With the Oscar nominations scheduled to be announced tomorrow, it’s time for me to close the books on 2011 and name my favorite films. I love watching movies—especially in the theater—and I caught 45 new flicks in 2011. Whenever I see a new movie, I insert the title into a running ranked list. Then, at the end of the year (actually, a month or so into the next year, as many new releases are scheduled over the holidays), I make adjustments based on how strongly the movie’s story still resonates.
I’m going out on a limb this year by choosing for the top spot a film that was mostly deemed average by critics. Some bristled at the audacity of another 9/11 movie; others found the main character—a child with borderline Asperger’s—annoying. I have no idea what these people are talking about. There should be no limit on artistic response to tragedy. This is one of the most powerful purposes of art. Through the voices (and brushstrokes and chords) of artists, we heal, we honor, we expand our understanding. Artists make us feel in a way no textbook or news report ever can. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was profoundly moving—a meditation on pain and healing that uses 9/11 as a catalyst but quickly becomes universal, as young Oskar meets hundreds of people in New York City. I am thankful for the story (based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel). I’m also grateful for an atypical protagonist, who I found quite endearing, with his honest struggle between fear and courage, methodical approach to problems, and calming tambourine beats. I highly recommend this film. Here’s my full list…
1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
2. Midnight in Paris
3. The Artist
5. The Help
6. Like Crazy
7. Bill Cunningham New York
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Honorable mentions: The Tree of Life and Higher Ground (for bringing beautiful and complex meditations on spirituality to the silver screen), Beginners and The Descendants (for having such memorable characters), Mission Impossible 4 and Crazy Stupid Love (for being so ridiculously entertaining), Hugo and Super 8 (for giving adult appeal to children’s movies), My Week With Marilyn (for Michelle Williams’ incredible performance), Page One (for putting faces to everyone I follow on Twitter—hehe—and offering good food for thought), and Jane Eyre (for moody, smoldering awesomeness).
What I wish I hadn’t wasted time on: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Larry Crowne, Something Borrowed, and anything starring the robotic January Jones.
What I didn’t get around to seeing but wish I had: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Drive, and Cars 2.
Now it’s your turn. What were your favorites? Please share them in the comments!
P.S. – I’ve been making movie-related top 10 and best-0f lists for a long time. Here’s where you can find them for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003. And, I also have a Top Movies of the Decade list, representing 2000 to 2010.