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The Top 10 Best Films of 2011

  • Dec 31, 2011
I can't recall the last time I saw so many good films in one year, especially during the first six months – which, if you know where to look, is not as dead a period as you might think. I present to you now my list of the ten films I feel represent 2011 at its very best. I hope you enjoy it.
A Separation
This Iranian masterpiece from writer/director Asghar Farhadi is in part an intrigue story but more so an intelligent, uncompromising examination of culture.
See the full review, "A Story of Responsibility and Truth".
The Artist
Although it may seem odd to make a black-and-white silent film in 2011, this gloriously old-fashioned melodrama is pure entertainment from start to finish.
See the full review, "Silence is Golden".
The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick's beautiful spiritual drama plays directly on the emotions like a finely orchestrated piece of music.
See the full review, "The Search for a Constant in the Ever-Changing Scenes of Time".
Martin Scorsese's first foray into 3D family filmmaking is not only a beautiful story of friendship, but also a loving and engaging tribute to the history of cinema.
See the full review, "The Mystery of the Mechanical Man".
Johnny Mad Dog
The relentless authenticity of this African children-of-war drama makes it more terrifying than just about any horror movie I can think of.
See the full review, "Children of War in a Story of Failure".
Certified Copy
A surprisingly absorbing romantic drama that challenges the audience by encouraging debate over what is an "original" and what is a "copy."
See the full review, "Reality is Perception, but Every Opinion Counts".
A heartbreaking but highly compelling drama about how the aftermath of a rape can actually be more traumatizing than the rape itself.
See the full review, "Rape Isn't Always as Traumatic as Its Aftermath".
Michael Fassbender gives a devastating performance in Steve McQueen's unflinching portrait of a sex addict and his wayward sister.
See the full review, "Portrait of a Sex Addict".
Bill Cunningham New York
The legendary New York Times fashion photographer becomes the subject of a fascinating, illuminating, and often funny documentary.
See the full review, "Portrait of a Happy Man".
Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen's latest is not only a delightful and funny time-travel fantasy, it's also a smart and often touching examination of misdirected nostalgia.
See the full review, "I'm Feeling Nostalgic".

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January 12, 2012
You know what? I haven't seen a single film on this list....where have I been? Well, thanks for creating it so I can rent them!
January 12, 2012
Really? Not even Midnight in Paris or Hugo, both of which were in wide release? My goodness, you really do have some catching up to do.
January 12, 2012
Nope! Really! I definitely need a couple stormy weekends so I can stockpile this list lol
January 01, 2012
Most of the movies here I've missed due to the fact that they were late in my area and when they did screen, I didn't have the time. I think I need more vacation days to keep up LOL! I've added all the titles I've missed in my queve or added it to my "to buy" list. I am buying Shame and your # 6 as soon as they are released. I am pleasantly surprised with your # 1!
January 02, 2012
I was just as surprised by it. And isn't it interesting that it just happened to be the last film I saw in 2011?
December 31, 2011
This is a terrific list, Chris, and it is so succinctly stated. There is a pro list that compiles a large number of pro critics' Top Ten lists. Yours is remarkably close to yours, but like them, you make your individual choices and order as well.
January 02, 2012
Thanks for the praise. I am, for the most part, aligned with professional critics in my tastes. There are, of course, exceptions. Notice that Drive is nowhere on my list; I may be the only person alive that thinks this movie is vastly overrated.
January 02, 2012
Anything with Ryan Gosling in it
January 02, 2012
In my defense, I greatly enjoyed The Ides of March, and I thought Crazy, Stupid, Love was amusing. Interestingly, the first has earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture (Drama) while the second has earned Gosling a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Drive, meanwhile, has earned only one nomination for Albert Brooks, and absolutely nothing else. I'm just saying.
January 02, 2012
Bll cunningham and Johnny Mad Dog are your own.
January 02, 2012
Anything with Ryan Gosling in it has my attention.
January 02, 2012
True. Some would say Bill Cunningham shouldn't be on this list, as it's a documentary. I, for one, believe documentaries are films just as much as any work of fiction. As for Johnny Mad Dog, I'm starting to think I'm the only person on the planet that actually saw it. I swear, these movies need better exposure.
January 02, 2012
That's why you and Ebert are movie critics, you unveil forgotten and trampeled saphires.
About the list creator
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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