Top 10 Movies of 2011


Movie theatre2011 was a year of high expectations for movies, with massive film series coming to a close and big-budget remakes of popular cult films. 2011 was not just mainstream Hollywood’s year, however. It was also a banner year for art house-style films and unconventional movies that broke down boundaries. Check out the top 10 best films of the year after the break.

10.  The Ides of March

Ides of March

It is hard to separate George Clooney from this film. Not only because he wrote, directed, and starred in it, but also because of the eye-catching promo poster that fused Clooney’s face with that of co-star Ryan Gosling. The poster is, in fact, the perfect representation of a film that balances the performances of two heavyweight actors. In one corner, silver fox Clooney is Presidential hopeful Mike Morris, in the other, rising star Gosling plays Junior Campaign Manager Stephen Meyers. The two give compelling performances that remind us they are both at the top of their game. Even though the political jargon may fly over the heads of some audiences, the dynamic of two powerful actors (who both appear twice on our list) with a compelling story is enough reason to pick The Ides of March to start off the best movies of 2011.

– Kevin Hurren

9. The Descendants 

The Descendants

Even with The Ides of March on his plate, Clooney makes time for yet another stunning performance. He plays Matt King, a father of two girls who is forced to look into his past and embrace his future after his wife is left comatose after a boating accident. Alexander Payne films in the beautiful state of Hawaii, which contrasts with the difficulties that Matt King’s character faces.  King is challenged not only to break the news to his daughters but take on a new lead parental role. Clooney’s acting really grabs audiences and creates a portrait of mixed emotions within viewers. The film really made me take a step back and realize that we all face unavoidable tragedy in our lives and the difficulty is pushing through them and focusing on the positives.

– Melanie Anderson

8. The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life

What is the meaning of life? …You got nothing? Well, thinking about it can certainly give one headaches, and headaches are exactly what you get with The Tree of Life. The film is framed with puzzling images, with sequences at both the beginning and end featuring planets, volcanoes, galaxies, and dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. However, this confusion only better prepares the audience for the disjointed nature of the story told from the perspective of a man, played by Sean Penn, looking back on his childhood. Though The Tree of Life may sound complex, the film is simply about a young boy’s uncertainty about the meaning of family, friendship, intimacy, and other aspects of life we have all faced in one way or another. The boy’s parents, played by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, drive the story forward and this won’t be the only time Pitt’s work is recognized on our list. Still wondering about the meaning of life? The film gives no answers, but rather presents the question in an engaging and entertaining way.

– Kevin Hurren

7. 50/50

50/50

I can think of no better title for this movie than 50/50. Officially, the title comes from lead character Adam’s chances of beating his rare form of cancer. However, the title is also fitting considering the fact that this film is 50 per cent a comedy, and 50 per cent a drama. Ok, maybe more like 60/40. It’s hard not to laugh at anything Seth Rogan, who plays Adam’s best friend, says. Adam is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt whose ‘charm in depression’ performance is reminiscent of his 500 Days of Summer role. It seems like Gordon-Levitt isn’t the only one reprising their roles since in 50/50 one can also find Bryce Dallas Howard playing a villainous role similar to the one she did in The Help, which also makes an appearance on our list. Nevertheless, the fact that this film is such a tear-jerker, whether you’re crying from laughing or emotion, warrants its place in our number seven spot.

– Kevin Hurren

6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

It’s not just the piercings and tattoos that make Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander mesmerizing, but rather it’s her complete surrender to the character that makes this film so noteworthy. Mara, who many will not recognize as the scorned girlfriend from The Social Network, plays the computer hacker Lisbeth Salander who assists investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, played by Daniel Craig, in solving a 40 year old missing person case. While neither Craig’s, nor any other actor’s, performance in this film is bad, it is Mara who commands the story and the screen. She can make an audience both fear her and yet be afraid for her, rejoice at her slightest bit of happiness and mourn her shortcomings. While the film will not receive widespread popularity due to its heavy subject matter and jarring visuals, it is an injustice not to recognize this film as one of the best of 2011, even if it’s just because of the performance by the girl with the dragon tattoo.

