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The best films of 2011: Robwrite's choices
The Best films of 2011
2011 has passed, and so it's time to look back on the year in films and take stock of the best that the movie industry had to offer us last year. This is my list of the best 15 films of 2011.
(**Note: I admit I haven't seen every film from 2011, so this is an incomplete list. I have yet to see The Artist and War Horse, both of which are getting Oscar buzz. Apologies to any worthy film I haven't seen which did not make the list.)
The Adventures of Tintin: A fun return to form for Spielberg, who reminds us why we loved him in the first place. This is a great adventure romp, with excellent use of motion-capture FX. Even if you’re not familiar with the comic book character of Tintin, this is still an entertaining ride. It’s one of the best action films of the year and likely the beginning of a new franchise for Spielberg.
Captain America: the First Avenger: Another of the year’s many comic-book based films and one of the most entertaining comic book adaptations of all. Chris Evans is perfect as the Red-White-Blue WW2 hero with the shield, battling the evil Red Skull. He’ll be appearing as the Captain again in the upcoming Avengers film.
The Descendants: George Clooney gives a wonderful performance in this dark comedy about a man who doesn’t appreciate what he’s got until his life starts falling apart. The Hawaiian setting makes it visually interesting and the performances are solid. This is a predicted Oscar favorite.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2: The phenomenally popular Harry Potter franchise goes out with a bang, in this epic conclusion to the series. The strands of the 8-film long story (based on the incredibly popular books) are all tied together and Harry confronts his nemesis Lord Voltermort for the final time. A very exciting wrap-up to the series.
The Help: This little gem got a lot of Oscar buzz when it first came out but it seems to have been forgotten in the wake of newer films. However, it’s an excellent drama about race, following the relationship of a white woman and her black maids during the civil rights era.
Hugo: This has been the best-reviewed film of the year and is another likely Oscar nominee. Martin Scorsese steps out of his comfort zone to give us this excellent drama about a French orphan, which also serves as a homage to the early history of film and the value of the preservation of our American cinema.
The Ides of March: It’s a good year for George Clooney, who has two films with Oscar buzz this year. He doesn’t star in this one (although he does play a supporting role) but he does direct and he does a fine job with this tale of the corrupting affect that politics has on the soul of even the best intentioned people.
Martha, Marcie May, Marlene: A quiet little film that has gone mostly under-the-radar and received little (if any) buzz. But it’s a very unusual and well-made film, with an excellent performance by the previously unknown third Olsen sister, Elisabeth, who puts her older sister to shame.
Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen made a comeback with his best film in years, which became the biggest financial success he ever had. The plot of the movie was kept quiet and most people didn’t know going in what they were in store for, but few were disappointed because the film delivers not only the traditional witty Woody dialogue, it also has a poignant message about feeling satisfied where you are rather than waxing rhapsodic about the past.
The Muppets: The biggest comeback of the year was not by Steven Spielberg or Woody Allen, but rather by those irresistible creations of the late, great Jim Henson. The Muppets are back in rare form, in one of their best films ever. It’s the best family film of the year.
My Week with Marilyn: Anchored by a great performance from Michele Williams, this (supposedly) true anecdote about a young man who spends a week in the company of screen sex-Goddess Marilyn Monroe is a touching, entertaining treat.
Rango: Possibly (arguably) the best film of 2011 and one of the most visually unique movies to come along in years. This CGI animated tale of a lizard becoming the sheriff of a desert town pays homage to the classic westerns of yesteryear. The film is full of clever references to classic movies. In a year when Johnny Depp made several films, his best work was the voice-over for this imaginative masterpiece.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes: A worthy reinvention of the classic Planet of the Apes franchise, with the best motion-capture acting performance ever by Andy Serkis, who shines as the simian savior Caesar. The effects are amazing and the story is very interesting and engrossing. Let’s hope the sequel is as good.
Tree of Life: A bizarre yet highly intellectual film which tries to discuss the meaning of life (from the beginning of time through modern times) by examining the life of a single person as a microcosm of everything! This is a very experimental film and it will seem very odd to many people who don’t appreciate unusual, out-of-the-box cinema like this one.
X-Men: 1st class: Another excellent comic book adaptation in a year replete with them. This one is a prequel to the popular X-men franchise and cleverly uses real historic events as part of the plot. Good performances and strong FX highlight the action.
(*BONUS-edit: I'm adding THE ARTIST to the list. I didn't see it in time to make this list but now that I have, it definitely belongs here.)