Roger Ebert's Top 20 Films Of 2011

The rules are a little confusing, and certainly aren’t explained, but Roger Ebert has drawn up a list of his 20 favourite films of the year, plus one special mention. I’ve not seen seven of these, am utterly perplexed by the inclusion of another, but – as always with these things – find it a fun string of pearls-and-beads to fidget with a while.

  1. A Separation
  2. Shame
  3. The Tree of Life
  4. Hugo
  5. Take Shelter
  6. Kinyarwanda
  7. Drive
  8. Midnight in Paris
  9. Le Havre
  10. The Artist
  11.  Melancholia
  12. Terri
  13. The Descendants
  14. Margaret
  15. Martha Marcy May Marlene
  16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
  17. Trust
  18. Life, Above All
  19. The Mill and the Cross
  20. Another Earth

The special mention would be for We Need To Talk About Kevin, omitted from the list proper as it doesn’t have a specific date to play in Ebert’s town of Chicago just yet. Odd rule, but it seems to be the fact that Ebert doesn’t know when the film will play rather than the fact that it won’t be in 2011 that disqualifies it, as he points out elsewhere that A Separation won’t be in the city until the end of January, and that’s been allowed to top the list.

There are specific thoughts on each of the selections at Ebert’s blog, some better developed and more generous than others. Sad to see he indulges in the same spurious critique of Hugo‘s 3D that Kermode has been peddaling:

Although I believe that 3D is usually an unnecessary annoyance, the way Scorsese employs it here is quite successful; in calling attention to itself, 3D subtly calls attention to film itself.

I just can’t get on board with this argument. It seems like a desperate attempt to work up praise for a film in a format these two guys have so heavily derided, some way or reconciling their opposing biases and nothing to do with the experience of watching the film at all.

On any other day they’d never argue that it’s a good thing for the audience to be sat there watching Scorsese’s film in a state of constant dissonance and awareness that these aren’t characters or dramatic situations worth investing in but just bits of motion picture trickery.

Anyway, Ebert certainly loves film, and that love is as infectious here as ever. Long may his lists continue.

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