– Kevin Hurren

5. Moneyball

Moneyball

Brad Pitt knocks his performance out of the park in his portrayal of baseball manager Billy Beane of Oakland Athletics.  The film is based on Michael Lewis’ 2003 book about money’s influence on major-league baseball and Beane’s attempt to build a great team using statistical calculations.  That’s where popular funnyman Jonah Hill comes in as Peter Brand, a Yale Economics whiz kid with a love for the sport and a system of choosing players that the game had never seen before.  The film really opens one’s eyes to the business of baseball and how unfair the game can truly be. Pitt carefully added comic relief to this drama that highlights a love for the underdog and trusting what you believe in.

– Melanie Anderson

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The final installment in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series takes audiences from the opening scene and brings them through a magical and thrilling journey. Hallows Part 2 definitely delivers additional excitement as the final battle between Harry and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named builds.  Viewing the film in IMAX 3D only enhances the images of mysterious creatures, explosions, spells, and a Gringott’s break-in.  The film really ties the entire series together as several previous storylines emerge, and all final questions are answered.  Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) champions a leadership role in the protection of Hogwarts, and as always, the Weasley twins are a welcomed comic relief in easing the intense action. Surprisingly, several other unexpected heroes emerge, including a brave display from Neville Longbottom. The film focuses primarily on Harry; his past, relationship struggles, and unbearable connection to Voldemort. With more emphasis placed on ‘the boy who lived,’ Danielle Radcliffe truly embraces his opportunity to shine and does not disappoint.

– Melanie Anderson

3. Drive

Drive

It’s been a very busy, and successful, year for Canadian actor Ryan Gosling. Born in our very own London, Ontario, 2011 marked the release of Gosling’s projects Crazy, Stupid, Love and Idles Of March, but neither film received as much positive attention as Drive. Also starring Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston, Gosling plays an introverted stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver in this crime drama that turns its back on many of the classical Hollywood movie characteristics. For instance, Gosling’s character is never given a name, only being referred to as ‘the driver’. Also, the film runs on very little dialogue, instead choosing to highlight auditory and visual cues such as the unique soundtrack and breathtakingly shot sequences. In addition to being entertaining, the film challenges notions of what a blockbuster should be, and the mitZine can appreciate such defiance, which is why Drive makes it to the number three spot.

– Kevin Hurren

2. Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids

Beyonce may have been talking about the music industry when she proclaimed that girls run the world, but the same can be said for films in 2011. With the almost entirely female cast of The Help leading our list of top movies, it almost feels right to put Bridesmaids in the number two spot. This hilarious film about a bride and her wedding party stars a number of Saturday Night Live veterans, such as Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, but also holds a few breakout performances. Though the film is not above its fair share of ‘poo jokes’, it still reaches a level a comedy that can be used to end the debate over a woman’s ability to be funny. While Bridesmaids may make any woman seriously consider eloping, there should be no doubt over the fact that this is one funny film, chick flick or not. Ladies, sing it loud and sing it proud. Who run the world? Girls.

– Kevin Hurren

1. The Help

The Help

Being journalists ourselves, The Help hit home as the tale of a young woman enduring numerous challenges to reveal the misfortune and prejudice occurring during the early 60s in the United States.  Emma Stone plays Skeeter, a recent graduate who is not only becoming a mature woman through relationship, family, and friend-related tribulations but also finds herself creating an illegal book revealing the raw cruelty experienced regularly by their African-American domestic maids. The film contrasts the petty upper class with the gentle and caring nature of “the help” who not only clean their homes and cook for them, but are raising their children.  The emphasis on social status by the community over material responsibilities and human rights is shocking. Though the film adds humour very carefully through the maids’ secret banter and pranks, make no mistake that this film exposes cruelty that will bring a tear to your eye. For being both a moving story and a reminder that we should never turn our backs on the rights of another person, The Help takes our number one spot as the best movie of 2011.

– Melanie Anderson

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