2011 by star rating
436 8.2 8.51. A Separation (2011)
Thematically complex, richly layered piece of dramatic filmmaking, with perfect performances across the board. Minimalism at its finest.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1866492
1684 7.8 7.92. Drive (2011)
A near-masterpiece of cinematic atmosphere and style, with top-notch acting and a stupendous soundtrack. Drive is entrancing as hell and entirely unafraid of delving into darkness, both visually and thematically.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1506013
439 7.1 6.63. Restless (2011)
A delightful balance between appealing/sweet-natured romance and dark humor, with a welcome fresh approach towards coping with death. Leave it to Gus Van Sant to produce something that oozes quirkiness without ever feeling forced or imposed upon us.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1715401
853 5.9 6.24. Scream 4 (2011)
Part of me was scared that, after 11 years of growing more and more jaded about movies (and life), my great, youthful appreciation for the Scream franchise would no longer be the same. I thought I would nitpick at things at which I'd never nitpick in the past. But as soon as the film started, it felt like I was reuniting with old friends (namely, Sidney, Dewey and Gale). There's some inevitable bias here, but I find this franchise's delightful thrills and quips to be totally irresistible.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/988465
419 7.2 7.55. Take Shelter (2011)
Digs deep into a wide range of emotional and psychological troubles, and constantly avoids committing the sin of feeling too abstract or distant. Take Shelter is fascinatingly complex, yet never allows the audience members to stop being able to relate to the difficulties that are being presented on-screen.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1678309
724 7.4 7.56. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
An unflinching portrayal of evil: relentlessly bleak and disturbing, with a lead performance that's as magnificently dark as only the brave Tilda Swinton can give.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1780320
1096 7.5 7.87. 50/50 (2011)
Terrific at balancing pain and comedy without letting the mixture of both throw it off balance. It's an exceedingly heartfelt tale that's refreshingly devoid of emotional manipulation.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1521172
1067 7.9 8.18. The Artist (2011)
An engrossing homage to an early film era. It's irresistibly cute and visually appealing, but it also isn't afraid to explore complicated themes and to draw interesting parallelisms with modern times.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1918217
855 7.1 7.49. The Descendants (2011)
George Clooney and Shailene Woodley are extraordinary in The Descendants, a deeply affecting drama that, like the rest of Alexander Payne's work, delves right into the eccentric behavior that human beings often engage in when they're facing emotionally tough times. The aspect of the movie that deals with the decision of whether or not to sell the inherited Hawaiian territory doesn't always hit the right notes and at times feels like filler, but the film is terrific when it focuses on the central tragic subject of the wife's infidelity and her impending death. This is more on par with About Schmidt than on the level of greatness of Sideways, but that's still high praise.
55 6.5 6.710. The Double Hour (2009)
Lynch wouldn't necessarily be impressed, but I think that, at the very least, he'd be very proud. The twists and turns of The Double Hour are all intrinsically connected to the human psyche (specifically, to feelings of guilt and vulnerability) and that makes it a fascinating picture, clearly influenced in part by the masterful Mulholland Drive. (By the way, IMDB and Listal have it down as a 2009 release because that's when it came out in Italy, but it didn't hit theaters on my side of the world till this year.)
2458 7.9 8.111. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
As an outsider to the community of rabid Harry Potter fanatics, I've watched the franchise over the course of the years, and for the most part, I've found that the films have ranged from so-so to decent to occasionally very good. The last one that had truly impressed me was Order of the Phoenix, and I'm glad to announce that I can say the same about the franchise's final chapter. Its sweeping epicness may not rival what was accomplished by The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it's a tremendous achievement nonetheless. There are times at which the film reiterates and reinforces its points too much (at times even unnecessarily repeating some lines), and I'm not crazy about the epilogue either, but those are small flaws in what is an otherwise very satisfying conclusion to this saga.
