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with George

Category: 2011

The Help (2011)

Today, we tackle a rather tricky film to discuss. First off, I am a caucasian (do I capitalize that word?) male. I am telling you this in case there was any question, especially as we dive head-into a film about racism. I will never try to justify the horrible things that my race has done to other races (primarily and most horribly, in the United States at least, African-Americans), and I would like it to be understood that any criticisms I may have of The Help are not meant do so. Be warned, though, I will spoil the film within the following review.

For the first few minutes of The Help, I couldn’t get Gone With the Wind out of my head. It’s an interesting comparison (but don’t worry, I won’t pull another Rabbit Hole/Another Earth on you). GWTW was filmed 30 years before The Help takes place, but somehow the help in that are treated much better than the help in this film from 2011.

That’s because The Help is a film about racism (where Gone wasn’t). I’m usually weary of the race movie that’s set in 1960s’ Southland because there’s no room for thought or rebuttal. Not that there should be any doubt as to who the victims and who the perpetrators are, but I prefer films containing those themes whose main focus is something other than racism. That’s why I like Driving Miss Daisy more than most; the relationship between Miss Daisy and Hoke is front and center. But try as it might, I saw past the little plot ploy of having the always-likable Emma Stone (Skeeter here) interview Aibileen and Minny (potential future Oscar-winner Viola Davis and definite future Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, respectively). But for every thing I had a problem with, there were 1.79 things I liked about The Help.

The tendency with mainstream Hollywood pictures is for every little detail to be ironed out; this is not the case with The Help. Take for example a black maid getting arrested in the street. We assume this is done because a very mean character didn’t like her talking to Stone (we’ll get to her in a little bit), but this is never explicitly stated. Also, I’m glad the film didn’t stray too much into the typical racial tension move of showing us the KKK. We feel their presence as much as we should, so we don’t really need them there.

In the film, we meet a woman who is a complete bitch; Hilly Holbrook, who is played by the no-holds-barred Bryce Dallas Howard. She’s the one who inspires (if I can say that) Skeeter to write a scathing, but perfectly true, novel about and with the assistance of The Help. I couldn’t figure out why they made her way more racist than all the other little housewives. I thought this was going to be a movie about casual racism and the way a few brave women combat it. But I realize now that Hilly being awful takes the pressure off of Octavia Spencer to deliver a flawless performance (which she does, anyway). What do I mean? I mean we have to forgive Spencer’s Minny for something terrible: baking her own feces into a pie then giving it to Hilly to eat.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe she doesn’t deserve it. But this was a very silly detail in an otherwise very serious film. The movie is comical, but I wasn’t laughing at this. In the end, we (The Academy and I) forgave Minny for her impulsive, repulsive act (how could we not?), but–come on–we watched a woman eat poop.

In 2011, we saw a lot of women on-screen (see: Bridesmaids), and The Help features a cast populated with incredible actresses. In fact, the only male with more than one speaking scene in the film is useless (yes, this is a criticism… nobody cares about Skeeter’s love life… this isn’t her story). Jessica Chastain is delightful as a Marilyn Monroe-lite housewife who could slaughter a chicken but must be coached by Minny on etiquette and family life. Spencer and Davis are both wonderful, and will definitely deserve the Oscars they will probably win (even though Kirsten Dunst should have been nominated for Best Actress). But it’s Allison Janney who steals the show for me as Skeeter’s mother, who is incredibly complicated. She does more with the limited screen time she has than any actress in 2011.

The film ends on a note that conflicted me. The humiliated, herpes-suffering Hilly pulls a classic Hilly: she convinces one of the other white housewives that Aibileen stole a piece of silver from the family, and she insists Aibileen (the only person in the household to care about baby Mae) be sacked. I’m still grappling with the ending of the movie because the evil white lady won. Yes, that’s what actually happened in history (up until a few years later), but still… after all of the triumphs the endearing characters I’d been watching for so long celebrated, we’re left with that ending? It wasn’t so much Viola Davis walking into the horizon. I was fine with that bit, since she seemed hopeful about becoming a writer (that part of the earlier plot should have been played up more, by the way). But seeing that child scream in the window for her Aibileen is tragic and horrifying.

In a way, it’s beautiful: we’re left to think about what influenced the child more… an encouraging mother (that would be Aibileen) or a meddling aunt. But in another way, it’s awful: are we to understand that no matter how hard we work, some people will always have the upper hand? What do you think?

My rating: *** (out of 4)

Random notes and amusing quotes:

  • “Shut that goddamn door.”
  • “It’s been endorsed by the White Citizen’s Council!”
  • “That’s a little too everything.”
  • “Your eggs are dying… would it kill you to go on a date?”
  • “We done it now.”
  • “Mexican man shoes”
  • “This. Is. Soooo much fun.”
  • “The Help. H-E-L-P.”
  • “…and I have decided not to die.”
  • It mentions a “gay cure.”
  • Accent-wise, I feel like the movie paints with a broad brush.
  • Oh, come on! No one sits on a desk like Mary Steenburgen did in this movie!
  • Hilly’s senile mother is a hoot!
  • I love it when a movie uses the same location/setting twice to draw a comparison. In this one, see the bathroom ones.
  • I didn’t talk much about the character Jessica Chastain plays, but she’s fun to be with.
  • It’s funny how they donate to starving African children…
  • In my notes, I wrote down both “Spencer – powerful” and “Viola Davis – truth.”
  • The toilet scene was another over-the-top one, but the pie scene takes the cake. (Get it?)
  • While I may have criticized the relationship the film tries to create between The Help and Skeeter, I thought the one between Minny and Chastain’s character was very touching. Seeing Chastain giggle while she was serving Spencer was beautiful.
  • I’m really sorry I don’t know Jessica Chastain’s character name.
  • There was no hard-at-work montage showing late nights typing, and I’m so glad. They kept it simple and real.
  • The Help was the 26th best film of 2011, in my opinion. If you enjoyed it, please see Driving Miss Daisy.
  • Next time: the best movies from the 1940s.

Another Earth (2011) and Rabbit Hole (2010)

Today, we start a new chapter. New design, new content, new focus. I’ll explain it all later, but I thought I’d start this new era by reviewing one of my favorite films of all time.

Sometimes, I’ll be watching a film when I realize that I’ve been drawing comparisons to other films the entire time. This shouldn’t come as a shock to me; I know who I am and what my world/mind is made of. But, somehow, it always does. I love it when this happens, because I can spend days on comparisons like this. While I was watching Another Earth, I drew two comparisons, and I will explore one of them here.

The first was to Gattaca. Like Another Earth, it is a sci-fi film that has an extremely complex male-female relationship at its core. In Another Earth, a promising young astronomer-to-be named Rhoda (played brilliantly by Britta’s quasi-lesbian lover from Community, Brit Marling) drinks and drives after a party. She must deal with the consequences of this action (unlike Chelsea) when she kills the wife and kid of a composer named John (portrayed well by William Mapother). Gattaca’s plot is not even similar to Another Earth‘s until the end, despite various agreements in mood. I don’t want to spoil either film, but instead point out what an interesting pairing they make for because of this. In fact, if I had to see Another Earth back-to-back with another film, I would choose Gattaca immediately after…

Rabbit Hole. Rabbit Hole was a film I respected and really liked after my first viewing. Back in November, I had a chance to see it again, and this time, things were different. So many of the small, beautiful details had completely slipped my mind. After taking notes, I think I could go on at length about these details, and someday I hope I get the opportunity to. But a major part of Rabbit Hole was the rabbit hole theory; the idea that somewhere out there, in another dimension perhaps, you are happy… even if you aren’t happy right now. Those of you who have seen Another Earth are, for sure, nodding your heads, as you can see how it relates.

Nicole Kidman plays Becca, a woman whose son was run over by a car more than half a year before the film starts. She takes comfort in the idea of an alternate version of her, but that thought was not her own. It was brought to her attention by Jason (the young, talented Miles Teller), the boy whose car slain the child who wandered into the street. Going back the Another Earth, Rhoda and John both look for peace on Earth II, a near-replica of Earth I which finds itself within shuttle distance of their home planet.

Automobiles play subtle roles in both films, since both of their plots stem from car accidents. It’s incredible, now that I think about it, how similar the films are in terms of plot. Maybe I’m a sucker for this type of movie, but I doubt that’s the only reason I fell for both of these pictures.

