Just in time for the Oscars, here is my very belated list of what I felt the best films of 2011 were.
I know, I know. I just blew all credibility here. But honestly, even though I saw 147 of last year's movies I actually believe this is deserving of making this list. Despite being a sequel to some truly terrible pictures, Breaking Dawn 1 is a compelling story of marriage, adulthood, love, and more. The movie is suspenseful, funny, scary, and more.
While it is incredibly confusing and on such an absurdly large scale that it is only possible to comprehend pieces of its messages, this impossible-to-explain drama by Terrence Malick (Badlands, The Thin Red Line) is still great. Its ambition is unparalleled and by the end of it we truly are enthralled by appreciating the beauty of nature that is so often lost on us. If you have the time to invest in this movie I highly recommend that you do for it is excellent. I know I haven’t conveyed much about it, but once you see it you will realize why.
8. Last Night
2011 was a great year for directorial debuts with Margin Call, Cracks, another movie on my top ten list that I will tell you soon, and this. Massy Tadjedin enters Hollywood with a bang by helming this sad thoughtful look at trust centering on a married couple separated for a night where both of them struggle with temptation. The ending to this sticks in your head forever.
7. Win Win
This dramady was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Critic's Choice Awards. Surprisingly, it was snubbed at the same category at the Oscars, but hopefully people still heard about this funny, touching dramady. Paul Giamatti plays a lawyer/high school wrestling coach who takes in a troubled teen after a shady business deal. Entertaining yet emotional, Win Win is a great movie.
Featuring a stellar cast (including Tom Hanks, Viola Davis, Max von Sydow, Thomas Horn, and Sandra Bullock) and excellent editing, ELAIC tells a fantastic story on overcoming grief in the tale of an autistic boy who travels New York looking for the lock that fits the key left to him by his father who died in the 9/11 Tragedy (a sort-of reverse Hugo). This movie packs a huge emotional punch.
Bridesmaids is a summer comedy that contains tons of laughs, but it is also a poignant story of getting through life's tough spots. Centering around a woman who's best friend is getting married who ends up in a feud with a younger woman who tries to hijack the wedding plans, Bridesmaids is especially meant for girls, but its charming acting, fascinating characters, and Oscar-nominated screenplay makes it a great view for practically everyone.
4. The Eagle
An old-fashined historical epic from Oscar-nominated Director Kevin Macdonald and Writer Jeremy Brock (who both got Oscar nods for their team-up on The Last King of Scotland), The Eagle is an uplifting story of honor and loyalty in the vein of Ben-Hur and Spartacus (the movie, not the TV show). Sadly overlooked in its February release, this movie is nevertheless one of the best period pieces in the past decade. Check it out as soon as possible.
Morgan Spurlock (SuperSize Me and TV's 30 Days) creates a laugh-out-loud funny and instantly riveting comedic documentary on advertising, especially through product placement in movies and TV. He does so, though, by financing his movie through selling product placement in it. What I found the most entertaining picture of the year is also one of the best, as it very skillfully gets the audience to become aware of how they are constantly bombarded with advertisements at every possible second.
While I wish it had a more skilled actor such as Paul Giamatti or Mel Gibson in the title role, The Descendants is still a powerful dramady on preservation and overcoming grief. Attention for its lead actor--George Clooney--has taken away from attention for the movie (to a degree: the thing still got a Best Picture nomination). This is a problem as the movie, from Sideways and About Schmidt's Alexander Payne, is funny and emotional and, by refusing to have any easy answers, ultimately uplifting.
After being bounced from studio to studio, Dan Rush's scriptorial debut was put on the Blacklist of Unproduced Screenplays, a list of scripts Hollywood execs thought were great despite being unable (for various reasons) to produce themselves. Marc Earlbaum (Headspace) decided to get the thing made and the picture got a huge bump when Will Ferrell joined the cast. Rush took on directing duties, and an amazing movie was created.
Ferrel may be known for his comedic roles, but he proves to be just as good (if not better) at drama. This perfectly-toned and emotionally painful story is of a man who, after losing his job and wife on the same day due to his depression and alcoholism, decides to live off his front lawn. Being distributed by Roadside Attractions, the arthouse branch of financially troubled distributor Lionsgate, Everything Must Go reached few people. Still, most of the guys who saw it liked or loved it, probably due to it being the best movie of the year. Please don't miss this.