and Hugo is certain that the working machine will reveal a message of sorts. 

In his quest, he comes across Georges, a grump of an old man who runs a toyshop in the train station, and his Goddaughter, Isabelle.  Together, Hugo and Isabelle begin to uncover the mystery of the message that the mechanical man leaves.  I won’t spoil it, but suffice it to say that what they end up finding is the lost work of a pioneer in the film industry. 

The film is largely a tribute to the cinema itself.  Several clips from classic silent film are shown upon Hugo and Isabelle’s discovery (and the presentation of it is some of the best animation in the film).  Even in Hugo’s script itself are vignettes of character interactions that would pass as little silent film shorts from that era. 

The story warmed my heart and Scorsese’s dreamlike presentation of 1930’s Paris took me to a different place, and in that way the director pays perfect homage to the power of cinema.  As you might guess, film has always been very important to me, even as a young child.  Since I was eleven years old, I have kept the ticket to every movie I’ve seen in theaters.  Since age eighteen or so, I have kept running lists of every single movie that I watch.  It’s like, if I lose the memory of the experience of these films (whether good or bad), then I lose a part of myself along with that. 

I can only imagine that Scorsese feels the same way multiplied by about a thousand, and this love pours out of every frame of the film. 

Coming this week: Oscar Predictions 2012.

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