The 10 Best Films of 2011

  1. “Drive”

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“How about this – shut your mouth or I’ll kick your teeth down your throat and I’ll shut it for you. “

Mark my words; upon looking at posters of the driver, future generations will recognize an icon the same way we acknowledge James Dean’s Jim Stark and Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski as symbols of an era. “Drive” is in my opinion the best directorial effort of the year. Nicolas Refn directs every single scene with near perfect precision and flawless lighting. If you’re a fan of Michael Mann’s visceral vision of a silent isolated Los Angeles as seen in “Heat” and “Collateral”, you’ll plunge into this moody atmosphere from the opening scene till the end. Speaking of opening scenes, “Drive” contains the coolest opening scene of the past two decades. I’ve seen this film six times within a month and can’t wait to see it again. I’m fighting my urge to write about everything I love in this movie. I’ll save my words for an in-depth analysis on Roger Ebert’s blog.

2. Midnight in Paris

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“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”

The current era is a future’s generation’s golden age; yet we can’t help but look at the past with envious eyes. Woody Allen’s best film in years captures the beauty of Paris and everything we love about the city’s past and present with passion and dedication. “Midnight in Paris” is a film I’ll watch whenever I feel the need to time travel to a better time. Or was it really a better time? Are we bound to admire the past and miss the present when it’s over? The fact that the film poses the question and encourages discussion through a neat balance of comedy and intellectual dialogue makes it worthy of any film fans time.

3. Shame

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“Your hard drive is filthy, right? We got your computer back, I mean it is…it is dirrrty! You think it was your intern?”

“Shame” reminded me of the in-depth character studies of the 70’s. Like “Taxi Driver” and “Last Tango in Paris”, it’s a fearless film that exposes the true nature of a sex addict like none before. Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan deliver great performances as dysfunctional siblings living in a bleak New York. We can’t help but feel sorry for the main character and his incapability to care for someone else. Little happens in terms of action but so much change happens within this character. “Shame” is the best character study of the year.

4. Hugo

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“If you ever wonder where your dreams come from, look around: this is where they’re made.”

As we disappointingly walk towards a three dimensional era of film, Martin Scorsese embraces it by reminding us of a simple time in film history when audiences walked into movie palaces to escape reality. “Hugo” is an adventure to thrill the younger audiences and a Georges Melies tribute that will excite any film historian.

5. “Take Shelter”

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“You think I’m crazy? Well, listen up, there’s a storm coming like nothing you’ve ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it.”

Michael Shannon is one of the best actor’s working today and his powerhouse performance here will take your breath away. “Take Shelter” tells the story of a man with a family history of mental illness. When apocalyptic dreams trouble his sleep and the line between reality and hallucinations fades away he begins to question his sanity. For some reason the fact the he questioned his insanity made me think of that quote about how insane people are not aware of their insanity. This is a thinking man’s film. It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve seen this masterpiece and I still think about its depth and themes. One thing is for sure, I will never forget that last scene or shot and neither will you.

6. “ The Artist”

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“The Artist” comes out in a year that seems to pay tribute to the past. We visited decades of Paris in “Midnight in Paris”, witnessed the birth of fantasy films in “Hugo”, reminisced about earlier Spielberg films in “Super 8″  and remembered John Hughes while watching “Drive”. Now, a film shot entirely in black and white and mostly silent comes out reminding us of why we love silent cinema. My twin brother never sat through a black and white film in his life and after seeing “The Artist” he decided to start watching the real classics that inspired this heartwarming tale of fame and love. The film is set around a time when studios encouraged talkies over silent movies. I think “Singing in the Rain” will always be my favorite representation of that time period, but “The Artist” is still a fun and passionate work of art.

7. “Tyrannosaur”

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“That is a beautiful dog.”

A self-destructive man with uncontrollable rage finds himself frustrated and lost till he meets a sad yet hopeful shop worker. Peter Mullen delivers the best performance of the year and he probably won’t even get nominated for an Oscar. The same can be said about his female costar, Olivia Colman, in a role that couldn’t have been performed any better. “Tyrannosaur” is the most brutal film of the year. A film so real and ruthless, you won’t be able to look away even though you will want to.

8. “Carnage”

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“Why are we still in this house!”

Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz are parents discussing a bullying incident involving their sons. I have not seen the play this was based on and maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Out of all four A-list actors I have to give it to Jodie Foster for stealing the show as the uptight, emotionally over reacting mother of a “disfigured” young boy. “Carnage” relies primarily on it’s four central performances and an extremely humorous screenplay and you know what? It works. This is the satirical comedy of the year.

9. “Tree of Life”

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“The nuns taught us there were two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.”

Terrence Malick always comes out of nowhere with a film that is simply breath taking and when we see his films it’s as relaxing as listening to ocean waves crashing against the shore. His films are different, and almost always seem to be about everything. His last effort is nothing short of a masterpiece of epic proportions. Though not his best film to date, it’s still a trip from the dawn of time to modern day civilization you’ll want to take.

10. “Attack the Block”

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“Well, ‘ere, lads, you’ve discovered a species hitherto unknown to science, quite possibly non-terrestrial in origin, and you kicked its fuckin’ head in! “

Fans of “Shaun of the Dead” will love this horror comedy about an alien invasion set in South London. It’s up to a gang of young lads to save the world. As silly as this may sound, “Attack the Block” had me laughing all the way through. With a killer dubstep soundtrack “Attack the Block” is filled with memorable and instantly quotable lines. Although some of the lines dare to cross the line of what many might consider offensive, it works because of the hilarious nature in which those lines are delivered. This is as much fun as you’ll have at the movies.

Best Documentary: “Senna”

Best Foreign Film: “A Separation”

Honorable Mentions:

Warrior
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Bridesmaids
Ride Of the Planet of the Apes
The Guard
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Source Code
Super 8
Submarine
The Help
Insidious

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Too bad I cannot watch “Shame”, “Hugo”, “The Artist”, and “Take Shelter” at present. After I posted my list, I watched “We Need to Talk about Kevin”. It was not pleasant experience, but the movie was immensely compelling and Tilda Swinton was wonderful. I think I should revise the third part of my list a little.

    I will probably watch “The Guard” tonight. After reading Ebert’s review, I have a lot of interest in this one.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Katy on January 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Have you ever considered reviewing The Truman Show by Peter Weir? I’m interested in what you have to say about it.

    Reply

  3. Even though it’s not in the actual top 10, thanks for mentioning Senna. I enjoyed the hell out of that documentary. Didn’t know a thing about him until I saw it, came out with instant admiration. It’s actually the only documentary film to make my top 5.

    Reply

  4. I just became aware of this list while searching for info about A Separation. I find this to be a good list that highlights some of my favorite films of 2011. One might quibble over some of your choices ( Carnage as one of the 10 best films of the year?!) but overall a very worthy summation of the year’s best. You can check out my list too if you’re interested.

    Reply

  5. I think I have several things to talk about “The Truman Show”, but I have not decided yet whether I will write a review or not, so I will not mind about that if you wants write a review on that fabulous films.

    Reply

  6. Go ahead with “The Truman Show, Seoyoung. I’m sure you have more to say than me my friend.

    Reply

  7. [...] Top 10 English Movies of 2011 [...]

    Reply

  8. I’m more than happy to find this site. I need to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every little bit of it and i also have you bookmarked to check out new things on your site.

    Reply

  9. Posted by jamesyd on August 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    i agree with drive, i also really liked warrior. here’s my list for anyone interested http://www.infobarrel.com/Best_Films_of_2011

    Reply

  10. hehehehe…trEe of lyf was gud enough

    Reply

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