I have finally got together my top 10 list of movies for the year. This comes from a limited pool of possibilities as I don’t have the ability to see each and every movie even though I wish I could. There are some movies that didn’t make my list that I know are atop most other lists and I wish I could’ve see them and added to my own list. But here is it my top 10 list of 2011.
Rango in my mind is the favorite for the Best Animated Feature award in most award shows this coming up year. The field may be a little slim this year with no stand-out Pixar film but Rango should be able to keep up even with the greatness of Pixar. Directed by Gore Verbranski and starring Johnny Depp, Rango was half homage to westerns and half its own twist to what a typical western is. With westerns dwindling in the movie landscape it’s nice to see that the genre can stick attract audiences and give us some of the better movies of the year.
Moneyball flew under the radar when you look at a large scale view of the movie landscape this year. It’s not getting the press for its performances like The Iron Lady and it isn’t getting script praise like The Descendants. It may not be on their level but it still gave us two phenomenal performances out of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Pitt should get a nod for Best Actor either from this or The Tree of Life and its not out of the question that he could get two because in this movie he plays down to earth and real. His character can be related to which made the very unconventional baseball drama more likable. It should garner some award buzz and should be recognized for being one of the year’s best.
8. War Horse
Steven Spielberg delivers in his return to war as he dives into a brand new subject, World War I. But it is not another Saving Private Ryan, instead it begins with a boy and his horse and the bond that they shared, even if it was short. It then whirlwinds into many different stories that gave glimpses into World War I that were interesting and incredible. It is going to be a darling for the Academy and throughout awards season but the reason this movie got me was its genuine story and the beautiful landscape around it. The John Williams-Spielberg team up helped as well.
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Once director David Fincher made this his next project my interest was peaked. The momentum continued to roll after great reviews as well as award buzz for star Rooney Mara as well as Fincher. This movie did not disappoint giving one of the most gritty and intense thrillers I’ve seen in a long while. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara light up the scene as the two leads while Mara truly steals the show, being both intense and intriguing, keeping the audience and myself on edge once she and Craig came together in the movie. It is not gaining as much praise as probably anticipated but it should still get some major awards buzz and it is easily one of my favorites.
A comedy about cancer is a very tough subject to breach luckily for us this movie does it and does it very well. Joesph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen star in this hilarious dramedy about Gordon-Levitt’s character learning that he has cancer and the journey he takes to trying to rid himself of it. This movie was heartfelt as well as downright hilarious. It was one of the most enjoyable movies that I saw because I left the theatre in love with it. I wish it could do well doing awards season because it honestly deserves at least a nomination. It was funny and sad, it made you smile and it made you cry, and it is more than deserving of a viewing.
5. The Descendants
Director Alexander Payne returned to the director’s chair in this delightfully solemn story of coming together as a family. Awards have already been coming in and they are well deserved as many other reviewers have put this movie at the top of their list. I thoroughly enjoyed this film but I didn’t like it as much as the other four movies above it. George Clooney gives one of his most real performances of his career as a dad trying to reconnect with his two daughters while their mother is in a coma. Clooney and Shailene Woodley (pictured to the left) are the two standout performances of the movie and should garner some awards buzz as well as director Alexander Payne and the script. This movie was like 50/50 in the fact that it was a very serious subject that was taken rather lightly and I applaud that as it makes the movie more enjoyable and almost gives more realism to it rather than a strong serious tone.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The final installment of the Harry Potter saga was spellbinding and mesmerizing. It left me missing the series as well as feeling jubilant that it could end on such an epic note. The entire ensemble put together a finale for the ages led by the fantastic directing of David Yates. Harry and his friend have to fend off Lord Voldemort with Harry trying to find the final horcruxes in order to kill the Dark Lord. Daniel Radcliffe showed how much he has matured as an actor as well as in the character, giving his best performance to date as Harry Potter but the real stars of the show were Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort. Rickman gave a sensational final performance as Snape dealing with a range of emotions his character had not even gotten close to tackling in the previous films. Fiennes gave us one of the greatest movie villains of all-time as he kept me wanting more out of Lord Voldemort. I love this series and loved this movie in particular even more. I hope it will get the recognition it deserves because it really was a great movie and hopefully can get some award recognition.
3. Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen sends his love letter to Paris in this beautifully done film. Starring Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, and many more outstanding actors this latest Allen picture had to be one of his best recent films. Wilson stars as a writer visiting Paris with his fiancee (McAdams) who doesn’t share his nostalgic love for the city. Wilson later happens upon a nifty ride that can land him in 1920s Paris after midnight. The story is delightful and gives that signature quirky humor that you would expect out of Woody Allen while Owen Wilson gives probably one of his best performances. I hope the movie can nab a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars and even if it doesn’t win it deserves the recognition as one of the year’s best thanks to a delightful script, outstanding directing, and a perfect cast of talented actors.
Martin Scorsese goes into the uncharted waters of 3D and family films in this wonderful tribute to the early year’s of cinema. Again going into the city of lights, Paris, Scorsese not only gives one of the most fun movies of the year, he gives a movie with passion and love for the subject it is tackling, cinema. Unknown actor Asa Butterfield stars as an orphan boy living in a Paris train station. He runs the clocks around the station without anyone knowing of his existence. He does catch the eye of a local toy vendor, played masterfully by Sir Ben Kingsley, and his niece, played by Chloe Grace Moretz. In what begins as a story of a boy finding a lost message from his father becomes a tale of redemption and a love for the origins of movies. This movie made number two on my list because of its story and the wonderful job of all involved. The characters were fun and interesting, the cinematography and use of 3D was mesmerizing, the story kept me on the edge of my seat and wanting more, it was near perfection and another notch on the already accomplished Martin Scorsese.
1. The Tree of Life
This movie was incredible. It left me thinking about life, my place in it, as well as what happens after we die and where I fit in in the scheme of the world. That’s how powerful it was. It had my jaw dropped, just taking in all that I could as the vivid and beautiful visuals covered the screen. Director Terrence Malick worked years perfecting this movie and the end result paid off. Brad Pitt stars as Father, the father figure of the child who later grows up to be Sean Penn. Pitt gives easily one of his greatest performances as he plays a father who is trying to not only challenge his son but make him better in the process, or at least try to. The relationship of Pitt and his son is incredible to watch as the two don’t always see eye to eye and Pitt makes it difficult sometimes for the son to find out what he needs to do in order to gain his father’s approval until after awhile maybe his approval is not worth it. It also dives into the afterlife, the creation of the Earth, and the place of humans on Earth. The first 30 minutes of the film is made up of a long montage of gorgeous images of the Earth, space, and the creation of the planet. This all ties into the West Texas family and the upbringing of the young boy into a man. But after that he deals with the challenge of life and what happens after he dies and Sean Penn travels through his mind in order to find the answer to this question. This movie should gain respect as the best of the year and will be my vote once the Oscars roll around.
Please comment or send me input on Twitter and Facebook regarding my list. I want to know if I got it right and what I left out. I hope you enjoy this list and hopefully I’ll enjoy 2012 as much as I did 2011 movie-wise.