1Michel Hazanavicius' swooning valentine to the silent movie era is the most captivating movie experience of 2011. (Tampa Theatre)
Persall: "I've viewed The Artist three times now, and each time the smile on my face grew wider and took longer to wipe away. Hazanavicius crafted more than a replica of the silent era; this feels like a time capsule found 80 years later, right on time to be revolutionary in a louder world."
2Charlize Theron is a funny rhymes-with-witch, in a dark comedy from Juno team Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody.
Persall: "Young Adult is comedy at its darkest, with the added discomfort of making the worst person in the movie also its most magnetic. That's a daredevil act for everyone involved, including the audience, with expectations dashed at every turn and replaced by outrageous humor."
The Adventures of Tintin
3Steven Spielberg's first-ever animated film, with a hero who could be Indiana Jones' son.
Persall: "Like his pal Martin Scorsese did with Hugo, Spielberg uses 3-D effects chiefly to embellish depth of vision, not in-your-face thrills. The Adventures of Tintin is lovely to behold, with the 'natural' lighting of desktop lamps throwing atmospheric shadows, and speedier scenes appearing more dangerous, as they should."
4Spielberg again, with a sweeping World War I epic about a boy and his horse that starts slow and finishes strong.
Persall: "War Horse takes time reaching its full emotional gallop with a late sequence combining man, beast and barbed wire. Yet it remains a technically magnificent ride throughout, and a checklist of visual influences from All Quiet on the Western Front to Gone with the Wind."
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
5David Fincher adapts Stieg Larsson's violent novel with as much kinky verve as the Swedish movie version.
Persall: "While it isn't clear if another version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is necessary, Fincher couldn't make it boring with all this lurid material. He's somewhere between the thriller mode making Se7en a modern horror classic and the procedural pace that turned Zodiac into an atmospheric disappointment. But in any language with anyone at the helm, Lisbeth is still a killer."
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
6The fabled British sleuth (Robert Downey Jr.) faces his greatest nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris).
Persall: "Only in [Guy] Ritchie's take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's heroes would a stag party be staged in the uptight Victorian era, or would it be crashed by an acrobatic Cossack assassin."
UPCOMING RELEASES |
Jan 6: The Devil Inside Jan. 13: The Iron Lady, Contraband, Joyful Noise Jan 20: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Carnage, Shame, Red Tails: Haywire