Favorite Films of 2011

This year was an interesting one for film. I was surprised to see that the award season films are noticeably absent from my list. I think there were a lot of great films released this year. So many that few really stood out as THE movies that were ‘clearly’ the best. As a result my favorite films are diverse and span multiple genres, which is actually quite nice.

  1. Drive (IMDb)

This, immediately upon seeing it, had to be my #1 movie of the year. I walked around for a week trying to emulate The Driver’s effortlessly cool walk. I think I came close. I describe it to everyone has “First half art house movie, second half ultra-violent”.

2. Tree of Life (IMDb)

The Tree of Life is just so wonderful. Its challenging, beautiful and full of truth. So many of the shots and scenes are burned into my memory. I think a lot of people who dislike the movie were searching for some exact meaning or trying to interpret what the movie was trying to tell them. In my opinion, the movie is more about the experience. This movie is up there with my favorite films of all time. And Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of Mrs. O’Brien, the symbol of grace, love and innocence, is absolutely perfect.

3. Attack the Block (IMDb)

Attack the Block is a fun and inventive film that everyone should see. The premise, “A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion”, is great on its own, but the execution makes this movie a must see. I cant think of any other action movie that had such a witty script and this many insanely quotable lines. I recommend this to everyone.

4. Take Shelter (IMDb)

Take Shelter was my most anticipated movie of 2011. I was hooked when I first saw the trailer. The movie is haunting and borders on a psychological horror story. The whole time watching, I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to believe- what had to be true or what couldnt. The performances carry the movie. Across the board amazing performances deserving of recognition.

5. Martha Marcy May Marlene (IMDb)

MMMM was a surprising movie. Elizabeth Olsen gives a performance no one really knew she was capable of in this psychological thriller. The movie is disorientating and told mixing flashbacks, hallucinations and the present in a way that draws you into the fragile mind of a girl who recently escaped from a cult and is trying to figure out her place in the world.

6. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (IMDb)

This movie was a lot of fun. The action was basically nonstop and each set piece blew the previous one away. The series has ditched a lot of the double agent, secret dealings and surprises of the original movie, but its made up for it in fun. I thought it was interesting to how easy it was to spot the fingerprints of Director Brad Bird, who had only done animated movies before this, in this movie. For example, the final action scene in the car garage has Pixar written all over it.

7. Fast Five (IMDb)

FUCKING AWESOME!!! I didn’t realize I was a fan of the series until now. They flipped the plot of this movie and made it more of a team based heist film. And it works! Well. Very well. The audience was cheering and hollering all throughout. See this freaking movie.

8. Another Earth (IMDb)

I’ve seen it show up on a lot of Best 10 lists and about an equal number of Worst 10 lists. It really struck a cord with me. The sci-fi element, where an exact replica of Earth appears in the sky and is inhabited by our 1:1 counterparts, is basically there in premise alone. The story is really about redemption, forgiveness and learning to live with your mistakes. The “other Earth” works more as a metaphor and springboard for self reflection. Has the other you made the same mistakes you’ve made? How is their life different? Is it better or worse? I got goosebumps multiple times through this movie.

9. Win Win (IMDb)

Win Win is a sweet and charming movie that doesn’t use shitty plot points to churn tears from the audience. It gives a uniquely truthful look at the complexities of relationships and how survival can cloud judgement in even the most honest of people. Well acted all around and a good morality tale. Even the protagonist is far from perfect, and he can’t make up for all of his mistakes, but he tries. Which is nice. I’m selling this movie short in this description. Its really funny, too

10. Tucker & Dale vs Evil (IMDb, Netflix Streaming)

Tucker and Dale is comedy of errors where two hillbillies are mistaken for psychopathic killers by a group of yuppie college kids. Tucker and Dale are just on vacation at their new cabin in the woods. The kids, in trying to ‘escape’ from Tucker and Dale, end up accidentally killing themselves in increasingly gory ways. This movie does for the slasher horror film what Shaun of the Dead did for zombie films.

Honorable Mention

I have a lot of opinions on all of these movies. They all had some quality that I felt was worth mentioning even if I didn’t love everything about them.

Melancholia (IMDb)

Hated the first half. It was so painful and awful to sit through. It turns out that that was the point — to understand that depression is helpless, without meaning and like being weighed down. And I cant deny that this is Kirsten Dundst’s best performance. The second half was beautiful and is where I really became interested in the film. If you can sit through the opening 5 minutes, you’ll be fine.

The Muppets (IMDb)

Pure, un-ironic fun. Watch it and be happy for a change you depressing losers. WOOOOOOooooooooo!!!

Adventures of Tintin (IMDb)

I dont really get why this movie is being snubbed so hard. It has, without question, the most interesting action sequence of the year. And this is a year FILLED with action and comic book movies. A lot of people are calling the story unoriginal, but all those adventure movies you love owe a lot to pulp comics like Tintin. So deal with it.

Contagion (IMDb)

Finally a virus/outbreak movie that isn’t totally ridiculous. It’s smart, intelligent and purposefully gives a realistic view on how an outbreak would work. No explosions, no one risking disease to save a woman they love, no death defying leaps or heroic acts. In fact, the hero figure who helps control a lot of the disease ends up dying a pretty thankless and lousy death despite her doing everything right.

Fright Night (IMDb)

Colin Farrel really grew on me ever since In Bruges. His brooding take on a vampire is refreshing after the recent girlification of vampires. I really love this movie. It’s about a kid trying to protect his friends and family from the vampire that moved in next door. Its not the best movie in the world, but its a lot of fun and does the original justice. It mixes humor and horror elements perfectly. Anton Yelchin continues to kick ass in everything he does.

Originally published at erichsabo.tumblr.com.

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