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Entertainment

Adults take heart: Hollywood delivered in 2011

December 30th, 2011 3:58 am by By RAFER GUZMAN Newsday


“You know what’s a drag about being a grown-up?” a friend asked the other night. “Nobody makes movies for me anymore.”


He’s not entirely correct, but I know how he feels. Hollywood’s focus on young viewers has been intensifying for decades — at least since the original “Star Wars,” if not before — and this year was no exception.


The dearth of adult fare may explain why Woody Allen’s light comedy “Midnight in Paris” became his biggest-ever financial success in North America. It was smart, charming and had nothing to do with aliens or men in tights. Ditto for “The Help,” a racially themed drama that 20 years ago might have been dismissed as Hollywood fluff but today feels well-tempered and refreshing.


My favorite film of the year, “The Artist,” may seem like a typical critics’ pick — it’s French, black-and-white and silent — but there is absolutely nothing stuffy or snobby about this movie. The story of an outmoded silent star (Jean Dujardin) and a chatty newcomer (Berenice Bejo), “The Artist” is a genuine crowd-please r.


Though I haven’t seen two of the year’s major contenders — the Streep-as-Thatcher biopic “The Iron Lady” and David Fincher’s long-awaited version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” — here are my top 11 movies for 2011. Grown-ups, take heart.


1. “The Artist” — Not in IMAX, 3-D, color or even sound. But this silent-film throwback is the freshest, most imaginative movie of the year, and one of the most unabashedly romantic.


2. “The Help” — Some criticized its soft treatment of racism, but I was grateful for a message movie that didn’t browbeat me into submission.


3. “Midnight in Paris” — Sometimes Woody Allen still gets it right, as he does in this deceptively light comedy-fable about love, literature and time travel.


4. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” — This reboot of the hokey franchise proved absolutely electrifying, with hair-raising action and a career-high performance from motion-capture veteran Andy Serkis.


5. “Moneyball” — An unsentimental, cliche-free drama about Major League Baseball, with fine performances from Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill as number crunchers dismantling the game they love.


6. “Melancholia” — Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic drama about a chronic depressive (Kirsten Dunst) is designed to provoke strong reactions, not all of them pleasant. Mission accomplished.


7. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”— A cool, stylish version of the classic British spy novel, with ace performances from Tom Hardy, Colin Firth and Gary Oldman as owl-eyed agent George Smiley. Thomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In”) is now officially a director to watch.


8. “Martha Marcy May Marlene” — A tense, tingly drama about a young girl fleeing from a violent cult leader (John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”). Elizabeth Olsen’s remarkably raw and surely Oscar-worthy performance is not what you’d expect from someone related to the “Full House” twins.


9. “Sleeping Beauty” — Emily Browning (“Sucker Punch”) plays a co-ed moonlighting as a prostitute — while unconscious. It’s a discomfiting fairy tale from Australian novelist Julia Leigh, who borrows from Stanley Kubrick and feminist filmmaker Chantal Akerman but thanks Jane Campion in the credits.


10. “Magic Trip” — Painstakingly assembled from footage shot by the Merry Pranksters during their famous 1964 bus trip, Alex Gibney’s documentary is a vivid, vibrant chronicle of idealism, recklessness and the start of a revolution.


11. “Captain America: The First Av e n g e r ” — A gorgeous, golden-hued action-adventure, with Chris Evans as the best do-gooder since Christopher Reeve. However next year’s “The Avengers” turns out, we’ll always have this.

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