Top 10 films from 2011

(Updated December 2012)

Another Year

(My number one film of the year! Top notch directing, acting, dialogue, and most importantly real emotions you can relate to. May lack a traditional beginning middle and end, but our real lives are not formulaic)

The Tree of Life

(Conceivable that Tree of Life could go down as a masterpiece that will still be watched in a 100 years time. I loved the breathtaking visuals, use of classical music, and how Malick could make me think about my childhood. To each viewer it has its own meaning, as my review indicates)

Barney's Version

(A film I still find myself thinking about, even though I saw it months ago. I've heard people call the film uneven. The strength of the story for me is the Barney character (Paul Giamatti), his vulnerability, and his emotional rollercoaster of a life is what drew me in)

Oslo, August 31st

(Listen out for the soundtrack, I liked it a a lot. The first person angle makes us feel very close to the 30something Norwegian young guy and his troubles. Even though he finds it easy to pick up girls, he is lost. Contains a message of how our generation maybe has too much freedom. Certain scenes were very powerful and imaginative. Director Joachim Trier has his own unique voice, which Reprise (2006) is also proof of. )


(Can put a smile on your face. A light, entertaining and funny indie. Heartwarming maybe because the characters are vulnerable. The soundtrack is good, too.)


(The dialogue is very assured and gives the story a lot of realism, sort of slow-paced Mike Leigh. Lingers in the mind. Director Joanna Hogg sure is underrated, having said that her films are not for everyone. Hogg's Unrelated (2008) made my list of best older films viewed in 2011.)

We Need to Talk About Kevin

(Tilda Swinton plays a mother challenged with raising her creepy son, Kevin. I'm very keen to review Lynne Ramsey's film, as I was left with a lot to think about after the credits had rolled. For me, was heartbreaking to watch, but impossible to forget. Not a film I’d revisit a lot, because I remember the story so vividly.

In A Better World

(I don't think its Susanne Bier's masterpiece, After the Wedding (2006) is better in my estimation, but she did win the best foreign language film oscar in 2011. Questions what is strength and what is weakness among the two boys. It’s about the choice between revenge and pacifism. On the one hand, how dominating and oppressing can lead to power, and on the other hand how doing nothing can make you look like a wimp, but at least you are not hurting anyone)

Inside Job (documentary)

(An informative and critical look at the reasons behind the financial crisis. Won Oscar for best documentary)

Miss Representation (documentary)

"in a world of a million channels like we have today, people try to do more and more shocking things to break through the clutter, and often times they resort to violent images, or sexually offensive images, or demeaning images, because they know it will get attention. The problem is kids are exposed to that, with very little, or no mediation"

"Turning a human being into a thing, that is almost always the first step to justifying violence against that person"

"If we spent the tenth of the time thinking about our weight, I think we would solve the worlds problems in a matter of months."

The Art of Getting By

(Possibly THE most underrated film of the year. Takes you back to being a rebellious teenager, likeable personalities and fun to watch.)

The Trip

(The impressions these guys do of celebrities are hilarious)

The Skin I Live in

(Pedro Almodóvars latest was not what I was expecting at all. A disturbing and suspenseful thriller, which is also a character study if you want it to be)

X-Men: First Class

(Good prequels are few and far between, The Godfather Part 2 probably wins as the best. X-Men: First Class was divided into three sections, action to start with, character study in the middle, and finally action once again. The best Hollywood popcorn blockbuster of 2011 for me)

Young Adult

(Great performance by Charlize Theron as a troubled 37-year-old author struggling to find her place in the adult world. She returns home to try and hook up with her old boyfriend. Great script by Diablo Cody who wrote Juno. For me, Jason Reitman maintains his perfect record of never having made a bad film.)

Sarah's Key

(WW2 drama. The themes are to do with what should be kept a secret and what should not, and how we are a product of our history. Definitely the best French film I've seen in a long time)

Certified Copy

(Look at it as a Before Sunset for adults. I struggled to understand what the director wanted to say, and the relationship was not as warm-hearted as I would have hoped for, but the films strength is the magnificent script and dialogue. Juliette Binoche won the Best Actress prize in Cannes for her performance)

The Kid With A Bike

(Simple and heart-warming story about a young boy in search of his father, the boy meets various people on his journey. Directed by award-winning Belgian Dardenne duo, thanks to bonjour trisesse for the recommendation)

The Way

(Beautiful cinematography. About a father going to Europe, and heading on pilgrimage named El Camino, he meets some colourful oddballs on his path)

A Separation

(Favorite to bag the foreign language film Academy Award in February. Gives a depiction of life in contemporary Iran. Worked well as a suspenseful crime story, but I didn’t think its a film where I fell in love with the characters (but I don’t think the director was trying for this). Having said that, I would probably watch it again, to take another look at the important scenes of the accident.)


