I must confess, I have no idea what the "best" movies in 2011 are. When I see a 10 best from a master critic like Roger Ebert, I am intimidated. There are some eclectic and highbrow movies on his list. What reveals itself about me when I read his list are these 4 things:
1. I don't see all of the movies that the critics do. I am a child of my local 14-cinemaplex. I see mostly what comes there, and not all of the "great" ones did. I'm still waiting to see "Tree of Life", for example, which shows up on many of the critics' lists.
2. I judge a film by that film and not by who the director is and what his or her history is. For example, I did track down Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia" after Ebert's excellent blog entry about the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. I don't know anything about Von Trier, and I didn't care for this film. It's beautifully shot, yes. Great actors yes. But, I wasn't moved much by the portrayal of family disfunction in a looming disaster. You call that disfunction? Please. It's not on my list of my 10 favorites.
3. My film horizon is broadened by seeing better films at film festivals, specifically EbertFest 2011. My 3 favorite films that I saw in 2011 were not technically released in 2011, but I saw them first at EbertFest. Those three films, all reviewed in my posts from EbertFest are:
A Small Act
4. Finally, I have decidedly low-brow taste and am out-of-sync with critics, and I am fine with that.
I enjoyed movies that critics hated, like "The Hangover 2". They thought it too deriviative of the first. I thought it clever to pull off that inventive plot twice. Same with "New Year's Eve". How can you not like Garry Marshall's directing of a sweet movie with multiple interweaving plots? Not debauched enough, I guess.
Speaking of debauched, the last movie I saw in 2011 was tonight, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". How can none of the reviews mention the graphic debauchery of rape and torture and just talk about whether they like the Swedish or American version better? Or, how can they not notice that the villian in "Super 8" was the U.S. Air Force? I was offended, as an Air Force veteran. Critics were not. They were just enthralled with the Speilberg homage.
I am out of sync with critics. No doubt.
Given all that, here are my 10 favorite movies from 2011 - in the order that they were released, except for my favorite movie at the end:
- Country Strong: Same plot and ending as "Black Swan", but with good music
- The Adjustment Bureau
- Red Riding Hood: Gorgeous photography and Amanda Seyfried's big eyes.
- Sucker Punch: Wow. A visual knockout.
- Larry Crowne: a sweet movie about midlife growth, and an uplifting message about teachers. (Compared with the raunchfest "Bad Teacher", which critics liked better and which debauches role models.)
- Horrible Bosses:: Funny, funny, funny.
- Friends With Benefits: Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry. Timberlake and Kunis owned the screen.
- The Debt: Suspenseful and meaningful.
- In Time: Clever concept. Time is money. Seyfried and Timberlake again captivating me.
- Hugo: The best of the year by far. Wholesome. Beautiful. Uplifting. Visually stunning. I kept saying under my breath "Oh wow." That seals it for me.
Those are my 10 favorite films released in 2011. My tastes. Worth my entertainment dollars.
Honorable mentions to Drive Angry, Hall Pass, Hangover 2, and Mars Needs Moms.
We'll see what 2012 brings in cinema. I have my EbertFest pass alreay purchased, and my favorite seat on the aisle at the 14-plex picked out. Turn out the lights, and let's start watching.