Monday, June 13, 2022

The 100 Project: The Top 25 Movies of 2011

By 2011, I was into my 2nd year as a "serious" blogger. I posted pretty much every other day, and was under the false pretense that maybe one day I'd make a buck or two off this thing. How stupid I was. Anyhoo, let's talk about movies. I watched a bunch of them from that year. Of course, I made a list of what I think were the best. Check it out here. As I've said before, though, things change, namely my opinions. So no, this is not just a regurgitation of that list. Instead of dilly-dallying any longer, let's just get to it. Oh, first a reminder. For this project, I'm using to guide me on the year of release, so you may see some of these movies listed on other sites as 2010 or 2012 releases. Got it? Good.

My Top 25 Movies of 2011

  • According to my Letterboxd account I've seen 147 films released during 2011.
  • I only saw 3 movies in theaters, 2 make the top 25.
  • I've seen all 9 movies nominated for Best Picture. Only 1 makes my top 25, 1 other is an honorable mention.
  • 2 Documentaries make my top 10, 2 more in the top 25, and another makes my honorable mentions.
  • 4 non-English language films make my top 25. 2 more are honorable mentions.
  • For the first time since 2002, no animated features make my list.

25. Fast Five

24. X-Men: First Class

23. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

22. Moneyball

21. Win Win

20. Louder Than a Bomb

19. Cabin in the Woods

18. Dark Girls

17. A Separation

16. Shame

15. Kinyarwanda

14. Attack the Block

13. You're Next

12. Warrior

11. Killer Joe

10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

In the grand scheme of things this American remake of a Swedish film barely two years older is unnecessary. I know, director David Fincher says it's not a remake but another adaptation of the same novel. Whatever he wants to call it, there's little denying he did a great job directing it. His version is as good as the original, possibly better, with a career defining performance from Rooney Mara.

9. Drive

This one is a love it or hate it type of affair. I saw it first on DVD and obviously loved it. The moodiness of it, the way our two main characters communicated through sheepish silence, the interesting people that impacted their world, the way it turns on a dime from contemplative love story to brutal action flick - it all works for me. Afterwards, I called my brother to ask if he'd seen it. He actually went to the theater to do so. He and his girlfriend hated it so much they walked out before it was over. He was expecting something like #25 on this list. Drive ain't that.

8. Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest is one of my all-time favorite groups. This doc is a look at the both their history and their then-present. The years long feuding between two of the three members (Q-Tip and Phife Dawg) was well-known, but became fleshed out on both sides of it. Of course, it's not all bickering as we get to relive many of the moments that made them one of hip hop's most beloved crews. RIP to Phife Dawg who passed away in 2016 due to complications from diabetes.

7. Contagion

When I first saw this in either 2011 or 2012, it horrified me. It's about a worldwide pandemic spreading around the world, killing people by the millions, through seemingly innocuous human contact. The way it was presented, somberly and with focus on a quickly deteriorating society and a need for isolation, made it feel like it could really happen. Then it did.

6. Martha Marcy May Marlene

Before getting absorbed by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Elizabeth Olsen, was emerging from the shadows of her famous sisters (twins Mary Kate and Ashley) and building a resume as an actress to be reckoned with. Her performance here is her finest, heartbreaking and gut wrenching, she makes us feel every bit of her characters confusion and justifiable paranoia. To drive it all home, John Hawkes is perfectly charismatic and terrifying as a cult leader.

5. Pariah

Years before Moonlight, there was this portrait of African American teen sexuality. Our main character is fully aware she is a lesbian, but hasn't come out to her family, particularly her mom who holds staunch religious beliefs and is fully against homosexuality. Previously untested as an actress despite numerous movie roles, Kim Wayans provides us a great lightning rod of a character as the mother. 

4. The Skin I Live In

I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this. I only knew it would be a lot to process, based on my previous knowledge of the director, Pedro Almodovar. It was that, and then some. Dark and disturbing on many levels, it eventually reaches a soul-churning conclusion. This is one of the most unique explorations gender identity and sexuality I've ever seen.

3. Tyrannosaur

This one is disturbing on a realistic level, which is always worse. In the end, it reveals itself to be a love story, but it's not one filled with meet-cutes and romantic gestures. This is all hard livin' and circumstances. Last time I did this, I had it as my number one. That it fell a couple spots has more to do with me not having watched it quite some time and the ascension of the other movies than my opinion of it lessening.

2. The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975

This doc takes a look at the Civil Rights Movement, post Dr. King, from a unique perspective. It was made by Swedish filmmakers using lots of footage that had never been seen before. It’s fascinating, insightful, and frustrating. That last emotion coming from the disheartening fact that a lot of what we’re seeing and hearing is still both prevalent and relevant.

1. The Raid: Redemption

I fell in love with it when I first saw it, way back in 2011. There is just enough story to hang a bunch of fight scenes on. However, these are probably the best choreographed fight scenes of all-time. As a result I’ve spent a lot of hours with this film. I’ve rewatched it several times, and I’ve lost count of how many YouTubers I’ve watched react to it. Every so often I will purposely search for more reactions. And yeah, I’m about to watch it for myself again. When it comes to this movie, I just can’t help myself..

Honorable Mentions (alphabetically): Bernie, Bridesmaids, The Descendants, Elena, Goon, Hanna, Haywire, Hobo with a Shotgun, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Kung Fu Panda 2, Lovely Molly, Rango, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super 8, Take This Waltz, Undefeated, Young Adult


  1. From your 25, Louder Than a Bomb, The Black Power Mixtape, Tyrannosaur, You're Next, Kinyarwanda, and Dark Girls are the ones on the list I haven't seen (and I refuse to watch Mission: Impossible 4: RUN-KWA!!!! though we do share some films that is based on my list (although I'm aware you hate my #1 pick as do a lot of people). I like the list though why is Attack the Block on both the main list and honorable mentions? Elena, Undefeated, Hobo with a Shot Gun, Lovely Molly, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi are films I need to see.

