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12.26.2011by: Chris Bumbray

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2011 (According to Chris Bumbray)

And so, another year is in the books. Overall, 2011 has been a pretty solid year for movies, although the majority of really good films tended to fall outside the studio system, once again coming from the indie or international scene. In terms of blockbusters, the year was average. There were a couple of fun ones (FAST FIVE, the Marvel films, the last HARRY POTTER, the latest SHERLOCK, the amazing first hour of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL), but there were no game-changers like INCEPTION, which is a pity.

However, those who ventured outside the mainstream were rewarded with a slew of excellent films, and marking another great year spent reviewing movies for JoBlo.com, I've compiled my personal top ten- along with ten runners-up, and a list of the five WORST films I reviewed this year. Agree? Disagree? Strikeback below!

RUNNERS UP FOR BEST OF 2011:
TREE OF LIFE, BRIDESMAIDS, THE GUARD, THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE, THE DESCENDANTS, X-MEN FIRST CLASS, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, I SAW THE DEVIL, MELANCHOLIA, & YOUNG ADULT.

Dishonorable Mention - Worst of 2011

The Five Worst of 2011

TRESPASS

I cannot believe this grade-z shlocker made it into this year's edition of TIFF. I pity the poor folks who shelled out premium tickets to see what amounted to an almost direct-to-DVD potboiler. Just a few years ago, the three principals- Nicholas Cage, Nicole Kidman, and director Joel Schumacher, were all pretty-much A-list. Oh, how the times have changed. Cage phones it-in even more than usual as a hen-pecked diamond trader being held hostage by a bunch of goons, who threaten to kill his wife (Kidman) unless he plays along. Think of a DTV rip-off of PANIC ROOM and you know what to expect.

JUST GO WITH IT

The only reason Adam Sandler's JACK & JILL (or his production BUCKY LARSON) isn't on this list is that I caught a reprieve, and didn't have to review it. I wasn't so lucky with Sandler's other film, which is a remake of an old Walter Matthau movie called CACTUS FLOWER, improbably casting the gorgeous Jennifer Aniston as Sandler's amorous secretary, who wins him over after he convinces her to pose as his ex-wife to impress his latest conquest, played by Brooklyn Decker. It's a miserable, unfunny film.

NEW YEAR'S EVE

Imagine what would happen if all of the crappy Hollywood rom-com personalities got together and decided to make the worst film possible. Well, it happened- with this featuring a veritable who's who of people I hate, including Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel, Jon Bon Jovi, Hilary Swank, Ashton Kutcher, Zac Efron, and countless others- including poor Robert De Niro, who seems hell-bent on destroying his legacy. It's not so much bad as it is evil...

TWIXT

Francis Ford Coppola's new film, a self-financed pet-project that's a homage to the type of film he used to direct when he worked for Roger Corman. I suppose Coppola forgot that DEMENTIA 13 was, ya know, bad- and sure enough, TWIXT is his worst film since that. It's amazing to me that the same man who directed APOCALYPSE NOW, and THE GODFATHER also directed TWIXT. One of the most miserable film-going experiences of the year.

PASSION PLAY

Yes folks, PASSION PLAY tops my worst-of list for the second year in a row. I guess I'm cheating a bit, but it only got it's official release back in May, so technically it's a 2011 release. What else can I say about this “movie” that hasn't already been said? I stand by my opinion that Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and Bill Murray should have pooled their cash, bought the negative, and burned it. Truly one of the worst films ever made.

But enough of the crap! Here are what I consider to be the ten best films of 2011.

#10 - Senna

Can somebody tell me how SENNA didn’t get on to the Oscar shortlist for best documentary? Perhaps the reason is that, in a departure for a genre that’s grown increasingly driven by advocacy, SENNA strives only to entertain, telling the fiercely dramatic story of Ayrton Senna. I have next to no interest in Formula 1 as a sport, but I still found SENNA a riveting watch. It charts Senna’s rise through the ranks of F1 to his tragic demise in 1994 (a year which was the deadliest in F1 history) and through the 100 minute run time we share in his joys, his triumphs, his setbacks and more. If anything, SENNA also proves that sometimes, a man truly is worthy of his legend.

#9 - Take Shelter

TAKE SHELTER proves once again that Michael Shannon is one of the most exciting actors to emerge in the last decade. Reteaming him with his SHOTGUN STORIES (great film) director, Jeff Nichols, it’s the story of a man tormented by apocalyptic visions. Throughout, we’re never quite sure whether he’s crazy or not, but Shannon plays him in a way that always draws our sympathy. Playing his wife, Jessica Chastain, who emerged as a real breakout star this year, makes you believe the hype that’s touting her as the next big thing.