(Edward Burns' scripts in recent times for me have become increasingly uninspiring, the dialogue and characters in his latest indie felt fresher and more personal)


(Better than expected. An interesting "what if" premise. Does it make you a better person by accessing 100% of your brain, and is this the future of medication? What would happen if we all took a pill. If we are all at the top of our game and felt no pain, what would the world look like? Perhaps a warning for future generations)


(A rare mix of drama and comedy. Somehow works making a comedy about cancer. I liked it, not sure I loved it. The Seth Rogen character annoyed me, but I guess his unappealing attitude made the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character seem more likeable to the audience. I’m surprised really they were friends, being so different. )

Reagan (documentary)

(A doc that looks at his time as president during the 80s, both the positive and negative, and how Ronald Reagan is perceived today)

Bobby Fischer Against the World (documentary)

(He was the best chess player in the world for a while. Its difficult to make chess exciting for an hour and a half, but I think they managed it largely due to Fischer’s unusual personality. Lets face it, if the guy had been normal, would there have been a documentary? I did not know much about him, there probably wasn't much new brought to the table for those who do remember Fischer.)


(I'm probably out on my own in the blogosphere ranking Drive so low, I loved the music and atmosphere. But aside from Ryan Gosling, the rest of the characters were one-dimensional. I also find it unsettling that so many people have turned a blind eye to the extreme violence)

Source Code

(Didn't like it quite as much as Moon. Still, a solid follow-up that was entertaining from start to finish, and kept me on the edge of my seat)

Happy, Happy

(Not a film I instantly thought, YES! great film. But the more I discuss the story with others, the more depth the film reveals. A film I sense I ought to review to get my opinions sorted out. It was submitted as Norway's entry for the 2012 Oscars, and won World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for drama at the 2011 Sundance film festival)

The High Cost of Living

(An underrated and overlooked indie movie. I doubt whether many people have this film on their year-end lists, or have even seen it. I only heard about it by accident. The characters really stayed with me, is kind of a sequel to The Last Kiss)

Martha Marcy May Marlene

(Probably was a bit overhyped, so expectations were sky-high. The film has a lot of tension that slowly builds. Making a serious film about a cult seemed to be an original idea that I hadn't seen done before, and while the dark story is tough to love, it held my attention)

Honourable mentions:
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The Ides of March
Win Win
Margin Call
Like Crazy
Cold Weather
Midnight in Paris
Life In A Day (documentary)
The People vs. George Lucas (documentary)
The Music Never Stopped
The Descendants
The Artist
The Rum Diary
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

*Yet to see:
*Salt of Life

Readers, what do you think of my list above?


  1. Nice to see someone else enjoyed Bobby Fischer. Great doc.

  2. Wow, it looks like I have some serious catching up to do. I have only seen one (!) of your top 20 films. Shame on me. I am a little confused, though -- The Artist is in your banner, but it's not mentioned anywhere...?

  3. @Michael C: Yep, even for people who don't play chess Bobby Fischer is an interesting fellow.

    @Eric: I ought to scrap that banner I stole from google pictures, as several films from it are not my cup of tea.
    I did see The Artist, I admired it from a technical standpoint, but the story was nothing special for me. I think it's a film that will divide audiences, because its so different. As I told you, I'm not really a fan of silent films. Thanks for visiting, anyway! ( :

  4. Chris, I've been waiting for your top movie post ^^ Although this is your top 30, not 10. Should correct that.

    Many movies I haven't seen in your list, I feel like I should. And I may have put Happythankyoumoreplease too much in a lower rank it should've been! Another Year as number one, kind of reminded me how I should rewatch it. They just released it in a DVD here.

    I see you put tree of life as your number two, same as mine :) but it going to be put lower once I updated the list.

    Thought you'll put certified copy and a separation in a higher rank. But overall it's an incredible list.

  5. Nice to see Young Adult on the list, it's so underappreciated.

  6. Interesting list and equally interesting omissions! I still have to see Another Year, and both The Trip and Oslo have been on my must see list for months now. There are a whole bunch of others on here that will take me all this year and probably the next to catch up on as well. Haha, nice problem to have I suppose.

  7. Loved the Trip! Hilarious stuff! And glad to see Tree of Life ranked so highly :) A lot of these I'm yet to see, and some aren't even out yet (The Artist for instance - I was interested to see that it was only given an honourable mention!) We Need To Talk About Kevin was superb as well!

  8. "Barney's Version" and "Another Year" are both from 2010.

  9. @Andina: Thanks, it is time-consuming and tricky making year-end lists, as you hope not to leave out great films. I know it's a top 30, I just thought it would scare people off writing that! and the banner says 10. Will look out for your updated best list ( :

    @Sati: Yes, Reitman is the man. They talk about great directors of the 1970s, for me he is among the best working today, and his latest could go higher on my list when I see it again.