Another Earth is, at its most basic level, a collection of images that Rhoda seals in her memory forever. Given complexity, it is a living and breathing museum through the life of a person who has no life. Rhoda herself is curating, and once the seal on this memory container is broken, there’s no going back. I wasn’t attracted to this story at first, but Brit Marling really drew me in with her stellar, nuanced performance as this troubled young adult. Additionally, the relationship between Rhoda and John is one of the most natural onscreen relationships in recent memory. Not a single moment in forced.

The voiceovers are the most annoying part of the film, but I only counted four of them, so they don’t breathe down your neck too often. In the early bits, you may feel it gets too art-house and too indie, but it redeems/earns these poetic pauses.

The performances of Kidman, Teller, Aaron Eckhart (Becca’s husband), and Dianne Weist (Becca’s mother) all bring emotional realism to Rabbit Hole, as well. Kidman’s performance, in particular, conveys a mixture of guilt, anger, and superiority that she doesn’t have to tell you about in order for you to understand. Each of her interactions with the other characters brings a new meaning to what we already know about her. It’s a brilliantly structured film, but how much would that matter if the players weren’t so perfectly in-tune with each other.

I’m scared I’ll write another seven paragraphs about Rabbit Hole here! Again, I appreciated the little things. I particularly enjoyed how all the characters called their support group simply “group,” allowing it to rule over them. The different, cold-light-of-day look of the kitchen at the end was a simple but effective touch. But the one thing, above all else, that makes Rabbit Hole work so well is its willingness to throw blame out the window. This isn’t a story about right and wrong. It’s the story of a family and what has to be done to maneuver life.

Additional notes, but no funny quotes:

  • Another Earth: ***½
  • The narration at the beginning of Another Earth reminded me of Beginners.
  • 1 hour and 10 minutes in: John’s smile is heartbreaking.
  • When Another Earth flashes back to the accident at that crucial time, it is simply brilliant.
  • I tried to explain the film to a friend, and I used the term “our Earth” while talking about Earth I, but do we really know that’s our Earth?
  • Another Earth has currently bumped Certified Copy from my list of best films of the year.
  • Rabbit Hole: ****
  • This Debbie character means a lot in the film, but we never see her. It was a nice touch.
  • This is the movie A Little Help wishes it were.

The 10 Best Films of 2011, According to Me

10. Certified Copy

The first time I saw Abbas Kiarostami’s latest picture, I was inspired. Certified Copy opened my eyes to the world of art (including filmmaking). I got the chance to see it  a second time, and I was struck by how much more fun thinking about it is than watching it. Oh well, that still counts. Where: Air Canada/Netflix Instant.

9. The Tree of Life

I wasn’t sure how I would like The Tree of Life, but I knew I had to see it. Well, I did see it; and obviously, I liked it. The Tree of Life really is visual poetry, and it is about both everything and nothing at the same time. I don’t currently (and probably will never) know all of Malick’s intentions, but I gave scenes and shots my own meanings, based on my life. Perhaps that’s exactly what he wanted me to do… Where: St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis.

8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

#7 is the spot in which the Swedish version landed on 2010’s list, but the David Fincher film is better. While I still believe an amalgamation of the two would be the best film, I recognize the 2011 effort is more artful than its 2009/2010 counterpart, while retaining the thrills and titillation. Where: my hometown Cinemark.

7. Moneyball

Brad Pitt has had an excellent year. He gave two killer, Filmtooth runner-up performances. Imagine the number of times this film could have not been made. I’m interested in what Pitt does from here, with retirement rumors swirling. Where: hometown Cinemark.

6. Attack the Block

If 2010’s films’ general theme was communication (see: The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Dogtooth, etc.), 2011’s is community. And my favorite part of Attack the Block was the way it captured the perfect communal atmosphere. My second favorite thing? The amazing aliens. Where: Amazon Instant.

5. Trust

The camera work is neither dazzling nor particularly informative, but the story is strong enough to carry the film into my heart (and my top 10). I don’t know if I’ll ever see Trust again, the subject being a pedophile and a rape, but if I do, I hope I find the same tragic beauty I got out of the first go-round. Where: Netflix Instant.

