Archive for the ‘10 Best Films of 2011’ Category

2011 – Top 20 Films of the Year – #10 – 1

The 20 Best Films of 2011: #10-#1

And capping it off.  Here were my 10 favorite films of the past year.

10.  13 Assassins


This technically had a late 2010 release in Japan, but had a 2011 US release, so I’m adding the film here.  This is director Takashi Miike’s best film since his masterpiece Audition. 13 assassins are hired to hunt down and kill one seriously sadistic dude.  It’s got all of the classic samurai film elements to it, along with Miike’s extreme violent revenge plot.  The entire last hour of the film is one glorious, beautiful, battle within the confines of a fortified city.  Amazing.

9.  Hanna


A teenage female assassin is set loose after years of hiding and training in the great white north?  Why wouldn’t this be in my top 10?  This is an interesting film in a lot of ways.  There is an underlying fairy tale motif, but it’s also a violent vigilante action film.  It’s quite original, and really entertaining as well.

My review: Hanna

8.  Tree of Life


Terence Malick is a very strange director.  His films are more like philosophical expositions on life.  Tree of Life is no different. I could understand why someone would hate this film, or not want to bother with it, but it really is an interesting look into the theories of life from a grand scale to the small scale.

My review: Tree of Life

7.  A Better Life


Talk about another film that caught me by surprise.  This film came from the guy who directed the second Twilight film?  It shows how hard it is for illegal immigrants to live and work in this country, and also the consequences of them living in this country.  At its heart though it shows the struggles of a family just trying to make ends meet and better their lives.

My review: A Better Life

6.  Source Code


Source Code goes to show that you can have an intelligent blockbuster, without dumbing itself down for mass appeal.  Duncan Jones previous effort Moon was my favorite film of 2009, and this one is right up there too.  Great sci-fi fun.

My review: Source Code

5.  Melancholia


Melancholia raises a lot of questions about our way of life, and meaning of life in general.  Along with Tree of Life it is more than just a film to view.  It’s one to analyze, and contemplate, and think about.  Lars Von Trier is a master at capturing thought.

My review: Melancholia

4.  Margin Call


Margin Call reminds me a lot like the films Glengarry Glen Ross, Boiler Room, and Wall Street, in form and in structure. It’s up there with how good it is in telling a story of the inner working of an investment bank right before everything comes crumbling down.  It all takes place within a 36 hour period, almost entirely in house.  It’s a tight, calculating film.

My review: Margin Call

3.  The Descendants


A beautiful yet painful film about love, loss, and family.  Director Alexander Payne can do no wrong, and George Clooney is money as ever.

My review:  The Descendants

2.  Moneyball


It is very hard to make an interesting sports movie without being redundant.  Moneyball is able to capture the inner workings of baseball while also giving you that passion of a straight forward sports film.  Pitt is great, and its great to see him back at the height of his game.

My review: Moneyball

And my #1 film of the year is…….

1.  Drive


There are only a few films that hit you with a gut impulse.  You fall in love with them, and you walk out of the movie theater blown away and want to see them again immediately.  You feel something different from your everyday average film.  That’s Drive. I knew the second I saw it that it was one of the best films of the year.  After thinking about it and contemplating it, and other films I saw this year, I KNEW it was the best film of the year.  Completely fresh.  Completely different.

My review: Drive

Thanks as always for reading, turn some other film fans on to the blog, and I’ll keep writing em.


2011 – Top 20 Films of the Year – #20 – 11

The 20 Best Films of 2011 #20 – 11

Here we go! Yes avid readers I know this is the list you all have been waiting for.  I saw pretty much everything I wanted to see this year.  There were a few that I missed out on (Take Shelter, Shame, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Artist), but I always say that my top 20 lists need to come out before years end, so here we go.

20.  Teenage Paparazzo


There’s always at least one documentary that makes my best of list every year, but I never thought that this would make it.  Adrien Grenier directs, as he follows around the youngest paparazzi of them all.  He tries to understand what it’s like to be one of them, and why someone so young would want to get in to that line of business.  Fascinating.  Sadly I have no review for it, but it was included on my best of at the 6 month mark, which can be read here. 

My review:  Teenage Paparazzo

19.  We Need to Talk About Kevin


This is one of the more disturbing and upsetting films I sat through this year, but this is all Tilda Swinton. She gives an amazing performance as a grief stricken mother who has to deal with the fact that her son is a murder.  Brutally gut-wrenching.

My review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

18.  Cedar Rapids


Cedar Rapids is another film I failed to write a review up on this year.  I thought nothing about the film till it came to me via Netflix one day.  I was in stitches the entire time.  Ed Helms is hilarious as naive insurance agent Tim Lippe.  He’s thrust into a conference for the first time.  It’s like taking the training wheels off your teenager.

17.  Mission Impossible:  Ghost Protocol


Talk about a thrill ride.  I’ve always been a fan of the Mission Impossible films, and this one does not disappoint.  Great script, great acting, and great action, beginning to end.

Todd Hoyer’s review:  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

16.  The Adjustment Bureau


What a great concept.  Based off a Phillip K. Dick short story, The Adjustment Bureau, asks the question; What if we somehow fouled up our own timeline in space and time, and those who kept track of that timeline were sent after us to put us back on track?  Really entertaining, and extremely intelligent.

My review:  The Adjustment Bureau

15.  Another Earth


There are only a few scientific issues that stop Another Earth from being in my top 10 of the year.  It’s a completely thought-provoking insight into what may be out there in our universe.  Who else is out there? Perhaps mirror images of ourselves.

