Film Feature: The 10 Best Overlooked Films of 2011

Submitted by mattmovieman | December 28, 2011

There’s a striking early moment in Cindy Meehl’s documentary where horse trainer Buck Brannaman slows the speed of his walking to demonstrate how he might move as an old man. His horse observes this change and adjusts its movement accordingly by following its owner at a slower speed. It becomes quickly apparent that Brannaman has somehow created a silent language with horses that allows him to calm and navigate their minds. As one of the nation’s most respected practitioners of the “natural horsemanship” method, Brannaman spends the majority of his time on the road, holding clinics at various locations throughout the continent where he’s gradually built a base of avid participants. Meehl’s film becomes an extension of Brannaman just as his horses become an extension of him. It’s a stripped-down and straightforward portrait with a great deal of depth and wisdom that applies to life beyond the stable. The structure he imposes on the horses is mirrored by the structure provided by his own rigid schedule, which may function as a form of protection. Brannaman’s need for order in his life seems to have sprung directly from his troubled upbringing. At a time when America’s divisive culture is anchored by shouting matches with the power to drown out all common sense, I suspect every person could benefit from emulating Brannaman’s serene, no-nonsense approach to dealing with conflict.

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FSR Film School Rejects Year in Review picks BUCK

#7. The Great Docu-Biopic

2011 Year in Review by Landon Palmer
December 28, 2011

Documentaries have often proven to be a useful means of exploring the life of an important individual. The non-fiction biopic can give us a closer connection to the real person (living or dead) than any famous actor caked in makeup and accompanied with an imitating voice (for example, see Eastwood’s J. Edgar – or better yet, don’t). But 2011 gave a smorgasbord of great documentaries that dove into the lives of fascinating individuals who might not have otherwise made the history books.

Cindy Meehl’s Buck captured the incredible story of a horse-training professional who spoke to horses after humans failed him at an early age. Richard Press’s Bill Cunningham: New York examined the annals of the city’s fashion history as it’s been lensed by a charming and enigmatic elderly man for decades, and in the process slyly says more about the newspaper industry than Page One and more about fashion than The September Issue.


Bloomberg – BUCK in Top 10 for 2011

Top 2011 Films Star Clooney’s Baron, Gosling’s Getaway Driver

By Rick Warner – Dec 28, 2011 12:01 AM ET

They’re all leading characters in my favorite films of 2011.

“Buck”: A touching documentary about Buck Brannaman, the inspiration for Robert Redford’s equine trainer in “The Horse Whisperer.” Brannaman overcame a Dickensian childhood to become a world-famous horse handler known for his uncanny ability to communicate with the animals.

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Cincinnati CityBeat on BUCK

Is This Real Life?
As usual, compelling documentary films abounded in 2011
By Steven Rosen | December 28, 2011


Buck Brannaman, a modern-day cowboy who travels the country holding horse-training clinics and who was the model for The Horse Whisperer, proves a rewarding subject for filmmaker Cindy Meehl. His folksy wisdom and gentle manner with horses hide tough memories of childhood abuse. The film also is a paean to America’s wide-open spaces.

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Movies: Ten of the best

City Pulse | Lansing MI
James Sanford
December 28, 2011

8. “Buck” — This has been a terrific year for documentaries, and director Cindy Meehl’s look at real-life “horse whisperer” Buck Brannaman is one of the very finest.

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Wall Street Journal – BUCK makes top 10

by Joe Morgenstern
December 23, 2011

“Buck”: Few of us city dwellers ever get to meet the sort of American portrayed in Cindy Meehl’s documentary—a middle-age cowboy who gives horse-training clinics. Even in his own territory, though, Buck Brannaman is one of a kind, a man who has learned to give horses the love he lacked as a child. Read complete article and watch scene from film >

BUCK wins True West Magazine awards

BUCK wins both categories for Best Western Documentary!

Readers Choice Award

Editors Choice

Visit True West Magazine

NBR names BUCK 1 of Top 5

BUCK named 1 of 5 TOP DOCUMENTARIES for 2011 by the National Board of Review.


2012 Cinema Eye Honors nominee

BUCK is nominated for Audience Choice award by Cinema Eye Honors.

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Live @ Sundance

BUCK winning the Acura U.S. Documentary Audience Awards at Sundance 2011

BUCK is at/around 49:00 minutes