#8 - Martha Marcy May Marlene

Walking into the Sundance screening of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE I hadn’t the faintest idea what to expect. I knew nothing about the film other than the fact that John Hawkes had a role, and that was enough for me. I was rewarded with a fantastically haunting story of a young woman (Elizabeth Olson in a star-making performance) on the run from a cult- run by Hawkes, in a turn that’s simultaneously scary AND charismatic. An absolutely amazing film and one that more people need to check out.

#7 - Hanna

HANNA was one of the sleeper hits of the early part the year, and back then, I predicted that it would end up on my top 10. Sure enough, here it is! HANNA really could have been awful, with the whole teenage assassin shtick being pretty dopey, but luckily a smart script, great performances by Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchette, and (especially) Eric Bana- coupled with taut direction from Joe Wright, made this an art house-action mash up that surprised a lot of people. Expect Joe Wright to eventually become a hot property as an action director (assuming he goes down that route). Also, The Chemical Brothers soundtrack NEEDS to be recognized.

#6 - Kill List

It’s not really fair for me to put KILL LIST on the Top 10, as it still hasn’t gotten a release in North America yet (it hits VOD the first week of January). Nevertheless, it did come out everywhere else, and I thought Ben Wheatley’s KILL LIST (a follow-up to his great DOWN TERRACE) is one of the most effective and unsettling horror films in the last few years. More than that, I also appreciated the more low-key aspects of KILL LIST, specifically the incredible supporting performance by Michael Smiley (who also stole DOWN TERRACE) as one of the more chipper hit men you’re ever likely to see. I love this film, and Wheatley’s quickly turning into one of my favorite directors.

#5 - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It’s so funny seeing TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY come out at the same time as MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- GHOST PROTOCOL, with Le Carré’s dark tale of espionage a far cry from the sight of Tom Cruise dangling from the top of the world’s talent building (which, to be sure, is satisfying in its own way). TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is a film one can easily get lost in, and like many of the films on this list, it demands reflection or repeat viewings. Here’s hoping that Tomas Alfredson and Gary Oldman re-team for SMILEY’S PEOPLE.

#4 - War Horse

WAR HORSE is not for the cynical. It’s an unabashedly sentimental, humanistic film, and like THE ARTIST, it’s very reminiscent of old Hollywood (owing much to the films of John Ford and Lewis Milestone). A great story of war and sacrifice, it’s much more than just “s movie about a horse”, as most have been saying with a smirk. It’s an epic adventure, and perfectly rousing. Spielberg’s best in a long time.

#3 - The Artist

Like I wrote in my review from TIFF, Michel Hazanavicius’ THE ARTIST is not an easy sell. Never mind the fact that it’s in black & white (which I adore), but it’s also SILENT! Nevertheless, THE ARTIST has struck a nerve with audiences, and it’s currently one of the most heavily hyped films to clean-up at the Oscars this year. It’s a beautiful little film, and one which is truly infectious in its love of old-Hollywood. Stars Jean Dujardin (not to mention his pup Uggy), and Bérénice Bejo are wonderful in this story of a fading star and his protégé. A must-see.

#2 - Warrior

WARRIOR should have been a hit. It featured two strong, up and coming young actors (Joel Edgarton & Tom Hardy), took advantage of the massive popularity of MMA, featured an Oscar-worthy performance by Nick Nolte, and happened to be a great film to boot. Sadly, WARRIOR got tapped out at the box office, but hopefully it’ll be rediscovered on Blu-ray/TV/VOD, as it’s a truly excellent piece of work, and the best film of its kind since the original ROCKY.

#1 - Drive

For me, this is a real no-brainer. No other movie has even come close to striking the nerve that Nicolas Winding Refn did with DRIVE. For one thing, it's an old-school action flick that keeps things at a somewhat believable level, and doesn't sacrifice character and emotion for the sake of eye-candy and empty spectacle. It marks the beginning of what I hope will be a long and fruitful collaboration between Refn and star Ryan Gosling. More than any other film on this list, I also think DRIVE will stand the test of time and will go down as a classic.

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+1
10:57PM on 12/29/2011
I know it's your opinion and all, and I respect that, but I had a completely different reaction.

Who would have thought it would be possible to turn a film about two hitmen into such a bore? First it takes forever to get going, then continues its terrible pacing throughout the rest of the film only to stumble into a completely inexplicable ending that felt like the main characters had accidentally strayed into another film. This thing just reeked of really lazy and uninspired writing. I
I know it's your opinion and all, and I respect that, but I had a completely different reaction.

