The Best 11 of Two Thousand-11!

The Best 11 of Two Thousand-11!

We are well into the new year and there are a lot of great films I’m looking forward to (can you say, order “The Dark Knight Rises”???). But, troche lately I’ve been busy recalling all the different movies I saw this past year. So, salve with this post I’d like to celebrate what I considered to be the best of the best of 2o11. Unfortunately, I was not able to see all the films I wanted to. So this list represents my 11 favourite films of 2011, that I actually watched (and in no particular order)…

Another Earth – The greatest surprise for me this year was this small-budget, indie drama. Featuring a sci-fi backdrop where a parallel earth has been discovered by scientists, Another Earth is actually a deeply emotional drama about loss, grief and redemption. The writing is perfect, the performances are powerful and the directing is hypnotic. There is a profound depth and beauty to this story that is rarely experienced in cinema today.

Attack the Block – This action movie about a brutal race of aliens invading earth is surprisingly refreshing, funny and genuinely scary at times. When the aliens start falling from the sky and landing in the projects of London they quickly learn they’ve chosen the wrong neighbourhood to attack. The hoodlums become the heroes as they use their streetwise smarts to combat and outwit the ferocious space monsters. With unknown, young talent like John Boyega, this movie bristles with originality, great performances and a believability that is surprising, considering the genre. It’s fun, funny and smart. Don’t hesitate to watch this thrilling and entertaining British Sci-fi thriller.

Win/Win – It stars Paul Giamatti. What else do you wanna know? Ok, I’ll fill ya in. Win/Win is an indie drama about a family that temporarily adopts a “youth at risk”. However, this teenage boy has a gift…he’s an amazing wrestler. That’s good news for Giamatti’s character who is a coach for the local high school (and pathetically bad) wrestling team. What follows is a very real and tender story about realizing your potential and passion despite difficult life circumstances. And don’t worry, it’s not sappy and emotionally-hyped like The Blind Side. It has the kind of sincerity and grit you’d expect from an indie film.

Super 8 – When you put a living legend like Spielberg alongside a genius like J.J. Abrams, surely something magical must happen. Well, in Super 8 something magical does, indeed, happen. This sci-fi/thriller/drama about a group of kids capturing a horrific train accident on camera is breath-taking, thrilling and moving. For my full review go to http://www.craigthecritic.com/movies/super-duper-8.

Bridesmaids – Finally, we get to see the brilliant Kristen Wiig shine in all her hilarious glory. In Bridesmaids, Wiig plays a down and out woman in her mid-30s who’s struggling to find purpose with her life. Her best friend is getting married and asks her to be the maid of honour. Well, once the wedding plans get underway and all the other bridesmaids enter the picture the hilarity ensues. The whole cast and the inventive writing of this comedy is brilliant. It’s gut-bustingly hilarious while being smart, thoughtful and uniquely memorable. On top of that, it has the best barf scene since Stand By Me.

Hanna – A spy thriller that is really about a young girl coming of age. Hanna sports a beautiful performance by Saoirse Ronan. Throw in the perfect Tilda Swinton and Eric Bana and this cast is rock solid. While this film starts out as an edge-of-your-seat espionage thriller, it settles into a touching tale of a young woman coming to terms with who she really is. For more of my thoughts go to http://www.craigthecritic.com/movies/holy-hanna.

Hugo – *sigh*…I really liked this movie. Completely original, compelling and beautifully filmed, Hugo is a delight for all movie lovers. With Scorsese at the helm, this magical journey follows young orphan, Hugo Cabret, as he lives secretly behind the walls of a Paris train station. The plot is too full for me to give a just description of the story. So, I’ll just say that Hugo is an immensely engrossing and entertaining experience. It left me feeling breathless, filled with a sense of innocent joy. Of course, as always, Martin Scorsese crafts a movie that refuses to fall into Hollywood’s formulaic mold. Hugo is truly a unique and beautiful film, unlike anything else.

Kung Fu Panda 2 – Ok, so it’s a “kids” animated feature. But, trust me….it’s really, really good. In fact, it could be argued that it’s better than the original. While it’s fast-paced and fun for kids, it is equally exciting and meaningful for adults. For the complete scoop, read my review at http://www.craigthecritic.com/movies/the-pandas-back

I Saw the Devil – This Korean thriller was released in it’s homeland at the end of 2010, but didn’t hit our western shores until 2011. Soooo…I’m including it in my favs for 2011. With two of the best Korean actors and a complete disregard for the audience’s stomach, this crime-thriller is disturbing, shocking and relentless. Soo-hyun’s fiancee has been murdered by a cold-blooded serial killer. So, he sets out to exact revenge and the following two hours are a non-stop roller coaster that painfully illustrates the futility and destruction of payback. By the end, the audience is left questioning who is truly good and who is truly evil. This movie would fit nicely into Park’s Vengeance Trilogy…but then I guess it wouldn’t be a trilogy anymore. Oh well. If you liked Oldboy or Lady Vengeance, you’ll wanna follow those up with I Saw The Devil. Warning: if intense violence makes you queazy, you should probably pass…seriously…you’ve been warned.

Contagion – A deadly virus threatens to annihilate much of the world’s population. Contagion makes the audience a fly on the wall throughout the lives of various people around the world. Soderbergh is brilliant as he truly makes the star of the movie the virus. Sure, the movie is chalk-full of great actors (Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, etc…), but the plot is unique in that it jumps back and forth through the lives of these people and effectively demonstrates just how an outbreak of this magnitude could effect the world. It’s powerful, taut and grim. And it makes all the other outbreak movies look like after-school specials.

Resurrect Dead: the mystery of the Toynbee Tiles – I’m a huge documentary buff and this year, of all the docs I took in, I have to say that Resurrect Dead is the most focused and engaging one of them all. A few curious guys find each other through chat-rooms discussing the mysterious appearance of “tiles” found throughout the inner-city streets of North and South America. The message of the tiles is bizarre. The possible perpetrator(s) are intriguing. For my full review go to http://www.craigthecritic.com/movies/resurrect-dead-the-mystery-of-the-toynbee-tiles


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Craig the Critic

Comments:

  1. Thanks for pointing out a couple of films I wasn’t aware of and for confirming a couple of the ones I wanted to see are worth. I will be out scouting for them now.

    • Great. Let me know which ones you watch and if you loved them as much as I did 🙂

  2. I saw 5 of the 11 you’ve listed, so I can’t comment on all your choices. I whole heartedly agree with Win/Win and Super 8 as top 11 picks. However, I can’t agree with Hanna, Bridesmaids, and Contagion, even though I did enjoy each of them. I just saw Contagion last night at home and thought is was a good rental for sure. One of my top picks for 2011 that I was really disappointed to not see on your list was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011 version of course). I really enjoyed it and loved the performance by Rooney Mara. She really brought a lot of depth to the character, which we did see in the performance by Noomi Rapace in the 2009 version.

    • Hey Steve,
      Ya, I didn’t put “Girl With A Dragon Tattoo” on my list because I didn’t see it. After seeing the original and hearing that the US version is simply the same, but in English, I didn’t bother watching it. I loved the Swedish version and actually get annoyed when Hollywood remakes a foreign film just to ensure there’s a version we don’t have to read. That said, I’m sure the Daniel Craig version is excellent.
      And I can’t believe you didn’t think Hanna was one of the best! Of the three you mentioned, Hanna is one I’d fight for 😉

      Also, make sure you check out Another Earth. You won’t be disappointed.

  3. Haven’t seen a bunch of those but would have had The Help at the top of my list. I’ll check out some of yours, though.

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