137 6.4 6.512. The Housemaid (2010)
What looks like foreign soft-core porn turns out to be an above-average, surprisingly interesting dramatic exploration of infidelity and of rifts between social classes.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/904096
187 7.3 7.613. In a Better World (2010)
Tough ethical questions asked through two excellent converging storylines, with a significantly intense final act - that's the stuff of very good dramas.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1206883
319 6.5 6.514. Last Night (2010)
As movies about jealousy and infidelity go, Last Night certainly doesn't beat Stanley Kubrick's masterful swan song Eyes Wide Shut, but it deserves high commendation for its bleak and realistic tone and for making terrific visual use of nighttime city exteriors to convey the feeling of angst and temptation experienced by the two leads here. The film is a deft exploration of the different causes and layers of infidelity, and its abrupt and ambiguous ending is simply perfect.
53 6.4 6.415. Miss Bala (2011)
43 7.6 7.916. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011)
As a lover of documentaries and of reality as captured by cinema, and as a law student, I could never resist something as fascinating as the story told in the Paradise Lost films. Paradise Lost 2 didn't feel particularly necessary and focused way too much on Mark Byers for my taste, but with this third film, we're back to focusing on the investigation and on the impact that this has had on the lives of EVERYONE involved (that is, the three convicts and the families of the murdered children). The epilogue is magnificent, because while it may seem to give everything a sense of finality, there's a feeling that these three kids (now adults) haven't yet been vindicated. A fourth film wouldn't be unwarranted, in order to see about that vindication, and especially, to see how these three men handle life after everything they were put through. The Paradise Lost films don't quite achieve the mind-blowing impact exerted by the similar Capturing the Friedmans, but they're still a tremendous accomplisment of documentary filmmaking.
419 5.6 5.917. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Leaps and bounds, the scariest film I've seen this year (not like it has much competition, anyway).
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1603478
1228 7.2 7.618. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Terrific summer entertainment with CGI characters that depict ten times more emotion than your standard paper-thin movie character.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1348675
240 5.8 5.719. Rubber (2010)
Much more going on here than just a movie about a tire that kills people. Rubber is hilarious, delightfully offbeat, and savagely critical of its target.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1139649
791 7.6 7.620. The Skin I Live In (2011)
Llena de momentos inpredecibles e impresionantes, con actuaciones de primera, y con todos los excelentes toques visuales que caracterizan a las películas de Almodóvar. La resolución tiene un medio aire de telenovela y no se ajusta tanto a la magnífica perversidad que permea al resto del filme.
432 7.3 7.221. Submarine (2010)
Endlessly witty, featuring a protagonist who is 10 times more interesting than your average angst-ridden movie teenager. All the aspects that relate to his relationship with the girl he loves are exquisitely well-developed. Can't quite say the same about his efforts to save his parents' marriage, but luckily, the film is wise enough to focus most of the running time on the first plot line.
1999 6.9 722. Thor (2011)
The film's balance between action, comedy and human drama is essentially perfect - in fact, one feels that there is an equal dose of all three, which is an extremely welcome thing, considering how overboard most superhero movies go when it comes to action sequences. The film's final act lacks a certain oomph, largely because it is afflicted by a lot of the limitations we often see during the climaxes of "origin stories" but overall Thor is a very good film and an extremely efficient prelude to the Marvel superhero extravaganza that we'll get in 2012.
506 6.3 6.423. Young Adult (2011)
One would expect it to be impossible to emotionally relate to a drama that centers around a character like Mavis, but Young Adult is about so much more than Mavis' attempts to win back her old flame. It's about the rude awakening that takes place when you return to a familiar place after a long time (especially your hometown) and everything LOOKS to be the same, except it's not, because you and everyone else have gone through too many changes and experiences. It's about the massive differences between people in terms of what they need in order to be happy. Look for a terrific climactic scene in which the conversation between Mavis and a secondary character brilliantly puts everything into perspective. The parallelisms between the film's actual events and the events of Mavis' book's story (told through the voiceover) are at times too forced and obvious (especially the "graduation" bit), but this is still a supremely effective piece of bleak cinema.
961 7.1 7.424. The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
57 7.5 7.325. African Cats (2011)
Every bit as visually striking and immersive as Earth, and never as Discovery Channel-esque as Oceans. The only problem I keep having with these films is that, because of their insistence on being "family movies," the G rating keeps them from being able to plunge into deeper waters and show the disturbing visuals that us adults deserve to be able to witness.
