Rushing To Be Last: Some Thoughts On Assembling A Top 10 Film List For 2011

As a lot of the year’s best films continue to emerge in the theater and home video, I’m rushing to be the last self-described film critic  to put out a top 10 film list for 2011.

In some ways, it’s annoying that I don’t get to see a lot of the previous year’s best films until January of the following year, but not living near a major metropolis makes that one of the rules of my game.

In fairness, Omaha does its part. For example, “The Artist” will open there next week. But it doesn’t have the film resources of Minneapolis, Chicago or Denver. Film Streams and the Dundee Theater are the two regular film haunts for me while in Omaha. The AMC 24 sometimes comes through with an interesting film, as well.

On the bright side, my December and January is filled with a lot of great film experiences. Very few things are as satisfying to me as a movie that gets all of my synapses firing, whether it’s because of a tense plot, thought-provoking dialogue or some other stimulant.

So the final list will emerge later this month for those who are interested. At that point, I still won’t have seen everything I wanted to see for the year, but I will have managed to see quite a bit.

In the meantime, here are two contenders I watched recently via Netflix streaming.

“Certified Copy” was directed by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. However, it takes place in Italy and has dialogue in English, French and Italian. Characters played by Juliette Binoche and William Shimell spend a day together talking about the value of art and the dynamics of relationships. However, it isn’t clear whether they are a couple who have met each other for the first time or whether they are a married couple who seldom see one another. Does that sound confusing? It is. But in the scheme of things, the exact nature of their relationship doesn’t really matter. The conversations they have are tumultuous and fascinating.

This film has been on a lot of critics’ top 10 lists with good reason.

A second film that I had heard very little about but thoroughly enjoyed was “The Myth of the American Sleepover.” It follows various teenagers around as they look for love, discover who they are and drink. It’s no “American Pie,” so don’t go in expecting sex jokes and titillation. It’s a mostly quiet and introspective film that rang true with me in many ways. First-time writer/director David Robert Mitchell does an incredible job with a lot of new talent. “The Myth of the American Sleepover” is a film that I won’t forget anytime soon.

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