The Best Damn Films of 2011

Categories: Film and TV

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Gary Oldman from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, one of our runner-ups. Also, why not lead a blog post with Gary Oldman?
What a year it was at the movies! Just reflect for a second all the places we've traveled together on our cinematic voyages of 2011 in that theatrical transport known as film. Alternate worlds and realities. All over the map of our own. Forward to the future. Back in time. Into the psyche. Hell, half of it being in the third dimension!

We've witnessed life, death, love, hate, peace, war, violence, tragedy, racism, happiness, acceptance, adversity and an overpowering, overcoming spirit in the face of it. Some with happy endings, others not. Hundreds of different stories told up there on that silver screen but all shared one similarity; they brought us together for a shared journey into the great beyond, with their storytellers as our tour guides. Here are the ten adventures I most enjoyed this year:

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Albert Brooks and Ryan Gosling in Drive
1. Drive

Who would have ever thought that a film about a stunt man by day/getaway driver by night (Ryan Gosling) who drives around the streets Los Angeles listening to pop music could ultimately be the violent yet oddly beautiful neo-noire masterpiece painted in '80s pastiche that is Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive? Not to mention my favorite film of this year. I swear the parallel Gosling mania of 2011 (he's a real hero and a real human being, you know?) had nothing to do with it!

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2. The Adventures of Tintin

A prime example of what happens when you give Steven Spielberg free reign to open his imagination and let spill out on screen whatever it is that's inside that brilliant brain of his. The Beard's first foray into animation and 3D is what going to the movies is all about. Popcorn most definitely required.

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3. Hugo

Another example of what happens when you give the keys to the kingdom (pun intended) of new school filmmaking to one of its old school auteurs. In Martin Scorsese's self-reflexive ode to the magic of filmmaking, The Brows proves that he still deserves to be king in the modern age of movies.

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4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

When a film gives you a new emotional understanding of one of our country's most tragic events, it's a feat. But when you don't have a dry eye throughout the entire run time, it's another. Stephen Daldry's exploration of one boy's (the young but remarkable and perspicacious Thomas Horn) pain and subsequent attempt at assimilating his father's (Tom Hanks) death on 9/11 is the year's best tear jerker for sure. One that is extremely emotional and incredibly insightful.

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5. The Artist

Yet another film about filmmaking itself, Michel Hazanavicius' silent, black and white picture about an old Hollywood actor trying to cope with the new innovation of sound reminds us that no matter what new "gimmicks" may come along, it all comes down to storytelling. If you're wondering why a silent, black and white film in 2011 could be so beloved, well, that's a testament to Mr. Hazanavicius' ability to tell a story.


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16 comments
Acting School
Acting School

Delightful film. Is there any other lovely article. Thanks for sharing this article with us.

NoahWBailey
NoahWBailey

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was pretty great. I think The Guard was my favorite movie of the year though. Its been totally overlooked on most year end lists, and it was seriously kickass.

Online Film School
Online Film School

Delightful film. Is there any other more lovely article. Please do share with me.

Jessica
Jessica

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Jessica
Jessica

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Volta
Volta

Rise of the Apes should of at least gotten a nod. It's definitely in my top ten if I had one

Egret
Egret

you gotta have some screen caps with each entry, i dont want to be like "duh....i need to see things to understand them..." but looking back on a year of film you've got to have something visual to jog your memory. even if it was just a trailer to a flick you wanted to see but forgot to do so.

but thanks for the write-up anyway. still have to see a few of these.

Nick R.
Nick R.

Glad you included Source Code in runner-ups. That was a totally overlooked, fun movie.

GAA
GAA

Best time of the year for films.  All the critics lists come out. 

James Wallace
James Wallace

Can't wait to see TTSS. And I've heard many a great things about The Guard so I need to check that one out as well. That's the problem with year end lists, there's always some of the best that you see too little too late!

Bill Graham
Bill Graham

I don't think it was a top 10 film, but deserves a nod. It's one of the few films that if you ask me about it, I will wholly recommend it no matter what kind of film-goer you are. 

Nick R.
Nick R.

Thanks Egret--totally my fault, not James. I added more photos to make it snappy. 

James Wallace
James Wallace

Yeah, someone needed to give it some love. 

PS: I'll defend Captain America's inclusion till my dying day. ;) To be able to literally take a comic book and project it on screen in the way that it did earns it a place on my list. In my opinion, it's the best comic book adaptation to date. Dark Knight not counted since, yes, that was an adaptation per se but it also took the source material (Batman) to new levels that no one had ever experienced thru comic, book, movie, cartoon, or TV series. It changed the way people see, draw, write, etc. that character and his story. In terms of taking the feeling of reading a comic book and translating it to the screen, well that's what Cap did for me. Not an easy feat when you consider the loads of bad comic book adaptations we've seen.

James Wallace
James Wallace

I wasn't a fan of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. At all. Which is probably why you don't see it anywhere on this list. ;) 

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