Year in Review: Some of the best movies of 2011 hit homeWritten by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | firstname.lastname@example.org
The opening scenes of “Super 8” follow an accident at a steel mill in the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio. A boy is left without a mom, a father without a wife. This is all before the alien comes and wreaks havoc on the town.
George Clooney’s latest film, “The Descendants,” surrounds a man in Hawaii whose wife is in a comatose state after a boating accident. And the doctors are not giving much hope to the family.
The independent film “Beginners” has lead character Oliver Fields, played by Ewan McGregor, picking up the pieces of his life after his father passes away.
These three movies are some of the best of the year and for me, they hit home.
Before this year, I may have called them good, but maybe not the best of 2011.
In March, my mother passed away unexpectedly at the age of 51. Her brother, my uncle, 63, passed away at the end of June after a tough battle with cancer. My grandfather, my father’s father, 81, passed away in September after multiple health complications.
I am still reeling from the effects of the first death, let alone the others.
With each film I see where a parent has died or is dying, the bandage is ripped off once more, my composure gone.
The hand of death has touched my life. And the reminders are haunting.
There is a scene in “Super 8” where Joel’s Courtney’s character Joe Lamb is watching old movies featuring him and his mom together.
“It’s so weird watching her like this, like she’s still here,” he says about his mom to Alice Dainard, played by Elle Fanning. “She used to look at me this way, like really look. And I just knew I was there. That I existed.”
2011 has been a tough year, but mainly it has been a year of life. The phrase “c’est la vie” comes to mind. That’s life. I can’t help but think that death and traumatic experiences make us stronger, even though they are incredibly painful.
Film portrays life. And when it does so accurately, I now understand why the films create such a cathartic, emotional response.
Not every critic may agree that these films are the best of the year. One thing I have learned as a reviewer is that everyone brings his or her own perspective to a movie. And no review is right or wrong. It’s an opinion. Everyone brings something else to the table: life experience, a story of love, loss or overcoming all odds.
“Beginners” is based on the interactions between director Mike Mills and his father. It is an extremely personal tale where McGregor’s character, Oliver, is struggling with his father’s declining health and eventual death.
The opening shots of the film show Oliver sifting through his father’s possessions, some clothes and items going out to the trash, others to keep and some to donate.
As mundane a task as this might seem, I lived this. I remember the pain of going through every item. Nothing in life prepares you for such a mental exercise, typically done in a zombie-eque fashion with tearful eyes and memories attached to every item.
I’ve seen myself in all three of these films. Been there, done that, in some sort of way. They are some of the best movies of the year and will land somewhere on my Top 10 list for the year.
I never before remembered movies to be such a cathartic experience. Sure, I would cry during some films, but until this year, I’ve never felt so connected to the characters on screen. I’ve also learned that the phrase, “it was like out of a movie” can also be applied to one’s life.
That’s film portraying life, portraying film.
Toledo Free Press Lead Designer James A. Molnar blogs about all things Oscar at TheGoldKnight.com.