    @Bonjour Tristesse: You're right, there are a few omissions, you can't see everything! The Help disappointed by having good vs. evil characters. Hugo was too childish for me. The comedy in Bridesmaids was too dirty. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy I didn’t really care about the outcome sadly, not my cup of tea.
    Moneyball I don't want to see as I'm not in to baseball. George Harrison Living in the Material World was too shallow a doc, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams the subject matter didn't interest me. Hanna I thought was ok for action, but unrealistic. Jane Eyre was too girly and not my taste. Meek's Cutoff didn't work for me apart from cinematography. Beginners no interest. And no doubt you found foreign language gems from 2011 I didn't.

    @Ruth: The Trip had me laughing out loud, even though Coogan was very rude I thought, but that's the norm I guess, look at Ricky Gervais. Ok, The Artist hasn't been released in Australia yet.
    Silent films are not really my taste, many others will love The Artist, so don't let that put you off seeing it ( :

    @Anna: I see your point. The majority were able to see Another Year and Barney's Version in first part of 2011. Its a frequent discussion in the blogosphere, because do you go by when a film is produced, film festival or wide release, or by country, and I haven't even mentioned if you see the film on opening night, or catch it later. Plus there are itunes releases as well now.

  10. Gonna go ahead and bookmark this; I remember seeing previews to a handful of these and thinking "Now THAT looks like a movie", yet forgetting the title within 20 minutes. Great list --

  11. Interesting list and quite different from the many that I have seen. Some of these wouldn't count in the UK as they were released in 2010 but it is great to see the likes of British films Another Year and The Trip making the list. Both are super. I still haven't seen Tree of Life...I better put that right.

  12. @Captain Captain Industries: Thanks man, nice of you to say so! Hopefully I will find some cinematic gems during 2012 as well.

    @Dan: The Tree of Life is quite experimental, so not for everyone, but I sure thought it was a masterpiece.
    Maybe Mike Leigh should adopt me, since I'm so fond of Another Year, ha ha ( :

  13. Nice one! As you know, I wasn't fond of ANOTHER YEAR (found it familiar and disappointing compared to other Leighs) but loved ARCHIPELAGO, A SEPARATION, THE TREE OF LIFE and CERTIFIED COPY. Great to see BARNEY and SARAH'S KEY getting some recognition too. Looking forward to MARTHA MARCY... and THE KID WITH A BIKE very much. And shall check out MISS REPRESENTATION, THE ART OF GETTING BY, NEWLYWEDS and HAPPY HAPPY on your recommendation. Thanks!

  14. Cool list. I actually haven't seen a lot of these. It's great to see Another Year up there. I caught up with it on DVD and really enjoyed it. Lots of great choices on here that I still need to check out.

  15. Great list, brother man. A lot of your choices, like your number one, were released here in 2010, but still, Another Year was a great flick; I adore Mike Leigh's films.

    Few highlights: never heard of Oslo; never saw In a Better World, but wondered how the hell it beat Incendies and Dogtooth for the Oscar; been dying to see the micro-budget Newlyweds.

    Didn't care for Inside Job at all, felt like a 100 minute lecture. And I hated 50/50 despite my great admiration for JGL.

    But at any rate, loved the list. We definitely had a lot of similar picks, which is awesome. I thought 2011 was a great year for movies. On to '12.

  16. @Alex Ramon: Thanks for the praise, I remember you prefer Mike Leigh's previous films, we can agree to disagree on that one ( :
    SARAH'S KEY really should have done some damage and got more nominations at award shows, since it has the holocaust theme, and is also thought-provoking and suspenseful. Will keep an eye out for your probable reviews of MARCY... and THE KID WITH A BIKE.

    @Dan Heaton: You're welcome Dan, I hope you find some new films to watch! Many of my choices are not mainstream, the smaller films often appeal more to me, I wouldn't have it any other way ( :

    @Alex Withrow: Thanks, glad you liked my compilation. In a Better World is very good, and has universal themes, worth seeing, I have not viewed Incendies, Dogtooth was not my taste.
    Newlyweds surprised me how good it was, amazing what they could achieve with just $9000, I only saw that stat afterwards, looked like it cost millions! Oslo 31st August was at Cannes last year, and is also at Sundance 2012, I like the director's style.
    According to IMDB, Another Year technically had a US release December 29th 2010, but I didn't buy a ticket until 2011 myself, and I missed it at film festival.
    My list probably reflects delaying decisions by film distributors, not releasing some IMDB 2010 labelled films until 2011. Yes, 2011 impressed me too ( :

  17. What other Mike Leigh films do you like? My favourites include Naked, Secrets and Lies, and Career Girls.

  18. @Dan: Other Mike Leigh films I liked? Secrets and Lies, Happy-Go-Lucky, Naked(although was pretty bleak story). Don't know why I missed Career Girls you mentioned, have to put that right ( :

  19. @Supercords: Thank you! I'll check your top 10 then.


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