To be fair, visual artist-turned-filmmaker Mike Mills had some pretty extraordinary material to draw on for this artfully shaped and shaded semiautobiographical drama. Like the man played so tenderly by Ewan McGregor opposite Christopher Plummer, Mills is the adult straight son of a father, now deceased, who came out of the closet late in life, embracing his homosexuality and finding satisfying love only after the death of his wife. How Mills knits a father's late-life blossoming with a son's trepidations as he embarks on his own serious romance, though, is highly original. The movie isn't for every taste; people who don't like dogs talking through subtitles, for instance, might balk. But that's exactly what I love about Beginners: It's as true to its own character as the men in this optimistic tale are to theirs.
Click here to jump to Owen Gleiberman's 10 best movies of 2011
Image Credit: Andrew Tepper
EW's critic has a rollicking breakout comedy, a documentary about an avant-garde choreographer, and two love letters to old movies on her honor roll. Plus: The five worst she saw in the past 12 months.