My rule on eligibility:
A film is classed as belonging to the year in which it was first theatrically released, in any country.
This rule exists to aid consistency from year to year, and also to avoid discounting films which don't get a release in either the
or the .
And there are many festival films to which that applies, including honourable mention "Adrift" ("Choi Voi") below, which I
wouldn't have been able to include had it not been picked up by a French
My Top Ten Films of 2011
1. “The Tree of Life”/Terrence Malick
2. “Margaret”/Kenneth Lonergan
3. “Beginners”/ Mike Mills
4. “Once Upon a Time In
Anatolia”/Nuri Bilge Ceylan
5. “Sleeping Sickness”/Ulrich Köhler
6. “Weekend”/Andrew Haigh
7. “Meek’s Cutoff”/Kelly Reichardt
8. “The Interrupters”/Steve James
9. “Melancholia”/Lars Von Trier
10. “Rampart”/Oren Moverman
Special Mention: “Hanna,” which flirts with genius in so many ways, but is prevented from really getting there through an iffy approach to backstory. On another day of compiling these lists, I might have included it in my ten.
Honourable Mentions: The superbly composed “Moneyball” offers a stellar average, but doesn’t quite hit for the cycle, while “Snowtown” hits for all it has and is largely the better for it. Brit horror flick “Kill List” chews you up, spits you out, and neglects to wipe its mouth afterwards, as the dense, upper-crust charms of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” drool for two-plus hours. Super clever “The Artist” revitalises ailing memories with gravitas; “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” proves that Tom Cruise can still be fun, and that action cinema can still be coherent, while the combined efforts of miniature gems “Tomboy,” “Pariah,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and the finally-released Korean film “Adrift” all offer worthwhile reflections on female sexuality.
And then I suppose you can make a case for the films people loved but I didn’t quite get, like “Drive,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” “Attack the Block,” and maybe even “A Separation” (despite its unyielding obsession with portioning off blame.) Then there are films like “The Adventures of Tintin,” which folks seemed to outright hate but I quite liked (you can add “The Future” and “Young Adult” to that list, too) and the films that sat nicely with me but never troubled the top tier of this list: I’m looking at you, “Jane Eyre,” “The Kid with a Bike,” “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” “We Have a Pope,” and “Rango,” which is comfortably the best animated film of a disappointing 2011 slate.
The worst films I saw this year* are: “Horrible Bosses,” which doesn’t even attempt to hide its racism and homophobia and still manages to get good reviews. What gives?! “The Resident” wins awards for ‘film most stuck in the early nineties’ and ‘film with the most pointless flashback sequence,’ while “Albert Nobbs” (Oscars be damned!) has to rank among the worst films of the year for that bizarre tragicomic finale alone. “The Green Lantern” could have done without the presence of Ryan Reynolds, whereas I’d have welcome him raising the floppy blancmange that was “Chalet Girl” with those monster abs of his. Alas, both of them died a death.
*Disclaimer: these are most likely not the worst five films of the year, since I don’t subject myself to such dreck as “Jack and Jill,” “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon” and “The Change-Up.”