4. In a Better World

High stakes situations are usually very interesting to watch, and that holds true with In a Better World, a Danish film that won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars last spring. I don’t want to spoil it, but it deal with violence; where does it come from, who should we blame, what can we do to stop it. It is shear brilliance, and if you’re anything like me, it will set your brain on fire. I’m still digesting it, a month after my first (and most recent) viewing of it. Where: Amazon Instant.

3. Weekend

This is, quite possibly, the sweetest film I’ve ever seen. The story is simple: two gay men have what they think will be a one night stand, they develop feelings, but one is moving away. It sounds like an awful subplot from Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve, but it’s executed masterfully. I shudder to think what this would have been in lesser hands. Where: Netflix Instant.

2. Hugo

Hugo is pure magic. It finished the year at the #1 slot, a position it held since the November night I watched it. It was gorgeous to look at, without being false, as it was wonderful to be emersed in this world of characters, none of whom felt fake. I have seen neither The Artist nor The Descendants, but even if I had and thought they were of higher quality, I would rooting for Hugo at the Oscars. Where: hometown Cinemark.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Leading Film Performances of 2011

Female

Honorable mentions:

Catherine Deneuve (Potiche), Liana Liberato (Trust), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)

5. Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Mara as Lisbeth Salander

I didn’t know where Lisbeth Salander began and where Rooney Mara ended. Sure, that can be said about a lot of the performances up here, but the range that Mara had to cover was enormous. The instances that sealed the deal for me: all the scenes with her most recent guardian, and the final shot.

4. Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia)

Dunst as Justine

Melancholia was weird. The good kind of weird you get when directors try big things. It could have been bad weird, though, had it not been for this very powerful and believable performance from its star (cosmic pun intended). The Dunst we saw in the first half was good and all, but it was the brilliance of her in the latter half that was amazing. The way she just slightly looses her cool and gets angry at her sister for being pathetic was glorious, and her half-depressed half-“I could care less, but I don’t care enough to” attitude was (ironically?) inspired.

3. Manjinder Virk (The Arbor)

Virk as Lorraine

I’d like to take a moment and congratulate the entire cast of The Arbor. I firmly believe they were the best overall cast at the movies this year, and their jobs were extra hard, since (for most of them) none of their real voices were put into the film. Manjinder Virk was the immediate standout for me, but not only because she had the most to do. She not only gets the lip-syncing right… her expressions throughout are fully emotional and occasionally heartbreaking. The Arbor requires its actors to become the character they’re portraying, and Virk does just that.

2. Juliette Binoche (Certified Copy)

Binoche as a character without a name in Certified Copy

I’ll talk about Certified Copy way more in depth next week, but I can tell you now that one of the things I’ll be praising is Juliette Binoche. There would be no movie without her. For those of you who were inspired by this film, go ahead and imagine it without her. Replace her with any other actress, even the most talented of them. See? It doesn’t work.

1. Yun Jung-Hee (Poetry)

Jung-Hee as Mija

Jung-Hee is our surrogate in Poetry. She is our window into all of these different worlds/plot lines. When I spoke typed about Rooney Mara earlier, I said that I didn’t know where her character began and she ended. But with Mija (Jung-Hee’s character), I didn’t know where what she was experiencing began and where what I was watching ended.

Male

Honorable mentions:

Steve Coogan (The Trip), Paul Giamatti (Win Win), Andreas Lust (The Robber), Hunter McCraken (The Tree of Life), Brad Pitt (Moneyball), Luis Tosar (Even the Rain), Koji Yakusho (13 Assassins)

6. Asa Butterfield (Hugo)

Butterfield as Hugo Cabret

This was, for sure, the best underage performance of the year. The movie’s name is Hugo, and the main character’s name is Hugo. So, based on that information, I’d say that miscasting the role of Hugo would probably have been a huge mistake. Fortunately for everyone involved, they got it right.  I’ll be rooting for Hugo on February 26. [Note: I listened to Filmspotting talk about my current #2 just before I posted this, and decided to push him into the top 5.]

