While most websites published their top ten reviews either extremely late in the year or very early in the new year, CinemaFunk likes to take a step back and truly think about the obligatory top ten post, even though it is almost meaningless. 2011 was a rather flop of a year for great films, both big-budget and independent. The theaters were filled with sequels, reboots, remakes, and adaptations of all sorts. There was very little original fare. The few films that defied the natural gravity of Hollywood’s grasp have offered cinephiles a wealth of content to muse through.
Terrance Malick’s masterpiece is untouchable in 2011. This philosophic epic takes us through multiple time periods, giving us a chance to consider the the eternal struggle of nature and grace in all its forms. This film is easily the best film of the year. It challenges the art of filmmaking at this present moment, and it challenges spectators across the world.
One of the most unpredictable and most genre-bending film of the year, Drive dips its fingers into every saucer of soup to create a suspenseful and satisfying thriller. Great performances all around, specifically by Ryan Gosling, Bryan Cranston, and Albert Brooks.
Who knew that into his sixth decade Woody Allen would score his biggest hit? What better way than to take a 21st century audience into Paris of the 1920s, filled with some of the most memorable and central artists of the 20th century? This film is playful and magical, the perfect way to leave a mark on a year that favored the nostalgia of the past.
Aaron Sorkin is a master at democratizing massive, historical topics that change the shape of American leisure. The Social Network gave us a stark look at the rise of Facebook, and Moneyball gave us a similar glance into how a new method was being applied to baseball to give lower tier teams a chance to compete. An immediate sports classic.
A lesser discussed release that takes us back to the Oregon Trail and is presented in an apt but limiting 4:3 aspect ratio. Featuring Michelle Williams and Paul Dano, this film builds suspense without gimmicks, showing us the anxieties of moving out west in the mid-19th century. Despite the antiquated aspect ratio, the film has many gorgeous horizons that have both depth and dimension.
Michelle Williams strikes again in 2011, but she disappears into her role as Marilyn Monroe, a difficult feat that Williams pulled off with perfect. There is something about watching an American film star and sex symbol struggle to master the Method, portrayed by today’s leading Method actress. The mastery behind the film is in its editing. You barely see the seems that hold up this gorgeous film; that’s how you know it’s got great editing.
If anyone knows how to disappoint, it is Lars Von Trier. But Melancholia is quite the unconventional plot and story line. Icons and imagery of natural, galactic disasters reflect the growing international fear of both terrorism and the the effects of global warming.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
A clever but sorrowful film about a twenty-something woman returning from a restrictive and manipulative commune and attempting to assimilate quietly back into society with the help of her sister. This indie thriller portrays the physical and psychologically damaging affects of cultish communities.
Independent stalwart Chris Eyre returns with a contemplative piece that allows us to watch a man grieve through the course of a year as he fixes a boat that has seen better days. Short, sweet vignettes create the illusion of time passing by as if it were being written as a novel
It is pleasant to see a strong teenage female in an American action thriller these days. Joe Wright returns with the young Saoirse Ronan (both Atonement for an international chase between Ronan’s character and a rouge CIA operative. Fantastic action ruined by an overzealous Chemical Brothers soundtrack and score.