Friday, January 27, 2012

Top 25 Best Movies of 2011: Part II (#10-1)


For anyone who may have missed the first part of this list, my picks for #25-11 can be found here: Top 25 Best Movies of 2011: Part I (#25-11)

I now present you with the PART II of my list. Enjoy.





10. MONEYBALL


The manager of a struggling baseball team adopts a budget-conscious stats based recruitment strategy in hopes of propelling his team to success.

The combination of being a sports movie and being based on a true story, not many surprises will be found in this movie, but what Moneyball manages to do is produce as strong of dramatic material as you could ever expect from it. Brad Pitt delivers an excellent lead performance, supported ably by the rest of the cast, but the real highlight is screenwriter duo Sorkin and Zaillain, who provide some of the best-written dialogue of any movie from 2011.





9. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART II


The final battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of the wizarding world.

It's no surprise who is going to win this battle, but it really doesn't matter. The eighth and final chapter of the wildly popular film franchise, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II is the perfect conclusion to an otherwise flawed and uneven series. With the exception of a particularly compelling performance by Alan Rickman, the acting here is nothing special, but watching how beautifully the story wraps up is truly marvelous, and everything the series deserved.





8. MELANCHOLIA


With a mysterious planet on collision course to Earth, two sisters deal with their depression and difficulties coping with the impending doom.

Under the superb direction of Lars Von Trier, Melancholia is equal parts artistic, compelling, and distressing. For days after watching this movie I fell into the strangest form of depression, and I can only attribute it to this incredibly bleak, atmospheric experience. With great performance by Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Kiefer Sutherland, and an ending that really hits you in the gut, few movies are able to have this kind of emotional impact on you.





7. DRIVE


A getaway/stunt driver gets caught up in a staged robbery, leaving him with a bag full of stolen money and a price on his head.

With what is the biggest cult movie of the year, Nicholas Winding Refn manages to blend '80s stylings with an old-fashioned noir presentation, making Drive one of the most unique and brilliant movies for some time. Ryan Gosling's performance as the emotionally absent anti-hero is only matched by Albert Brooks' scene=stealing supporting role. Not as heavy on the action as many viewers wanted and expected, but who cares what they think? They're idiots.





6. 13 ASSASSINS


A group of samurai are hired to kill a lord who will likely incite war upon his eventual rise to power.

Being the sucker for samurai movies that I am, Takashi Miike's Kurosawa-like action epic is a wonderful throwback. Full of brilliantly choreographed fight scenes and a last half that never slows down, 13 Assassins is everything you could possibly hope for an action movie to be. With destructible sets and main characters that can bleed, this is a hyper-stylized yet somehow realistic film not to be missed by fans of Japanese cinema.





5. THE MONK


A highly respected monk finds himself bewitched by a woman who threatens to destroy his faith and lead his from the path of righteousness.

In contention for the most brilliantly shot movie of the year, The Monk is a rare cinematic treat that features compelling performances, visuals, and a great story to back it up. Very reminiscent of Bergman is its use of religious and supernatural elements, this is a movie that has earned my respect and deep admiration. Vincent Cassel, whose performance - as well as the rest of the movie - seems to have gone by unnoticed is tremendous in the leading role, a performance sure to go down as one of the most under-appreciated of recent years.





4. TAKE SHELTER


A man begins experiencing apocalyptic visions and builds a shelter in his yard in attempt to save his family from the upcoming storm.

Jeff Nichols' sophomore directorial effort, Take Shelter is a deeply unsettling psychological drama that will leave you thinking for weeks. My personal choice for the best performance of the year, Michael Shannon's mentally unstable family man is easily one of the most electrifying performances I've seen in some time. To give away how this movie unfolds would be an injustice worthy of prosecution, so I instead will leave this simple message to anyone who hasn't yet seen it: Watch it.





3. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS


A struggling Hollywood screenwriter goes on vacation with his fiance to Paris, where he somehow manages to travel back in time every night at midnight.

As charming as they come, Midnight In Paris is a joyful experience that will leave you grinning all the way through. A great cast and possibly the most entertaining script of the year make this a movie not easily ignored. Woody Allen's best movie for quite some time, and probably the most enjoyable movie I saw from 2011. I genuinely can't find fault in this movie, which even after multiple viewings manages to make me feel genuine happiness for hours afterward.





2. A SEPARATION


A long-married couple separate at the same time the husband finds himself accused of causing his father's caretaker's miscarriage.

Whilst Midnight In Paris may have the most entertaining script of the year, A Separation stands as the best. Morality, desperation, and humility provide the driving force of this film's drama, with great performances by all involved. Very unbiased in its presentation, this movie has no hero or villain, but rather regular people trapped in a difficult situation in which no party involved is completely innocent. Remarkable, truly remarkable.





1. THE ARTIST


A silent film star struggles to change with the times as talkies rise to prominence.

A tremendously delightful experience, The Artist can make you laugh, cry, and left me grinning long after the movie was over. Under Michel Hazanavicius' direction, this silent movie manages to charm you with its innocence and authenticity, reviving the splendor of a bygone era with great poise and respect to the films it was so influenced by. Shot like a silent movie and blissfully self-aware in certain moments, there is little not to love about this wonderful, wonderful movie.

Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo star in two of the most likable leading roles in recent memory, giving vibrant, charismatic and exuberant performances perfectly suited to their parts. The relationship between these two characters is perfectly innocent, which only adds to the consistently charming nature of this film. I find it hard to believe anyone couldn't love this movie -- even if not to the extent that I did -- and these upcoming Oscars if (or when) it wins, I'll be cheering alongside everyone else.



Another year gone, with a new one already a month underway, I find how fast time flies by truly extraordinary. One could say I have wasted countless hours with this movie-watching hobby of mine, but I must disagree. Sometimes the movies I watch are the only thing that can make me feel the joy, sadness, and inspiration that makes life worthwhile. Film is an art form capable of evoking genuine emotional responses, and don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise. So I can only thank the countless filmmakers whose work has touched my life, as many of these movies have, and wish for many more years as good as this last one. And I thank you for sticking with me this long, your patience is greatly appreciated.

I hope you all enjoyed my list, and please feel free to share your opinions on the various movies you felt did/didn't deserve to be placed on this list, I'd love to hear from you. Thank you for reading.
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