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My Complete List of New-to-Me Movies for 2011:

At the end, I’ve seen 132 new-to-me movies this year, 37 of which are also in the 1001 MYMSBYD book. Which - in my view at least - is a lot of movies to see for the first time in a year. Since the list is super long, I’ve put it after the break, but here are my top favorites (roughly in order):
  1. Midnight in Paris
  2. How to Steal a Million
  3. Notorious
  4. The Thin Man
  5. Tangled
  6. To Have and Have Not
  7. Working Girl
  8. You’ve Got Mail
  9. No Country For Old Men
  10. Top Hat

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Northanger Abbey (#132*)

I have to say that I quite enjoyed this. Felicity Jones is adorable and fun - even if Catherine Morland is not one of Jane Austen’s sharpest heroines - and JJ Feild is simply delicious as Mr. Tilney. The movie itself is fun and funny with enjoyable performances and writing all around. Does more than sufficient justice to one of Jane Austen’s thinnest tales. (More than worthwhile if only for the dynamism of JJ Feild. I repeat, he’s scrumptuous.)

*I actually watched this back in November but never added it to my list since technically it was made for TV. But since it’s definitely a movie, and one that I enjoyed, I’ve decided to formally count it.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (#131)

As far as sequels got, this is legit. Perfectly flavor and same fantastic performances with no one (writers, director, actors) being allowed to indulge their favorite elements to the detriment of the film. Still totally in love with Robert Downey, Jude Law, Kelly Reilly and Co. Guy Ritchie’s direction is still perfect in its stylization and the effects are sublime. The first half was a little bit longer than it needed to be and was borderline on dragging, but the action sequences are so awesome throughout that I didn’t really mind. Plus all plants totally pay off, which is always a good thing. Decidedly pleased with the sequel to one of the movies I enjoy most.

Mansfield Park (#130)

I think this is the only adaptation that could ever make me actually like the characters of Mansfield Park. In the book, all I want is for Fanny to stand up for herself and end up with someone who adores her and just hate it when she ends up with Edmund because it feels like he decides just to settle for her. Here, it works somewhat better. Frances O’Connor is a strong, zesty Fanny while Johnny Lee Miller actually made me understand and like Edmund’s feelings. The weird lesbian tension between Fanny and Mary Crawford was totally out of character though, but whatever. Prettily shot - though some of the more “artistic angles” got very distracting - and I liked the breaking of the 4th Wall. A very good Austen adaptation.

The Gay Divorcee (#129)

Considering my general love for all things Fred and Ginger there really was no way I wasn’t going to enjoy this. I watched it on the plane home for Christmas and considered it a very good use of 2 hours. It’s definitely not my favorite of their films (even if the story is amusing, it’s very loose), but the hilarious side characters played by the standard supporting cast (most notably Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore) made up for this. Fred and Ginger sparkle per usual but I wish there has been more song and dance numbers involving them. (That said, the Continental sequence went on way too long for my taste.) Snappy writing and general fantastic-ness means that I still enjoyed watching this.

Libeled Lady (#128)

William Powell and Myrna Loy are the textbook definition of charm and chemistry in everything they do, so this was no exception. Quick, funny, well written, good characters, I really enjoyed it. Seriously though, I’m head over heels for the both of them.

Persuasion (#127)
Persuasion is one of the only Jane Austen books I haven’t read, so I felt like a bit of a cheat watching the movie, but on the whole I liked it if only for the Austen-ness of it all. Anne Elliot is a much better heroine than Emma but the story was a little too slow for me in moments. As a movie, it’s solid - very mid-nineties, but so it goes - with very nice performances all around (though I did feel that many of the actors were a little old for their parts). Not one I’d seek out again, but it definitely left me with that Austen-glow of happiness.

Persuasion (#127)

Persuasion is one of the only Jane Austen books I haven’t read, so I felt like a bit of a cheat watching the movie, but on the whole I liked it if only for the Austen-ness of it all. Anne Elliot is a much better heroine than Emma but the story was a little too slow for me in moments. As a movie, it’s solid - very mid-nineties, but so it goes - with very nice performances all around (though I did feel that many of the actors were a little old for their parts). Not one I’d seek out again, but it definitely left me with that Austen-glow of happiness.

