Alec Kubas-Meyer signed up for Flixist in May of 2011 as a news writer, and he never intended to write a single review. Funny, then, that he is now the site's Reviews (and Features) Editor. After stumbling upon the existence of that year's New York Asian Film Festival only two days before it began (and getting very lucky that they wanted the press), he saw some movies that radically changed his worldview, and that was that. Now he is one of the most prolific reviewers on the site, greatly helped by the constant stream of screening series and film festivals around New York City. Generally speaking, the films he reviews are ones that won't make many waves in mainstream American cinema, but he feels that, bad or good, those are the films that need the coverage most of all.
He likes all kinds of movies, everything from Jason Siegel-centered romantic comedies to black-and-white Swedish arthouse movies to movies that would make the average person all but skin themselves in the shower in an attempt to get clean. Also Asian films, especially Korean films. Alec really likes Korean films, thanks in large part to that same film festival.
When not watching or writing about movies, Alec can be found making them amateurish-ly. He also plays videogames, and writes about them on the internet sometimes, usually for The Daily Beast.
NOTE: IN ATTEMPTING TO FIX SOME ERRORS THAT AROSE FROM PUBLISHING THAT PROBABLY CAME ABOUT DURING ONE OF THE VARIOUS REDESIGNS, THIS DECIDED TO POST AS THOUGH IT WAS NEW. IT'S NOT. IT'S BASICALLY A YEAR OLD AT THIS POINT. THAT BEING SAID, ALL THESE MOVIES ARE AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD SEE THEM.
2011 was a great year for movies. Prior to this year, I have never really thought about my top movies, and I don't know that I've ever really seen enough of them from one year to make any kind of proper list. This year has changed that, and now I had difficulty putting films I really enjoyed into my Top 10. I could probably have done a Top 20 if I wanted to. But I don't. I want to do a Top 5. I saw the majority of the major films this year, and I don't think that there are many releases I didn't see that would impact this list. I had to cut so many great films that I could see it being difficult for even my Top 10 could change, though it certainly could. Nonetheless, I think that this list is pretty much set in stone.
So let's take a look at the films that impacted me most.
Of all the films I saw in 2011, Bellflower had the biggest impact on me. The first half of the film, frankly, is not very good. Some of it is fine, but it's mostly terrible and boring. Then something happens. Something bad. By the way it was filmed, it was so clear that it was going to happen, but I still wasn't prepared, and then the madness began. From that moment the film turned into something hellish, and I found myself completely speechless when the credits rolled. I had flashbacks to that film for months. If nothing else, it has one of the best portrayals of a friendship that I have ever seen. However, there's so much else, and I was not prepared for any of it.
The Muppets is one hell of an outlier on this list, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be on here. I have no history with the Muppets. Although I've caught clips and glimpses of their shows and movies, I don't remember ever having at down and watching one all the way through. But it didn't matter. I didn't need to know who the characters were to connect with them, and I didn't need to have a history with them to enjoy their songs or antics. I may have missed all of the Muppets-related in-jokes, but I recognized damn near every cameo and laughed throughout the entire film. In fact, I laughed so much that my 12 year old sister was embarrassed to be sitting next to me. In terms of pure joy, nothing touched me like The Muppets, and that's gotta count for something. Right? Rhetorical question. The answer is yes.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can be commended for turning a Led Zeppelin song into something that I have willingly listened to on multiple occasions. Not just because Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross did an amazing job with their rendition of "Immigrant Song," but because listening to it reminds me of the movie's amazing opening credits sequence, followed by the amazing rest of the movie. I have read (and loved) the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, but I have yet to watch the Swedish adaptations. I'm not really sure I want to anymore, though, because Fincher did such an amazing job. The book deals with some very difficult subject matters, and the film treats all of them with an appropriate level of respect. I went into the theater completely sure of my Top 5, but I came out truly confused. With the exception of an iffy green screen used during a significant chase sequence, I found the film to be flawless. Fincher is one of the best directors of our time, and he has created something incredible here. If Sony can't convince him to direct the sequels, well... I will be very unhappy.
Although I have no problem with Shame being rated NC-17, it highlights a problem with ratings in general. Chances are you didn't see Shame. Chances are greater that you couldn't have if you wanted to. Its limited release should be considered a crime, because Shame is a truly incredible film in every single way. The character of Brandon, with a truly incredible performance by the very well-endowed Michael Fassbender, is perhaps the most fascinating of the year. Sex addiction is not really something that people talk about (or even necessarily believe in), let alone make movies about, but Steve McQueen's film is about something very real, and the lengths to which Brandon must go to satisfy his urges are horrifying. If you can see this film, you must do it. It is one of the best dramas to come around in a long, long time.
Really, how could it be anything else? I was fortunate enough to see Drive well before its theatrical release, and I spent the next couple of months telling everyone I knew that they had to see it. They told me to shut up about the movie because it wasn't out yet and if I talked about how great it was one more time they wouldn't see it just to spite me. But even if I stopped talking about it, I didn't stop thinking about it. It's amazing. It's wonderfully written, acted, directed, scored, and everything. Plus, it's absolutely gorgeous. In fact, it's so gorgeous, that I think it's the movie that proves film is dead. Long live digital! Anyways, I love pretty much everything about Drive, and it is in fact the only movie from 2011 that I paid to see a second time. I think that's pretty high praise.