Best Films Of 2011January 11, 2012
A lot of instant classics were released last year. Which were the best films of 2011?
2011 was a great year for the film industry. Box office flops were large in number, but even so a lot of instant classics were released throughout last year. I wonder though, out of all the hundreds of movies that came out in 2011, which ones were the absolute best of the best? Let’s examine this according to each distinct film season.
Winter (January and February)
The first two months of the year are usually the ones in which Hollywood dumps all of their low-budget, cheesy, lame excuses for films, so nothing truly good was released in these first two months of 2011. The Green Hornet had promise, but I ultimately hated it, and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never? Give me a freakin break. I was also dragged to Gnomeo & Juliet by my sister, and I thought it was an utter offense to its source material (THEY DON’T DIE IN THE END!). The only film I enjoyed was I Am Number Four, but that’s probably only because I read the book beforehand, and it mostly remains faithful to its novel counterpart. Still, I Am Number Four isn’t even that good.
My Personal Favorite Film: I Am Number Four
Spring (March and April)
Things finally began to pick up in March, for Gore Verbinski’s (known for the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films) Rango still is the best animated film I’ve seen in a very long time. I didn’t have a chance to see The Adjustment Bureau, but I heard that that film was also pretty good. In the following weeks, atrocities such as Red Riding Hood, Mars Needs Moms and Sucker Punch were released, but then in early April, Source Code opened in theatres worldwide. Many people think of it as a knock-off of Groundhog Day, but even so I was very impressed by how emotionally gripping the story was. Plus, Jake Gyllenhall delivered one of his better performances in recent memory. Rio was lauded by many, but I didn’t think it was all that great since its middle act was rather annoying and didn’t fit with the tear-jerking opening scenes. I haven’t seen Fast Five but I have heard that it is arguably the series’ best film (Editor’s note- It is), and other films such as Hanna, Insidious (many call it 2011’s scariest film) and Soul Surfer showed that the year still had much potential.
My Personal Favorite Films: Rango, Source Code, Soul Surfer
Summer (May, June, July and August)
Last summer had to be one of the most exciting Hollywood had set themselves up for. Starting the summer movie season well was Thor, a surprisingly good origin film for the Norse God/Marvel superhero who will appear in The Avengers later this year. Next in line was in many people’s opinion the best comedy of the year, Bridesmaids. Soon afterward Kung Fu Panda 2 was released, proving to be a more than worthy sequel to its predecessor. June continued to show that Hollywood had a lot in store for movie fans as X-Men: First Class, Super 8 and Midnight in Paris were released early in the month. I actually have not seen the latter yet, but since it is the best-reviewed romantic comedy film of 2011 I’ll see if I can check it out on Netflix. I was fortunate enough to see X-Men: First Class at midnight, for it proved to be one of the best superhero films of all-time (no, it still doesn’t surpass Nolan’s Batman series in my very stubborn opinion). Super 8 was equally amazing since it sported some excellent child actors, and it remained thrilling, suspenseful, and visually stunning throughout (how much does J.J. Abrams love lens glare?). A few disappointments would follow in the upcoming weekends; Green Lantern was panned by critics and fans alike, Cars 2 was Pixar’s first true misstep- it is indeed my least favorite Pixar film, but it’s not as bad as many critics have said. Transformers: Dark of the Moon still had many of the same problems from the first two movies, but at least it was more entertaining and less idiotic than Revenge of the Fallen.
Things would finally be back on track when the final, and I mean FINAL, Harry Potter film was released in mid-July. Some fans disagree, but I and countless others believe that The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the best film in the long-running series since it does its job to bring closure to the story in the most spectacular, tear-jerking way. Winnie the Pooh was quietly released on the same day as Harry Potter, and that was a short and entertaining animated film that honors the original featurettes from the 60s and 70s. Captain America: The First Avenger was the last Marvel film to be released before The Avengers comes out this May, and although it was full of cheese, I found it to be even more enjoyable than Thor. Cowboys & Aliens was quite a disappointment, but then the week after that was released, one of 2011’s biggest surprises came out in theaters worldwide: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It wasn’t quite the action film it was advertised as (although the final scene is intense, and violence is common throughout the film), for instead we got an emotional drama driven by an outstanding motion capture performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar, the leader of an eventual rebellion of apes in San Francisco. The rest of the August release window was devoid of noteworthy films, but even so, some amazing films were released in summer 2011.
My Personal Favorite Films: X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Fall (September, October and Early November)
September is another one of those months in which plenty of low-budget, crap films are released by Hollywood, but I was impressed by the few gems that were released that month. Early on, Warrior and Contagion were released on the same weekend; according to the word of mouth, the latter is successful at being a thought-provoking disaster film, while Warrior is one of the best sports films of the year. Truth be told, Moneyball was the only film I saw during the fall film season, but it’s undeniable that Warrior was well-received this year, so I’ll be checking that out on Netflix soon enough (Editor’s note: One of the best films of 2011). Speaking of Moneyball, that happens to not only be the year’s best sports film, it’s one of the best overall. Based off the non-fictional novel of the same name, it tells the underdog story of Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) in his efforts to organize a championship team without significant funds unlike teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox. Brad Pitt’s performance is undeniably one of the year’s best, and the dramatic yet funny storyline itself is memorable.
In October, the world was treated to Real Steel, which I heard was actually surprisingly good, although many other critics and fans said otherwise. Later on, the prequel Paranormal Activity 3 was released, which according to critics was a return to form for the franchise; many similar words of praise were given to Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots. Now, a lot of very confused teenage girls have said that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is one of the best films ever, but seriously? No. They obviously don’t know what good film is, like Moneyball.
My Personal Favorite Film: Moneyball
Holiday (Late November and December)
As usual in Hollywoodtradition, some of the best is always saved for last, and in 2011 there is no exception to this. All in the same Thanksgiving weekend, three critically-lauded family films were released: Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret), Arthur Christmas from the studio that brought us Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, along with the fantastic reboot, The Muppets. Soon after, two of the year’s best action films were released: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol along with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I have yet to see the second Sherlock Holmes film, but I plan to soon. Ghost Protocol, which I recently reviewed for this website, has a generic story but has very stylized action along with some amazing IMAX sequences. The last film I saw in 2011 was the Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse, and although it was chock full of sentimentalism and unrealistic plot devices, Spielberg’s latest is still a satisfying, emotional film about a young man and his beloved pet horse that are separated by World War I. Although I haven’t seen them yet, according to word of mouth The Adventures of Tintin (also directed by Steven Spielberg), The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Artist (a silent, black and white film) are also quite amazing, so I’d suggest checking those films out.
My Personal Favorite Films: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Muppets, War Horse
So as you probably guessed, the best films of 2011 in my personal opinion are the ones that made the cut for my personal favorite films list. However, I still haven’t seen a number of 2011’s critically-acclaimed films, and I’m sure that you readers have different opinions concerning what 2011’s best movies were. Leave a comment saying what your favorite films were and what you think will triumph at the Oscars in February!