Top Ten Lists

A fair rundown, I think of the year’s best from Brian D. Johnson.

1. The Tree of Life. With Avatar-scale ambition, Terrence Malick takes ’50s nostalgia all the way back to the Big Bang. Grounded in intense performances by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, this boy’s-eye view of Paradise Lost is ecstatic, evocative and sobering. It restores faith in cinema’s power to enlarge the moment and touch the divine.

2.The Descendants. Surfing tears of laughter and grief, Alexander Payne finds the perfect wave. Giddy melancholy! George Clooney is a shambling cuckold with a wife in a coma, two unruly daughters, and a family land deal to finesse. Watching him try to keep his balance is a treat, as Payne does for Hawaii what he did for pinot noir in Sideways.

3. A Separation. Asghar Farhadi’s drama about feuding spouses, an elder with Alzheimer’s and a skittish caregiver is a narrative marvel, mined with a covert critique of Iran’s patriarchy. It’s a miracle it even got made.

4. Moneyball. The odd-couple act of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill has the crack timing of a double play. Baseball nuts adored this true story of a game-changing underdog, but it’s even better when you don’t know how it ends.

5. The Artist. Finally, a French movie that doesn’t need subtitles. Silent and black-and-white, it’s the year’s most unlikely crowd-pleaser—a clever, charming romcom about star-crossed stars at the dawn of talkies.

6. Melancholia. Depression weds apocalypse at the end of the world. Lars von Trier’s images are full of aching beauty, as Charlotte Gainsbourg bares raw emotion and Kirsten Dunst plays Truth or Dare with the camera.

7. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Nordic noir redux, deluxe edition. David Fincher upgrades the Swedish novel—and film—in a fluid feat of procedural spit and polish. Daniel Craig lets Rooney Mara lead in note-perfect tango.

8. Drive. Ryan Gosling is the silent, smouldering samurai—a getaway driver who hotwires the moll next door (Carey Mulligan). Firing narcotic suspense with bursts of psychotic violence, Nicolas Winding Refn navigates L.A. noir with a neo-Tarantino road map.

9. Margin Call. Of various movies that tried to occupy Wall Street (In TimeTower Heist), J.C. Chandor’s first feature, about an investment bank shooting the falls of the financial crisis, hit the mark. Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons lead a great ensemble cast.

10. Hugo. A Scorsese kids’ flick sounds like a cruel joke. But using 3D magic to restore the lost films of Georges Méliès, Hugo pulls a cinephile rabbit from a Hollywood hat.

11. War Horse. Spielberg’s saga of a steed being dragged through the mud of the Great War is old-time spectacle at its finest. Though lavishly sentimental, it may be the best movie ever made about a horse.

1. Drive
2. The Artist
3. Contagion
4. The Tree of Life
5. The Descendants
6. Young Adult
7. Source Code
8. Moneyball
9. The Beaver
10. Hugo
11. 50/50

(Thanks to Alia)


Great list from Tom Brook:

10 Rise of the Planet of The Apes
9   Margin Call
8   Tree of Life
7   Beginners
6   War Horse
5   Moneyball
4   Hugo
3   The Artist
2   The Descendants
1   We Need to Talk About Kevin

Some unfamiliar choices so I’m including abbreviated descriptions. Read Hoberman’s full explanation at The Village Voice.

Consummate classical filmmaking, A Dangerous Method has an exaggerated Masterpiece Theatre patina that is regularly fissured by geysers of desire (as well as dreams and ideas) and ultimately blown away as Spielrein, Freud, and Jung meet their respective fates.

…We are all ultimately alone, and yet this thrillingly sad, beautiful movie dares to imagine (and insists we do as well) the one event that might bring us all together.

… cuts its own Gordian knot to wrap with a magnificent, looping closer that metaphorically conflates the end of literature, theater, and cinema. The nothingness is Olympian.

Ionesco meets Jim Thompson: This murder mystery, shot vérité-style, is less a psychological case study than a philosophical treatise…

…Jacobs’s incantatory, hallucinated, apocalyptic screed is a deeply troubling combination of stunning abstract imagery and enraged political analysis.

Continue reading…

Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

1. The Tree of Life
2. Hugo
3. Take Shelter
4. Win Win
5. Warrior
6. Senna
7. The Descendants
8. Hanna
9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love

Hartlaub says:

“The most enduring performance of the year was Andy Serkis in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”: I’m going to take a (possibly deserved) beating for this, but I think Serkis’ work in “Apes” (he was also Gollum in “Lord of the Rings” and King Kong in Peter Jackson’s “King Kong”) will be looked at in 50 years not unlike we look at Charlie Chaplin now. His motion capture work is pioneering, and “Apes” was his best performance to date.”

