Best Films of 2011 Part 1 (#20-#11)

Lists are pretty silly. They never are able to push aside the prejudices of the “lister,” and with time they are usually made to look obsolete. So I admit this and even laugh at my own feeble attempts to organize lists of the best of anything, but I love to list things. I don’t know why, but I love it and I especially love listing movies. So, with much delight, I have spent the past couple of days organizing my list of the best films of 2011. I know this list will change over time (some movies are too high and some are too low), but for now this is my opinion on what were the signature films from this signature year.

2011 was an excellent year in film. When I sat down to make this list I found that not only did I come up with 10 films easily, but also past those ten was another ten movies that were excellent as well. So I decided to indulge myself this year and not only make a top ten list but a top twenty list. I have never done this before, mostly because there has never been a year where there have been this many great movies. But 2011 was an excellent year for the movies, and each film that made the cut is a worthy movie from this extraordinary year. From aliens in the hood of England to the life and times of Oliver Tate, 2011 was a great year and to celebrate here are my favorites.

      Honorable Mentions:

  • Another Earth
  • Beginners
  • Contagion
  • The Help
  • The Ides of March
  • Kill List
  • Meek’s Cutoff
  • Melancholia


The Top Twenty

20. Bill Cunningham New York

Bill Cunningham rides around all day taking pictures of normal people and asks for very little in return. The New York Times fashion writer is more interested in the extraordinary worn by the ordinary in this touching and intimate look at a man driven by his love for the clothes on our back. This Documentary skillfully follows around Bill and in turn paints a picture of a wonderful human being seeing the world through his only true friend, his lens.

19. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

After last year’s Swedish adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I really thought that an American version was unnecessary. It may not be necessary but it is a great alternative look at the dark world of the girl with the dragon tattoo. Complimented by solid performances by Daniel Craig and the wonderful Rooney Mara, Tattoo is a gritty and powerful drama.

18. Attack the Block

Joe Cornish directs this funny, thrilling, and horrifying tale about aliens that somehow meet some of the rowdiest teens around. Attack the Block is a cool new age science fiction film with a cast mostly made up of teenagers. The ensemble answers the call and with a clever script and some fine filmmaking, Attack of the Block can surely stand toe to toe with some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster productions.

17. 50/50

I have never seen a movie about dying that has felt so alive. A story of a young man facing cancer, 50/50 deals with almost all of the human emotions. Joseph Gordon Levitt is great as a man facing his own mortality and Seth Rogan and Anjellica Huston are bright spots in the film’s strong supporting cast. 50/50 is a rainbow of emotions and a heartfelt look at our own demise.

16. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Dark, gloomy, and ominous, the world that Tinker portrays may be from the past, but it clearly seems familiar with our own. Tomas Alfredson’s follow up to the excellent Let the Right One In is a wicked thrill ride. Supported by a great script and an excellent cast, Tinker is an intelligent thriller of the cat and mouse sorts.

15. 13 Assassins

13 Assassins is an hour of build up and then an hour of complete massacre. Much like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, Assassins is set at the end of an era. The samurai’s are slowly becoming extinct but justice is not. Assassins boasts some of the best action scenes of the year and is a great drama of politics and the sword. It is a true “epic” and is a respectable addition to the classic samurai genre.

14. Moneyball

Set in the backrooms of baseball, Moneyball is about the math that has undeniably become apart of the game. Brad Pitt is excellent as Billy Beane as he tries bring home a championship to his Oakland A’s. Moneyball is an excellent film about a man trying to make his mark on the game and unknowly making a bigger impact than he originally intended.

13. Drive

Drive is as stylish as they come. Full of action and a whole lot of cool, Drive is an exercise in everything awesome. Ryan Gosling nails “the man with no name” role, as The Driver is one of the more iconic characters to come out of this year. From its intense beginning to its bloody ending, Drive never lets off the gas and will most likely enjoy its cult status for a long time to come.

12. The Descendents

Alexander Payne is starting to build quite a resume. The Descendents is his fourth film and is an excellent movie about a family becoming a family again. Anchored by strong performances from Clooney and Woodley, The Descendents never feels artificial. It is a heartfelt movie about moving on and never letting go.

11. The Interrupters

As far as documentaries go, this one is a real eye opener. The Interrupters follows a group of ex-convicts who help solve conflicts in the inner city of Chicago with non-violent mediation. These individuals are as brave as they come as they try to fix the cycle of violence that has affected numerous individuals. Chronicled over the course of a year, The Interrupters never shies away from the hard-hitting moments in the city of Chicago and the cast and characters that inhabit it. It is a brave film about some very brave people trying to save anyone they can from the grips of violence. If you check out any film on this list, please let it be this one.

Well looky here, the film is free streaming so you have no excuse:


Check back tommorrow for Part 2 (10-1)


About Brian Rector

I am 22 years old and I go to school at Missouri State in Springfield, Missouri. I have always been an avid filmgoer and I have always wanted a place to share my views and opinions on modern film. This blog is to give reviews on new release, thoughts on other artforms such as music and books, and to discuss the happenings of the film industry. View all posts by Brian Rector

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