After seeing about 200 movies in 2011, I decided that there was no
definitively great movie of 2011. I can't imagine people talking about any of
these movies in 20 years as having been "all-time classics."
If last year's "The Social Network," "Winter's Bone," "Black Swan," "True Grit" or "Inception" had been released this year, any one of them would have topped the list for this year.
That said, I felt as though 2011 was a year in which many genre films -- in categories including comic-book and science-fiction -- were better than in the past. A couple were even pretty great.
The result is a 10-best list for 2011 that is, as always, something more like my 10 favorites for the year.
When I was 13, I saw "Rocky" at the Southroads Cinema and declared it the best movie I'd ever seen. Words that I never imagined writing 35 years later: "Warrior," a movie centered around the sport of mixed martial arts, is one of the best pictures of the year, and it's one of the best sports dramas you will ever see.
If "Warrior" makes you think of the first "Rocky" movie, there are reasons for that. "Warrior" sets the audience up with quiet, intimately brutal moments among an estranged family in a great picture that last year's "The Fighter" could have been. Then it knocks you out with its moving, stand-up-and-cheer fight scenes.
Tom Hardy, as one of the battling brothers, shows why he's been picked to play the villain in next summer's "Dark Knight" picture and appear in many upcoming movies. If Nick Nolte, as the boys' broken-down father, isn't nominated for an Oscar, I'm not sure why they bother having awards ceremonies.
Maybe you heard about the movie, and you said, "mixed martial arts?" and you didn't go. I was once skeptical, too; then I watched "Warrior" and cheered.
2. Jane Eyre
This is another of the most overlooked movies of 2011 and another for which the public seemed to question its existence. "Really?" they seemed to ask. "Do we need another movie based on Charlotte Bronte's governess in Victorian England?"
We do when it makes the pulse quicken, the heart palpitate and the eyes moisten at watching this adaptation of Bronte's tale of ill-fated romance in England from 150 years ago. Her story feels more alive now than ever and works on three levels: love story, social commentary and Gothic thriller.
As Jane, Mia Wasikowska should be considered a best actress candidate. Meanwhile, as Mr. Rochester, Michael Fassbender is officially the Next Big Thing on the men's side of Hollywood. This is his great performance of 2011, which also includes another film on my list, as well as "Shame" and "A Dangerous Method," both of which are expected to open in Tulsa in January.
A man (played by Ewan McGregor) learns that his 75-year-old father (Christopher Plummer) is dying of cancer. It comes at virtually the same time he first learns his father is gay. It may sound ripe for satire, but rather, "Beginners" is witty, sad, sexy and romantic.
When it comes to forming lasting relationships, both men are "beginners" in the game of life who show us that it's never too late to start living. This is a marvelously sad comedy to which I'd like to escort some people who have
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