Here it is: my top ten list of 2011. There are several films that I have yet to see (such as 13 Assassins, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Tintin). But nevertheless, these are the films I’ve loved most over the course of the year, as well as ones I’ve found to be the most well-made.

So without further ado, I’ll start with number ten for dramatic effect.

hugo

10. Hugo

Martin Scorsese brings us a compelling, emotional trip into the magical world of film. For once, the 3-D serves more of a purpose than as a mere gimmick. Shot from a child’s point-of-view, he tells a story of a young boy who works in the famous Gare du Nord train station in Paris. It’s more than it seems, as he runs into an old man with a very, very important place in the history of cinema. Finally, we get two young actors who actually know how to act. Altogether, a solid piece of filmmaking from the best director in the world.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

9. Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene is a very disturbing portrayal of a girl who has no place in life. Her choices ultimately affect the rest of her life, and her pysche. A mixture of flashbacks that feel like a war veteran reliving past traumas, and the confusing world of the present make for an incredibly sad film. Director Sean Durkin brings ample suspense to the table. And Elizabeth Olsen’s performance is pretty out-of-this-world.

The Tree of Life

8. The Tree of Life

I suppose most people saw this one coming, but regardless, it’s…something else. Emmanuel Lubezki’s unbelievable photography makes it an exhilirating experience. Malick has long been an auteur, and Tree of Life is something of a magnum opus for him. Perhaps unfulfilling if you’re looking for a solid story, it’s more of a mood piece–but if anything, this is without a doubt Malick’s most personal film. And, for me, that means something more.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

It finally arrived; the long anticipated finale of the Harry Potter saga. And it’s no disappointment, either. In fact, it manages to maintain the same emotional core the latter films have in spades. Filled to the brim with action, the spectacles are thrilling with superb CGI. Solid performances all arpound, especially Radcliffe. Part 2 may lack the unnerving, grim atmosphere of Part 1, but it certainly makes up for it in emotion.

Source Code

6. Source Code

Duncan Jones is definitely one of the most surprising, talented and interesting young filmmakers working today. Moon was one of my favorites of 2009, and Source Code is no different. Moving at a break-neck pace, Jones knows how to make a serious and complex sci-fi entertaining. Though lacking the standout performance of Sam Rockwell, Gyllenhaal carries the film admirably, even bringing a spark to the screen with Monaghan.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Based on the book by John¬† le Carre, this spy-thriller is geared towards a differnet kind of audience than that of the James Bond crowd (great in its own right). Puzzling and complex, it moves at a meticulous pace that keeps the suspense building up until the climactic reveal. Shot with a classy 70’s eye, it feels jazzy and cool, though nevertheless real and understated.

Another Earth

4. Another Earth

An intelligent, emotional indie sci-fi. A great script and an even better performance by Brit Marling, Another Earth is a wonderful film. Both tragic and hopeful, it never feels contrived or manipulative. In fact, it’s a very organic piece of filmmaking. Surprisingly, it’s shot on handheld, giving it an extremely intimate feel. Even more memorable is the ending, which is as thoughtful as it is emotionally resonant.

Submarine

3. Submarine

Another film that perhaps deserved another look. A heartfelt insight into being a teenager and becoming an adult. It’s funny, awkward and even a little self-deprecating, but it works wonders. Set in a small town in Wales, it’s a very self-contained story (also like Drive) and manages to never feel too claustrophobic. If you have the opportunity and you also happen to like awkward indie films, this is a must-see.

Rango

2. Rango

Yes, perhaps an odd choice. But the film is one of those that flew relatively under the radar. Verbinski’s world is gorgeous to look at with surrealistic tones and desert landscapes. Rango follows a relatively simple story, like Drive, and in both cases it works for the better. Johnny Depp’s stellar voice over is both humorous and heartfelt. This is an animated film that isn’t just for kids.

Drive

1. Drive

Unequivocally the best film of the year. Gosling and Mulligan shine (literally, in one scene) with understated performances. His performance is surprisingly complicated: at times violent, other times quiet and awkward. Visually, the film is also a treat. Moody photography brings the viewer into a world of neon colors and darkness. It’s an odd mixture: Tarantino meets Grand Theft Auto. A must see film.

By justin

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