I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a top ten or take the easy road and do a top six or seven as this year delivered more “good” than “great”. So I had to take a look at the films on my list and one of my specific qualifiers for making my top ten, which is each film must be a feature I would want to watch more than once, and preferably three, four, five times and then some.
As I went through the several films I considered, nine of my top ten I’ve already watched twice if not more than that and would just as easily watch any of them again. So I bit the bullet and went for ten, but it wasn’t easy.
Before I get into that final list of ten, several, obviously, didn’t make the cut, but I want to look at a few from the year that I will always be able to look back on and remember as they offered me some enjoyment at one point or another. I’ll try and be brief, but I think it’s important to give each a fair shake. The question is, where do I begin?
I guess I’ll begin with a few films that delivered some cheap thrills such as Scream 4 and Paranormal Activity 3? Then there are the low budget horror-comedy features Attack the Block and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
50/50 was funny, sad and memorable as was Win Win. Beginners brought us a dog with subtitles and The Artist brought us a dog that was silent. Carnage showed us what happens when civility goes out the window. The Skin I Live In was either darkly comic or darkly terrible depending on your interpretation. I prefer the former, though I’m sure some would argue the latter.
I was intrigued by the exploration of a potential Shakespeare conspiracy in Anonymous and disappointed with how much it bothered some people. Rise of the Planet of the Apes gets better with each viewing and I still haven’t had the urge to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 again, though I did enjoy the final installment in the hugely successful and entertaining franchise.
I never got around to reviewing 13 Assassins or Bullhead though both were very entertaining, and I considered Rango for a second, but after watching it twice it fell short, and yet it remains the best animated feature I saw all year.
Undefeated was the best documentary I saw all year and both Margin Call and Pariah were battling for spots in the bottom of my top ten along with Rampart, Shame, The Descendants, Young Adult, The Ides of March, A Separation and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Of that last bunch The Ides of March and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were hard to leave out. Ides I recently watched again and enjoyed it more than I did the first time, while a second viewing of Dragon Tattoo confirmed how I felt with my review, Rooney Mara is excellent, but the part of the story not centered on Lisbeth really needs work to be entirely compelling.
And with that the outliers are complete. There are other good films I could mention but these are the films I felt best represented what I took away from the year.
Yes, 2011 was the year we finally saw The Tree of Life, but I haven’t found the urge to watch that film again. I liked it when I saw it on the big screen at Cannes, but haven’t felt the need to revisit it and I’m not sure when I will.
And now we move to the list of ten…
My top ten is made up of the ten films that managed to match quality with originality, surprise, excitement, energy, romance and an overall entertaining narrative.
Do note, however, this isn’t a list of the “best” films of the year. I’m not concerned with trying to get down to the nuts and bolts of what constitutes something as the “best”. All I can speak for is what moves me and leaves me wanting to return to that same world again. The films that resonate for one reason or another beyond my time in the theater. I can safely say these ten films managed just that, some more than others and in wildly different ways on most, if not all, occasions.
Once the dust settled, these were the ten left standing…