Best Movies of 2011
|Jessica Chastain (left) and Octavia Spencer|
in "The Help" - the sleeper, summer hit of 2011
The final Harry Potter film capped a year that saw the most sequels produced in a year, according to the website Box Office Mojo. 27 sequels were released in 2011. Besides Harry Potter, we had sequels for Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Kung Fu Panda, Twilight, The Fast and the Furious, The Hangover, and even Mission: Impossible.
Throughout the year and with almost every movie I see, I find connections that invariably link them. While they're not sequels, there are many movies that are connected, that exist in a continuing conversation and that relate to each other in some way. Recently, one theme that has popped up in that continuing conversation is nostalgia. Various films in the past few months and some even going back to the beginning of the year pushed this idea of nostalgia, either on the surface or subtextually.
The Artist and Hugo are nostalgia porn for the silent film era. Drive is nostalgic for the 1980s. The Adventures of Tintin is nostalgic for the Indiana Jones movies. The Muppets is nostalgic for the early Muppets movies. Scream 4 is nostalgic for the first Scream. All sequels are technically nostalgic for the movies that come before them, but Scream 4 is blatantly and ostensibly so.
But, instead of looking backward, some, if not the majority, of best films this year or any year are ones that look forward. While this year wasn't as good a year for documentaries as 2010, some documentaries did look forward in terms of how entries in the genre are done. Life in a Day embraced social media, while Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Wim Wenders' Pina were both nonfiction in 3D.
Early in the year, Hollywood tried to push women as super heroes with Hanna and Sucker Punch. Hollywood even tried to prop up women action heroes in the summer with Colombiana and The Debt. Those movies didn't have the impact that one would've hoped, but hope for movies about women and that star women was bolstered with the hit Bridesmaids in the spring.
Another bolster, not only for women but also for African-Americans, was the success of The Help. It was # 1 in the box office for four straight weeks. By the end of 2011, it made $169 million. Another movie that bolstered not only African-Americans but other minorities was Fast Five. It made $209 million, making it the sixth-highest grossing film of the year, despite its multi-ethnic cast.
There's then the various movies that dealt with LGBT characters or issues. Our Idiot Brother had lesbian and bisexual characters. Christopher Plummer in Beginners played an elderly gay man. Leonardio DiCaprio in J. Edgar also played an elderly gay man, or so we assume.
Best Movies Released Theatrically
THE TREE OF LIFE by Terrence Malick
WEEKEND by Andrew Haigh
I WILL FOLLOW by Ava DuVernay
BRIDESMAIDS by Paul Feig
LIFE IN A DAY by Kevin Macdonald
THE DEBT by John Madden
WIN WIN by Tom McCarthy
THE BEAVER by Jodie Foster
MELANCHOLIA by Lars Von Trier
A BETTER LIFE by Chris Weitz
THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE by Lee Tamahori
CEREMONY by Max Winkler
THE LAST LIONS by Derek Joubert
Best Movies Released to DVD or VOD
FISH TANK (Feb. 22)
RED HILL (Jan. 25)
GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (Nov. 15)
THE TILLMAN STORY (Feb. 1)
RUBBER (June 7)
AMERICAN LOSER (Sept. 27)
THE TAQWACORES (April 5)
NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT PERSIAN CATS (March 15)
UNDERTOW (June 7)
DESERT FLOWER (July 19)
DIRTY MOVIE (Feb. 15)
BROTHER'S JUSTICE (July 12)
MEET MONICA VELOUR (Aug. 16)
LEBANON, PA (June 28)
CROPSEY (May 10)
VIOLET TENDENCIES (May 24)