2011: #1 A Separation


Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
Written by: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, and Sarina Farhadi
Distributer: Sony Pictures Classics
Country: Iran
Language: Persian
Rating: PG-13
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Date released: 12/30/2011
Date seen: 2/4/2012
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $19 Million
# of Oscar nominations: 2 (Foreign Language Film and Original Screenplay)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 3 (Supporting Actress, Actor, and Original Screenplay)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 1 (Original Screenplay)

This has been a rough year, at least when it comes to finding movies that could be called the best of the best. There were quite a few movies this year that I could have comfortably put in the bottom five of the list, but as far as movies that really truly stood out as amazing works the pickings were kind of slim. For a while Melancholia sat at the top of my list and as good as that film is, I’m on record as having said it’s possibly inferior to Antichrist, and that was something like number three or four in its year. Then in early February I saw one last film theatrically in hopes that I’d finally found a film I could put at number one, and low and behold, that turned out to be the best film of the year.

A Separation is not a large production. In fact it’s an intimate story about a handful of common people dealing with relatively mundane issues. And yet it manages to be one of the most engrossing films you’re likely to see in part because it’s meticulously plotted, astute in its observations about human behavior, and executed exactly the way it needed to be. Of course this is not a Hollywood production and it lacks the technical gloss that many of the other films on the list have, that could be seen as a flaw, but in many ways it helps heighten the film’s realism. This also isn’t some kind of “arty” movie that’s only veteran film aficionados will like either. This is a universal tale that pretty much anyone can understand and appreciate, it’s certainly far removed from the more esoteric breed of Iranian cinema personified by Abbas Kiarostami (though Kiarostami certainly gave us a very enjoyable film this year as well). I suppose what solidified this film at number one for me was simply the fact that there was almost nothing I’d change about it. I had some quibble or complaint about almost every other film on this list, but for what it’s trying to do A Separation is, well, perfect. It’s a movie I can recommend to pretty much anyone who’s willing to read subtitles and I really can’t imagine much of anything about it that’s not to like.
Full Review

#2 Year End Honors

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