PopcornBiz's Scott Ross, Scott Huver and Sasha Perl-Raver saw a couple hundred movies this year. Most were bad to mediocre, several were very good and a few were truly great. Here are our picks for the very best of 2011.
PopcornBiz's resident critics Scott Ross, Scott Huver and Sasha Perl-Raver saw a couple hundred movies this year. Click through to get their picks for the very best films of 2011.
Shame: It would be cliché to say that star Michael Fassbender exposed himself both physically and emotionally, but there’s no other way to express how he laid himself bare playing a sex-addicted New York City yuppie in writer-director Steve McQueen’s ruthless portrayal of a man without restraint.
Bellflower: An out-of-nowhere gem from writer-director-star-cinematographer (hell, he even built the cameras) Evan Glodell, the year’s most personal film was a bullet through the brain that improbably blended male angst and “Mad Max” rage to take the boy-meets-girl story to new depths.
The Muppets: Starring a host of long-dormant cultural icons, a perfect romantic coupling in Jason Segel and Amy Adams, and featuring a brilliant collection of songs from Bret McKenzie, no film inspired more pure joy.
The Descendants: Director Alexander Payne’s deft examination of a man (George Clooney, in an differently charming turn) grappling with his family history – both immediate and in terms of legacy – in the face of his unfaithful, comatose wife’s imminent death is alternately mournful and hopeful, aching and absurd.
Attack the Block: A near-perfect piece of genre filmmaking from director Joe Cornish in his feature-film debut, about a group of teens from a London housing project who beat back an alien invasion. No film in recent memory looked more like a comic book come to life, and star John Boyega proved he is a leading man in the making.
The Artist: A love letter to the glorious era of silent film, as well as an acknowledgment that even art must evolve and move forward, all draped in a bittersweet love story driven by two amazing performances, from the rubber-faced Jean Dujardin and the radiant Berenice Bejo.
Sony Pictures Classics
Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen delivered his best film in 20 years, a hilarious and sweet bit of magical realism that gently but firmly told all of his fans to get over his past and embrace their own present. And Allen perfectly captured the loveable ridiculousness of such giants as Hemingway, Dali, Fitzgerald and Toulouse-Lautrec, and the film had the funniest final scene of 2011.
Warrior: Even those who love Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte had to snicker a bit at the idea of a film about two estranged brothers, sons of a drunk, on a collision course in the finals of a mixed-martial arts tourney with a top prize of $5 million. But Gavin O’Connor (“Miracle”) proved again that he understands the rhythm and inherent drama of sport better than any other director working today.
� Jack English
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Who knew a bunch of middle-aged Englishmen talking about each other in hushed tones could be so gripping? Gary Oldman went against type as George Smiley, a disgraced spy brought back to root out a mole at the very top of British intelligence. A master class in minimalist storytelling, featuring a cast—Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, John Hurt, etc...—that made it look deceptively easy.
Drive: The Year of Ryan Gosling reached its zenith with this art-house superhero tale about a post-modern Man With No Name who does one thing well - drive - and lives by a strict code. Director Nicholas Winding Refn’s film was gorgeous to look at, and he and Gosling infused the film with a Newman-esque cool. Join the backlash against the backlash—this is a great film.