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Friday, Dec. 30, 2011

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BEST OF 2011

The year of tough guys worth swooning over

The JT's Film Femme Fatale

Cinematically speaking, 2011 was the Year of the Guy. By this I mean the genuine article, the "you can't kill 'em, you can't live without 'em" variety. Here are the 10 films of the year that feature the most distinctly provocative males in the most appropriate vehicles. All are handsome in suits or cargo pants. All know how to pay compliments (well, most of them, anyway). And at some point or another, they all make you want to scream with frustration. That's what guys do: They step into our lives and brighten them up and then ruin everything. But imagine a movie without one insensitive and irascible guy to get mad at. No way.

1. "Biutiful": The star of this film is Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men") and after this, you'll understand why the gorgeous Penelope Cruz accepted his marriage proposal. Bardem plays a sick, weak wreck of a man working as a second-class gangster in Barcelona. What dangerous and decadent sexiness. Swoon.

2. "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol": The guyiest of guys at this point in time is probably Tom Cruise — he's that boy in high school who excelled at every single thing and still chose to run laps on the 2-km track over going out with prom queens. The wonder is that he can keep this up at 49. Will he ever let up? Let's hope not.

3. "The Fighter": This film is actor Mark Wahlberg's long-time wish come true: He plays real-life Irish boxer Micky Ward, who hails from Wahlberg's own working-class community in Massachusetts. The actor trained for years to play the light welterweight champion, and he's all big heart and toned muscles. Sadly, Micky's wings get clipped by his crack-addicted half brother Dickie (Christian Bale) and a huge posse of female siblings. The agony of family bondage almost kills ya.

4. "Blue Valentine": Ryan Gosling put on 14 kg to play the role of a beer-chugging house painter named Dean, married to Cindy (Michelle Williams), who pulls double shifts as a hospital nurse. He's content with life as it is, but Cindy wants to go places and be someone, and can't understand why the man who shares her bed is such a loser. A portrait of a sad, sad relationship.

5. "The Adventures of Tintin": Adventures are for boys only in this dream collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. Herge, the author of the original "Tintin" comic series, avoided female characters as if they had the plague, and the movie stays true to this little quirk. With no femmes to mar his world, Tintin remains eternally boyish, innocent and adorable.

6. "The Company Men": Is it possible to be a "guy" after 55? A resounding "Hell yes!" comes from Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones in this story about men, featuring mostly men, against the backdrop of the American economy going bust. If creases and paunches could be elevated to an art form, the pair would hone it to perfection.

7. "Blitz": No list about guys is complete without my personal all-time favorite: Jason Statham. He's packed head to toe with testosterone, probably can't spell and was possibly born wearing leather pants. In this, he's a hard-man London cop on the trail of a cop killer, but hardly anything matters beside this single, prominent fact: The man is completely undatable. What a dilemma.

8. "Free Wheels East": Sometimes, the best kind of guys are the ones on bikes. Cousins Jamie Mackenzie and Ben Wylson decided after graduating from college that the corporate life wasn't for them. So they packed their laptops and cameras, got on their bikes and took off — for three whole years on a trip around the globe, documenting the whole thing. It really helps that they're lanky, blonde and cute as hell.

9. "Somewhere": Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, this is an ode to the Hollywood Guy as only she can draw him. Coppola cast 1990s heartthrob Stephen Dorff — now artistically disheveled — as a famous actor who gets stuck with his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) for a few weeks at L.A.'s Chateau Marmont. The film came out on the weekend after the March 11 earthquake and consequently disappeared like ether. See it by any means possible — a lovely piece of filmmaking that plays out like poetry.

10. "The Sacrifice": There's no guy like a 13th-century Chinese legend who sacrificed the life of his baby son to engineer a revenge some two decades later. Never mind that he completely manipulates the lives of at least 15 people, creates a pile of tragedy and wreaks havoc all around — that's what guys of his age group and era did. This is instructional stuff.

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