2011 was a year of fun films

Here we are in early December suffering through Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I taking up every screen in every theatre and all we want to do is fast-forward to the Oscar fare.

Luckily, two great writer/directors are back in the mix after long absences from the screen.

The Descendents just came out, which is probably the year’s best so far. George Clooney will receive an Oscar nod, maybe win it – his first for Best Actor (he already has a Supporting Actor statue). Director Alexander Payne, who took seven years off from filmmaking, will be up for Best Directing, Screenplay and Picture. His last film was the 2004 hit Sideways. You know, the film that made you a wine expert because you don’t like Merlot.

Cameron Crowe also returns to the cineplex with We Bought a Zoo, the Matt Damon starrer that will most likely blend a stellar soundtrack with wonderful performances by the ensemble cast.

Earlier this year, Leonardo DiCaprio starred in J. Edgar; Brad Pitt dazzled in Moneyball and The Tree of Life; and some Hollywood insiders are throwing around the idea that the final instalment of the Harry Potter series will be up for some end-of-the-year awards. We’ll see.

Coming soon

Jason Reitman’s Young Adult starring Charlize Theron and scripted by Juno writer Diablo Cody; David Fincher’s take on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with Rooney Mara as the title character; Steven Spielberg’s War Horse about… a war horse; and Stephen Daldry’s (The Hours, Billy Elliott) tearjerker Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close about 9/11.

There are some smaller indie pictures that will yield some nods: Another Happy Day written and directed by Barry Levinson’s (Rain Man) son Sam; Shame starring a very naked and sex-addicted Michael Fassbender; and My Week With Marilyn starring Michelle Williams as the incomparable Marilyn Monroe.

Tom Cruise is also back as Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Robert Downey returns as the brilliant investigator in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Not two Oscar-worthy pics, but fun films nonetheless.

Rumm-bunctious

The movie that stands out the most though, to me, is The Rum Diary.

How couldn’t it? For Caribbean folks, it’s our life. We wake up, drink rum, go to lunch, drink rum, do some writing, drink some rum, go home, more rum, and go to bed, rum. This Hunter S. Thompson novel adaptation starred Johnny Depp and surprisingly made almost nothing at the theatre when it was released in late October.

But I rather boldly predict that this film will be one that viewers return to and add to their home collection. The movie is brilliantly acted and well-written, but most importantly it has a sense of history and purpose.

It’s about the power of the written word in journalism, the importance of following what you know is right compared to what will make you a quick buck – and drinking rum.

Okay, maybe it has no socially significant stance or anything really crucial to say. But it’s about consuming a delicious Caribbean adult beverage. And when you really think about it, shouldn’t every movie be about that?

Alan who?
Alan Smithee is a film nut based in Barbados who originally hails from the Antipodes. He once met Paul Hogan at an airport but didn’t say ‘call that hand luggage? This is hand luggage’ to him, which he eternally regrets. He contributes to a number of popular film magazines, websites and newspapers under a variety of pseudonyms and says he likes to keep it that way.

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