Each year for the last few years, I've been compiling an extra top 10 list, a supplement to my main list of my favorite new movies of the year. It's a list of my favorite movies from other years that I saw for the first time this year (check out the lists from 2010, 2009 and 2008). Here are the best movies I saw for the first time in 2011 that were released in previous years.
not really liking. Even though Haynes sticks closer to James M. Cain's novel, I preferred Curtiz's movie version that adds in a murder mystery and changes the plot to structure it around a lengthy flashback. It's more self-consciously a film noir, and that works really well for the story, especially in depicting the animosity between Mildred (Joan Crawford) and her reprehensible daughter Veda (Ann Blyth). The heightened style fits their viciousness better, and even though I generally love ambiguous, downbeat endings, I much preferred seeing Veda go off the edge and then get her comeuppance. It's still a tragedy for Mildred in the end, but it's tinged more with nastiness than sadness, and I found that more entertaining.
podcast on Malick with Tony Macklin, I watched the only other Malick movie I hadn't already seen, and it reminded me of what I loved about his work and what seemed missing to me in The Tree of Life. Days of Heaven is ethereal and abstract and hushed just like The Tree of Life, but it's grounded in a real story and real characters that can connect to the audience, so that Malick's musing aren't just anchorless pondering. Richard Gere and Brooke Adams are moving as the lovers trying to hold on to their connection in the face of an impossible situation, and having the narration come from Linda Manz's young, naive character gives it a purpose and point of view that The Tree of Life is missing. It's mesmerizing in its style and its visual poetry, certainly, but it's also a wonderfully human, often heartbreaking story.
project to see her entire filmography is still ongoing. I saw much fewer Davis movies this year, and by now most of the ones I still haven't seen are forgettable quickies in which Davis plays a small part. So this random offering from TCM was a pleasant surprise, a sharp and sparkling pre-Code comedy with entertaining performances from Davis and Ruth Chatterton as a couple of socialites engaged in various romantic rivalries. It's stylish and silly (sometimes a little too silly) and a lot of fun to watch; a worthwhile gem among Davis' early work. Read more in my original post.
photo gallery from the event, including one picture with me in it.)
my week watching the entire series, although I still think Hellbound: Hellraiser II is the best of the series (but it isn't eligible for this list since I had already seen it before 2011). As the series got cheaper and more generic, Barker's original personal vision stood out more, with his twisted and strangely alluring combination of sex and death in a horror movie about carnal pleasures more than violence and gore. Hellraiser does some predictable horror-movie stuff, but it also takes a lot of unexpected routes, and its S&M-flavored design sense has become an indelible part of horror iconography. Read more in my original post.