Who would have thought it would be possible to turn a film about two hitmen into such a bore? First it takes forever to get going, then continues its terrible pacing throughout the rest of the film only to stumble into a completely inexplicable ending that felt like the main characters had accidentally strayed into another film. This thing just reeked of really lazy and uninspired writing. I can't believe the new year hasn't even started yet and I already have an entry for the Worst Films of 2012.
Your Reply:



+0
2:50PM on 12/29/2011
Huh, it's a shame 50/50 didn't even get a runner up vote. I thought it was a hell of a lot better than Bridesmaids. Nice list apart from that.
Huh, it's a shame 50/50 didn't even get a runner up vote. I thought it was a hell of a lot better than Bridesmaids. Nice list apart from that.
Your Reply:



+1
9:15PM on 12/28/2011
Finally put together my best and worst films list of 2011. We actually share a few. Here's the full list:

[link]
Finally put together my best and worst films list of 2011. We actually share a few. Here's the full list:

[link]
Your Reply:



6:36PM on 12/27/2011
Definitely the best of 2011.
Definitely the best of 2011.
Your Reply:



6:35PM on 12/27/2011
Now THIS is a spy movie.
Now THIS is a spy movie.
Your Reply:



3:29PM on 12/27/2011
I just don't understand this fascination with Drive. It was watchable but booooooring as hell. I don't think you can call it an action movie. I thought Gosling's character was stale as hell.
I just don't understand this fascination with Drive. It was watchable but booooooring as hell. I don't think you can call it an action movie. I thought Gosling's character was stale as hell.
Your Reply:



1:40PM on 12/27/2011

SO TRUEI agre

I agree with you. I had some of the strongest emotions in cinema, this year, with this film. A real masterpiece, sadly forgotten at the box office, AND BY THE GOLDEN GLOBES (therefore the Oscar, I'm sure!)...
I agree with you. I had some of the strongest emotions in cinema, this year, with this film. A real masterpiece, sadly forgotten at the box office, AND BY THE GOLDEN GLOBES (therefore the Oscar, I'm sure!)...
Your Reply:



12:42PM on 12/27/2011
My fave movie of the year followed by Tin Tin. Oh, and i LOVED contagion
My fave movie of the year followed by Tin Tin. Oh, and i LOVED contagion
Your Reply:



9:35AM on 12/27/2011

Good list

I didn't like Hanna, but good list. My dishonorable mentions would be Ironclad, The Smurfs, The Big Bang, The Speed of Thought, and Barely Legal. My top ten films are:

1. The Artist
2. The Tree of Life
3. Warrior
4. Drive
5. My Week With Marilyn
6. Moneyball
7. Everything Must Go
8. A Better Life
9. Rango
10. Hugo
I didn't like Hanna, but good list. My dishonorable mentions would be Ironclad, The Smurfs, The Big Bang, The Speed of Thought, and Barely Legal. My top ten films are:

1. The Artist
2. The Tree of Life
3. Warrior
4. Drive
5. My Week With Marilyn
6. Moneyball
7. Everything Must Go
8. A Better Life
9. Rango
10. Hugo
Your Reply:



7:58AM on 12/27/2011

"(Drive) doesn't sacrifice character and emotion for the sake of eye-candy and empty spectacle."

Of course it did. Ryan Gosling hardly projected a thing the entire movie, which flattered this hollow "artsiness" that just flooded "Drive". Relishing that a movie's being artsy even when it doesn't apparently contribute to anything but that satisfaction, is a pretty empty satisfaction if you ask me.

And Hanna sucked. I knew what it "was doing" and it still sucked.
Of course it did. Ryan Gosling hardly projected a thing the entire movie, which flattered this hollow "artsiness" that just flooded "Drive". Relishing that a movie's being artsy even when it doesn't apparently contribute to anything but that satisfaction, is a pretty empty satisfaction if you ask me.

And Hanna sucked. I knew what it "was doing" and it still sucked.
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3:12AM on 12/27/2011
Well thank god you did not place Bridesmaid in your top 10 (unlike EW who did WTF?) as I probably would have stopped coming to this site. Top 10s are always fairly iffy anyway & biased & are mostly based on whats popular to like versus the movies an individual actually liked.
Well thank god you did not place Bridesmaid in your top 10 (unlike EW who did WTF?) as I probably would have stopped coming to this site. Top 10s are always fairly iffy anyway & biased & are mostly based on whats popular to like versus the movies an individual actually liked.
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-33
8:40PM on 12/26/2011
I have got to say, Drive is a pile of trash. The only good thing about it is the song Nightcall.
I have got to say, Drive is a pile of trash. The only good thing about it is the song Nightcall.
Your Reply:



7:12PM on 12/26/2011
No Girl with a Dragon Tattoo means this is an incomplete list. Mara was fantastic and it was far better than the Swedish version of the film. Of course, David Fincher is at least 10X the director so that's to be expected.
No Girl with a Dragon Tattoo means this is an incomplete list. Mara was fantastic and it was far better than the Swedish version of the film. Of course, David Fincher is at least 10X the director so that's to be expected.
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6:03PM on 12/26/2011

Solid list...

