Like the other lists, each member of the TYF staff came up with their own Top 10. I made a point system according to the films’ rankings and below are the results. As you can see, there are many ties. But really, all these movies are great and belong on the list somewhere. There are ton of great movies that missed the list but that doesn’t make them less great. So without further ado, here’s TheYoungFolks.com’s Best Movies of 2011.
Let’s start with Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): My Week with Marilyn | Super 8 | Bridesmaids | Moneyball | The Descendants | Larry Crowne | Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon | Insidious | Dream House | 50/50 | Young Adult | The Muppets
Now on with the Top 10!
10. Tie: Like Crazy | Hugo
Like Crazy is a love story that rings distinctively true. The movie really steers away from the notion that love is this “impenetrable” thing that we see in other romantic “happily ever after” movies. When it comes to reality, yes, love can be all-consuming, but can it be broken down? Sadly yes. That’s what makes this movie so great. It delves into the relationship between these two imperfect people and tells their story in a very real way.
Hugo is quite the opposite. It’s a spectacular journey and lesson on the history of film. It’s magicial and sweeping and impeccably filmed by Martin Scorsese. It’s impossible to not be dazzled by this film. Scorsese has shown us how 3D is supposed to be, and I’m totally a believer now. Masked as a children’s film, it’s truly Scorsese’s love letter to cinema.
9. The Artist
Whether you think it’s purely a gimmick or not, The Artist is a great time at the movies. This black and white silent film has been the talk of Hollywood since Cannes, and I can see why. In this day and age, it’s surprising how entertained I was by a movie like The Artist. The story balances between comedy and melodrama, it’s well-acted, well-directed, and the music is wonderful. It might be getting a lot more praise because of how different it is, but who cares? I saw this movie twice and left the theater with a smile on my face and an urge to tap dance.
8. Tie: The Tree of Life | Shame | Source Code
The Tree of Life is a gorgeous movie. Despite my jokes that it makes a wonderful screensaver, Terrence Malick’s latest film is quite a wonder. The film delves into the memories of one man’s childhood. But before that, we get to see how the Earth is created (Oh hi, dinosaurs!). The movie moves like a memory. There’s sparse dialogue, and we’re swept from scene to scene with beautiful imagery and music. It’s definitely a movie that you experience more than watch.
Shame is one of the most intense movies I’ve ever seen. Steve McQueen gives us a look into the life of a man dealing with sex addiction. Its NC-17 rating may be a turn-off for some (or a turn-on for others), but it’s just an impeccably crafted film led by the amazing Michael Fassbender. Fassbender is excruciatingly good as the lead and his chemistry with co-star, Carey Mulligan, is spot-on. Mulligan is phenomenal as Fassbender’s sister. This is a new kind of role for her; it’s daring and she nails it. A must-see during awards season.
Source Code is one of the best sci-fi thrillers of the year. Director Duncan Jones put together an interesting concept and set it at a breathtaking pace. What I loved was how complex the entire concept of the source code was. But the writer and Jones simplified it enough for us to understand it, while not dumbing it down too much where I feel insulted or question the sophistication of the program. In fact, months later I’m still thinking about how it works if implemented in my own life.
7. Tie: Crazy Stupid Love | Midnight in Paris
Crazy, Stupid, Love is a great romantic dramedy. I refrain from calling it a complete rom-com because it isn’t all laughs. It contains some dramatic and touching moments. But don’t worry, there are many laughs. Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell are a hilarious duo; essentially the best part of this film is watching them. The dialogue is funny and well-executed. Gosling knows how to deliver a line or make a funny moment even funnier. Overall, it’s a pretty delightful film with hilarious and heartfelt twists.
Many months later, and I’m still in love with Midnight in Paris. The movie is just as mystifiying as the city it’s set in. Midnight in Paris is a magical piece of film and transports you to place you’ll never expect. I still avoid writing spoilers about it because quite a few people haven’t seen it yet. Trust me; the best way to see this movie is spoiler-free and preferably right away because it’s on DVD now so there are NO MORE EXCUSES to wait.
6. Tie: Our Idiot Brother | Captain America | Limitless
Our Idiot Brother is one of the best movies of the summer. That reason of course, is simply Paul Rudd. Rudd’s Ned is the most loveable character in recent film history to me. The standout proponent being that he is easily the most realistic loveable boob opting to stray away from the clichés of that archetype. You see while he can be uncomfortably stupid in his actions, he has a clear moral purpose behind every move he makes. Rudd made sure to show that Ned wasn’t a mindless nice machine, but a guy who given the choice between trusting someone or the opposite, will MOSTLY choose to trust them. This more human touch on an otherwise tired movie stereotype leads to a few scenes that are so good I feel it would be spoiling them to talk further, but trust that there are some gems.
Captain America is gritty take on the iconic superhero’s start. In my opinion, it’s Chris Evans’ best work to date. He completely embodies everything that Captain America is supposed to be. The story is evenly paced and well-told. The supporting cast is great. I loved Tommy Lee Jones and Hayley Atwell so much in this flick. Also, that ending, while expected, was unexpectedly touching and great. Even though I was starving for food while watching this at Comic Con, I was able to appreciate that brilliant moment, as well as several others throughout the film.
