Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top Whatever of 2011: Movies

Well, 2011 is over. And I'm a nerdy stickler about not starting my "best of 2011" lists until 2011 is actually over. Because sometimes you find something in the last hours of the year that jumps up into the lists. I didn't this year, but sometimes it happens! I'm sure it does. Probably.

OK, so here's a relatively quick one. These are my top 11 movies I saw in 2011.
(Disclaimer 1: These are just the movies I saw in 2011, not the movies that actually came out in 2011, although two of those did make the list.
Disclaimer 2: I'm not doing top 11 as a Spinal Tap reference or a Nostalgia Critic reference or a "2011" reference. It's because I had 1 movie I rated 5 stars this year and 10 I rated 4.5, and I couldn't decide which one movie to bump off the list.)

Here goes, with ever-so-brief commentary, but mostly links to the actual mini reviews.

11. Evil (2003)
Probably the least known of my picks this year. It's a Swedish flick about a teenage boy who is expelled from school for fighting and ends up at a boarding school where the power is very much in the hands of the older students. Fascinating to watch it all play out - and there are some really great characters.

10. In the Bedroom (2001)
My review on the original site is so mini, I'm pretty sure anything I write here is going to be longer than the original. It's a really compelling drama with superb acting. There. There we go.

9. Another Woman (1988)
The first Woody Allen flick I enjoyed after a string of disappointing ones. A great, thoughtful story with some amazing acting from Gena Rowlands.

8. Chaplin (1992)
I'm a bit biased because of my love of showbiz and showbiz movies, but this movie just touched me. Robert Downey, Jr. makes a surprisingly great Chaplin.

7. Black Swan (2010)
I had never been completely convinced of Natalie Portman's acting prowess... until this movie. And Darren Aronofsky does the best movies about obsession I have ever seen.

I saw this one a couple times (really rare for me to do in the same year) and was surprised how interesting the story was the second time around, too. It's just good writing and good directing. And Jesse Eisenberg's fantastic.

5. The Beaver (2011)
I had no idea I was going to love this movie as much as I did. It's such a bizarre story but it really hit home for me. Extremely touching in a quirky way.

The first movie I saw in 2011, and it was so worth watching. It's nearly all dialogue (it was based on a play originally) but creates a dramatic atmosphere full of tension. Wonderfully done.

3. 127 Hours (2010)
This movie could have been a really generic action thriller, but instead it was one of my very favorites from 2010. The last 20 minutes or so, I was literally on the edge of my seat watching it in the theater.

My favorite Woody Allen film of the last many years. It's delightful and charming and although I never would have expected Owen Wilson to be able to play the Woody Allen role, he nailed it. It's the movie of 2011 I've been telling everyone I know to see.

I'm very stingy with my 5-star ratings, and the only movie that got one this year wasn't even really a movie, it was...

1. The miniseries Angels in America (2003)
I watched this is my Religion & Theater class this past spring, and fell head over heels in love with it. It's an amazing play and an amazing miniseries. The dialogue is great, the characters are great, the acting is great... I do need to own this some time.

All in all, I watched 213 new-to-me movies in 2011, which is a record for me. Last year I only saw 143. Whoo! I'm sure 2012 will be a bit slower for me as I will be student teaching in the spring and then, well, hopefully teaching for real in the fall - definitely working - so I'll have less movie-watching time.

Tomorrow (or whenever I get around to it) - best music I discovered in 2011.


  1. Knowing that you've recently gotten into the filmography of Ingmar Bergman, and seeing that you enjoyed Black Swan and Aronofsky's films about obsession, I heartily recommend you make time to watch Persona. I suspect it will make your "Top Whatever of 2012" list.

  2. I will definitely add it to my list of things to watch. Of the three Bergman films I've seen, I really enjoyed two of them (Wild Strawberries didn't do much for me) and I do love stories about obsession, so chances are good I'll enjoy it.