My Top Ten Movies of 2011

  1. The Descendants—To me, this is an almost perfect movie. The story—from the book and the screenplay—is good. The acting is strong, especially from George Clooney and Shailene Woodley. The story is told in a way that mixes humor into grim circumstances. And Hawaii, as a setting, looks great.
  2. Drive—Ryan Gosling brings one of his best performances to Drive. Strong supporting acting from Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston and Carey Mulligan and one of the best soundtracks in years make Drive worth watching again and again.
  3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—Rooney Mara owns this movie. Credit the novelist for inventing Lisbeth, but give a nod to Mara for inhabiting the role of this character. Director David Fincher always delivers a product worth watching and, given this material, he has brought home another winner.
  4. 50/50—This story of a young man dealing with cancer and his friend who provides laughter communicates a full assortment of emotions. The excellent screenplay was inspired by true life events. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anna Kendrick deserve awards consideration.
  5. War Horse—A classic. This one touches audiences like Old Yeller and Gone with the Wind did. The beauty of the British and European countrysides and the ugliness of war mix to stir the emotions. This movie will be loved and admired for decades.
  6. Rango—This year’s funniest cartoon comes with a clever storyline, top-notch voice acting and some visual elements that are just wonderfully weird. Big fun.
  7. Hanna—A suspenseful action adventure with an incredible performance by Saoirse Ronan. Loved the story. Loved the journey. Loved the ending. Early year releases sometimes don’t get the love they deserve. Hanna should not be overlooked.
  8. The Artist—Pure entertainment. And so very different. It’s in black and white. It’s silent. And it’s shot in a 1 x 1 aspect ratio—that means the picture is an exact square. Once again, storytelling, great acting and creativity combine to make true magic.
  9. Crazy, Stupid, Love—Romantic comedies fail to get respect because you always know what the outcome will be as soon as you learn the situation. Not so with “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling have great chemistry and the entire cast shines.
  10. My Week with Marilyn—Michelle Williams gives us the Marilyn we’ve seen in movies and news footage for 50 years. She also gives us Marilyn as a real human being. Credit the makeup and hair crews for creating a remarkable resemblance. The story of the young man who befriends Marilyn in her time of emotional neediness is an entertaining one.
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