I'm late with this, I know. Originally, the idea was to wait a bit and see if I could squeeze in viewings of some of the movies that came out in late 2011 so that I could take them into consideration, but that didn't really happen.
There were/are a lot of presumably great movies that came out in 2011 that I didn't get to see. I'm not sure how many of them would have made my list, but I expect there are at least a few. I'd be pretty surprised if any other movie was able to crack my top 4, but who knows? Not me.
Ever since 2005, I've been keeping a list of every movie I watch every year. It makes this sort of thing a lot easier and it's interesting to me to look at the numbers afterward. This year's stats:
Total # of movies seen: 223
Total # of movies seen in a theater: 49
Total # of movies seen elsewhere: 178
Total # of different movies, cutting out repeat viewings: 216
Total # of movies seen for the first time: 178
The total number of movies I saw in 2011 was down a little from last year
. For some reason, I thought that a full year of being in a house with The Lady and having access to a DVR and movie channels was going to give me a bump there, but clearly whether it's DVR or DVD, it makes little difference. I actually watched a couple more in the theater over last year, which is also surprising. It feels like I watched a lot less. Maybe there was just more that I wanted to see?
My top 10 is based on movies that were either released in the US in 2011 or weren't, but I saw them anyway through the magic of DVD mail order. A couple of these may have actually debuted in 2011 at film festivals or advance screenings or whatever, but if a movie makes it's debut in Toronto in late 2010, how am I supposed to see it before 2011? Right?
I say this is a top 10 list, but this year I'm also including 5 honorable mentions. Because I can.#15 - Honorable MentionThor
. Maybe it was because director Kenneth Branagh and his excellent cast were able to make an enjoyable movie with a character I could not care any less about, or maybe it was just the talented people involved and the impressive display of those talents. I'm not sure why, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. Bonus points to Tom Hiddleston who played Loki. Not someone I was terribly familiar with before this, but I will absolutely consider his name in any project moving forward a Good Thing. He was great.#14 - Honorable Mention13 Assassins
It feels like 13 Assassins
is the only Takashi Miike film I've seen in ages. He announces new projects all the time, but they usually go straight to DVD out here (when they eventually get released) and I don't really buy a whole lot of DVDs anymore, so I miss out. So distribution company Magnolia did me a solid when they put 13 Assassins
in limited theatrical release early on last year.
The movie is much more serious and straightforward than you might expect from Miike and that, I'll be honest, had some effect on my enjoyment of it. I was expecting more blood sprinklers and ridiculous laughs. What I got, though, was just a damn good samurai movie with solid acting and fight sequences. I imagine the next time I watch it I'll be higher on it, but I haven't purchased it yet.#13 - Honorable MentionCold FishCold Fish
is another movie from a Japanese director, Sion Sono, whose work is frequently off the wall and strange as hell, that is more tempered and restrained. Maybe I just haven't seen enough of his movies (no, wait, I KNOW I haven't seen enough of them). This time, though, I wasn't expecting weird, I was expecting fucked up, gruesome and disturbing and that's exactly what I got. Cold Fish
, based on a true story, is not an easy movie to watch, but it's worth the effort.#12 - Honorable MentionDriveDrive
being this low on the list automatically makes it something of a disappointment for me. I was so excited to see a Nicolas Winding Refn movie with Ryan Gosling and lots of violence get so much attention. Even though I didn't love it as much as I had expected to, I still think it deserved all of that attention, though.
