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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Year in Review

Year in Review: Kenneth Turan's best film picks of 2011

December 16, 2011 |  2:51 pm

The Clock
The best film of 2011 was technically not a film at all. It never played in a commercial theater and likely never will. But those fortunate enough to have seen “The Clock” during its all-too-brief run at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art know how remarkable an event it was.

A collage of clips created as an art installation by Christian Marclay from literally thousands of films, foreign and domestic, silent and sound, with some TV shows thrown into the mix, “The Clock” is structured minute by minute around a 24-hour time cycle. This may sound like a trivialization of the cinematic experience, but the reality is intoxicating. If only LACMA could be persuaded to show it more often.

The rest of my 10-best list, expanded whenever necessary, contains more conventional films, but they are no less exceptional for that. In alphabetical order they are:

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Year in Review: Betsy Sharkey's best film picks of 2011

December 16, 2011 |  2:30 pm

The Descendants
This year, I found myself drawn to certain themes as well as specific films, what follows are my favorites on both fronts.

1. “The Descendants” and other family matters: Exquisite examinations of family pain topped my list this year starting with George Clooney exceptional at being ordinary in “The Descendants.” Other standouts were a surprising Iranian divorce saga “A Separation,” Tilda Swinton’s excruciating tribulations in “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” the clashing Shakespearean politics of family and country in Ralph Fiennes’ “Coriolanus” and finally a boy’s father lost and found in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

2. “City of Life and Death” in black-and-white: Filmmakers proved that black-and-white can be artistically powerful and emotionally unforgettable with Chuan Lu’s heartbreaking Nanjing massacre in “City of Life and Death,” with a nod to Michel Hazanavicius’ buoyant ode to the end of the silent era in “The Artist.”

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