My Top 10 list? Yeah, OK, here you go. But these are personal, completely subjective, not necessarily critical choices. They’re the 2011 films I enjoyed or was challenged by so much, I’d watch ’em again, soon. They’re in alphabetical order.
The Adventures of Tintin, The Artist, City of Life and Death, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Incendies, Midnight in Paris, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Trip.
But I also have 10 more that won’t be on a lot of lists, I would urge you to find, to watch, to savor, maybe to think about and then say, “Whoa! That critic is cracked!” These, too, are in alphabetical order.
Anonymous | A mystery-thriller about who really wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare. Fantastic performances by Rhys Ifans as the sad Earl of Oxford, and Rafe Spall as the lusty Shakespeare.
Crazy Stupid Love | My favorite comedy script of the year, dizzily mixing and matching all kinds of people with stories of dysfunctional families, puppy love, friendship, angst, jealousy, booze, machismo and coincidence.
The Debt | The English-language remake of the 2007 Israeli thriller about three Mossad agents who botch a long-ago job and have to live with the consequences is a sharp-edged nail-biter from start to finish. Watch out for the damn Nazi!
Hanna | The mysterious young woman of the title can speak a dozen languages, knows her way around firearms and can break you in half if she wants to. And she’s going after the person who wants her dead.
Hobo with a Shotgun | Yes, I am guilty of having guilty pleasures. Rutger Hauer plays the hobo, he has and uses a shotgun, and the movie is violent and lurid. You get exactly what you expect with a title like that.
Le Quattro Volte | Everything you wanted to know about life and death and nature and the wind and goats, told in documentary style, with very few words, and long, long camera shots. Mesmerizing movie-making.
The Skin I Live In | Pedro Almodovar is a sick and twisted writer-director who usually also offers up a sense of humor. This mad-scientist story involving love and revenge and plastic surgery isn’t funny. But you’ll probably get a kick out of cringing while watching it.
The Tree of Life | The American dream goes sour in Terrence Malick’s exploration of life in 1950s suburbia. The film loses some ground when it jumps forward to present day and jumps back to the dinosaurs, but Malick knows how to create a mood piece.
Trollhunter | It’s another one of those “found footage” deals in which something awful has happened, then some lost cameras are located, with film intact. The locale is Norway, and there are big hungry three-headed trolls and ... well, this needs to be seen to be believed.
Warrior | Shakespearean family tragedy played out in the octagon, or as most people know it, the mixed martial arts arena. Two brothers must compete against each other, with their father as one of the coaches. Way over the top, but still down to Earth.