Best Films of 2011

Without any further comments, here I present my Top 20 Films from 2011, if anyone is not tired of another year-end list.

This film is so simple, in its narration and the acting. At the same time, it’s so damn quirky especially the performance by the lead actor. But it’s just the cover, because it actually touches the subject of illegal immigration in France. If you want a heartwarming no fuss film, this is it.

Who would have thought that a movie about fighters starring two athletic men could be one of the sappiest films from 2011? Good performance all around (especially Joel Edgerton) with solid story, the final scene is a sucker punch. Watching the climax will make you cheer like it’s the best fighting show you’ve ever seen.

I have never been so attracted to any of Woody Allen’s films. But this one is romantic in its fantasy. It’s very enjoyable where Owen Wilson’s character takes a midnight stroll, he’s taking us with him.

 After learning that I have the patience to watch slow-paced films, I knew this one was gonna be interesting. But damn that it’s pacing really slow (same like Meek’s Cutoff probably). But it’s fascinating to see the lead man who spent the summer in cold arctic trying to survive the wild life and avoiding the burden to tell a message to his uncle. With many gorgeous cinematography, this one is a real pleasure and surprise. The slow pace really paid off at the end.

Martha Marcy May, what have you done? The film does not use any optical illusion nor tricky visual effect to get the audience to feel the trauma Martha endures. The score is haunting, the editing is wonderful, the screenplay is extraordinary, and Elizabeth Olsen is wonderful playing ex member of a cult who can’t balance between her past and her  real present life. Watch out for this one, it will make the cut for Best Ending.

The movie sure has its flaws and Sam Worthington’s performance is weakest of the bunch, but overall the story is very compelling and does not give an easy answer. With perfect chemistry between Knightley and Guillaume Canet in the center, Last Night is the most interesting film from last year that explores the infinity of love relationship.

If there is one word best to associate Hugo with, it is magical. From the old classic Paris setting, the detailed 3D, and the many references in this film to very early cinema era. Sure Hugo’s adventure to find the perfect key is enjoyable, but the second half of this movie is a wondrous joy that pays homage to classic films that many not know. Other than The Tree of Life, it’s a technical and story achievement.

Not many will agree with this, but not since Election has Alexander Payne made a films this enjoyable and this one feels so intimate. Right from the start, I already have empathy towards Clooney’s character and that’s what makes me stay during the whole film. I don’t think it deserves a SAG ensemble nod since it’s only Clooney and Woodley who shine (with Judy Greer), but this film is beautifully written and Clooney perfectly captures the pain and struggle in his character.

A very sick thriller. That’s how it is. But I just can’t help but falling in love with this stylish tale of a surgeon who takes on a new invention to make-up for his love lost. Creepy, yes, and you probably can guess the twist not too late. But still, Aldomovar has made a film that shocks the hell out of me. Left with beautiful score by Alberto Iglesias, I couldn’t stop thinking, if what I just watched was possible.

Padilha’s sequel to the first Elite Squad is an explosive no compromise tale of the corrupted Brazilian government and its police ranking. It almost feels like watching a documentary with honest brutal narration. Led by Wagner Moura’s strong performance, he becomes the hero that falls and we can’t wait to rise again. If the sequel is this great, the first feature must be a must-see.

Mavis Gary might not be the kind of woman we hope to see on screen. She’s physically perfect, but her behavior is a mess. But instead that’s the beauty of her character and the film. Screenwriter Diablo Cody with director Jason Reitman have made this woman so relatable with her loneliness and childish ambition. We grow old, but do we grow up?

Ironically, this film may be on my top ten, but I’m not sure if I can or want to see it again. Just when you think last year’s Australian acclaim drama Animal Kingdom is already gut wrenching, this film will make it look pale in comparison. Yes, it’s brilliantly acted, but the the ugly nature of the serial killer story this film portrays may put off the weak stomachs. But above all that, it’s one that can’t be missed if you want hardcore drama thriller that’s not sugar coated.

Fun fact: the first film of 2011 that I watched twice in theaters. When I first watched this I was like, “Wow, what is this? Action with artistic direction.” It’s pure fun yet it’s very well made and well acted. Some call it brainless film with a lot of running with no clear explanation. I call it the 8th best film from 2011.

I had to email my local theatre so they added more screening for this film so I could watch it with my school schedule. And they did it the next weekend. I don’t know if it was because of me or the demand was high. Nevertheless, Cary Fukunaga is a talent that should spark more interest with this sophomore film. It’s not just a good adaptation, but it made me actually care for Mia Wasikowska’s portrayal of Jane Eyre. Never forget.

After 2010’s Blue Valentine, this film probably gives the most unsettling experience. Watching Fassbender pleasuring himself should be fun, right? But not entirely. Stay until the final climax act where the threesome scene becomes so raw and feels so gritty and as the character hits the bottom, you can’t help but feel so depressed or down with him.

It’s right where the first scene of this film will blow you away right away. With Oscar worthy performance both by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, the film will be hard to guess where it’s really going. What’s real and what’s not? Should we trust him or not? The ending of this film is very unforgettable. A very organic idea in a brilliant script.

What I like about the Dardenne brothers is they take the audience into the story. This one is included. As the story flows, we are taken into this realistic world of the young boy who takes help from a woman to find his father.It’s minimalistic, but it’s moving.

I have probably expressed how much I loved this film in my previous review. But still, after the second viewing the film still holds up and I even understand more background from each character. This is a film that uses all resources of cinema: superb acting, rich screenplay, and powerful direction.

I had this strong feeling that I wanted to review this film after watching it, but I couldn’t. It’s a really strong film and I’m afraid that I can’t capture the overall strength of this film with my own words. This is a film where you just gotta believe the hype. Strong direction, brilliant script, and very convincing performances by the cast. It’s rare that we come across a superb film like this in many years.

Now, now, what have we got here? I remember the anticipation when this film’s first trailer was released. Waiting for the review from Cannes until finally took a ride for two hours just to see this. After thought? What the hell was that? Even with second viewing, the film already cemented a special place in my heart that this is something special that won’t come often in cinema.


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