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Feb 28, 2012

Top 20 Movies of 2011

Below is the list of my Top 20 favorite movies of the year 2011 followed by some Honorable Mentions. Note that i can change the list whenever i want.

Top 20 Movies:

1. A Separation:
                                A flawlessly written, directed, acted and edited movie that is just perfection and masterful film making in ever single way. A movie from Iran that got my attention from its first major win at Berlin Film Festival all the way to the Oscars, i feel blessed to have seen such an amazing movie in my life. A social drama that moves at a pace of a Hitchcock thriller with a pitch perfect observation at a society and its moral values overall rather than a political or social portrayal of just Iran, its universal.

2. The Tree of Life:
                                      Terrence Malick was back with a bang literally, this was the movie that won the prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes and many other Critics awards with nods for Picture and Direction which was the only best thing happened in those categories this year. A movie which is very hard to describe but the whole experience is very surreal and poetic with an insight to life in a way i have never seen before. Cinematography at its best, narration is really tough for many viewers to digest, i agree. But this movie is a masterpiece in film making.

3. Midnight in Paris:
                                          I am a big fan of Woody Allen, he finally delivered an excellent movie after a long time in the form of Midnight in Paris. This is exactly what a comedy should be, smart and witty. Only Woody could have infused Time Travelling in a movie with such simplicity and perfection that it carries the story, adds to the perfect character study and offers a deep insight into the characters and their thoughts about how perfect the bygone era looks quite attractive and perfect to them rather than their own world. Screenplay was perfect, cinematography, art direction and acting too, all in all a movie that i can watch over and over again and it just gets better every time. A timely masterpiece.

4. The Artist:
                          So The Artist was the winner of Best Picture at the Oscars and with many critics followed by its enormous buzz that was created at Cannes, this movie was such a magical, romantic and mesmerizing experience at the era of film making at its best. I am a big fan of Black and White Silent era movies and this just reminded me overall of why i love movies in the first place. Perfect performances by Jean Dujardin who won best actor at Cannes and Berenice Bejo the movie is everything you can think of, a melodrama, comedy, character study, romance, suspense, film making i mean all in one.

5. Drive:
                 Nicholas Winding Refn earned raves for his movie Drive at Cannes winning Best Director but nothing is enough for the Academy i know. A massive critical hit with a cult following, this was a movie that impressed me in a way no neo-noir, stylish action thriller have ever done. It is not your typical action movie but a offbeat European film making with quite stunning imagery and superb character study. Brilliant performances by both Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan and with some of the most jaw dropping scenes, the movie brings tears to your eyes at the end for the "Driver", little you know about him, more you feel for him.

6. Moneyball:
                            A movie about Sports or sports in general is something i am really not interested in but Moneyball was a movie that just won me over. Never in my life have i seen such a perfect character study in a sports movie. It is to Baseball what The Social Network was to Facebook i agree. Perfectly and sharply written screenplay, dialogues with superb cinematography and editing followed by the career best performance by Brad Pitt.

7. Certified Copy:
                                   Directed by Abbas Kiarostami from Iran starring Juliette Binoche delivering the best female performance of last year and one of the best performances i have ever seen in my life. This is yet another movie that failed to impress the audience due to its offbeat, different and poetic narration, people were confused but i think this is one of those movies that you can discuss, dissect and talk about for hours. It shows the originality of copies in art and how copied the original piece itself feel as they are oddly inspired by everything around us but what makes them different is your own self. The two characters takes that and applies it on themselves when they suddenly start acting like they are a couple which they are not. Open ending, open narration, director gives a lot for the audience to work with and to add their own unique perspective to this movie.

8. Hugo:
                 Martin Scorsese made a movie minus any violence and his occasional mob and crime stories, he made a grown up movie for the children and adults alike that just speaks of his love for cinema. Hardcore movie nerds will love it and identify with Scorsese's passion for movies, restoration and sticking to the bygone film making. The stunning production with superb visual effects that makes the whole atmosphere such a surreal dream like Paris in itself feels like a movie set rather than actual Paris that truly justifies everything. Storytelling at its best.

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2:
                                                                                                 Yes the end of Harry Potter, something that was a part of my life from my childhood. The last movie in the series of widely popular and acclaimed fantasy movies was on a epic level and a phenomenal film making. One of the highest grossing movies ever, it ended with a very high note. This was the kind of movie that should have been nominated for Oscars along with Drive instead of the highly flawed The Help or War Horse and absolutely worse EL&IC but no! Action and effects were top notch, it was entertaining and highly satisfying.

10. Shame:
                      This NC-17 rated movie with lots of full frontal scenes, nudity and intensity was the reason it didn't got the full attention that it needed which is disgusting but it happens. Michael Fassbender gave a harrowing, intense and phenomenal performance that will be remembered for years alongside Carey Mulligan in this bold, disturbing and quite deep look at a man with a disturbing past loosing himself in the depth of darkness that is his sexual desires that feels more disturbing and self destructive than pleasure.

