Monday, January 2, 2012

Movie Rant: My Favourite Films of 2011

Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in Shame
Another year has come and gone and, like every other film fan on the planet, I've decided to compile a list of my favourite films of 2011. Going through reviews from the past year, I realized that I hadn't seen enough truly great films to make a list of 10. So, instead, I'll have to settle for a list of eight.

Keep in mind I haven't seen the following films (some of which likely would have made the list had I seen them on time): The Descendants, The Adventures of Tintin, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Separation, Albert Nobbs and Warrior.

My Top 8 Films of 2011
1) Shame
Controversy over its explicit rating aside, Shame is a close study of the isolating nature of addiction -- that gradual separation from the tangible and the emotional. Some of the most revealing scenes in the film are often the ones with little or no dialogue and Michael Fassbender's performance is nothing short of astonishing. Shame will stay with you long after the final credits.

2) The Artist
It's a vibrant and richly texualized film. Although the idea may not be new and some may argue that the premise itself is a bit of a gimmick, it's an undeniable crowd-pleaser and a beautiful one at that. With its two charming leads at the centre, The Artist is, above all, a love letter to cinema's past.

Jessica Chastain in The Tree of Life
3) The Tree of Life
Audiences and critics alike will be hard-pressed to come up with a list of other films that are as ambitious, unique and full of meaning as Terrence Malick's latest. The Tree of Life is a bit of an enigma -- an often puzzling, yet incredibly powerful, film that deals with love, loss, death, nature and the universe. Without a linear narrative, the film includes long interludes of vivid cosmic and prehistoric visions. Spiritual and artsy, The Tree of Life challenges mainstream ideas of what a Hollywood film can achieve.

4) Hugo
One of the most visually beautiful films of the year, Hugo wraps you in a blanket of movie passion and nostalgia. Led by a wonderful ensemble cast, Martin Scorsese has created a haunting, yet whimsical, ode to the original pioneers of film.

5) Moneyball
There's no denying the long love affair that American cinema has had with the game of baseball. Moneyball is the best sports films to be released in years as it delves into the behind-the-scenes drama and inner workings of what it takes to build a winning team. Thanks to Brad Pitt's greatest performance to date, Moneyball reminds us that, despite the abundance of riches in professional sports, there are those who really do care -- for love of the game.

6) Martha Marcy May Marlene
Writer-director Sean Durkin has crafted a compelling debut feature that is ultimately a fascinating commentary on familial ties and paranoia. Elizabeth Olsen gives the kind of breakthrough performance that most up-and-comers can only dream about. She's quietly devastating and she makes it impossible to look away.

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain in Take Shelter
7) Take Shelter
With its slow-burning narrative, Take Shelter is a quietly unsettling indie hit that is more character study than apocalyptic thriller. In the lead role, Michael Shannon is remarkable. His quietly commanding performance is one of the highlights of the year and it's fascinating watching this gentle character battle his inner demons.

8) Midnight in Paris
With its commentary on the folly of nostalgia and the assumption that everything was a whole lot better "back in the day", Woody Allen has crafted a welcome escape from blockbusters and franchise sequels. Guided by Owen Wilson in the lead, the film takes a delightful, whimsical tour of Paris in the present day and the 1920s, where it once seemed as though only intellectuals and artists roamed the streets.

What are your favourite films of 2011?


  1. Cool list, I like that it is only a top 8 =)

    I can't decide whether SHAME for me was 4 stars or the full 5, Fassbender was great though, so I am swaying towards the 5..

  2. Thanks! :)

    I traditionally do a Top 10; however, when I was looking back over my reviews from the past year I noticed that I only gave eight films a mark of A. I had a few B+ reviews but I didn't think that should mean they get put into the top films list.

    Did you put together your own list?

  3. I haven't seen Moneyball, it hasn't been out in french theatres. But when you said "greatest movie of all times about baseball" I immediately thought about Bull Durham, which was pretty great too. Don't you thinik ?

  4. Hi Amandine! Thanks for the comment.

    I really love Bull Durham, but I think I might actually prefer Moneyball now. On paper, the premise seems a little dull so it was such a nice surprise to discover how engrossing it actually was! I'd definitely recommend it, whenever it's released in France! :)

  5. Hey Guys,

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    Partner’s Hub Engagement Team

  6. Nice to see 'Moneyball' on your end of the year list. It hasn't been on enough them! The great thing about that film is that, despite being a baseball movie, it isn't really about the baseball! Perseverance, passion in what one believes in despite the odds, creativity, ingenuity...there is so much happening in that movie.

  7. Agreed. Everyone was going on about it just a few months ago and now it's nearly forgotten. And I also couldn't agree more with your assessment. Such a smart, passionate film and well acted.