I'm a big fan of DRIVE too... not my #1 but definitely will be high on my list.
I'm a big fan of DRIVE too... not my #1 but definitely will be high on my list.
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+1
5:51PM on 12/26/2011

You got it right Chris

Drive is pure sugarcoated, headbashing entertainment and establishes Refn as one of the finest stylists working today
JoeChar4321 - you don't speak for EVERYONE. Realize we don't live in a world where we all share your opinion (and thank fuck for that)
Drive is pure sugarcoated, headbashing entertainment and establishes Refn as one of the finest stylists working today
JoeChar4321 - you don't speak for EVERYONE. Realize we don't live in a world where we all share your opinion (and thank fuck for that)
Your Reply:



+7
5:16PM on 12/26/2011

Overrated

Hanna was a piece of pretentious and indulgent movie making that failed to deliver. Promising plot was hampered by far from top-notch acting (both Bana and Blanchett were disapointing) and a score that was too obnoxious for the film's own good. All in all, one of the biggest let downs of the year for me.
Hanna was a piece of pretentious and indulgent movie making that failed to deliver. Promising plot was hampered by far from top-notch acting (both Bana and Blanchett were disapointing) and a score that was too obnoxious for the film's own good. All in all, one of the biggest let downs of the year for me.
Your Reply:



7:06PM on 12/26/2011
Agreed. I thought Hanna was mediocre - at best. I would've replaced Hanna's spot on the list with Shame, a truly great piece of filmmaking.
Agreed. I thought Hanna was mediocre - at best. I would've replaced Hanna's spot on the list with Shame, a truly great piece of filmmaking.
+3
4:46PM on 12/26/2011

no love for Attack The Block?

nice list, where's the love for Attack The Block though?
nice list, where's the love for Attack The Block though?
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4:29PM on 12/26/2011
Haven't seen Warrior yet (Really should) but glad to see Hanna getting some love, that was an amazing film.
Haven't seen Warrior yet (Really should) but glad to see Hanna getting some love, that was an amazing film.
Your Reply:



1:52PM on 12/26/2011
Great list though I still haven't gotten the chance to check out a few of these heavy hitters. It was great to see Hanna on there. One of the best action movies made in the past decade IMO. That and couldn't agree with you more when it comes to Warrior. I, unlike most, didn't get swirled up into the hype that was The Fighter last year. Aside from Christian Bales performance it was very forgettable. Nolte was brilliant in the hotel room scene and Tom Hardy owned the closing minutes looking like
Great list though I still haven't gotten the chance to check out a few of these heavy hitters. It was great to see Hanna on there. One of the best action movies made in the past decade IMO. That and couldn't agree with you more when it comes to Warrior. I, unlike most, didn't get swirled up into the hype that was The Fighter last year. Aside from Christian Bales performance it was very forgettable. Nolte was brilliant in the hotel room scene and Tom Hardy owned the closing minutes looking like a caged feral animal. Great list, looking forward to catching up.
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-24
1:46PM on 12/26/2011
Hanna was easily the best movie of the year - mainstream movie.
Best movie overall and one of the most important work of art obviously was Tree of Life.
And Inception was awful. Very bad direction, just some kind of interesting story (which hasn't nothing to do if it's a well made movie or not)
Hanna was easily the best movie of the year - mainstream movie.
Best movie overall and one of the most important work of art obviously was Tree of Life.
And Inception was awful. Very bad direction, just some kind of interesting story (which hasn't nothing to do if it's a well made movie or not)
Your Reply:



4:28PM on 12/26/2011
You do know Inception came out last year and it's not even mentioned in this list.
You do know Inception came out last year and it's not even mentioned in this list.
1:01PM on 12/26/2011
Excellent choice. In my top 10 as well. Really underrated film: Wright plays with form and fairy tales in a really unique and interesting way. The film is really unlike anything else: it's demented, over-the-top, and kind of amazing.
Excellent choice. In my top 10 as well. Really underrated film: Wright plays with form and fairy tales in a really unique and interesting way. The film is really unlike anything else: it's demented, over-the-top, and kind of amazing.
Your Reply:



