2011 was hardly a great year for motion pictures. War Horse, The Help, Moneyball, Hugo, The Artist and The Descendants were lauded as some of the best. While many were way above average, none were worthy of much thought beyond the initial screening.
Now you can see what The Lint Screen believes was the best movie of the year. One that hardly got mentioned–– Bernie.
Based on a true story that took place in Carthage, (East) Texas in 1996, it’s the fascinating tale of Bernie Tiede (played by Jack Black), an assistant funeral director who can sing like an angel, spread compassion like warm butter on an August day, and is generous with empathy, goodwill and love to all. Especially blue hairs.
Bernie becomes the constant companion of the town’s mean, rich old lady, Marjorie Nugent (played by Shirley MacLaine in her current life form). Bernie enjoys the lifestyle of the rich and famous, globe trotting by Marjorie’s side. The couple is the talk of the town, and actual locals are filmed as the chorus of “gossips” who act as insightful play-by-play announcers with vivid color commentary for the fantastical story as it unfolds.
Let’s just say it doesn’t end well for Marjorie or Bernie as one thing leads to another and somebody gets hurt. The ambitious D.A., Danny Buck (played by Matthew McConaughey who manages to keep his shirt on), wants the truth to be revealed and justice to be served.
The story was originally reported by the excellent journalist Skip Hollandsworth for Texas Monthly. The article was read by director Richard Linklater (Fast Food Nation, School of Rock, Slacker, Dazed and Confused), and together the two men spent over a decade working on the screenplay.
The result is one amazing story with terrific, unforgettable performances by Black and MacLaine, both Oscar-worthy. It’s entertaining, funny, warm and touching. Within the first five minutes, you’ll also learn some handy things you can do with Krazy Glue that you probably didn’t know.
Oh, Oscar, how could you have overlooked this gem of a film? Do yourself a favor, give it a go and enjoy the ride. It certainly has more chops than War Horse.