I realize I may have given away some of these choices with my utterly correct listing of the year's ten best performances, but no matter! 2011's finest cinema, specifically the top three choices on my list, gifted us with bleak, but comprehensive glimpses into personal isolation. I love when a movie is resolutely grim -- reminds me of home. Here are my top ten films of 2011.
In this weekend's Margin Call, Demi Moore plays a workaholic risk management exec whose reckless peers at a fictional Wall Street investment firm help ignite the 2008 economic crisis. So how did a Brat Packer from the '80s transform herself into a high powered finance exec?
Margin Call isn't the first film to peer into the moneyed, aspirationally heartless world of finance, and it's not going to be the last, but it's got a fair shot at being the one with the most masterful timing. J.C. Chandor's feature debut aims to offers insight into the mindset of bankers poised to plunge the country into the 2008 economic crisis because of their own reckless conduct, and it reaches screens as Occupy Wall Street has spread across the U.S. and internationally, fueled in part by outrage about a lack of accountability in the financial and corporate world. The film's not an indictment or a satire -- it's a tense but contemplative exploration of being on the other side of one of those mirrored skyscraper windows, of being in a precarious place of privilege, power and, most important of all, carefully guarded remove.
Writer-director J.C. Chandor isn't traditional Verge material -- a 15-year veteran of commercials, documentaries and short films whose dramatic feature debut, Margin Call features a eye-popping ensemble cast of Oscar winners (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons), seasoned pros (Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker) and next-generation standouts (Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley) taking on the tale of a New York City investment bank flirting with oblivion at the dawn of the ongoing financial crisis. And thanks to both the cast and his own formidable chops, Chandor pulls it off with impressive aplomb.