11. Weekend:
                          Finally saw this movie a few weeks back, it was a critical hit and won a few awards but was rarely the most winning film among the small indie movies which is a shame considering how excellent this movie was. It is about two homosexual men and their interactions with each other over Weekend followed by a heartbreaking ending, this has to be overall the most realistic portrayal of that and the most accurate and perfectly calculated romantic drama that feels very real and not fairytale at all. Tom Cullen and Chris New both performed very good.

12. Martha Marcy May Marlene:
                                                                 One of the best debuts of any American directors in recent years, this dark psychological drama is deeply disturbing, oddly scary and overall very cult and harrowing. It features debut performance by Elizabeth Olsen which in itself stands as one of the best. This is a movie i found completely shocking and very different with a storytelling, editing, narration that offers a deep look at a troubled woman who fails to distinguish between her past (the cult experience she had) and the present in which the memories troubles her. Impressive movie.

13. Bridesmaids:
                                  Who would have thought that a deeply crude movie with nasty jokes and situations will get my vote for one of the best comedies ever? Bridesmaids is not just a R rated comedy or as people like to call it, Hangover with female characters but the movie is much more than that. It is deeply touching and you feel very moved by everything towards the end. Impressively written screenplay by Kristen Wiig who stars in it too with superb performance by Melissa McCarthy also, this is a comedy to watch.

14. Take Shelter:
                                  Another movie with a main character psychologically disturbed but this time it was a intense tale of a normal family plagued by the problems that transferred into the whole mental instability of the head of the family but on the top of it all, this wasn't a movie about natural disaster or a coming storm but it offered deep insight into the normal middle class American family worried for their future and battling with financial troubles. Deep and harrowing performance by Michael Shannon and also Jessica Chastain, this is indie film making at its best.

15. Melancholia:
                                 Melancholia is a utterly disturbing and psychologically destroying movie that really makes you feel depressed after you watch it. Lars Von Trier back with his own unique style and stories to tell with tortured female characters, this time it was on the grandest level. Kristen Dunst won best actress at Cannes who gave her career best performance, also Charlotte Gainsbourg who was quite impressive. The movie offers a sci-fi theme in contrast to the characters and they move together in a way that blows your mind.

16. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy:
                                                           A British espionage thriller based on the book by John Le Carre added with some narrative differences and a huge ensemble talented British cast plus impressive production values, what else can you ask for? This was a impressive movie and one of a kind that once again divided some audience that felt its too boring or hollow but to me its a instant classic.

17. Rango:
                      Rango is the best animated movie of 2011 and one of the most original work in the field of animation with a western that wasn't actually for very younger audience but still offered winning fun, thrill, enjoyment and a superb experience. The movie has such a surreal dream like feel that is impressive followed by wonderful voice acting by Johnny Depp.

18. We Need to Talk About Kevin:
                                                                     Utterly disturbing tale of a teenager who goes on a killing spree at his high school and it mainly deals with the look at his family before and after it all happens. Tilda Swinton was superbly excellent in a portrayal of a mother finding out the root cause of everything that happened. The narration is in a very dream like way, just like Martha Marcy which really makes us see the insight of how troubling past and present is to the characters and we experience the same.

19. Meek's Cutoff:
                                    Brilliant and breathtaking movie, moving at a very slow to no speed at all, this movie is more of an experience because the way director makes us see the life of these people is in a very natural way. Stunning cinematography adds to the beauty and has some good performances specially by Michelle Williams. Her character acts like a true heroine, hopeful and determined in the harsh, hopeless and horrific situations. Not your usual Western movie but a great addition to the genre that really should be explored more by modern filmmakers just like her. It is epic as well as very intimate and personal, even tone and almost lyrical. If you are an art-house freak like me and appreciate good cinema, this movie is for you.

20. Tomboy:
                          This is a gem i watched just a few days ago and couldn't help but adding it in my Top 20. This movie impressed me a lot with its simplicity and tenderness and how rare we see topics like these done in such brilliant way on-screen. One of the best movies to come on childhood innocence, insecurities and identity. A heart touching tale packed with a natural and very superb performance by Zoe Heran as a girl who wants to be a boy. Its really fascinating how accurately director of the movie shows us the tiniest details of the "childhood" in a way that makes us think for a moment that we have been there.

Honorable Mentions: (21-30)

1. 50/50
2. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
3. The Muppets
4. Source Code
5. Beginners
6. Contagion
7. Win Win
8. The Guard
9. Arthur Christmas
10. Super 8

Check out my complete list of all 2011 Movies i watched on IMDB!