46 6.2 5.526. Another Happy Day (2011)
This feels like it was purposely overstuffed with mentally/emotionally unstable characters for the hell of it, and there are times at which it's too shrill and melodramatic. The ending especially feels like the filmmakers had no idea how to conclude things. But a magnificent turn from Ezra Miller makes the experience mostly engrossing throughout its running time.
270 6.2 6.427. The Art Of Getting By (2011)
The fact that I was able to mildly enjoy a movie like The Art of Getting By, which was so poorly received by critics and audiences alike, tells me a lot about what my favorite "type" of movie is - in other words, this is the type of case where I forgive a movie's glaring flaws because it still offers the type of stuff I'm into. Sure, there are times at which it's way too hip (and the ending is so conventional it borders on painful), but overall, it felt very much like a worthwhile 90 minutes. Freddie Highmore is quite good (and can cry on cue better than a lot of young actors), and Emma Roberts is charming as hell.
456 6.8 6.628. Attack the Block (2011)
The humor comes more from one-liners than from the situations faced by the characters, most of which are uninspired action/chase sequences. Most of the kids in the cast have a great handle on funny line delivery, although one John Boyega can't decide whether to be over-the-top serious or just play it straight, and kind of gets caught in an awkward spot in between the two. Attack the Block is entertainment of the silly variety that manages to never enter the realm of dumbness. It's the kind of film that I actually WISH had been longer, and that's not a feeling I get very often.
91 6.5 6.529. Beautiful Boy (2010)
523 7.4 7.230. Beginners (2010)
There are instances in which the editing is simply brilliant, specifically in the moments in which the voiceover narration takes us back a few years in time and makes a few quick, sharp observations about "what things were like" at certain different points in history. It's too bad that the film's plot and dramatic core aren't blessed with the same level of creativity, and settle for being decent rather than extraordinary. Oh, but Christopher Plummer's performance is delightful.
1026 6.5 6.831. Bridesmaids (2011)
Finally the comedic star vehicle that Kristen Wiig deserved, though she's upstaged by the even funnier Melissa McCarthy. Bridesmaids is overlong and has a few other missteps, but it's a mostly good comedy that strives to show women can indulge in raunchiness, too.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1060731
42 6.1 6.232. Brotherhood (2010)
The somewhat amateur acting and low-budget limitations don't take away from the richness of Brotherhood's moral complexity and from its gritty take on a college fraternity initiation gone terribly wrong.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1134111
1560 6.7 6.833. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Serviceable superhero film with a magnificent amount of heart in its first half and a not-so-magnificent amount of generic action sequences in its second half.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1264532
697 7.1 7.134. Carnage (2011)
The conversations focus more on mundane trifles than on the moral/ethical carnage we should've been able to savor here.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1800368
59 5.9 5.535. Ceremony (2010)
The romance here is more on the vanilla side (despite being between an older woman and a younger guy) and the film doesn't have many surprises, but the story does have an interesting "fish out of water" spin to it that makes this significantly more watchable than most movies that cover similar ground.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/922456
202 7.2 7.136. Certified Copy (2010)
When a film is a two-actor show that relies exclusively on the two leads' ability to emote and deliver lines effectively, the ideal situation is obviously for BOTH actors to be great. For that reason, it's a shame that, although Juliette Binoche is absolutely ASTOUNDING in this film, her co-star William Shimell gives a painfully stiff performance. Still, Binoche's amazing turn and the film's interesting dramatic twist right around the 50-minute mark make this a worthy curiosity.
10 6.8 6.937. The Colors of the Mountain (2010)
970 6.3 6.738. Contagion (2011)
Slickly made and highly believable film. It starts out limiting itself to being about the spread of a disease (a la the swine flu, but more aggressive), but as it gets to its second half, it starts showcasing the chaos and desperation that would certainly emerge in ANY type of situation that could threaten world stability. Because there are so many characters, there are times at which there's a lack of fluidity between the scenes - a few transitions here and there aren't very seamless. In addition, the film tries to make sure to feel updated for the 2011 generation by having a sensationalist blogger as one of its characters, but that character comes across like a ridiculous prop more than anything else (partly because of the script and partly because of Jude Law's rendition).