(11-20 after the cut)

Continue reading…

He lists them alphabetically – but we have to assume that The Artist is his number one choice:

“The Artist.” A black-and-white silent movie that creates the most modern kind of witty and entertaining fun.
“City of Life and Death.” A Chinese film about World War II’s Rape of Nanking that is strong enough to change your life, if you can bear to watch it at all.

“Like Crazy.” Director Drake Doremus and his cast bring compelling intimacy and heart-stopping delicacy to the push and pull of love, longing and regret

“Midnight in Paris.” When Woody Allen is funny, attention must be paid.

“Of Gods and Men” and “Poetry.” A pair of films, one French, the other Korean, show how compellingly dramatic moral dilemmas can be.

“A Separation.” An Iranian film unlike any Iranian film you’ve seen before. In theaters Dec. 30 and worth the wait.

Continue reading…




Here is my top ten for 2011. Hopefully, Ryan’s, Beth’s and Craig’s will follow.

Top Ten

1. Hugo
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes/Project Nim
4. Moneyball
5. Shame
6. The Descendants
7. The Artist
8. We Need to Talk About Kevin
9. Margin Call
10. Attack the Block
11. Rampart

12. J. Edgar
13. Drive
14. Tree of Life
15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
16. Poetry
17. Tyrannosaur

The imperfect but worthy:
18. War Horse
19. Contagion
20. Bridesmaids
21. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Continue reading…

(Can’t find this online yet, but it’s in the Dec 23 issue in my snail mail box today.  Thanks to @Arnian)

1. The Tree of Life
2. The Descendents
3. Bridesmaids
4. A Separation
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
6. Beginners
7. Rampart
8. Crazy, Stupid, Love
9. The Trip
10. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Gleiberman’s 5 Worst movies of 2011, after the cut.

Continue reading…

1. Melancholia
2. Bridesmaids
3. The Artist
4. Hugo
5. A Separation
6. The Descendents
7. Pina
8. Moneyball
9. The Interrupters
10. Beginners

Schwarzbaum’s 5 worst films, after the cut.

Continue reading…


The Top 10
1. The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick, U.S.
2. Uncle Boonmee, Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directedy by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/U.K./France/Germany
3. Melancholia, directed by Lars von Trier, Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany
4. A Separation, directed by Asghar Farhadi, Iran
5. A Dangerous Method, directed by David Cronenberg, Canada/Germany
6. Mysteries of Lisbon, directed by Raúl Ruiz, France/Portugal
7. Certified Copy, directed by Abbas Kiarostami, France/Italy/Belgium
8. Meek’s Cutoff, directed by Kelly Reichardt, U.S.
9. Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese, U.S.
10. Poetry, directed by Lee Chang-dong, South Korea

The Next 20, after the cut

Continue reading…

Exclusive from the Hollywood Reporter:

“We all fell in love with this movie from the moment we saw it,” MTV News’ Josh Horowitz tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We all love the work of David Fincher, we all were blown away by Rooney Mara, in this amazing performance of this iconic character, and thrilled by the kind of world that David Fincher created.”

“We feel like this is a movie that is the best of what the thriller-crime drama can be,” he added.

1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
2. Drive
3. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2
4. Bridesmaids
5. Hugo
6. X-Men: First Class
7. The Muppets
8. 50/50
9. The Descendents
10. Attack the Block

(Thanks Craig Z!)

1. “A Separation”
It is specifically Iranian, but I believe the more specific a film is about human experience, the more universal it is. On the other hand, movies “for everybody” seem to be for nobody in particular… “A Separation” will become one of those enduring masterpieces watched decades from now.

2. “Shame”
3. “The Tree of Life”
A film of vast ambition and deep humility, attempting no less than to encompass all of existence and view it through the prism of a few infinitesimal lives. Terrence Malick’s film begins with the Big Bang that created our universe, and ends after the characters have left the realm of time. In between, it zooms in on a moment, surrounded by infinity.

4. “Hugo”
In the guise of a delightful 3D family film, Martin Scorsese makes a love letter to the cinema… Without our quite realizing it, Hugo’s changing relationship with the old man becomes the story of the invention of the movies, and the preservation of our film heritage. Could anyone but Scorsese have made this subject to magical and enchanting?

5. “Take Shelter”
6. “Kinyarwanda”
7. “Drive”
The director, Nicolas Winding Refn, peoples his story with characters who bring lifetimes onto the screen–in contrast to the Driver, who brings as little as possible. “Drive” looks like one kind of thriller in the ads, and it is that kind of thriller, but also another and a rebuke to most of the movies it looks like.

