The Best Movies of 2011

Jan 23, 2012 by

The end of one year blends into the beginning of the next, with everyone hung over from too much food, booze, family and year-end lists.  Here at Old67, we like to give everyone a little bit of room to get over the Captain Morgans you had to drink with your brother in-law, the holiday sweets that linger, the racist grandfather that everyone tries to avoid and the vastly inferior “best of” lists that everyone insists we have to do.

Now that you’ve had a break, started your New Year resolutions, and told your family to Eff Off, we figure you’re ready for our “Best Movies of 2011” list.

This one is brought to you by new contributor Ian Brett, you can check out his bio and qualifications at the bottom of the post.

30. Limitless

29. The Adjustment Bureau

28. Win Win

27. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part Two

26. Red State

25. X-Men: First Class

24. Texas Killing Fields

23. Kidnapped (Secuestrados)

22. Ides of March

21. Captain America: The First Avenger / Thor

20. The Debt

The silver fox (Helen Mirren) shines in this espionage thriller.

19. The Guard

This year’s odd couple comedy with a strait-laced Fed, Don Cheadle,  meeting his worst nightmare in corrupt, racist Irish cop Brendan Gleeson.

18. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

My new favorite Christmas film. The creator of Old67 son’s doppelganger is in this gem.

17. Lincoln Lawyer

If John Grisham had swagger he could write a character like this. This is McConaughey’s best role in years.

16. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (IMAX)

IMAX is a visual orgasm. This is the best one of the series.

15. Submarine

This movie reminded me of a Wes Anderson film, if he was strung out on blow and fifty dollar hookers.

14. Warrior

Nick Nolte deserves a best supporting Oscar for his portrayal of a recovering alcoholic, father/trainer.

13. Source Code

A very smart and thrilling Hitchcockian film. Expect great things in the future from this director (Duncan Jones).

12. Moneyball

Alan Sorkin could write a movie about the phone book and make it interesting. A very well made David and Goliath film about a true visionary.

11. We Need to Talk About Kevin

The feel bad film of the year for parents. Art house meets straight horror. Damon was a pussy compared to this kid.

10. 50/50

It’s almost impossible to make cancer funny, but the writers (Seth Rogen and Will Reiser) of 50/50 shockingly did. This film is hilarious without robbing the audience of realism. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen deserve high

praise for the honesty they bring to this story. I love JGL and think he is going to do even more amazing things in the near future. Though this film may seem soft and quiet at times, it packs a great deal of power. 50/50 explores the perseverance and strength that lives inside of us. Truly one of the best dramadies I’ve seen in a while.

9. Contagion

Steven Soderbergh’s outbreak thriller is the scariest movie of the year. I think it’s fucked up this came out on DVD during flu season. Germaphobes, don’t watch this film. You won’t leave your house all winter. With great story narration and cinematography, contagion is every bit what the ninety-five film Outbreak, tried so desperately to be. A palpable suspense is sustained from the opening scene (which depicts the sickening Gwyneth Paltrow the day after she contracted the virus) to its finale (which shows the true genesis of the virus). Furthermore, it manages numerous disconnected plot lines and characters without becoming a jumbled, incomprehensible mess. The acting in this is absolute. This ensemble cast works like an engine firing on all cylinders. Just writing this review I’m beginning to feel sick… Remember to wash your hands people!

8. TrollHunter (Trolljegeren)

Grimm Fairy Tales meets Cloverfield. This Norwegian film is just BADASS. How many times can you honestly say you’ve seen a two hundred foot tall troll chase a Land Rover in a film? Never. The special effects were surprisingly on par with any big budget Hollywood film that came out this year. Though the mocumentary style is getting old, this film thoroughly entertains. Did you know that trolls can smell the blood of Christians? You can’t go wrong with this movie!

7. The Help

Yeah, I put The Help on my list. This film will make you laugh and cry, and if you don’t like it, go and eat a shit pie. It’s a melodrama set against a racist Mississippi backdrop with a stunning ensemble cast. It’s a very realistic and beautiful picture of the decaying south. The film is carried by the brilliant work of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, whose performances as Aibileen and Minny are at the core of The Help’s ability to stir human emotion. This is definitely one of the biggest surprises of the year for me.

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

For the record, I didn’t care for Stieg Larsson’s international bestseller. And I haven’t seen the critically acclaimed Swedish film. I did, however, love this version. David Fincher is one of my favorite directors and is one of the best working in the industry today. It’s hard to believe that Fincher could make a film darker than Seven, but he DID. I had to take a thirty minute shower, much like our young protagonist in the movie, after seeing this.

A star is born… Rooney Mara makes the character of Lisbeth Salander her own. Move over Meryl Streep, Mara deserves the Oscar this year. Her portrayal of Salander was fearless. Christopher Plummer was stellar as well. I have to warn you, after seeing this, you will never listen to Enya the same way again. But, who listens to Enya, anyway?

5. Super 8

Old school, science-fiction, popcorn, fun!!! If you grew up watching Spielberg’s Amblin films, then you will love Super 8. I saw this in July and it took me back to being ten years old and going to see summer blockbusters at the local multiplex. J.J. Abrams does a fantastic job of capturing the innocence and nostalgia of the late seventies. The kids were so entertaining to watch on screen together. They gelled beautifully and found a genuine rapport. The action scenes were top-notch, but not too over the top. In retrospect, I think I loved the feeling Super 8 gave me more than the actual film itself. It’s no Close Encounters or E.T., but it is the closest thing we have today to those classics. Mister Abrams, I have a fever, and the only cure is more LENS FLARE!!!

