Best Movies of 2011

by LeeAnne on January 23, 2012

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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
4. 50/50
5. The Help
6. Like Crazy
7. Bill Cunningham New York
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
9. Moneyball
10. Bridesmaids

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.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

LeeAnne January 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Wow, it sounds like I should check out the BBC version! I hope you’ll enjoy Moneyball. I have not seen Margin Call, but I’ll add it to my list!

Dan January 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm

It is a great book. It surely would be a dense narrative and I can see the potential for confusion as they try to make it fit into two hours, especially in light of the fact that the BBC television adaptation ran something like five hours.

I thought Midnight in Paris was great. I expect to watch Moneyball soon, so perhaps more agreement will be in the offing.

Did you see Margin Call? It would have been near the top of my list, if I had one, and if I still saw movies… **sigh**

LeeAnne January 27, 2012 at 10:12 am

Hehe. Hey, Dan. So my opinion is wrong, eh? ;) Well, let me elaborate a little. By all accounts, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a great book. And the movie has a phenomenal cast. My issue is with the directing, specifically. It was a dense, confusing narrative, and the director did the audience no favors. I had trouble following the timeline and keeping track of the characters, as did my friend who saw it with me (and she’s a huge British movie fan!) If you’ve read the book, you’ll probably enjoy the movie more. :)

Dan January 27, 2012 at 1:03 am

I haven’t seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy yet (I hope to this weekend), but I strongly suspect that you’re wrong about it.

LeeAnne January 25, 2012 at 12:25 am

Haha. I appreciate your forgiveness. :) Looks like you saw some good ones. How stoked are you about The Hunger Games in a couple months!?!?!

LeeAnne January 25, 2012 at 12:23 am

LOL. Yes and yes.

aaron January 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

unsubscribe.

i was also going to say that january jones was the only reason x-men first class didn’t make your list. hahaha.

Allison January 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

How are you not a fan of the Muppets? I’m shocked! :) But I’ll forgive you since you enjoyed Jane Eyre for “moody, smoldering awesomeness.” So true. I couldn’t have said it better. Love that movie. I didn’t get out to see as many of these movies as I hoped this past year, but like you, Moneyball, Harry Potter, and The Help were some of my favorites!

LeeAnne January 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

Hehe. I can always count on you to hone in on my cinematic blind spots! Actually, and I’m sure this is in some way sacrilegious, but I’ve never been a big fan of the Muppets…

aaron January 24, 2012 at 12:32 am

so i assume you haven’t seen the muppets?

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