Monday, January 2, 2012

01-02-12: The Best Films of 2011

Another year comes to a close and now it's time to pick the films that I felt stood out in 2011. As the year progressed I wasn't even sure if I'd see enough quality films to compile a list. It turns out this was a good year for a fair amount of decent films.

Before I get to the list of my Top 20 Films of 2011 I want to list the films that were are on my best of list but didn't make the Top 20. They include The Oregonian, Paradise Lost 3, Corman's World, Trust, 13 Assassins, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Carnage, Young Adult, Win Win, My Week with Marilyn, Beginners, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Shame, Mission:Impossible-Ghost Protocol, Red State, Fast Five, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Bridesmaids, Super 8, Rango and Hanna. These are all great films that are worth a look.

This year my favorites were comprised of a number of independents and foreign language films. Only one franchise film made my list. So here ya go, my Top 20 of 2011 and for the first time ever I'm gonna rank my list.


A well, written, engaging espionage thriller featuring a fantastic Gary Oldman.


A pretty disturbing mystery-thriller that goes places I'm sure most audiences weren't expecting.


Angelina Jolie's solid directorial debut about a tenuous romance during the Bosnian War.


An engaging and powerful look at the Nanking Massacre.


Fincher makes a solid adaptation that features great performances by Craig and Mara.


An enjoyable silent film about the dawn of the talkies.


A great baseball movie that isn't really about baseball.


Fine acting elevates this civil rights period drama.


Everything "Crystal Skull" was suppose to be can be found in this exciting 3-D adventure.


A great horror movie disguised as a drama.


The saga comes to a rousing conclusion in this thrilling finale.


Alexander Payne strikes again with this drama featuring Clooney at his best and a star turn by Woodley.


A thrilling action movie that is not structured like an action movie.

BULLHEAD (Rundskop)

A fantastic mafia film from Belgium. As epic as Goodfellas featuring some stellar acting.


Disturbing serial killer drama from Australia that chronicles the land down under's most notorious serial killer.


Awesome serial killer thriller that is on the level of "Seven" or "Silence of the Lambs".


An outstanding drama that is one of the feel-good movies of the year. Shamefully overlooked.


A poetic and lyrical look at depression and the end of the world. Kirsten Dunst has never been better.


The best 3-D film of the year is a finely told mystery that grows deeper and richer with every clue that is overturned. Scorsese fired on all cylinders for this one.


I was originally going to go with "Hugo" but no other film has stuck with me the way "The Tree of Life" has. My mind was blown the first time I saw it. I had a hard to processing what it was I just watched. I spent much time talking about it with friends and many of us came up with different interpretations. This film means different things for different people. Which means some will simply not get it, others may think they get it and others believe they have it. Truly only Malick is the only one who can tell you what it all means but ultimately do you really want to have a definitive answer? It's a film that uses imagery to create pure cinematic poetry. Poetry that sticks with well beyond viewing it. If that doesn't qualify as the best film of the year then I don't know what does.

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