My review:  Another Earth

14.  A Separation


A Separation took me a while to get in to.  I didn’t really understand the point of the film.  It just seemed like people quarreling without motive, but it is fascinating in the way it breaks down lies from truth, or perceived truth.

My review:  A Separation

13.  Midnight in Paris


This is one of the few films that I saw this year that I have not written a review for.  Woody Allen makes his best film since Match Point here.  It’s a whimsical fun film that explores the vibrance of the 1920’s, and has a cool little time travel element to it as well.  It’s a really fun film that I just fell in love with.

12.  50/50


This one took me by surprise.  What I thought was going to be your run of the mill slacker comedy, turned out to be a very unique and heart felt story about a young man having to deal with cancer.  That has a lot to do with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance.

My review: 50/50

11.  Bridesmaids


Talk about another film that took me by surprise.  This is easily the funniest film of the year, but underneath all of the gags and extreme laughs, there is something kind of sad and gut wrenching about Bridesmaids.  I honestly think Kristen Wiig deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance.

My review: Bridesmaids

Top 10 Films of 2011…so far

Top 10 Films of the Year…So Far

Halfway through the year already.  The first half of the year is notoriously bad for finding quality films.  The majority of the really great films are small run and sometimes it’s hard to find them, or even go out to see them.  There a lot of films that have already been released that I’m sure would make this list, and I will definitely get to them.  I also see this as a chance to maybe catch some films that you wouldn’t see normally that are good, but wouldn’t end up on my end of the year list.  I always have a hard time of coming up with 10 really good films to be honest, but lists need to be made.  So here we go.

10. I Saw the Devil – directed by Ji-Woon Kim


I Saw the Devil sits somewhere between the realms of vampire/undead science fiction and a serial killing revenge story.  Kim should be given praise for even attempting this extremely bizarre story of vengeance.  I must warn you though it is extremely violent, but also extremely entertaining.  It is now streaming on Netflix instant.

9.  Back and Forth – Foo Fighters – directed by James Moll


The Foo Fighters have always been one of my favorite bands, and in all honesty one of the most intriguing bands of the past 20 years.  Rising from the ashes of Nirvana this documentary tells it all.  Everything is laid out there.  Front-man Dave Grohl has notoriously dodged questions about Nirvana since Kurt Cobain’s death.  Here he touches on the demise of his old band and the rise of him coming in to his own with his music, and attempting to create something new from the wreckage.  Lots of people were along for the ride, and some of them were left in the dust to be quite honest.  The bandmates pull no punches though, and this is one of the most compelling rock-u-dramas in a long time.  Doesn’t hurt that it also sees the release of the Foo’s best album in almost 15 years withWasting Light

#8.  Limitless – directed by Neil Burger

The first hour of Limitless plays to pure perfection and is one of the most intriguing and interesting concepts I’ve seen in a long time for a film…and believable.  What if a super drug could tap into the entire resource of your brain?  The film falls off the rails near the end, but is well shot and highly entertaining from start to finish.

#7.  Super 8 – directed by J.J. Abrams


Super 8 is J.J. Abrams attempt at making a Steven Spielberg film, also produced by Spielberg as well.  He succeeds in every way, while also bringing his unique vision to the big screen.  Goonies meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  The kids make the movie with their acting skills, along with the set design and cinematography that bring 1979 rushing back to the screen.  Highly entertaining, but definitely a little lacking overall as we are left in the dark about a lot of things near the end.

#6.  Thor – directed by Kenneth Branagh


I’ve got to be honest, I never really wanted to see Thor at all.  I’ve never felt any connection to the character, and it looked kind of stupid to me, but sometimes films like that take you by surprise.  Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment, from start to finish.  Acting is great, direction is brilliant, and fantastic out of this world set design.

#5.  Teenage Paparazzo – directed by Adrian Grenier


There is something alarming about Entourage’s Adrian Grenier’s directorial debut, and something very honest and good natured about it as well.  Grenier follows around a 12 year-old paparazzo that is given free reign by his parents to stalk the streets of Hollywood at night, and try and capture shots of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, just to name a few.  The film examines the origins of the paparazzi and the entire close-knit world, through the eyes of their youngest pupil.

#4.  The Adjustment Bureau – directed by George Nolfi


The Adjustment Bureau proves that films can be completely original, entertaining, and filled with a lot heart, without being a remake, or sequel.  This is the one film that everyone should have seen, but no one did.  It’s got it all, Sci-Fi, Romance, Comedy, Intrigue.  It’s a truly original, and well-crafted film from beginning to end.

#3.  Bridesmaids – directed by Paul Feig


Bridesmaids is the one film that really took me by surprise this year.  Yes the film is knock down, drag out funny from beginning to end, but there are also some scenes that escalate it as more than just a comedic film, not to mention Kristen Wiig puts up one of the best performances of the year.  A must see.

#2.  Hanna – directed by Joe Wright


Nothing says gold in mine like a child assassin that has been trained since birth to take down a human target and survive.  Imagine the TV show A Small World but the girl was a trained methodical killer. Saorise Ronan puts together an Oscar worthy performance in one of the most original films of the past decade.  Check it out.

#1.  Source Code – directed by Duncan Jones


Duncan Jones is two for two, a serious force in the film world.  He proves that films can be both entertaining and wickedly smart.  This is the film that is going to allow him to do whatever he wants.  It’s easily the best film of the year so far, and you should check it out now!