12:50PM on 12/26/2011
Hanna wasn't very good at all and Drive has officially hit the top of the over-hyped and overrated level of the year. It's the popular pick to seem like a top critic but it simply is not as good as everyone is pretending. Sometimes, hype carries a film and it plays tricks with people's minds. Well adjusted film fans will NOT cave to hype and anyone listing Drive at #1 has weak sensibilities.
Hanna wasn't very good at all and Drive has officially hit the top of the over-hyped and overrated level of the year. It's the popular pick to seem like a top critic but it simply is not as good as everyone is pretending. Sometimes, hype carries a film and it plays tricks with people's minds. Well adjusted film fans will NOT cave to hype and anyone listing Drive at #1 has weak sensibilities.
Your Reply:



7:52AM on 12/27/2011
@The Arrow: He might have over-generalized about the approving audience, but if you think the hype that saturated the web community you moderate had "NOTHING" to do with your reception, you're either crazy or way too removed from joblo.com - which frankly doesn't seem to be the case when you clumsily try and slice into a comment like this. Char4321 was a bit unfair, but at least he offered something interesting to read.
@The Arrow: He might have over-generalized about the approving audience, but if you think the hype that saturated the web community you moderate had "NOTHING" to do with your reception, you're either crazy or way too removed from joblo.com - which frankly doesn't seem to be the case when you clumsily try and slice into a comment like this. Char4321 was a bit unfair, but at least he offered something interesting to read.
2:59PM on 12/26/2011
That's a pretty interesting theory.. Is interesting the right word?
That's a pretty interesting theory.. Is interesting the right word?
1:42PM on 12/26/2011
Hype? Pretending? LMAO! Ever think that peeps like the film cause they think it's that good! But no... you think it's overhyped hence everybody else is following hype or PRETENDING to like it. I loved Drive and it had NOTHING to do with hype and I got better things to do THAN pretend to like a film cause it's popular. We're all individuals with our own individual tastes... makes more sense to me than your arrogant rational...

Hype? Pretending? LMAO! Ever think that peeps like the film cause they think it's that good! But no... you think it's overhyped hence everybody else is following hype or PRETENDING to like it. I loved Drive and it had NOTHING to do with hype and I got better things to do THAN pretend to like a film cause it's popular. We're all individuals with our own individual tastes... makes more sense to me than your arrogant rational...

12:43PM on 12/26/2011
I must 100% disagree (respectfully) with you on this film. The direction was ok (a few nice flourishes,but is too safe a lot of the time), and Ronan does give one of the best performances of the year, but the script is awful. Hanna as a character, is an awful person, and impossible to root for. Blanchett's accent was quite distracting, and for a lot of the fight scenes, geography was non-existent.
I must 100% disagree (respectfully) with you on this film. The direction was ok (a few nice flourishes,but is too safe a lot of the time), and Ronan does give one of the best performances of the year, but the script is awful. Hanna as a character, is an awful person, and impossible to root for. Blanchett's accent was quite distracting, and for a lot of the fight scenes, geography was non-existent.
Your Reply:



12:42PM on 12/26/2011
Overall, a very good list, but I do disagree with some choices on there.
Overall, a very good list, but I do disagree with some choices on there.
Your Reply:



12:07PM on 12/26/2011

Love this movie...

Glad to see it on the list, deserves more attention.
Glad to see it on the list, deserves more attention.
Your Reply:



12:03PM on 12/26/2011
It's great to finally see Warrior get the recognition it rightfully deserves, as to me it was the best movie of the year. I loved Drive as well so the top of your list was exceptional IMO of course. Haven't many others of the ones on your list, but I'll have to check them out. Great job.
It's great to finally see Warrior get the recognition it rightfully deserves, as to me it was the best movie of the year. I loved Drive as well so the top of your list was exceptional IMO of course. Haven't many others of the ones on your list, but I'll have to check them out. Great job.
Your Reply:



9:43AM on 12/26/2011
Im so glad to see Hanna on this list it is a fantastic film. Great to see Warrior and Drive at the top of the list I agree!!
Im so glad to see Hanna on this list it is a fantastic film. Great to see Warrior and Drive at the top of the list I agree!!
Your Reply:



9:23AM on 12/26/2011
I've seen some, but not all of the movies on your list. I completely agree with your top two and I look forward to seeing the rest.
I've seen some, but not all of the movies on your list. I completely agree with your top two and I look forward to seeing the rest.
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