4. Martha Marcy May Marlene

This cult film, no pun intended, is like watching a dream. The director, Sean Durkin, blurs the lines of reality and plays with our paranoia so subtly; you feel an overwhelming sense of dread at the end. Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) drowns herself into the character of Martha Marcy May Marlene, a young troubled woman who has just fled an abusive cult. Olsen pours her soul onto film. (I would join any cult that Elizabeth Olsen was in) I think she’s on track to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Co-star John Hawkes shines once again in a new villainous and demented turn; which remains one of the great supporting male works this year. The home invasion scene will bother you for days. A week after watching MMMM I still continued to think and obsess about this film. I look forward to watching it again.

 

3. Drive

This is the best music video Michael Mann never made. It’s beautifully violent and doesn’t easily fit into any certain genre. The head-smashing violence is hard to watch at times, but the brooding, man-with-no-name driver is cooler than cool. (If anyone wants to buy me the white scorpion jacket, I wear an XXL – all muscle, baby) Ryan Gosling’s presence on screen is like a young Marlon Brando. Nicolas Winding Refn (the director) uses Los Angeles as a major player in the film, using  eighties stylized colors and downtown LA lights to set an offbeat tone against this killer soundtrack.

Refn won best director at Cannes for this soon-to-be cult classic. They’ve said that Gosling and Refn have planned to do more films together and we should all look forward to that. When going into this film, don’t expect a big standard Hollywood heist flick; you’ll be highly disappointed if you do. You’ve never seen Albert Brooks in anything like this.

 I will have a white, scorpion jacket by this time next year.

2. The Descendants

This is Clooney’s best acting role, his Golden Globe win was well deserved. He moves brilliantly on and off the screen, like Cary Grant. While we’re at it, if we’re comparing old Hollywood to now; I would have to say the director, Alexander Payne, is the closest thing we have to a Billy Wilder. Payne has fun playing on our emotions. He has us on the verge of tears and then abruptly makes us burst into laughter at the exceedingly entertaining Sid (Nick Krause).  Shailene Woodley also did an impressive job as Clooney’s angst ridden teenage daughter. I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets a Best Supporting Actress nod for this.

Much like the movie Drive, the film’s location plays a very integral role. I’ve never seen Hawaii so glammed down. Payne showed the locations much like a beautiful woman not wearing makeup. I really wanted to go and buy a floral shirt and drink a Mai Tai after seeing this.

 

 *BEST FILM OF THE YEAR*

1. Tree of Life

This deep, spiritual, masterwork is one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. Terrence Malick is by far a wise man among little boys in an industry with big budgets and flashy CGI. This is his sixth film in forty-two years. Malick’s personal odyssey weaves autobiography, spirituality, metaphysics and dinosaurs (yes DINOSAURS). This is a mesmerizing and beautiful transcendental remix of art-house cinema. I want to kick myself in the ass for not seeing this stunning film in IMAX.

The acting was stellar. Brad Pitt was believable as the hard-nosed, ex-military father. The newcomer, Jessica Chastain steals the show as the beautiful, nurturing mother of three. I see great things in the future for Chastain. She is in four films from my list this year. Emmanuel Lubezki’s meticulous and sublime cinematography is by far the best in years. You find yourself wanting to reach out and touch a blade of grass on screen. His camerawork captures every bit of purity and innocence that the child actors portray.

This film will move and touch people in different ways, its left up to you to find a personal, emotional, or spiritual connection to it. I highly recommend going back and re-watching some of Malick’s earlier work. Badlands and Days of Heaven have always been my favorites of his.

 

Honorable Mention and Other Favorites

Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cedar Rapids, Barney’s Version, Country Strong, The Company Men, The Eagle, Take Me Home Tonight, Kill the Irishman, Paul, Insidious, Super, The Conspiritor, Scream 4, Fast Five (I couldn’t believe I liked this movie), A Better Life, The Perfect Host, Horrible Bosses, Cowboys and Aliens, The Devil’s Double, Attack the Block, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 30 Minutes or Less, Fright Night, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Puncture, Paranormal Activity 3, Young Adult, Carnage, Wrecked

 

2011 Awards

Best Motion Picture – Tree of Life

Best Actor – George Clooney for The Descendents

Best Actress – Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Supporting Actor – Nick Nolte for Warrior

Best Supporting Actress – Jessica Chastain for The Help

Best Director – Terrence Malick for Tree of Life

Best Screenplay – George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon for The Ides of March

Best Original Score – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki for Tree of Life

Special “you had me ROTFL” Award goes to Isiah Whitlock Jr. for his The Wire speech in Cedar Rapids

 

Top 5 Documentaries of 2011

5. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

4. Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project

3. Knuckle / Superheroes (Tied)

2. Pearl Jam Twenty

1. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

 

The Bottom Films

The Green Hornet, The Green Lantern, The Rite, Battle: Los Angeles, Red Riding Hood, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Bridesmaids, Friends with Benefits, Crazy Stupid Love, In Time, Tower Heist, WORST FILM OF 2011- Carjacked

 

Ian Hayes Brett has worked in the entertainment business for over ten years now. He has written and directed two independent feature films. He also works behind the scenes on major motion pictures and television. Some of his credits include Dawson’s Creek, Domestic Disturbance, Black Knight, One Tree Hill, The Walking Dead, etc. Check out his website at www.purple-hayes-productions.com .

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2 Comments

  1. Ali

    Ian, I am so jealous of the sheer number of movies you saw last year! Also, you didn’t think Bridesmaids was funny? Huh. Remind me to ask you about that.

  2. Nice to read your blog

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