A very large portion of this movie was great. The chase scenes were intense and extremely well done, the violence was as well done as it possibly could be and Albert Brooks was tons of fun to watch every time he was on screen. Unfortunately, I thought the movie suffered a bit during some other moments and some of the music choices felt extremely out of place. I know they were going for a John Hughes vibe during some of the moments, and the music reflects that, but it really took me out of the film. And, for the record, I'm not referring to the score by Cliff Martinez, because that was great, but the 80's retro band music. Great movie otherwise, though.#11 - Honorable MentionPuss In Boots
I'm not real big on the Shrek
movies. I've only seen the first two and I like them ok, the second one was fun, but not enough that I have any real desire to watch the third one. So when The Lady told me she wanted to go see Puss In Boots
, I agreed to go and was expecting a relatively enjoyable kids movie that might offer a few laughs and some smiles. It ended up giving me a LOT of laughs though and a nearly continuous smile. Not only did I really enjoy this movie, but I actually plan on buying it at some point.#10The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
If I hadn't already been a huge fan of the books and original movies in this series, this remake would be a hell of a lot higher. Even though this version is, in my opinion, better, it still feels unnecessary. Really, the only thing it brings to the table for me was the chance to watch David Fincher's tremendous talents. That's something I'm ALWAYS happy to do, whether necessary or not. For the record, I thought Rooney Mara did a very good job and I was happy that they tried to make this Lisbeth somewhat different, but she didn't even come close to doing it as well as Noomi Rapace did in the original films. Not even close.#9American: The Bill Hicks Story
I'll be honest, I have no idea what I think of this one as a movie. Bill Hicks is someone I consider a hero and as such, my enjoyment of this movie was based heavily on the fact that it was about him. Stories I hadn't heard, bits of his comedy I wasn't familiar with, old home movies and all that were really what I found so wonderful about it. I don't feel like I can be objective. So it gets bumped down to #9. I wonder what someone not familiar with his work would think of it and how much of that opinion would be based on what they thought of it by the time the film was over.#8Senna
I enjoy a good documentary as much as the next guy, but it's pretty rare that I see one in a theater, let alone two in the same year (see also the previous film). And the fact that I have absolutely zero interest in racing makes me even more surprised when I think about that. I went to see Senna
, though, solely because the word of mouth on it was so good, and, goddamn, those words were right.#7Hobo With A Shotgun
As soon as it was announced, you had to know Hobo With A Shotgun
was going to go one of two ways. It was either going to be over the top, violent and hilarious or it was going to be a completely terrible, soulless misfire aimed at the recent resurgance of "grindhouse" movies. Thankfully, it was the former and some of the most fun I had at the movies this year.#6I Saw The Devil
And the winner for the most brutal movie of the year is... I Saw The Devil
. Man, is there any genre director Kim Ji-woon can't completely make his own? With a resume that includes movies like A Tale Of Two Sisters
, The Good, The Bad, The Weird
and A Bittersweet Life
, I don't understand why his name isn't more well known. No other Korean director has a track record as strong, running over as many films. NOT ONE. His next flick will be his english language debut, the Arnold Schwarzenegger comeback vehicle Last Stand
. Let's hope it rectifies Kim' anonymity issue.#5Jane Eyre
I've never read the book, or seen any of the other adaptations of this story. I hear some of them are really good and some of them are really bad. After seeing this one, I'd be down to watch any of them, though. Yes, this is a romance and yeah, it has a good lot of flowery language used by people professing their feelings, but it never once feels schmaltzy or overdone. And I LOVE the sinister, creepy atmosphere they gave it, as well. \
I already had Michael Fassbender on my If I Was Gay list, but if I hadn't, this would have put him on it. Similarly, Mia Wasikowska is now someone whose name will get me to pay attention to anything she does. The two films she's got lined up for this year (The Wettest Country In The World
and Chan-wook Park's english language debut Stoker
) were already on my radar, but seeing her name attached still gets me even more excited about them.#4Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
This is actually a sequel to Elite Squad
, a Brazilian movie released out here in 2008
on DVD, but I saw it before having seen the original. Didn't matter, it stands on it's own just fine. The combination of action and political intrigue in this one is balanced as well as I've ever seen at such a high level anywhere.
It's out on DVD and Blu-ray
as of Valentine's Day and it is considered required viewing here in Adgyland. Director Jose Padilha is doing the Robocop remake, too, so don't miss your shot at being able to say you were a fan of his before then, because his Robocop is going to kick ass.#3Bridesmaids
By far, the funniest movie of the year. I think I've seen this about a dozen times now, as it's one of The Lady's favorites, and it still cracks me up every time I watch it. There are only a couple of categories I care at all about at this year's academy awards and those are the two with this movie nominated (Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress) and Best Actor (I haven't seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
yet, but Gary Oldman deserves a win, goddammit!). Go Bridesmaids
For some unknown (and unknowable) reason, this movie has yet to get a release in the US. Absolutely mind-boggling. Anyway, after seeing this on all kinds of Top 10 lists last year by people who watch Japanese movies much more than I do and seeing that it won 4 Japanese academy awards (and was nominated for 7 others), I decided to just go ahead and import a Blu-ray of this as soon as one became available. And since the US shares the same Blu region coding as Hong Kong, I didn't have to wait very long or worry about compatibility issues. Another missed opportunity for US distributors.
is a story about a teacher who gets revenge on the students in her class responsible for the death of her child. It's intense, about as emotionally brutal as you're likely to get and really, really, REALLY well done. Can't recommend it highly enough.#1Attack The Block
In my review
, I praised Attack The Block
for not being a film that had to be viewed through special nostalgia glasses to appreciate, unlike a certain similarly premised film about a bunch of teenagers dealing with an alien invasion in their town released last year. Attack The Block
is hilarious, exciting and absolutely the most fun I had at the movies in 2011. So it's my favorite.
And there you have it.
Tags: top 10 list