Based on the past few years, 2011 was a really good year for movies. There were epic masterpieces by some of Hollywood's biggest and greatest directors (Spielberg released two movies, on top of producing others). There were great action movies (who knew Fast Five would be the best in the franchise so far?). There were scenes that will always be remembered (the dress shop scene in Bridesmaids). And, there were breakout stars (Jessica Chastain co-starred in 7 movies this year). There were movies that were controversial (people walked out of The Tree of Life). There were movies that shouldn't have even been made (um, Jack and Jill?).
Here's a look at the movies I thought were the best of the best this year. The ones that left me thinking. The ones that had me on the edge of my seat. The ones that entertained me. The ones I'll never forget.
(And, for those of you with short attention spans, my reviews of each film are only a sentence or two long...mostly.)
1. THE TREE OF LIFE
Directed by: Terrence Malick
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken
If a movie can be considered a piece of art, this would be the Mona Lisa. Plus, Pitt proved he's more than just a face.
2. THE ARTIST
Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller
Accomplished what most movies can't. Comedy. Drama. Suspense. Love. Oh, and it's a silent film. Classic Hollywood. Definitely worth your time.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen
A fun adventure film which sneakily educates you on the invention of the movies themselves. And, note to Hollywood, this is what 3-D films should look and feel like.
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks
Most under-rated movie of the year. The elevator scene is perfect. Gosling has never been better.
5. LIKE CRAZY
Directed by: Drake Doremus
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence
Most real love story you'll ever see. Plus a perfect soundtrack. And, I'm going to marry Felicity Jones.
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan
Be prepared, this movie is intense. Fassbender gives the performance of the year. Depressing, in a good way.
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard
Cancer can be funny? Yes. Which makes it more real. Based on a true story.
8. WIN WIN
Directed by: Thomas McCarthy
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex Shaffer
Sports movie of the year that isn't really about sports. Human experience at it's core reality.
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Gainsbourg
It's the end of the world. And it's beautiful.
10. SUPER 8
Directed by: J. J. Abrams
Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler
What summer movies are supposed to be like. Spielbergian movie that will be remembered like The Goonies.
EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN