The 10 Best Films of 2011, According to Me

by George Watches Things

10. Certified Copy

The first time I saw Abbas Kiarostami’s latest picture, I was inspired. Certified Copy opened my eyes to the world of art (including filmmaking). I got the chance to see it  a second time, and I was struck by how much more fun thinking about it is than watching it. Oh well, that still counts. Where: Air Canada/Netflix Instant.

9. The Tree of Life

I wasn’t sure how I would like The Tree of Life, but I knew I had to see it. Well, I did see it; and obviously, I liked it. The Tree of Life really is visual poetry, and it is about both everything and nothing at the same time. I don’t currently (and probably will never) know all of Malick’s intentions, but I gave scenes and shots my own meanings, based on my life. Perhaps that’s exactly what he wanted me to do… Where: St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis.

8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

#7 is the spot in which the Swedish version landed on 2010’s list, but the David Fincher film is better. While I still believe an amalgamation of the two would be the best film, I recognize the 2011 effort is more artful than its 2009/2010 counterpart, while retaining the thrills and titillation. Where: my hometown Cinemark.

7. Moneyball

Brad Pitt has had an excellent year. He gave two killer, Filmtooth runner-up performances. Imagine the number of times this film could have not been made. I’m interested in what Pitt does from here, with retirement rumors swirling. Where: hometown Cinemark.

6. Attack the Block

If 2010’s films’ general theme was communication (see: The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Dogtooth, etc.), 2011’s is community. And my favorite part of Attack the Block was the way it captured the perfect communal atmosphere. My second favorite thing? The amazing aliens. Where: Amazon Instant.

5. Trust

The camera work is neither dazzling nor particularly informative, but the story is strong enough to carry the film into my heart (and my top 10). I don’t know if I’ll ever see Trust again, the subject being a pedophile and a rape, but if I do, I hope I find the same tragic beauty I got out of the first go-round. Where: Netflix Instant.

4. In a Better World

High stakes situations are usually very interesting to watch, and that holds true with In a Better World, a Danish film that won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars last spring. I don’t want to spoil it, but it deal with violence; where does it come from, who should we blame, what can we do to stop it. It is shear brilliance, and if you’re anything like me, it will set your brain on fire. I’m still digesting it, a month after my first (and most recent) viewing of it. Where: Amazon Instant.

3. Weekend

This is, quite possibly, the sweetest film I’ve ever seen. The story is simple: two gay men have what they think will be a one night stand, they develop feelings, but one is moving away. It sounds like an awful subplot from Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve, but it’s executed masterfully. I shudder to think what this would have been in lesser hands. Where: Netflix Instant.

2. Hugo

Hugo is pure magic. It finished the year at the #1 slot, a position it held since the November night I watched it. It was gorgeous to look at, without being false, as it was wonderful to be emersed in this world of characters, none of whom felt fake. I have seen neither The Artist nor The Descendants, but even if I had and thought they were of higher quality, I would rooting for Hugo at the Oscars. Where: hometown Cinemark.

1. Poetry

It contains the same “casual brilliance” (phrase stolen from grantland.com) that makes Certified Copy so much fun. It has the same eye for detail that The Tree of Life has. It is paced just as well as the middle third of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. We get to see an internal struggle play out, similar to the one(s) in Moneyball. The time goes by just as fast (somewhat sadly) as Attack the Block. It is as heart-wrenching as Trust. It has dark themes, just like In a Better World. It draws you in with its central character, as Weekend does. It sets its location very well, and fills it with interesting people, exactly like Hugo.

Poetry may be the least ambitious of the lot, but that’s what makes it so stunning. If you have to pick one of these to watch, let it be Poetry.

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