Best of 2011, number 2: Bridesmaids

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Throughout December, Ben Sachs and I will take turns writing about our ten favorite films that had their Chicago premieres this year.

Producer Judd Apatow has argued that there should be a separate Oscar category for comedy, and he's probably right: precious few comedies have ever won Best Picture (the last was Annie Hall in 1977), and only one flat-out farce can claim the honor (Frank Capra's You Can’t Take It With You in 1938). The imperative of making people laugh seems to work at cross-purposes with making great art, which might explain why the Reader has panned more than a few comedies now regarded as classics (start here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here—but trust me, the list goes on and on).

Having written and directed a string of thoughtful sidesplitters himself (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People), Apatow served as midwife to Kristen Wiig, the hugely talented Saturday Night Live player, to deliver Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig (Freaks and Geeks) from a script by Wiig and Annie Mumalo, the movie manages to reconcile those two most antithetical of movie forces—female friendships and knockabout comedy—like nothing I can think of since the days of Thelma Todd, ZaSu Pitts, and Patsy Kelly. Of course, if you didn't find it funny, you'll probably think I've lost my mind for ranking it so high. But it damn near killed me:

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