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Apples and oranges. You can’t compare’em. Just like you can’t compare Woody Allen’s quaint “Midnight in Paris” with Terence Malick’s sprawling “The Tree of Life.”  So instead of ranking the best films of 2011, I’ll simply list them in alphabetical order. Suffice to say, each in its own way has left an indelible mark on the art of film. My personal criteria for making such a list is as follows:  artistic and technical merit, the likelihood that it will stand the test of time, the number of truly memorable scenes it contained, and the degree to which it achieved its aims in moving the audience.

The Artist – A toe-tapping, heart soaring delight that celebrates the art of silent film.
The Descendants – Alexander Payne’s layered and humanistic comedy/drama about loss and family.
Drive – An exercise in retro cool that solidifies Ryan Gosling’s ever increasing status as a badass.
Hugo – Martin Scorsese’s masterful homage to early cinematic innovation.
Midnight in Paris – Woody returns to form, still making us laugh and think after all these years.
Moneyball – Who’da thunk a movie about baseball statistics could have so much heart?
A Separation – An enthralling drama from Iran about a broken family. Foreign yet painfully familiar.
Take Shelter – An exercise in true suspense that heralds a storm, and the coming of director Jeff Nichols.
Tree of Life – Terrence Malick’s sweeping symphonic masterpiece about God and Man.
War Horse – Steven Spielberg’s old-fashioned epic about  humanity amid the inhumanity of war, and a horse who finds his way home.

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  1. Jennifer

    Good list! the ones I’ve seen were great…the ones i haven’t are now on my list. Thanks D!

  2. Mike H.

    Because I like making lists, here is how I rank the movies I saw in 2011.

    1. The Descendants
    2. The Artist
    3. Midnight in Paris
    4. The Muppets
    5. 50/50
    6. The Help
    7. Moneyball
    8. War Horse
    9. Drive
    10. Tower Heist
    11. Ides of March
    12. Hugo
    13. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    14. Super 8
    15. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

    So, yes, if I were nominating 5 films for Best Picture, “The Muppets” would be one of them. Still haven’t finished “Tree of Life,” but when I do, I will find a spot for it. I will probably revise it again when I see “Take Shelter,” “Young Adult” and “Carnage.

  3. alexa

    For me “Drive” is the no1 in 2011. You might hear one comparing this to a Tarantino film, but take a second and leave all worries at the door, this is an absorbing and tremendously unique piece of cinema from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. The reason it works so exquisitely well is because the film grabs hold of you and takes you inside this often dark and dream-like LA setting. So, when the end of the film hits, you feel apart of this film, and it’s there to stay.

    This film also offers a Ryan Gosling like you’ve never seen him, speaking only when necessary, with tension and fury in his eyes. He’s silent, caring, and ridiculously tough. Every line is delivered perfectly and every gesture is natural.

    I saw this at the LA Film Festival on a mammoth screen with booming speakers. The music only makes this film more unique. It is catchy and synchronized perfectly with the TRULY beautiful cinematography.

    This film is the BEST of its genre, but really. I honestly cannot compare it to any other film, for it is truly that different. “Drive” is already the best of the year, because I’m POSITIVE no other film will haunt and invade me quite like this film has. This is not just a classic for its genre, but a beautiful and bold classic in general.

    Have a lovely day