Why was DRIVE my favorite movie of 2011? Was it Ryan Gosling’s awesome satiny scorpion jacket that I now have my very own hoodie version of? Was it the totally boss soundtrack? Was it Albert Brooks’s complete lack of eyebrows? I would say it was a grand combination of these things and more. Ever since THE NOTEBOOK hit theaters I have always said to myself “Gee, I’d really love to see Ryan Gosling kick some guy’s head in. Just stomp it to pieces.” The story is a simple one that really just brings the awesome. Basically Driver (Ryan Gosling) does stunt driving for the movies. Malcolm in the Middle’s dad AKA Breaking Bad AKA Bryan Cranston plays Shannon, Driver’s boss at a garage where they work and his pseudo manager for his movie career. Shannon borrows money from Bernie (Albert Brooks) for a race car that Driver is to race. Are you keeping up with me here? Nino (Ron Perlman) is Bernie’s business partner and is also a real nasty gangster type.
Then there’s Irene (Carey Mulligan). She is Driver’s neighbor. Driver and Irene totes have crushes on each other and so he helps her out with things and looks after her son. When Irene’s husband is released from prison, he comes home and promises to make a better life for his family. Like ten minutes later he blows it and is a bloodied mess in the parking garage. Driver happens by and presses him for information. Anyone with half a brain – which may be more than Driver has – can figure out what is going to happen. Driver has to help Irene’s husband get some mob guys off his back so they won’t kill him or Irene and the kid. Did I mention that Albert Brooks has NO EYEBROWS?
A mob story about a guy who drives for a living and wears a scorpion jacket all the time… what’s so special about that? Well, if you drink when you go to the movies – like I do – then you know how easy it is to turn to mush at the smallest thing. Whether it’s a vacant stare shared by two socially inept people, or a man’s face completely lacking any kind of brow over the eyes. There’s no doubt about it, Ryan Gosling plays a good badass. He’s calm, cool, and collected at all times. He walks through the streets in a blood-stained jacket and everyone just assumes that he knows what he’s doing so there’s no need to worry.
It’s that icy, blank gaze. The movie has plenty of action and a great soundtrack to go along with it. Cliff Martinez had the joyous task of creating a score for a driving movie and did so incredibly well. Every beat fits like a glove. I also tend to enjoy a twisting, turning plot that I can follow while I’m buzzed. I knew what was going on the whole time. Good on you, Hossein Amini, for writing a screenplay all types of audience members could enjoy. Even the ones with a tummy full of rum.
Basically, DRIVE tops my list for best movies of the year because it combines all of the elements necessary to create a movie that you’ll remember. It stays with you. The story flows well and the movie doesn’t drag on for an unnecessary 45 minutes. It jumps straight to the point. Still not convinced? Then you just go straight to hell.
I’m kidding. In all seriousness, a great screenplay and performances that are strange but superb have this movie lined up to win Best Picture at the Oscars this year, in my humble opinion. Some award shows just don’t know what they’re doing. I’m looking at you, Golden Globes.