Crash! Landen’s Best 10 Films of 2011
Once again, it’s time for my list of the Best Films of the Year! This has been a somewhat ‘down’ year in film, in my opinion. Most of the ones that I’ve selected wouldn’t cut the mustard in an average year. It’s one of my more mainstream lists, too. 2012 looks like its going to be a rebound year with films like The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus on their way.
(Update: My list is starting to resemble something somewhat respectable. Sure, there are many ‘highly acclaimed’ 2011 films that I haven’t seen, but I’m beginning to get a list I can stand behind and defend. It’s still ‘mainstream’, but less so. And mainstream isn’t a bad thing, but…)
For some that didn’t quite make my Top 10, check out my list at the bottom of the page (of the films that I’ve seen from 2011). They’re roughly in descending order from the best film to the worst. You can see my Worst 10 Films of 2011 here…
Now on with the Top 10 (Updated).
(Bumped) Don’t be Afraid of the Dark (Not a perfect film, but fun for horror fans… Some critics were trying to compare this to Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” mostly because Del Toro produced this, but that’s an unfair comparison. This is strictly a horror/haunted house story, but a very good one.)
(Bumped) Hanna (A pure action flick boiled down to the bare essentials of the genre. Saoirse Ronan is surprisingly believable as a child assassin).
(Bumped) Incendies ( A spiraling, twisting tale about identity, family, societal pressures and of course, the troubles in the Middle East. Review pending.)
Hugo(Surprisingly… Bumped. An unusual departure for Martin Scorsese in some ways, but still centers around what the director himself is in love with:film. Hardcore fans of movie history will probably enjoy this more than your general audience. Will probably win a bunch of Oscars.)
Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows (Bumped. The rare sequel that exceeds expectations. It might center a little too much on the Holmes/Watson relationship and the action, but still fun.)
10 Rango (Another strong foray into the world of CGI animated films by Dreamworks. References many films without stooping to re-enact them as the worst of the CGI animated flicks do. Depp is the headliner, but I liked many of the peripheral performances, most notably Isla Fisher as Beans. Review pending.)
9 Trust (A very well done film dealing with tough subject matter. Never announces what’s happening in the story. TRUSTs that the audience is intelligent enough to follow along.)
8 The Adventures Of Tintin (The first of two from Stephen Spielberg in my top 3. A little convoluted, but does justice to the comic strip series it’s based on while leaving the director’s fingerprints all over it.)
7 Tucker And Dale Vs Evil (I had to debate whether or not to put this as my number one film… It’s one of the best horror comedies I’ve seen in a long while. My heart says put this at #1, but my head won out. Still, a great film.)
6 Source Code (The second flick from director Duncan Jones. While not as poignant/meaningful as “Moon”, Source Code is far more fun. I guess that’s the kinds of films I gravitated towards this year.)
5 Senna (Another late addition to my list. It’s hard to figure where to put documentaries on my lists. It’s comparing apples to oranges, really, fiction and non-fiction. This was not nearly as depressing as most documentaries are, even if this one does involve tragedy.)
4 Moneyball (Another late entry to my list. Early on, the film seemed a little too explanatory. Conversations seemed to be directed at the audience instead of at the other characters onscreen. Once it got past feeling the need to educate non-baseball viewers, the film picked up steam. Brad Pitt’s really good in this, as is Jonah Hill in a very low key role (for him… I don’t think he said one ‘F’ word the entire duration of the film… He should get an award for that alone.)
3 War Horse [Unadulterated and unapologetic Spielberg. You may know where the film is going at times, but that's not what's importatant here. No one milks emotion out of a given scene like Speilberg. No one can cut through to what is important to a given scene like Spielberg. He knows how stories work and he's maybe the best director out there at taking recognizable archtypes and presenting them to the audience (in a gift wrapped box gleaming in a lone beam of sunlight). War Horse is a great film and is pure storytelling. It's why I go to the movies.]
2 Drive ( A movie all to its own that pays tribute to a number of films from the past. It has a unique style. It looks like one of these self proclaimed ‘edgy’ films with ultra slick cinematography where everyone in the film poses for 2+ hours, but the difference here is that it’s got a great film.. And there’s no posing. It’s (somewhat) rare when I watch a movie, sit through the credits and as soon as they ended I immediately hit play again. It whizzed by so fast the second time that I thought I had accidentally hit the ‘skip’ button. Great cast. Great story. Great film… I’ll have to seek out some of the director’s other films now.)
1 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy A film that’s both quiet and mind blowing. Director Tomas Alfredson last directed the critically acclaimed ‘Let The Right One In’. This film is seemingly much more chaotic in its storytelling, but it does have a structure to it. There are a couple of scenes that the film always returns to as well as one charcter that bookends the film (and it probably won’t be the character that you think it will be going in). It’s not straight forward, jumping all over in the sequence of events while leaking information to the audience what’s going on. It is a great film, though, about what’s hidden and uncovering what’s hidden with the Cold War serving as the backdrop. Or is it about loyalty and trust… Or maybe it’s just about spies. Whatever. It’s a great film, that surely will clean up come Awards season… except maybe at the Oscars. they probably won’t want to give all of the awards to a British film two years in a row, even if it deserves the accolades.)Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy * Drive * War Horse * Moneyball * Senna * Source Code * Tucker & Dale Vs Evil * The Adventures of Tintin * Trust * Rango * Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows * Hugo * Incendies * Hanna * Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark * Cowboys And Aliens * Jane Eyre * Kung Fu Panda 2 * Super 8 * Warrior * The Lincoln Lawyer * Young Adult * Captain America * Our Idiot Brother * The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo * Win, Win * The Tree Of Life * The Ward * The Artist * Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides * Green Lantern * Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon * The Debt * Fright Night * Season Of The Witch * Water For Elephants * We Are The Night * Everything Must Go * 50/50 * The Beaver * Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 * Thor * Tower Heist * The Fifth Quarter * Passion Play * Horrible Bosses * Trollhunter * X-Men: First Class * The Zookeeper * The Ides Of March * Green Hornet * Limitless * Wrecked * Unknown * Real Steel * Sucker Punch * Attack the Block * Batman: Year One * Battle: Los Angeles * Hesher * Hobo With A Shotgun * Submarine * Red State * Choose * Atlas Shrugged