8. “Midnight in Paris”
9. “Le Havre”
10. “The Artist”

Continue reading…

I said on Twitter that their lists are like herding cats — kind of all over the place. You could never really say that you could nail down either of them, taste wise. They seem to like all sorts of different films, obscure and mainstream alike.

I couldn’t see them ranked but on their slideshow I grabbed what I could — in alpha order:

AO Scott
Cedar Rapids
The Descendants
A Dangerous Method
The Future
The Help
Le Quattro Volte

Continue reading…

Continually updating its chart as top 10 lists roll in, Metacritic begins to calculate its own year-end rankings with weighted scores.

  • 3 points for each 1st place ranking
  • 2 points for each 2nd place ranking
  • 1 point for being ranked 3rd – 10th, or for being included on an unranked list

Continue reading…

Andrew O’Hehir lists his Top 10 Films at Salon.

1. Poetry
2. Melancholia
3. Take Shelter
Sadly, Michael Shannon’s massive, almost demonic performance as a working-class Ohio man possessed by apocalyptic visions will be overlooked by the Oscars, as will writer-director Jeff Nichols’ terrifying Weather Channel-meets-”The Omen” horror movie. But no other American film released in 2011 captured the desperate national mood the way this low-budget indie did. And don’t miss superb supporting turns from Jessica Chastain and Shea Whigham.

4. Coriolanus
5. Mysteries of Lisbon
If you miss the fancy-dress, densely plotted 19th-century soap operas that European cinema used to do so well, then this one’s for you. In the hands of Raúl Ruiz, a vastly underappreciated Chilean director who’s spent most of his career in France, a legendary Portuguese novel by Camilo Castelo Branco about an orphan’s search for his patrimony becomes a dense and intoxicating weave of nested narratives, after the fashion of Dickens or Balzac.

Continue reading…

1. The Descendants
2. Drive
3. Shame
4. Incendies
5. The Artist
6. Moneyball
7. Margin Call
8. Martha Marcy May Marlene
9. A Separation
10. Young Adult

(via huffpo)

As I watched Nicolas Winding Refn’s measured, explosive film unfold, I kept thinking that it reminded me of movies from the 1970s, something I said in my review. Something a lot of people said.

Continue reading…

Here is Jeff Wells’ list – we plan to talk about our top ten on today’s podcast, as Kris Tapley and Anne Thompson did last week on their Oscar Talk podcast.  Jeff has already let the cat out of the bag, though, but that’s okay – sometimes it helps to write them down and get feedback. I’m currently working on mine too.  I still have to see Young Adult, however.  And this is becoming a major problem for me as there are two strong female strains in that film – writer Diablo Cody and actress Charlize Theron. So I need to fix that asap.  But I’ve been hit with two cold bugs (I sound like Nikki Finke!) one after the other and it’s ravaged my schedule in all ways.  Either which way, here is Jeff’s list:

HE’s 10 Best of 2011 (in this order): Moneyball, A Separation, The Descendants, Miss Bala, Drive, Contagion, Win Win, Tyrannosaur, The Tree of Life, In the Land of Blood and Honey. (10)

Still Not Allowed to Say AnythingExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2)

Special “I Don’t Know Where They Precisely Belong But I Like ‘Em More Than Some Of The Others” Distinction (i.e., Close With Unlit Cigar): Attack The Block, Beginners, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, X-Men First Class, Captain America, Hugo, 50/50, Young Adult, The Artist, Hanna, The Guard, Bridesmaids, Buck, Page One: Inside The NY Times, Rampart. (14)

Read more.


1. The Help
2. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
3. The Tree of Life
4. The Artist
5. Attack the Block
6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
8. The Beaver
9. Pariah
10. Bridesmaids

Worst after the cut.

Continue reading…

Anne Hornaday’s Top 10 films of 2011, from The Washington Post.

1. Meek’s Cutoff
2. The Descendants
3. Moneyball
4. Buck
5. Beginners
6. Take Shelter
7. Nostalgia for the Light
8. The Trip
9. Drive
10. Win Win

The 10th annual list from TIFF (in alphabetical order):

  • Café de flore — Jean-Marc Vallée
  • A Dangerous Method — David Cronenberg
  • Edwin Boyd — Nathan Morlando
  • Hobo With a Shotgun — Jason Eisener
  • Keyhole — Guy Maddin
  • Marécages [Wetlands] — Guy Édoin
  • Monsieur Lazhar — Philippe Falardeau
  • Starbuck — Ken Scott
  • Take This Waltz — Sarah Polley
  • Le Vendeur [The Salesman] — Sébastien Pilote

Sign In


Reset Your Password

Email Newsletter