Top Ten Movies of 2011A better-than-average film year.

The 10 Best and Worst Films of 2011

Compiled by Marie Asner

2011 has been a better-than-average film year. Not only did the sequel and sequels do well, but book adaptations weren't so bad, either. Family films didn't go straight to DVD but had strength at the box office, romance was good, time travel is still with us, animals steal the show and even the silents had a comeback. What a year when other headlines were blizzards, tornados and earthquakes. The show goes on. The following are my selections for the 10 Best and 10 Worst Films for 2011, listed in alphabetical order. Enjoy.

The Ten Best Films for 2011

Albert Nobbs as reviewed in  The Phantom TollboothAlbert Nobbs (rated R) (Roadside Attractions)---Glenn Close and Janet McTeer disappear into their characters of a waiter and a house painter in 19th century Ireland, where they have to pose as men in order to make a living. The place of a woman alone in society then was dire.
Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (not rated) (More 4)---A beautifully done documentary by Werner Herzog, literally takes your breath away when you see cave paintings from thousands of years ago. One assumes they were done by Cro-Magnon man, but perhaps, a Neanderthal was present, too? Who knows.
Ides of March (rated R) (Sony)---George Clooney and Ryan Gosling make quite a team in this story of behind-the-scenes politics. From Greek and Roman times and before, politicians have something to hide and there is always someone looking for it.

Margin Call (rated R) (Roadside Attractions)---This film scares one more than the usual horror film. It is a tale of what could have happened at Lehman Brothers during the financial meltdown we are still reeling from. Kevin Spacey gives a rousing speech that isn't meant for a football team.

Midnight in Paris (rated PG 13) (Sony Picture Classics)---Woody Allen at his best and Owen Wilson not doing questionable comedy. This story of a man who falls in love with the past has a soundtrack to dazzle, enough literary-character actors to please fans and Paris in the 1920's before the Euro.

Page One (rated R) (Magnolia)---This documentary of the New York Times is stellar in giving us a look at what goes on behind the scenes of a major newspaper. One would hope newspapers would go on and on, but as we see, it is a struggling business.

The Artist (rated PG 13 (Weinstein Company)---A silent film about making a silent movie and who could ask for more in this subtitled Belgium movie about Hollywood from the late Twenties into the early Thirties. The rise and fall of stars, their faithful friends (two and four-legged) and a soundtrack that is an actor unto itself.

The Debt (rated R) (Focus Features)---In a storyline that spans 30 years, Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain play the same person without the help of time travel. Revenge does happen when you least expect it.

The Descendants (rated R) (Fox Searchlight)---Once again, George Clooney is on top in a story of a man dealing with family issues and a dying wife. Hawaii is one of the actors in the film and family unity only comes with effort.

The Girl with the Dragon TatooThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (rated R ) (Sony)---So, you say, we didn't need another adaptation of "Dragon Tattoo" so soon? Probably not, but Daniel Craig as the investigative reporter and Rooney Mara make the characters come alive, but don't compare this film with the previous one or the novel. It stands alone as does murder which is the plot.


The Also Ran's---

Hugo (rated PG) (Sony)---A boy lives in a train station with clocks, there is an automon who needs a heart-shaped key to start and Sasha Baron Cohen can do a film without gross-out humor. Sir Ben Kingsley steals the film.
Melancholia (rated R) (Zentropa)--The end of the world and Kirsten Dunst knows just what to do. Beautiful visuals from director Lars van Trier.

Puss In Boots (rated PG) (DreamWorks)---An animated film that is for both children and adults, plus the one-liners zing through the air like sword play. Antonio Banderas voices Puss.

Sarah's Key (rated R) (Hugo)---A harrowing Holocaust-themed story about survival and guilt told over many years. Stars Kristin Scott Thomas.

The Help (rated PG 13) (Touchstone)---An all-star cast with just about every female actor in Hollywood in the script. The story gets overly sentimental, but makes its point with the wave of a white-gloved hand.

War Horse (rated PG 13) (DreamWorks)---Steven Spielberg puts his mark on this adaptation of a novel and play concerning the love of a young man for a horse. OK, so I brought a hankie to this film, still the visuals are stellar and there isn't a better looking horse since the one who played Secretariat.


The Worst Films of 2011 and you know who you are, also arranged in alphabetical order:

 Bad Teacher (rated R) (Columbia)---Oh, Cameron Diaz, you could have done this story in 30 minutes. The rest of the time, the audience was at recess.

Hangover 2 (rated R) (Warner)---As in, who needed a sequel, this follow-the-dots script, along with an unwanted facial tattoo belongs in the China Sea. Stars Bradley Cooper.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (rated R) (Fox Searchlight)---A film in search of a lead actress and a director. Staring at the camera does not a scene make. Stars Elizabeth Olsen.

Meek's Cutoff (rated PG 13) (Oscilloscope)---A film about a wagon train heading west and the guide having problems with the people who hired him. So slow moving and expressionless, it's a wonder wagon trains even made it ten feet. Stars Michelle Williams.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Strange Tides (rated PG 13) (Disney)---Need I say more? This franchise seems destined to go on forever until Captain Jack Sparrow really is at the bottom of the sea for good.

Rango (rated PG) (Nickelodeon)---An animated film with the voice of Johnny Depp and scary enough that it could have been a horror film. Targeted to children? Think again.

The Guard (rated R) (Reprisal)---This is a one man show and should have been billed as such. Brendan Gleeson can't always be understood in a story of a police officer with issues. Don Cheadle is lost in the shuffle.

The Tree of Life (rated PG 13) (Fox Searchlight)---OK, so the visuals are from galaxy productions somewhere, and there is a mystical feel about that, but the plot (did I say plot?) is suspended in the ether, Jessica Chastain looks perpetually perplexed, Sean Penn is quizzical and Brad Pitt seems ready to go to Moneyball.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy (rated R) (Focus Features)---Oh, just try to stay awake through this slow-moving spy film where people sit down for meetings and take five minutes to stare at each other before talking. Stars Gary Oldman.

What's Your Number? (rated R) (20th Century Fox)---Sleeping with so many guys and then going back to ask them why you broke up? The number of this film is zero. Stars Anna Faris

Copyright 2011 Marie Asner

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