CliqueClack Flicks

My favorite ten-ish films of 2011

Instead of a 'Best Of' list of movies that you've never heard of, I take back at my favorite films of 2011. It's a much more fun list to write, and to tell me how crazy I am.

I love year-end lists, but I absolutely hate it when I see someone’s “Best Of” lists where I’ve only seen a few of the flicks on it. Sometimes quality isn’t the most important thing to take out of a movie theatre. Instead, these are my favorite films of 2011 – a much more fun approach to be sure. There are some flicks on this list that I didn’t necessarily like the first time around (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter), but over time, they grew on me. So take a look, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Honorable Mention: The Conspirator, The Adjustment Bureau, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Lincoln Lawyer, Sucker Punch, Soul Surfer, Transformers 3, Harry Potter, Captain America, Dolphin Tale and Real Steel

10. X-Men: First Class
I didn’t know what to expect with the “reboot” of the X-Men franchise, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. It my first real experience seeing Jennifer Lawrence on-screen, and her turn here as Raven/Mystique has me very excited for The Hunger Games in 2012. Setting the film in the 60’s was an especially inspired choice, allowing the story to fit in the already existing films’ structure.

9. The Debt
The Debt pulled me in from the first minute. It was full of outstanding performances, first and foremost by Jessica Chastain (who had a breakout year), but Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington and Ciarán Hinds were also solid. I particularly love how the flashback story was framed by the present, peeling back the layers of the mission slowly, drawing the viewer in with each reveal.

8. The Help
If 2011 was nothing in the world of film, it was the year I fell in love with Emma Stone – but more on that later. I held off on The Help for a long time, based on the reactions of some of my friends, Kona Gallagher in particular. But opinions on whether or not we needed this story with a white heroine notwithstanding, there were some inspired performances throughout the movie.

7. Crazy, Stupid, Love.
So, about that Emma Stone love…. CSL was a big surprise. I’d lost a little appreciation for Steve Carell recently; many of his roles seemed to be caricatures of each other. Here, though, he played the vulnerability of a man who’d lost love so perfectly that I almost forgot this was the same guy who was in Evan Almighty. Toss in Stone, new It-Guy Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and the incomparable Marisa Tomei, and you can’t go wrong.

6. Super 8
When I was a child, my parents bought my brother and I a copy of E.T. on Betamax tape (we won’t talk about what the purchase price of movies like that was back in the day) – we wore that tape out. Super 8 was the first movie I’ve seen in a long time that captured E.T.’s wonder. The film didn’t finish as strongly as it started, but it still belongs on this list.

5. Ides of March
When I reviewed Ides back in October, I said that it would make you question if you ever wanted to participate in the political process again. I haven’t had a chance to revisit the movie since then, but I still feel the need to wash my hands after just thinking about it. There were several great performances here, but Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood owned this movie.

4. Colombiana
I’ll bet you didn’t expect to see this Colombiana this high on the list. Frankly, neither did I. Ignoring Zoë Saldana for a quick second (because ignoring her any longer would be impossible), the film has two of my favorite character actors in Lennie James and Cliff Curtis. But Saldana shines in her first time carrying a movie by herself. While I’m rarely one to enjoy revenge flicks, it was hard not to be pulled in by Saldana’s performance.

3. Friends with Benefits
If you asked someone five years or so ago if they thought Justin Timberlake would turn out to be the acting talent that he has, I think they might laugh at you – I know I would have. But he was hilarious here, and had such incredible chemistry with Mila Kunis. I loved the pop-culture references, in-jokes and quick-witted dialogue, and Woody Harrelson was … well, if you haven’t seen it, I can’t spoil it. Also, between this and Easy A, it seems I’ve become a very big fan of Will Gluck in a short time period.

2. Footloose
I took a huge amount of flack for loving this movie from a lot of friends of mine. The two or three that I could convince to give a shot apologized immediately. The rest of them? Well, if they’re going to let their aversion to remakes prevent them from seeing a hell of a fun ride, there’s nothing I can do for them. Kenny Wormald was solid, but Julianne Hough danced into my heart while Miles Teller turned in one of the most surprisingly funny performances of the year. However, while I am a big Dennis Quaid fan, he is no John Lithgow.

1. Tie: Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
A tie is a cheat, I’ll admit, but I never liked playing by the rules.

Mission: Impossible is a movie built for me to love. I love me a good action flick, and J.J. Abrams knows how to put one together. Brad Bird was simply phenomenal in his live-action directorial debut. It wasn’t that long ago that I said that Ghost Protocol was my favorite movie of the year, but it turns out that I was only half right.

I never in a million years expected to like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In fact, it wasn’t on my agenda the night I caught it in the theatre – I was actually headed to see Hugo based on several recommendations … I didn’t make it 15 minutes before I walked out from both boredom and a significant 3D related headache. But Tattoo quite literally blew me away. There simply aren’t enough superlatives to describe Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander – she was just eerie good. The mystery, too, was outstanding – one of the best I’ve seen on screen in a very long time. It’ll be tough staying away from the books, but I’ve decided to see the story play out first on screen before I read them. If the next two are as good as the first one was, I’m in for a treat.

Want more? Check out Chuck’s and Jeremy’s best of lists too!



Photo Credit: Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc

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One Response to “My favorite ten-ish films of 2011”

January 1, 2012 at 7:26 AM

Two cats and a dog didnt make the cut?

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