Swing Time (#126) (#153)
It’s nigh impossible for Fred and Ginger to be anything other than absolutely sublime, and that includes this film. I didn’t like it as much as I did Top Hat, but the musical numbers are still absolutely breathtaking (even the one with Fred Astaire in black face). Ginger Rogers is my spirit animal in the scene where she tries kissing Fred in his dressing room (lolz forever) and I loved seeing Helen Broderick (Spirit Animal 2.0) again, as well as Eric Blore. Gorgeous costuming for Ginger in particular (drooling over that white and rhinestone dress). I love happy Old Hollywood tap dancing musicals.

Swing Time (#126) (#153)

It’s nigh impossible for Fred and Ginger to be anything other than absolutely sublime, and that includes this film. I didn’t like it as much as I did Top Hat, but the musical numbers are still absolutely breathtaking (even the one with Fred Astaire in black face). Ginger Rogers is my spirit animal in the scene where she tries kissing Fred in his dressing room (lolz forever) and I loved seeing Helen Broderick (Spirit Animal 2.0) again, as well as Eric Blore. Gorgeous costuming for Ginger in particular (drooling over that white and rhinestone dress). I love happy Old Hollywood tap dancing musicals.

Ninotchka (#125) (#152)

I wasn’t crazy about this at first - so much propaganda, so many stereotypes, and I’m in a Russian History course at the moment so it was all really familiar - but as Ninotchka loosened up I totally fell in love with this movie. Greta Garbo really is a fantastic Soviet robot and her process of softening up was beautiful. But really, Melvyn Douglas stole every scene for me. So. Funny. Really great dialogue and solid direction. The entire movie just made me so happy. Definitely an authentically funny, sweet, romantic gem I’m so glad I saw.

The Heiress (#124) (#151)

I wasn’t overly amazed by this movie. The first 2/3 were marked by stiff acting and unnatural dialogue in my opinion and though beautifully shot, I’d have liked to see some more variations in focal length (can you tell I’m a snooty film student?). I found Montgomery Clift in particularly to be very wooden - though I guess that was a part of his character’s persona (and he looked so much like James Franco that it was kind of unnerving). However, Olivia de Havilland’s transformation is brilliant and I can never say anything less than sublime about William Wyler’s direction so all in all, I can kind of recognize why it’s a classic, but it’s not one I’d go out of my way to recommend. (The final scene is really fantastic though, and well worth the previous two hours)

Super 8 (#123)

I know how everyone was in euphoric fits over the nostalgia and sheer happy blockbuseter-ness of this movie this summer but - and I’m sorry to say it - I didn’t get it. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really liked Steven Spielberg’s films (okay, that’s probably exactly why), but I just didn’t click with this. I know J.J. Abrams directs (and I do like him) but everything about this was saturated in Spielberg’s heavy-handed aesthetic. The kids were cute and solid (particularly Joel Courtney. Adorable). Really liked Kyle Chandler. But the threads holding the story together were loose, the emotions were forced, and the subtext was none existent. I’m happy that people loved it, but it just didn’t click for me.

Out of the Past (#122) (#150)
Such a high quality film noir! I don’t think there was a single performance that wasn’t A+, but notably sublime were Jane Greer, Virginia Huston and (per usual) Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum. Fantastically shot, well written, brilliant characters (Kathie may be my new favorite femme fatale). Definitely recognize why it’s a classic.

Out of the Past (#122) (#150)

Such a high quality film noir! I don’t think there was a single performance that wasn’t A+, but notably sublime were Jane Greer, Virginia Huston and (per usual) Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum. Fantastically shot, well written, brilliant characters (Kathie may be my new favorite femme fatale). Definitely recognize why it’s a classic.

Caught (#121)

What a good little gem of a noir movie. Lovely 1940s dialogue and suspense with interesting social commentary. If some parts of character development were glossed over, well… oh well. Barbara Bel Geddes is a great heroine and James Mason is positively dreamy. A little bit like a watered down Hitchcock without the gloss, but still one I enjoyed.