Sunday, December 25, 2011

Best Films of 2011

Here it is, loyal followers!  The list you've all been waiting for!  The culmination of a year of watching more movies than I should probably admit to.  (And yet I will.  By my count, I've seen around 270 films released this year, many of which I watched more than once.)  And while most of these movies are just OK, I've seen some really great ones and some really terrible ones.  Not surprisingly, the great (and terrible) lists amount to more than ten films.  So I don't understand why every critic publishes a Top 10.  What about number 11?  Is there really a big difference in quality between numbers 10 and 11?  This isn't an exact science and I'm confident that given another viewing of each film, everyone's number 11 would likely end up in their top 10, thus bumping one of the originals from the list.  So, instead of keeping with tradition, I include the number of films that I feel deserve to be on the list.  In this case, that number happens to be 33.

I should also point out a somewhat obvious statement.  This is MY best list.  And my taste may not match yours.  (In fact, it's quite likely.)  For me, first and foremost, it's important that it makes me feel something, and that I'm still thinking about it days, weeks, months, and even years later.  (This is why I occasionally tweak my grades after some time has passed.  It's hard to grade a film immediately after just one viewing.)  I look for great performances, great dialogue, and overall great filmmaking.  These films should hold up for repeat viewings, not feel too long, and be really, really captivating.  Ideally, they should also bring something original to the table and be influential to future filmmakers.  More often than not, the films that satisfy this criteria are heavier films.  Therefore, many of the top films on this list are heavy films.  If that's not your bag, then so be it.  But rest assured, other lists will follow this week including my picks for the best comedies, best action films, best performances, best ensembles, most overrated, most underseen, and, of course, the worst films of the year.  So keep checking back, let me know your thoughts, and feel free to suggest some interesting lists I should consider.

Anyhoo, without further ado, below are my favorite 33 films of 2011, ranked roughly in order, beginning with my favorite movie of the year: a little seen finale to an epic series about young wizards in magic school.  I look forward to your comments.
  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
  2. Beginners
  3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  4. The Descendants
  5. The Way
  6. The Help
  7. Meek's Cutoff
  8. Crazy, Stupid Love
  9. Moneyball
  10. The Artist
  11. Martha Marcy May Marlene
  12. The Ides of March
  13. Rampart
  14. Margin Call
  15. Limitless
  16. Contagion
  17. Midnight in Paris
  18. Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
  19. The Trip
  20. In Time
  21. Carnage
  22. Take Shelter
  23. A Dangerous Method
  24. We Need to Talk About Kevin
  25. Tyrannosaur
  26. The Swell Season
  27. The Guard
  28. One Day
  29. 50/50
  30. Scream 4
  31. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
  32. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
  33. The Hangover Part II
And although I opted not to include them in my official list (and I may regret that upon subsequent viewings), I'd like to give honorable mentions to the following movies for innovation, pushing the boundaries, and a memorable viewing experience:


  1. Good job compiling the list. There are about 5 on your list that have yet to be released here, so hopefully I'll enjoy them as much as you did.
    I'll also admit I did not see your #1 choice :). Some of my favorites of the year are: The Artist, 50/50, The Ides of March, Incendies, The Names of Love, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Crazy Stupid Love, Super 8, I Saw the Devil, The Trip, The Way, Margin Call, Bridesmaids, The Guard

  2. Nice list! I've never even heard of 'The Names of Love', so I'll have to add that to my list. 'Incendies' was Oscar eligible for 2010 not 2011, even though it was released here in 2011, so I follow their lead on that one. And I haven't seen 'I Saw the Devil' yet but it's on my list. Otherwise I agree on all counts.

  3. Its a French movie that played at the Ritz for a week or 2 back in the summer. The lead actress is great in it. It was Oscar eligible, but the foreign films don't have to be released in the States in the calendar year in order to be eligible for Oscar. Incendies didn't even come out until April 2011. So, it is a tricky line when it comes to the foreign ones. I'm sure they will be at least that is nominated this year that hasn't even be released here.