    1. I highly recommend Tyrannosaur, You're Next, and Kinyarwanda. The others are documentaries so if you're ok with that then have at it. I just made a mistake and put Attack the Block on the honorable mentions list. I fixed it. And you're right, I HATE The Tree of Life. I get Malick is a genius, but he's just not my cup of tea.

  2. Minor correction--you have Attack the Block in your honorable mentions as well as #14 in the list.

    You've given me six to add to my list, plus confirmed four that are on my list that I haven't seen yet.

    A few to consider:
    Chico y Rita
    The Devil's Double
    The Ecstasy of Order--seriously, track this down and thank me later
    Kill List

    1. Yeah, I was being a bit hasty. I've removed Attack the Block from the hm list and replaced with Hanna.

      Which ones did I confirm?

      Bernie is on the honorable mentions list. I didn't much care for Kill List. Never heard The Ecstasy of Order, but now it's definitely on my list.Thanks!

    2. Added to the list are Fast Fie, Louder than a Bomb, Dark Girls, Kinyarwanda, Beats Rhymes and Life, and The Black Power Mixtape.

      Confirmed are Win WIn, Warrior, Pariah, and Tyrannosaur

    3. Cool! Just a warning, with Fast Five it's really "Did you see that? That's ridiculous!" kind of fun. Along with Beats, Rhymes, and Life, Louder Than a Bomb and Dark Girls are both docs. Enjoy!

  3. Hey Dell,

    First off welcome back! Been too long.

    I have only seen ten out of these and only loved one-Moneyball. But I liked-X-Men: First Class, Warrior and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

    There were a few others that I was more neutral about-Drive (the look of it was impressive and the acting very good but I’ve never had any desire to watch it again after that first time), Contagion (It was tonally off, some parts very gripping and others slack but it was a decent movie), and Martha Marcy May Marlene (I agree about Elizabeth Olsen but I couldn’t engage with the film).

    Unfortunately, there are a trio that I hated-Win Win, Killer Joe and Shame. Though with that last hate might be too strong, the acting was fantastic but the film so enervating I could not wait for the ending credits.

    What I haven’t seen is more of a mixed bag. Two-A Separation and Tyrannosaur have been on my to see list for much too long. A couple-Fast Five (I checked out on the entire Fast & Furious franchise after the third. It’s just the same old, same old) & Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (I avoid that loon Cruise whenever I can) you couldn’t pay me to watch. Several-Cabin in the Woods, Attack the Block, You’re Next, The Skin I Live In and The Raid: Redemption just aren’t my kind of films. Which leaves mostly the docs which all intrigue me at various levels. The two that I’m most curious about are Louder than a Bomb and The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975. Is that Angela Davis in the pic? She always had the most gravity defying hair! I was just a wee one for most of that period but do remember the tumult going on.

    I haven’t seen most of your runners-up but will say I liked but didn’t love Young Adult and detested Bridesmaids with the power of a thousand suns!

    1. Thanks, Joel!

      Drive is a polarizing film, to say the least.

      Not surprised you didn't care for Killer Joe or Shame. I am surprised you hated Win Win, though.

      I'm really curious to see your reaction to A Separation and Tyrannosaur. Yes, that is Angela Davis and her amazing 'fro!

      No love for Bridesmaids, huh.

  4. My tops are quite different from yours with only one match up, Moneyball which ranked much higher for me. What I liked most about it, besides Brad Pitt’s really ace performance, was that even a non-sports fan like myself could understand what the film was laying out for us.

    I cannot honestly say I have a top 25 more of a top eleven that I genuinely loved, including three documentaries, and a group that I liked quite a bit. So, with that qualifier here’s my top 11.

    Tops in order:
    These Amazing Shadows
    Lost Forever
    Source Code
    Margin Call
    The Artist
    Kill the Irishman
    The Muppets
    Midnight in Paris-quite a feat for it to land so high since I usually can’t stand Owen Wilson.

    And an equal number of runners-up in alphabetical order:

    Crazy Stupid Love
    The Deep Blue Sea-Dour and oppressive but Rachel Weisz’s performance should have landed her the Best Actress Oscar this year.
    The Devil’s Double-It was too disturbing for me to say I loved it, but Dominic Cooper gives two great performances, really nomination worthy, in it. For that alone it’s worth catching up with.
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
    The Help
    The Ides of March
    Page Eight
    Tower Heist
    The Visitor

    1. I've seen 5 of your top 11, including Moneyball. Of those other 4, I really like 2 of them - Margin Call and The Artist. Both could've been honorable mentions. I like Midnight in Paris well enough. I do not like Source Code at all. I guessed who the bomber was really quickly, so I spent most of the movie bored until they confirmed my suspicions.

      Your others are a mixed bag for me (of the ones I've seen). I really like Crazy Stupid Love and Tower Heist. Those could've also been honorable mentions for me. Same goes for The Devil's Double. Cooper is amazing. I like The Ides of March, but found it too convoluted. I've soured on The Help over the years. I liked it at first, but the more I think about it the less I like it. I haven't seen the rest, but I do want to mention the Harry Potter flick. I've started on that franchise, but just can't seem to get through it. The first few movies just don't do it for me. I'm going to try again soon. Hopefully, it gets better as they go.

    2. The first couple of Harry Potter movies are weak, particularly the first, but they did improve as they went along. The final ones were probably the best of the series.

    3. That's encouraging. Can't promise when I'll get back to it, but I will.