Now that the Dragon Tattoo and Extremely Loud embargoes have expired and I’ve seen Margaret and Mission: Impossible 4 — Ghost Protocol, here’s my final revised rundown of HE’s bests, favorites, almost favorites, mezzo-mezzos and worsts of 2011. And I’ve found a place for Margin Call, which I omitted in the initial posting.
My top ten met the usual pick-of-the-litter characteristics — quality, audacity, originality, personal satisfaction, stylistic excitement, something strong and central that said felt new or bold or extra-cool. Aesthetic judgment, personal delight, etc.
If you include the “decent, not half bad” category the bottom line is that 2011 delivered around 65 films that ranged from excellent to very good to respectably passable.
HE’s 11 Best of 2011 (in this order): Moneyball, A Separation, The Descendants, Miss Bala, Drive, Contagion, Win Win, The Tree of Life, Margaret, In The Land of Blood and Honey, Tyrannosaur. (11)
Special “I Don’t Know Where They Precisely Belong But I Like ‘Em More Than Some Of The Others” Distinction (i.e., Close With Unlit Cigar): Attack The Block, Beginners, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, X-Men First Class, Captain America, Hugo, 50/50, Young Adult, The Artist, Hanna, The Guard, Bridesmaids, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Buck, Page One: Inside The NY Times, Rampart, Margin Call. (17)
Good & Generally Approved With Issues (in this order): Take Shelter, A Better Life, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Ides of March, Midnight in Paris, A Dangerous Method, Albert Nobbs, J. Edgar, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Applause, Melancholia, Mission: Impossible 4 — Ghost Protocol, The Lincoln Lawyer, Another Happy Day, Source Code, Point Blank, Cedar Rapids, The Iron Lady, Happy Happy, Super, The Housemaid, Carnage, Another Earth, Le Havre. (24)
Frostily, Tiresomely, Enervatingly Good: Shame. (1)
The Wrong Stuff: War Horse, Tintin, The Lie. (3)
Decent, Not Half Bad: Coriolanus, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Insidious, The Last Lions, Myth of the American Sleepover, Tabloid, Super 8, The Trip, Making The Boys (doc about Mart Crowley and The Boys in the Band), Jane Eyre, Paranormal Activity 3, Restless, Submarine, Take This Waltz, Thor, Meet Monica Valour, Rango. (18)
Approved But Lesser Almodovar: The Skin I Live In. (1)
Lesser Dardennes: The Kid With A Bike. (1)
Lesser Kiarostami: Certified Copy (1)
Respectable Intentions, Didn’t Get There: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Meek’s Cutoff, London Boulevard, Texas Killing Fields, Warrior, Straw Dogs, The Way Back, Like Crazy, The Rum Diary, Sleeping Beauty, The Adjustment Bureau, The Company Men, White Irish Drinkers, The Devil’s Double, The Dilemma, Warrior, We Bought A Zoo, Wuthering Heights, Anonymous. (20)
Meh, Underbaked, Less is Less, Insufficient: Rubber, Ceremony, Hall Pass, Bullhead, Fright Night, The Help, Magic Trip, Our Idiot Brother. (8)
Most Dislikable Sundance 2011 Film: Bellflower. (1)
Regretful Shortfallers: 30 Minutes Or Less, The Beaver, Higher Ground, Knuckle, Larry Crowne, Limitless. (6)
Haven’t Seen ‘Em (Guilt Factor): Black Power Mixtape, Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within, Jeff Who Lives At Home, The Last Circus, The Oranges, Paul Williams Still Alive, Project Nim, Red State, Pina, Pariah, The Deep Blue Sea, This Must Be The Place, The Turin Horse. (13)
Haven’t Seen ‘Em & Don’t Care That Much: Apollo 18, The Lady, Arthur Christmas, Soul Surfer, Henry’s Crime, Blank City, Cold Weather, Blackthorn, Bonsai, A Boy And His Samurai, Burke & Hare, Cars 2, The Catechism Cataclysm, Conan The Barbarian, The Double, Gnomeo & Juliet, Happy Feet 2, The Human Centipede II, I Am Number Four, Jack and Jill, Just Go With It, Kung-Fu Panda 2, The Muppets, Mars Needs Moms, My Sucky Teen Romance, No Strings Attached, Paul Williams Still Alive, Phillip The Fossil, Priest, The Sitter, The Smurfs, Snow Flower & The Secret Fan, Sound Of My Voice, The Thing, The Woman, The Three Musketeers, Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. (38)
Acute Dislike, Blah, Nothing, Stinko: The Big Year, Arthur, Bad Teacher, Battle: Los Angeles, Butter, The Caller, Cat Run, The Change-Up, Cowboy & Aliens, Colombiana, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Dream House, Fast Five, Final Destination 5, Five Days of War, Footloose, Friends With Benefits, The Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Hall Pass, The Hangover Part II, Hobo With A Shotgun, Horrible Bosses, Kaboom, Machine Gun Preacher, New Year’s Eve, One Day, Paul, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Red Riding Hood, Sucker Punch, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1, Tower Heist, Twixt, Water For Elephants, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Your Highness, The Zookeeper, Your Highness, Miral. (41)