This is a list of my favorite movies of 2011. I know this is a lot to read, but if you do, great, if not, well, oh well. I hope this helps you to seek out different movies that you are not used to seeing. I had a great time in the theater in 2011 and these are some of my thoughts on certain films. I felt, for my own need, I had to put some kind of reason why I liked the top 10 movies, the following 10 were great movies as well (I got greedy), they just didn't strike me as great/fun/amazing/positive movie adjective here, as the others did. Welp, enjoy.
20) Barney's Version
18) The Gaurd
17) The Ides of March
16) X-Men: First Class
14) The Artist
11) Attack the Block
10) The Help - So.... I'm a sucker for a period piece that tells an underdog story. That's what "The Help" is all about. The film is fueled with phenomenal, top notch acting by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard and Emma Stone. Although I'm not a huge fan of Stone, she notched a few points on the belt with this one. I can't forget the feeling I got when "the help" one-upped their employees, it left me cheering on the inside. I really took to their stories and the bullshit they had to put up with. When I first saw the trailer, I thought it was going to be some soft, bubble-gummy, family comedy. Turns out, I was wrong. It's a little heavier handed then I thought it was going to be.
9) Drive - When this move first came out, I loved hearing stories of people being pissed about it. Because of the trailer, they assumed it was going to be way more action packed than it actually was. Which is why I like to dub this movie, "a smart person's action film." It had all the elements of an action film, but did it with grace and style and not with an over abundance of explosions, sex or violence. Ryan Gosling's character was one of my favorites this year. The man with no name and a bad ass mother f*cker with a scorpion jacket. Drive contained one of the most beautiful scenes I've witnessed all year in the "elevator-kiss-bad guy killing scene." I'm pretty sure I had a sparkle in my eye during that moment. With a simple storyline and excellent soundtrack, the whole film came together perfectly.
8) Shame- Here's a movie that will stick with you well after the credits go up. In the trailer, I saw a quote saying "A cinematic jolt" and that's a great description. Although this is a movie that I will probably never watch again, I'll recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different your everyday, big cineplex movie. Audacious to the extreme, garnering an NC-17 rating and marketed as a mature adult film, Shame will shed a whole different light on what you thought addiction was. Steve McQueen, Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan = brave.
7) Fast Five- Hard to believe, I know, but take my word for what it's worth. I've had the most fun I had in the theaters in a long time with this movie. It's non-stop FUN! It's over the top with its corny one-liners, beautiful people, outrageous (FUN) stunts and, fast cars, plot holes, and a simple story. This movies makes no apologies for what it is, and embraces that. It doesn't add any elements it to make you think you're watching a smarter, edgier, grittier, more "real" type of action movie. You are watching an action movie that is FUN! In the light of Hollywood's newest obsession to reboot, remake, or sequelize everything, I'm glad something like this can be a product of that.
6) Young Adult - I was skeptical about this movie at first, as I'm not a huge advocate for Diablo Cody. Her last pairing with director Jason Reitman gave us Juno, which I despised. However, her writing definitely shined through in this film. The humor was very subtle but also hilariously demented and twisted while also being charming and intelligent. Dare I say a dark comedy? Charlize Theron is brilliant in bringing out the awful, evil and dark characteristics of her character, Marivs Gary, as well as portraying her not so hidden agendas throughout the film. Does evil win in the end?
5) The Devil's Double After seeing the trailer, I was so excited to see this movie! Boy oh boy, was it fun! Fun in the same way that Blow was fun. This is a movie about decadence, opulence, power and over abundance. It's about how one man was given everything and one man was forced into it a psychotic lifestyle Dominic Cooper gave an outstanding performance as Saddam Hussein's corrupt son, Uday Hussein, and the man forced to be his body double, Latif. I don't know why his name never came up for any kind of acting award, major snub in my humble opinion. The characters he portrayed were polar opposites which must have made it so difficult to play, but he did it with such ease. It's a suspenseful, thrilling and fun ride, seeing Latif being forced into this life and watching him handle one of the most psychotic people in the Middle East.
4) 50/50 - This film is about the true story of a man who gets cancer and how he deals with life after his diagnosis. Based on lead character, Seth Rogan's best friends story, the truth comes out in the writing. Joseph Godon Levitt, who has been doing nothing but great recently, stars as said character who finds out he has the cancer. I don't think I've ever laughed and cried in such abundance, at the same time, with any other movie. The combination of Rogan and JGL produces a lot of emotion. with the help of Angelica Houston, JGL's mother and Anna Kendrick, JGL's helpful yet very young therapist. This is one emotional ride that had me wiping away tears due to extreme sadness and extreme laughter.
3) Win Win - I must to say that Paul Giamatti has got to be one of my all time favorite actors. He always seems to give it his all in every performance. The characters are very relatable because the movie is about how life can get you down and keep its foot on your neck. However, sometimes, something comes a long that brings you some hope. This is a down on your luck, route for the underdogs, feel good type of film. Giamatti's character gets stuck in awkward situations because of little white lies he tells and it only gets more interesting when he befriends a young wrestler.. It's also a bit of a "fish out of the water" story where the fish just kind of finds another pond to swim in without his crazy fish mother?? A great mixture of feel good comedy and life's small dramas makes for a fun-filled, feel good film!
2) Take Shelter - I remember sitting in the theatre after the end scene with my jaw on the floor. My sister, her friend and I looked at each other in amazement. "THAT WAS AWESOME!" After having radical dreams about a storm that will change the world, a family man with a "great life", played by Michael Shannon, begins to build a storm shelter to keep his family safe. It starts as a side job he takes on but the fear swells inside of him and it becomes an obsession that slowly starts to break his sanity. The town, along with his wife, played by the lovely and talented Jessica Chastain, begin to notice his mind start to degenerate. The feel of the movie has all these subtle aspects of drama, suspense and fear which are combined with creepy, haunting music for and extra umpff of emotion. There are countless powerful scenes that are sure to have you forgetting to breath.1) The Tree of Life - To start, The Tree of Life is not a movie, but a film, a piece of moving and living art. This film is not for your average movie goer, it's for someone looking to use their brains and not be spoon fed for a runtime of about 139 minutes. You do not just go into this film and watch, you experience it. You journey to a conclusion that is not spelled out but contrived in your own mind. Deep stuff, I know. This movie dares you to have a proper film experience. After seeing it twice, I was gifted with two different experiences but linked together with the same sense of awe. I call The Tree Of Life, possibly the 2001: A Space Odyssey of our time, a breath of fresh air. YES PLEASE! Terrance Malik's work on this film was mind blowing. He uses amazing angels and shots that I have personally never really seen before, great juxtaposing frames of modern day sky scrapers to the 1950s in a field with surrounding mountains, along with juxtaposing ideas of life and death. The beauty and audacity in Tree of Life blew me away, as well as Malick's engaging camera ad command of his young actors to get believable performances. I understand some people don't go to the moving pictures to think, but to escape. However, if you put in the time for this film you will get tenfold in return.