5. John Boyega (Attack the Block)

Boyega (left) as Moses, with fellow Filmtooth semi-winner Jodie Whittaker (center) as Sam

Talk about a powerhouse performance. Boyega is angry in this movie, and I love that. Attack the Block gives him so much to do, it’s a miracle he pulls it off. I’m looking forward to the rest of his career.

4. Mikael Persbrandt (In a Better World)

Persbrandt as Anton

Persbrandt got slapped a good amount In a Better World, but each time, his reaction was perfect. I felt for the pacifist who was separated from his wife (for whom he still has feelings). I don’t usually like watching people stare at the distance, but I didn’t mind it when Persbrandt did it, because I was staring right there with him.

3. Tom Cullen/Chris New (Weekend)

Cullen (right) and New (left) play Russell and Glen, respectively

Honestly, I couldn’t pick just one. They are this film. You cannot hope to have a successful movie about a relationship if you don’t have all-in performances from the leads, and Weekend benefits from Cullen and New being beyond all-in. But more on that later.

2. Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Pitt as Billy Beane

This is the one. Last week, I was convinced that his best performance this year (and perhaps ever) was in The Tree of Life. But then I listened to Filmspotting, the movie podcast, and they reminded me about a part of the movie I completely forgot about. (For those of you that have seen it, think “coulda been.”) Something in my brain clicked, and Pitt went from being an honorable mention to being at #2. Now, before I name the best films of the year, I have some thinking to do regarding Moneyball.

1. Michael Parks (Red State)

Parks as Abin Cooper

Boy, do I have a hipster list. Seriously, all of these picks feel underground [with the exception of the late inclusion, Brad Pitt]. Especially my #1, Michael Parks. Say what you will of Red State (I happened to like it), but you must agree that Parks was committed to his role as the violent leader of a violent, anti-homosexual cult. He was mesmerizing and very powerful, sure, but my favorite scene of his was the final one. I suggest you go and see it (not only the scene, but the entire movie).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

****

Wow. It’s been a long time since I wrote a film review, hasn’t it? So, should we just jump right in?

I was excited for this movie. I got a chance to see the Swedish version (the 7th best film of 2010) back in October, and I was floored by it. I really like David Fincher, and I really like this story. Fortunately, my excitement was not let down.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about two people trying to solve a crime. One is a disgraced journalist (Mikael, who is played by Daniel Craig), the other a computer hacker (Lisbeth, who is played by Rooney Mara). They were hired by an ailing old man (a role that I thought would have more screen time occupied by Christopher Plummer), and the crime committed was the murder of his favorite niece. I expect most of you are familiar with the plot, though.

Critics have scrutinized the film for spending too much time with the characters apart, but I liked this move in the 2010 version, and I like it here. It’s true, the Swedish version is better with clock management, but pace is something that didn’t bother me as I watched Fincher’s entry in the franchise.

The ideal adaptation of the best-selling novel is probably somewhere in between the two recent films. However, I believe this one is slightly superior. I’ll concede that the film (tries and) fails to convince audiences that the true climax is at the very end, since this story is more about Mikael and Lisbeth than the mystery they’re trying to solve. But it wraps up nicely, not in the Hollywood way the non-Hollywood version does. Plus, the Lisbeth character is brought down a notch from Noomi Rapace’s “all men and most women can just go to hell, but I don’t really care anyway” version.

If I were Leonard Maltin, this is what I would write in my movie guide app: David Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo remake is more stylish and more likable than its Swedish predecessor. Craig is good as a penniless journalist, but it’s Mara who shines as punk goth Lisbeth, a computer hacker. Don’t miss the opening credits.

Notes

  • I suggest you see this on a big screen.
  • If you see and enjoy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, please see Psycho.
  • Dragon Tattoo is out now in theaters across the country.
  • Coming soon: the final awards (yay), a couple of reviews from 2011 I never got to post, and (I guess) some new stuff.
  • Have you seen TGwtDT? What do you think?

The Best Supporting Film Performances of 2011

Female

Honorable mentions:

Marion Cotillard (Midnight in Paris), Trine Dyrholm (In a Better World), Melissa Leo (Red State), Michelle Monaghan (Source Code), Chloë Grace Moretz (Hugo)

5. Charlotte Gainsbourg (Melancholia)

Gainsbourg as Claire in Melancholia

The urgency of Gainsbourg’s performance as a desperate mother in Melancholia is unparalleled. She is the perfect foil to Kirsten Dunst’s character, who seems apathetic about the impending end of the world. Dunst, by the way, is an actress you’ll be hearing more about next week, when I do the best leading performances of the year.

4. Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau)

The stars of The Adjustment Bureau: Damon (left), the fedora (on top of Damon), and Blunt (right)

The chemistry between Blunt and co-star Matt Damon was one of the few redeeming factors of The Adjustment Bureau, and boy, did it redeem. Blunt not only sold me on this bad girl dancer character of hers, but she also sold Damon’s David Norris on her as well. It was key that this film find a strong actress to play Elise, as she is what propels the entire movie.

3. Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block)

John Boyega as Moses (left), Jodie Whittaker as Sam (center), and Luke Treadaway as Brewis (right)

Whittaker gives her character depth. At the start of Attack the Block, she is mugged by a group of boys. Later, she must mend these boys, as well as aid them in their fight against killer monsters.

2. Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life)

Chastain as Mrs. O'Brien in The Tree of Life

I’m interested in what the filming of The Tree of Life looked like. Chastain’s scenes are far different from any of the scenes Brad Pitt (see below) is in, as they’re more poetic and graceful. Chastain glowed in The Tree of Life, and that alone is good enough for the runner-up position.

1. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)

McCarthy as Megan in Bridesmaids

I made up my mind about this just a few minutes before posting. It was Chastain’s aura versus McCarthy’s hilarity. Chastain won… easily. But then I went back and read my review of Bridesmaids, and noticed that I spoke about McCarthy being the heart of this movie, and I remembered that she was my favorite part of that film, and that was the reason why. McCarthy was excellent, and she deserves to be nominated for an Oscar.

Male

Honorable mentions:

Creed Bratton (Terri), Chris Henry Coffey (Trust), Gérard Depardieu (Potiche), Alex Esmail (Attack the Block), Ben Kingsley (Hugo), Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

5. Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (Cedar Rapids)

The cast of Cedar Rapids: Reilly (left), Helms (center), Whitlock (right), Heche (across the screen)

The one scene that convinced me I should pick Whitlock was the “teet” scene, in which Whitlock’s character walks in on a mostly nude John C. Reilly sort-of feeding his breast to a mostly nude Ed Helms. In a lesser film with lesser actors, Whitlock’s character would have freaked out, and that wouldn’t have been very funny. In Cedar Rapids, though, Whitlock just rolls his eyes, sighs, and goes on about with his business. It was hilarious.

4. Ryan Phillippe (The Lincoln Lawyer)

Phillippe as Louis Roulet in The Lincoln Lawyer

The role of this playboy heir accused of murder did not ask for much, but Phillippe gave it his all. I personally both despised and was intimidated by the character. The Lincoln Lawyer was a very good and very fun film, but one that missed my top 10.

3. Jonah Hill (Moneyball)

Hill as Peter Brand in Moneyball

Christy Lemire puts it best in her review: “Hill ultimately finds the quiet confidence in this character [Assistant GM Peter Brand], and he and Pitt bounce off each other beautifully.” Note: congrats to him on the drastic weight loss.

1 (tied). Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life)

Pitt as Mr. O'Brien in The Tree of Life

Brad Pitt probably won’t get an Oscar nod for his performance in The Tree of Life (instead for Moneyball) and that’s too bad. He gives a powerful performance as a Texan father who reminded me of my own father… if he were 10 times more powerful with a single glance. Pitt completely controlled me from within the movie (!). I felt like I was his bitch. If he gets lucky and snags two Oscar acting nominations this month, he might actually win them both.

1 (tied). John C. Reilly (Terri)

The stars of Terri: Wysocki (left) and Reilly (right)

If Pitt’s Mr. O’Brien is the father that could make me say “sir” at him, then John C. Reilly’s Mr. Fitzgerald is the principal that could earn me calling him “sir,” then chastise me for calling him “sir.” I contend that John C. Reilly and Brad Pitt are our two best actors going (Fassbender is overrated), and I really enjoyed all of their performances in 2011. But, somehow, they were at their best this year when playing second fiddle (Pitt to the camera; Reilly, in screen time, but not quality, to Wysocki).