Top 10 movies from 2011

Nathan Fan shares his thoughts on last year’s best movies.


Nathan Fan, Writer

Another year, another top 10 list. As we see new and veteran filmmakers pushing the boundaries of what film can do, we see a universal theme in many films that came out this year: Film is meant for enjoyment. These 10 films, in my opinion, exemplify the idea of enjoyment.

10. “X-Men: First Class”

This was a high-class, first-rate action movie with an outstanding cast of young up-and-comers. The tragic anti-hero Magneto, played by the great Michael Fassbender, was the most interesting character. The young Professor Xavier and motley crew of little-known generation one mutants offered a good mix of interesting characters with unique histories and heroes with awesome special-effect rendered powers. Also: Kevin Bacon.

9. “50/50”

This film is unlike most movies dealing with the topic of cancer. It uniquely pursues the story of how friendship endures through an ordeal. The complementing humor to such heavy subject matter was far from being out of place; rather, it had a vivacious pulse. The balance of this movie is credit to the well-crafted screenplay and the great performances from the cast, although it gets pretty raunchy at parts.

8. “The Descendants”

This film made me laugh and cry at all the right places and it really excelled in tying in the stories of mourning, love and Hawaii. This was one of George Clooney’s finest performances and the outstanding cast surrounding him enhanced his character. This is film garnered a number of Oscar nominations, of which, it will most likely win best actor for Clooney. The film was a solid production with a great balance. Everything flowed together so well, it felt like what it portrayed: a rainy Hawaiian vacation.

7. “13 Assassins”

This was a fun movie to watch. It was well-directed, well-acted and a classic throwback to Akira Kurosawa’s films. Also, watching 13 Japanese samurai slaughter the army of a ruthless tyrant all in the name of justice and freedom for the little man fueled my desire to become an actual samurai. The climactic battle scene at the end of the film was absolutely enthralling. Not nearly as good as “Seven Samurai” but has a similar story and style, and it saves you an hour and a half.

6. “Drive”

The only word to describe this movie is intense. Gosling’s performance helped him solidify a position as one of today’s best actors. “Drive” utilizes the beautiful style of 1980s neo-noir crime scene, while mixing in the vengeful intensity of action movies. It has all the elements for a very entertaining movie and the shot compositions of an art house flick.

5. “Midnight in Paris”

Within the first five minutes, you already fall in love with the city where luminaries of the 1920s lived and partied. The story follows the naive but likable aspiring writer, Gil (Owen Wilson) as he magically interacts with said luminaries. The witty dialogue, the humorous plot, the different time periods, and the portrayal of some of my favorite figures of all time (Hemingway was the best) make Midnight in Paris a magical and fun movie.

4. “Hugo”

How is it that the director of “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and many more masterpieces would hop on the 3D bandwagon and direct a film for children? It seemed so unlikely that it made it more worthwhile to see this film triumph. The film was centered around the history of film itself, going back all the way to the first camera up to Charlie Chaplin. The historic aspect made this film wonderful and sets “Hugo” as Martin Scorsese’s love letter to his passion. This is a wonderful film that goes beyond sentimentality and serves as a film of encouragement, while transforming a train station into a wonder emporium and redeeming 3D.

3. “The Artist”

This silent movie captures all the charm and nostalgia of the 1920’s era, but it also stands to be one of the best movies of 2011. Due to the lack of sound, this film relies more on image and music to convey the story and emotions. Yet, this carries as competent a story as any “talkie” picture, while having that flair only a silent movie can offer. This film was a bold and rewarding project by French filmmakers and it will certainly see its fair share of gold come Oscar night (it has a total of ten nominations, including best picture, director, and actor.)

2. “The Muppets”

It’s the film I enjoyed most this year! It’s accessible to all audiences, young and old, cynical and cheery, dying and living, man and Muppet. This movie pulled me on board with the eclectic and iconic cast, letting me fall in love with the characters true to their original selves, as created by Jim Henson back in the ’60s. Very few films have reached this level of sincerity while still being hilarious. With the most adorable human cast (Jason Segal and Amy Adams) accompanied by dozens of hilarious cameos, this film achieves the fabled “Rainbow Connection.”

1. “Tree of Life”

The first time I watched this movie, I fell asleep during the creation of the world sequence. The second time I watched it, I was entirely blown away with what I had just watched. An ingenious work of art indeed. My words will only detract from the beauty of Terrence Malick’s creation, so I shall be brief. Go see this movie with an open mind, a heightened attention span and a willingness to be left in wonder.

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