129 6.6 6.339. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011)
When I'm on a plane, chances are I'll watch the movie that's playing unless it's something I've already seen and hated. If it's a film I've never seen, I definitely won't pass up the opportunity to watch it for free. If I'm lucky, it'll be a way to make two hours of the flight feel like a breeze, and thankfully, that was the case with this particular sequel. It's undoubtedly made with kids in mind, but there's really nothing here that'll insult an adult's intelligence or keep him/her from having a good time. Oh, and it goes without saying that it totally reminded me of what it was like to bicker with my brother when I was a kid.
200 6.3 6.540. Everything Must Go (2010)
Sparse and minimalistic, which I like, but it ultimately limits itself to being a straightforward character study rather than also taking the opportunity to explore complex themes. The magnificent Laura Dern shows up for two terrific scenes that momentarily make the film enter the realm of greatness. The film has a nicely melancholic aura, although the all-important yard sale sequence hits several wrong notes, because the atmosphere (and music) during it is way too upbeat so as to contrast too heavily with the rest of the film's scenes. Terrific work from both Will Ferrell and Rebecca Hall, though.
425 5.6 5.841. Final Destination 5 (2011)
It's more of the same, it's generally stupid, it's got tons of gore and no scares, and the lead actor was clearly cast more for being handsome than for his acting skills (take a shot each time he widens his eyes in disbelief, and you'll be in a coma after the film's first half hour). But I just love the concept behind this franchise. To make matters better for fans of the Final Destination films, there's a pretty ingenious twist in this film's penultimate scene. And surprise of surprises, the film's central romantic relationship is developed much better than is the case in most gore-driven horror films.
1079 6.5 6.642. Friends with Benefits (2011)
A film about "fuck buddies" with the necessary amount of spice and wacky humor needed to deliver on its premise, despite the fact that, in the very end, it relents to the cliches it seemed to repudiate.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1264522
1385 7.8 7.943. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
She's one of my favorite movie characters of the year. If only the film had actually been about her...
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1816785
47 5.7 5.644. Good Neighbors (2010)
A decent mystery/thriller with a nice attempt at Hitchcockian flavor during its climax. The offbeat personalities of the three main characters make this a notch better than most twisty potboilers.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1206886
960 6.8 6.945. Hanna (2011)
More tailored for fans of stylish action than for those who want something dramatically complex, but Cate Blanchett's marvelously wicked turn and the film's musical score make it impossible to dismiss the film.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1023324
262 7 6.946. Heartbeats (2010)
Following up on I Killed My Mother, Xavier Dolan continues to direct and star in finely-tuned character studies that never fail to interest and engross. This tale of quasi-friendship/quasi-romance between three people is visually striking, if not always dramatically great. The interview segments are an unnecessary distraction. Still, I very much look forward to Dolan's next project.
1063 7.8 847. The Help (2011)
The ever-present score during the characters' conversations is at times wildly intrusive, and the film loses points for playing it so safe, but the performances definitely elevate it significantly.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1348678
1116 6.4 6.948. Horrible Bosses (2011)
Guys, forget The Hangover sequel. If you're looking for a worthwhile summer comedy that features a group of guys getting stuck in a funny web of trouble, Horrible Bosses is where it's at. The plot is every bit as uninventive as the title, but that doesn't stop this from being a constantly amusing, if not always riotous, comedic offering.
1374 7.5 7.649. Hugo (2011)
During its first half, Hugo is nothing short of immensely charming and visually spectacular. Once it gets into its proclamation of love for the preservation of films, the movie loses some of its direction, as it starts feeling like the main character's problems and emotional struggles take on secondary importance. It's also around this time that the film starts too feel a little too nice even for a PG effort (perhaps because it feels like the central character's story is relegated to lesser importance, or perhaps because there's no real villain). But overall, the spirit of adventure and the relationship between the two child characters that emerges mainly in the first half make it worth sticking through this one, even into its overly pat final scene.
801 6.9 7.250. The Ides of March (2011)
Becomes too trashy for my taste in the final act, but generally, it's an eerily accurate and highly entertaining indictment of the political/campaign process.
Full review: http://www.listal.com/viewentry/1698146
People who voted for this also voted for