2011 Ten Best List

     In 2011, I saw a total of 90 films and graded each on a standard four point scale (“A” through “F”).  The average score this year was 2.2, which is a drop from the 2.5 average review in 2010.  I think everyone would agree 2011 was a down year for films overall.  The box office suffered a steep decline and I got the feeling Hollywood struggled to keep us all interested with quality offerings.  That being said, there are always diamonds in the rough and 2011 did have its fair share of films that captivated audiences around the world.  Here are my 10 Best Films of 2011.

  1. 10. Bridesmaids - B+

      Easily the funniest film of the year, Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig and the Oscar nominated Melissa McCarthy steal the show in a kind of female version of “The Hangover”.  The film proves the formula works for women as well and the cast is game as they move from one SNL like sketch to another, achieving comic gold.  The film contains endless witty exchanges and maintains the laughs to the very end.  My Review

  1. 9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - B+

     Probably the biggest surprise of the year for me, as I expected a run of the mill re-imagining of the same classic tale.  What we got was a truly spectacular display of storytelling mixed with the best visual effects of the year.  Like “Avatar”,  motion capture technology is what brings the apes to life, which means the performances are acted out on stage and the costumes/makeup are applied within a computer.  Led by actor Andy Serkis as Caesar, there is no moment better in film this year than when Caesar speaks for the first time.  The audience I watched “Rise” with was speechless.  My Review

  1. 8. The Help - B+

     As I watched “The Help”, I continually thought about how glad I was that I didn’t grow up in the 60’s.  There is plenty of hate we deal with today, but it can’t possibly compare to the stereotypes ingrained in the minds of the white people in this film.  Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (both Oscar nominees) bring the heart and soul to this very touching film about a group of maids in the south and their very evil white employers.  Emma Stone stars as Skeeter Phelan who sets out to write a book about the experiences of these maids and get the truth out once and for all.  My Review

  1. 7. The Descendants - A-

     We’ve all watched George Clooney throughout the years and many will agree “The Descendants” contains his best performance to date.  His Oscar nomination deserves a win for the role of Matt King, a successful real estate attorney who lives in Oahu and is dealing with his wife’s boating accident which has left her in a coma.  This means he must become more of a father to his two daughters as he guides them and his entire family through some very trying times.  The film is funny, yet has a big heart.  Director Alexander Payne (“Sideways”) has again hit a home run with a film about the complexities of life from a male point of view.

My Review

  1. 6. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol  - A-

     MI4 is the best action film of the year and stands as the best in the series.  After the third film failed to meet expectations, “The Incredibles” director Brad Bird injects new life in the form of pure adrenaline as we see our lead, Ethan Hunt, literally leap from tall buildings!  The IMAX presentation of this film was awe inspiring as it maximized the depth of the film’s many exotic locations and gave the audience a kind of being there feel.  This is one of those films that just works from top to bottom and thrills you from beginning to end. My Review

  1. 5. 50/50 - A-

     I was wondering how morbid this film would be given its subject matter, but what you really get is a story that is incredibly human and from the heart.  Screen writer Will Reiser’s true story of his cancer diagnosis while in his 20’s and his efforts to cope with it emotionally.  The big lug that he is, Seth Rogen, plays his best friend and is as good as I’ve seen him in a long time.  Reiser’s script is full of all sorts of clever set ups and I can’t help but think the interactions between Adam and Kyle are to the letter accurate from his very own experiences.  Better yet, “50/50” has a very triumphant and happy ending.  My Review

  1. 4. The Artist - A

     In 2011, it takes a lot to have the audacity to make a silent film, but it takes creative genius to make a silent film everyone has anointed as the Best Picture of the year.  There’s no doubt watching “The Artist” will present a challenge for the average movie goer, but for those that have, there is something truly special within its core.  The transition from silent films to “talkies” is on full display and I felt more emotion from these characters without them talking then I did from over 90% of the films I saw this year.

My Review

  1. 3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - A

     The raw and gut wrenching emotion exhibited here is equal to the feelings conjured up from 50 films combined.  There was something about this film that touched me like no other film did this year.  Could it have been the way the phone messages Oskar intercepts from his dad in his final minutes alive at the World Trade Center on 9/11?  Maybe it was the nuanced performance by Max Von Sydow as The Renter?  The way this film comes together isn’t really touching, rather it is an exercise in reality for those who cannot comprehend loss and are forced to deal with it.

My Review

  1. 2. Hugo - A

     Leave it to Martin Scorsese to create a world within the enormous clocks in a 1920s Paris train station to tell the story of how a young boy uncovers the roots of the dawn of filmmaking.  In the best use of 3D since “Avatar”, “Hugo” first draws up a magical world to exist in and then discovers the owner of a toy shop in the train station is actually George Melies, the man credited with inventing the motion picture.

My Review

  1. 1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - A

     This year’s Academy Awards snubbed director David Fincher, as well as his latest film, so I’m here to give “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” my top honor by making it my number one film of 2011.  With what this film was up against, its amazing it turned out the way it did.  Fincher is true to the film’s literal source material as well as the original Swedish film version, but at the same time sets his film apart.  This is primarily due to the casting of Rooney Mara as Lizbeth who takes the character in a different direction than her Swedish counterpart.  Along with Fincher’s trademark gritty and dark visual style, the material is a marriage of perfection and stands above the rest of what was a lackluster 2011 film year. My Review

In case you are curious.  Here are the 10 Worst Films of 2011:

  1. 1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - F-
  2. 2.Columbiana - F
  3. 3.Battle: Los Angeles - F
  4. 4.Just Go With It - F
  5. 5.Change Up - F
  6. 6.The Green Hornet - F
  7. 7.Tower Heist - D-
  8. 8.Sucker Punch - D-
  9. 9.The Dilemma - D
  10. 10. 30 Minutes Or Less - D