Limitless is like one big ride. From the opening credits, you see how the director stylized this movie. It’s like you’re zooming through New York City. It’s really cool to look at, and he does it throughout the movie to show you how it may feel and look to be on the drug. It’s effective. It almost gave me the same adrenaline rush Bradley Cooper’s character was feeling. There are many cool and fascinating elements about the movie. Cooper is great as the lead, and definitely a reason to watch this film.
Without a doubt, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the biggest surprise of the year. I saw the trailer and the Comic Con panel and still wasn’t interested in seeing this movie. Well, I gave it a chance and it was phenomenal. James Franco, John Lithgow, Frieda Pinto, Brian Cox and Tom Felton star in this film. But you know what? Who cares about them! This movie is all about the apes, especially Caesar. From the very first moment you meet Caesar, it’s hard not to fall in love with him. Watching him grow up makes you even more attached to him. Andy Serkis play Caesar through performance-capture. Serkis is the king of performance-capture. He’s brilliant at it, and he really portrays Caesar perfectly. I don’t think anyone else could’ve have done as well as him. This is the first Apes movie to consider substance over style, and that’s why it is such a winner.
4. The Help
The Help is movie that can move you to tears and make your laugh all at the same time. The Help is great story acted out by phenomenal actresses. The performances are what really make up the heart of this film. Viola Davis stuns you with emotional depth, and Octavia Spencer is both funny and sincere. I loved Jessica Chastain as Celia, the out-casted housewife. This movie really sold me on Chastain as an actress. The rest of the cast is great and director Tate Taylor knows how to direct all these women. The Help is more than a chick flick; it’s a great human story.
I love X-Men and when I heard they were doing an origin story of Professor X and Magneto, I was super excited. The film didn’t let me down one bit. The script was magnificient. The story and dialogue went hand-and-hand. It really showed us the early bond between these mutants and why they became the people they are. Part of the reason this all came across so well was because of the brilliant cast. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender had pitch-perfect onscreen chemistry. Those two were just too good, and they were supported by an excellent cast that included Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne and many more. X-Men: First Class goes down in history as one of the best superhero films ever.
I bet you’re surprised that it’s not at Number 1 with how much we talk about this film at TYF. Well, it does covet the great Number 2 spot. David Fincher re-adapted the first book of The Millennium series for American audiences and offered us a spectacular piece of filmmaking. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is intense and outstandingly filmed and acted. Rooney Mara is the next big thing. Her portrayal of Lisbeth was on the money. She managed to give us a new portrayal of Lisbeth (very different from Noomi Rapace’s) and show a new kind of vulnerability in the character that I hadn’t seen before. On top of that, Fincher crafts this murder mystery well, staying very true to the book’s story and essence. I expected to be wowed, but not this wowed. Hats off to Mr. David Fincher!
Are you ready to see what topped our Best Movies of 2011 list?
And *drumroll* please!
Number 1 is… a tie!
As Lucy says, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was good, but Drive was an experience!” That pretty much sums it up. There are so many things to love about Drive. The storyline is gritty but the director somehow makes it beautiful and heroic. There are so many beautiful and harmonious shots in this film. It’s so aesthetically pleasing, and at the same time it’s packed with meaning and tension. He moves swiftly from soft to harsh moments, while still retaining the same amount of intensity. That elevator scene will most likely become one of the most memorable movie moments of all time. The acting is just phenomenal! One of Ryan Gosling’s best performances ever. Carey Mulligan brings a lot of poise and sweetness to her character. Any doubts about whether Albert Brooks can play a villain are thrown out the window immediately after watching this movie. Brooks plays ruthless and unpredictable to a T. All the wonderful filmmaking and acting makes Drive great. But the music takes it to another level. The music is unexpected. It’s this 80’s sounding electronica. It gave the film an even more unique vibe. It complimented the film so well. It heightened your emotions, added more depth to the characters and scenes. It did everything that music is supposed to do in film and did it perfectly. Drive was more than a joy ride; it was a cinematic experience that we’ll never forget.
Where can I even start when it comes to Harry Potter? If I’m being truly honest, I must say that for me it started over 10 years. I was 12 years old and went to the theater to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I can’t even put into proper words how much that moment changed my life. The end to such an epic journey has come and passed. And it was lovely. The final installment of Harry Potter is a great conclusion to such an epic series. Deathly Hallows Part 2 hits us with every moment we were hoping or dreading for in a spectacular fashion. I still can’t get the Prince’s Tale sequence out of my head; one of the most unforgettable moments in recent cinematic history, especially for Potter fans. It’s the type of spectacle that we hadn’t seen in a Potter film yet. It’s fast-paced, thrilling, and heart-rending. It knocked me off my feet, even though I already knew what was coming. That mostly had to do with the performances. The cast’s performances are exceptional and the best we’ve seen from the trio yet. The real scene-stealers are Professor McGonagall played by Maggie Smith, Neville Longbottom played by Matthew Lewis, and of course Severus Snape played by Alan Rickman. They made the audience laugh, cheer and cry. Oh yes, crying. Lots and lots of crying, but it’s all worth it especially for a film and ending like this.