In a mixed-up, shook-up movie year, there have been high profile misses, surprisingly impressive 'event’ films and fantastic stuff from out of nowhere. But here, in alphabetical order, are 10 of 2011’s best of the best.
Few self-respecting lovers of classic cinema can resist the charm, heart, skill and daring of director Michel Hazanavicius’ silent, black and white French import The Artist, starring an unforgettable Jean Dujardin as a 1920s Hollywood screen icon on the skids.
The Descendants, directed and co-adapted by Alexander Payne from Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel, eases moment to moment from comedy to melancholy and back again as Hawaii land baron George Clooney confronts his wife’s serious illness and the looming loss of his family’s way of life.
Ryan Gosling is all icy, enigmatic cool as an L.A. stunt-driver-for hire in the vicious, riveting, melancholy neo-noir,Drive, coolly and boldly directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.
Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s passionate poem to a vanished era of movie making, created 3-D magic from the tale of an orphan adrift in a 1930s Paris train station.
Woody Allen’s soufflé- light romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris wooed us with its blend of fanciful time-tripping and New York deadpan humor.
Aging, disappointment and survival against the odds, not baseball, are at the heart of the smart, touching Moneyball, the Bennett Miller directed drama in which Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s complicated general manager Billy Beane.
Michael Fassbender gives one of the year’s great, all-in performances as a Manhattanite trapped in a hell of sexual addiction in Shame, directed by Steve McQueen.
Pedro Almodóvar’s wildly beautiful, twisted, haunting The Skin I Live In is a sexually transgressive study of the nature of identity disguised as crazed revenge thriller.
Espionage has rarely been made so personal as in the brilliant, bleak big screen version of John Le Carre’s seminal spy novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, immaculately made by director Tomas Alfredson.
Terrence Malick’s rapturously beautiful, unforgettable, maddening The Tree of Life contains a powerful father-son fight-to-the death wrapped in an exploration of life’s Big Questions.
Runners up: Bridesmaids, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marline, Young Adult