Year in Review: The best movies of 2011

The best movies of 2011

Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The best films of 2011 according to our film writers

Joseph Belanger

Top 10 films

In alphabetical order, so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings unnecessarily, of course, we begin with Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist. Silence will surely prove golden for this awards favourite, and deservedly so.

Beginners is intensely personal, but writer-director Mike Mills makes his healing process wonderfully universal.

Bridesmaids may be the best comedy of the year, but its heart and sensitivity made me cry.

In The Descendants, George Clooney teams with Alexander Payne to create that perfect indie-Hollywood hybrid that seems to elude so many other efforts.

Then you have Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, a dark, violent Ryan Gosling experience that sure got my motor purring.

Two major forces emerge on the film scene, actress Elizabeth Olsen and first-time writer-director Sean Durkin, in the unforgettable Martha Marcy May Marlene.

I don’t always connect with Lars von Trier, but the epic Melancholia is my official favourite of his.

Writer-director Steve McQueen reteamed with the brilliant Michael Fassbender to put a very real and effective face on sex addiction in Shame.

Love it or hate it, there is no denying the visual prowess and distinctive mark made on cinematic history by Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.

And finally, although We Need to Talk About Kevin has yet to hit Canadian theatres, when it does this winter, I assure you, you will be doing a lot of talking about it.

Kevin Laforest

Top 10 films

1. David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
For the captivatingly pulpy mystery plot, the frostbitten visuals, the disquieting score. But most of all, for Rooney Mara’s totally badass performance as the utterly fascinating Lisbeth Salander.

2. Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin
The always amazing Tilda Swinton stars in this impressionistic, hallucinatory, rivetingly visceral art-house horror film.

3. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive
A brilliantly crafted, whip-smart mood piece, full of instant-classic movie moments that are bound to thrill any cinephile.

4. Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life
An impressive and moving tone poem full of signature Malick magic-hour visuals and existential musings.

5. Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation
An intelligently written, subtly directed and affectingly acted ensemble drama that raises profound questions about ethics and causality.

6. Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo

A great family film in the best sense of the term, heartfelt and filled with wonder and whimsy every step of the way.

7. Steven Spielberg’s War Horse
With its many overwhelming visions of beauty and horror, this sentimental epic set during World War I is pure Spielberg through and through.

8. Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion
An incredibly effective paranoid thriller with elements of apocalyptic science fiction and 1970s disaster movies.

9. Jonathan Levine’s 50/50
Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives one of his very best performances as a cancer patient in this alternately funny and touching indie flick.

10. James Bobin’s The Muppets
A wonderful homage to Jim Henson’s creation, driven by Jason Segel’s boundless enthusiasm, joie de vivre and obvious love for all things Muppets.

Top 5 Quebec films

1. Deborah Chow’s The High Cost of Living

2. Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar

3. Patrick Demers’ Jaloux

4. Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie’s Laurentie

5. St├ęphane Lafleur’s En terrains connus

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