I accidentally never got around to writing my “Best of 2010” last year (I finally posted a commentary-free version today, just to finally have it out of my hair.) which is a shame because I was much more enthusiastic about that year in film than I was about 2011. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the films in 2011. I did! There were plenty of fine films. And that’s kind of the problem. Most of them were perfectly fine. Some of them were pretty bad. (Looking at you, Sucker Punch.) But for the most part, there was no Scott Pilgrims, Black Swans or Social Networks. Oh, don’t get me wrong: there were a handful of 2011 releases that truly floored me. (One in particular that I found so spectacular, I paid to see it twice IN A ROW.) But for the majority of the year, when I walked out of the theatre, I was more interested in talking about my dinner plans than I was about discussing the film I just spent $12 on.
It’s not that I expect every film I see to blow me away, I just would like to walk out of a movie and have something to say about it. And sadly, in 2011 that was rarely the case. In fact, until the last few weeks of the year, I was having trouble coming up with a Top 10, let alone a Top 25. Then I saw a couple of movies (no list spoilers, I’ll discuss this further below) that reminded me why I love going to the movies, why I love sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers and experiencing a film on a big screen for the first time. So I went back, rewatched (with a new attitude) some 2011 films I had previously been lukewarm on and composed this list. Some of them I loved, some of them I just liked. But of the 69 different 2011 releases I saw, of the 57 trips to the movies I made (51 different movies: 41 new releases, 2 repeat viewings of Drive, 1 encore each of Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris, X-Men First Class and Horrible Bosses, the 10 films screened at AMC’s Best Picture Showcase, special event screenings of Sixteen Candles and Taxi Driver and of course, the American debut of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair at the New Beverly), these are the ones that stuck with me. Are they the best 25 movies in all of 2011? Heck if I know. But they are the 25 films in 2011 that I talked about when I left the theatre, films that made me feel something, movies that reminded me why I love movies.
Oh and fear not, this post is SPOILER-FREE. Unless you consider basic, broad plot details spoilers in which case, I think you’re being a bit silly. But hey, it’s your life.