Thursday, December 29, 2011

THE BEST OF 2011 - The Best MOVIES Of The Year


- At some point this Fall, I had a feeling ... as far as movies go, this was going to be one of those years. This was going to be a year where my personal picks for the year's best films didn't necessarily conform to what other critics picked. This was going to be a year where a lot of my favorite films were, inevitably, going to be ignored come awards season. Without any unanimously-praised new-classics, this was going to be a year where people were sharply divided as to the year's best. 2011 saw many fantastic films, but few that were truly titanic. I don't think there was any one film this year that was on the same level of greatness as recent Best-Of picks like The Social Network, The Hurt Locker, or No Country For Old Men. And yet, I still rank 2011 as a great year for movies because, over and over again, I found myself surprised by just how much I enjoyed any number of movies that, over the course of the year, seemed to come out of nowhere and make a huge impression.

Who would have thought, going into this Summer, for example, that of all the big blockbusters set to hit theaters ... who would have ever thought that RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES would be far and away the best? Not only did Apes shock me with just how awesome it was, but it now, in my mind, stands as one of the best overall action-blockbusters of the last several years.

Who expected, earlier this year, that a little movie called ATTACK THE BLOCK would be the cult-favorite, word-of-mouth sensation of the Summer? Before this Summer, I had never heard of Joe Cornish. Now, after his directorial debut with Attack The Block and co-writing credit on THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, I can't wait to see what he does next.

Who knew that there was another Olsen sister who was a phenomenal actress and breakout star in the making? Regardless of her last name, Elizabeth Olsen blew me away in MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE.

Speaking of breakout performances, I had never heard of Demian Bechir before this year. After reading a glowing review of A BETTER LIFE, I looked him up and saw that he was primarily known for a supporting role on the TV show Weeds. But in A Better Life, Bechir delivered an absolutely stunning turn as an illegal immigrant forced to track down his stolen truck, his only possession in the world of any value.

Who could have guessed that at the end of the year, we'd be talking about a silent movie throwback as one of the year's best and most beloved films? Up to the moment that the movie began to play in the theater, I was skeptical about THE ARTIST and its ability to keep me entertained. But by the time the credits rolled, I had been completely won over.

However, if I had to point to one overwhelming trend at the movies this year, it's that 2011 was a year in which pure cinema was celebrated. Many of the year's best films were primarily visual - reminding us of the very basic joys of the motion picture. THE ARTIST took us back to the days before spoken dialogue. HUGO was also, in its own way, a tribute to the silent era, and the way in which the movies of that time evoked such a raw feeling of wonder and imagination. THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN was Steven Spielberg using motion-capture animation to create a living, breathing cartoon world in three dimensions. Even the much-maligned SUCKER PUNCH was, in my opinion, a visual tour de force - a next-level dreamscape that brought videogame-like aesthetics to the movies. Most of all, there was DRIVE. I think that Drive is going to remain a divisive movie, because its sensibilities are just so different from what we're used to seeing in mainstream films. Everything about it is big, larger-than-life, and hyper-stylized. It's a visual, ultra-cinematic movie. It's less about weaving an intricate plot than it is about creating a particular mood, a certain, intangible feeling of pure, cinematic cool. That might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for me, well, it left me floored. In a way, it reminded me of some of the great 80's-era genre movies like Blade Runner or Raiders of the Lost Ark - in addition to the classic film noirs, those movies were the spiritual forebearers of Drive - they too were visual films, all about creating a particular feeling. Today, a lot of movies have lost that ability - f/x look increasingly generic, movies increasingly feel cookie-cutter and created by committee. But from moment one of Drive, Nicholas Winding Refn declares that this movie had style, this movie had atmosphere, this movie was something different.

In past years, there were movies like The Hurt Locker or The Social Network that I felt could and should be recognized come Oscar time. I advocated both films as Best Picture picks, and both were in the running to win Oscar gold, with The Hurt Locker surprising some and receiving top honors. This year though, I feel like there's little chance that a lot of my favorite films will have that opportunity. Many of my favorite movies of 2011 probably just aren't Oscar material. Even DRIVE ... it's probably too hyper-stylized, too pulpy, too rock n' roll for Oscar. A BETTER LIFE probably should be right up there in the conversation about the year's best films - and it's actually the kind of socially-relevant, emotionally-charged movie that in other years might be an awards-season frontrunner. Unfortunately, the movie never gained traction at the box office, and ended up staying under many people's radars. Who knows, maybe the movie will make a late-in-the-game rally and it or star Demian Bichir will get a much-deserved Oscar nomination. But it goes to show how much politics and campaigning can play a part come awards-season.

But you know what? 2011 was a reminder that sometimes, you have to just say "screw it," go against the grain a little, and support the movies that you're passionate about. I've always defended great blockbuster movies as worthy of recognition, and I'll argue that RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is right up there in the conversation of the year's best. Maybe some won't take it seriously. But there were few moments at the movies this year that gave me chills like APE's climactic scene where Ceaser - amazingly played by Andy Serkis - finally speaks, well, screams: "Nooooo!" That was a movie moment for the ages. And here's another opinion that more pretentious critics may not agree with: CAPTAIN AMERICA was one of the best superhero movies ever made - a fun, action-packed, inspiring adventure. Few other movies in 2011 left me smiling and pumped-up like this one did as I exited the theater. I felt similarly joyful after seeing KUNG-FU PANDA 2. Sure, the name sounds silly, but the movie is gorgeously animated, funny, tells a good story, and features spectacular action. Same goes for the kickass WARRIOR. Perhaps its MMA subject matter turned off some, but this was a classic fight movie as good as any we've seen in recent years.

I'll give one more shout-out here, to a movie that I've actually seen pop up on a couple of critics' Worst-of-the-Year lists - YOUR HIGHNESS. To that I say, are these critics high? Okay, maybe it wasn't for everyone, but Your Highness had me laughing hysterically from beginning to end. It was the rare high-concept comedy that expertly parodied the source material on which it was based. It kills me, because critics are so quick to trash a movie like Your Highness and lavish praise on something like Bridesmaids. In her Entertainment Weekly column on the year's best movies, critic Lisa Schwarzbaum went so far as to call Bridesmaids the #2 movie of the year, and went on the explain why. She said that comedies should be judged by the same criteria as other movies - essentially saying that the qualities of a great comedy are the same as in a great drama. I couldn't disagree more. A hilarious movie is a great comedy - period. And movies from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Young Frankenstein to Airplane to Anchorman help to prove that theory. Comedies can have great character development, or strong emotional components, or social satire - and those are elements that can contribute to a comedy being good or great. But they're not necessary at all. I'm sick of attitudes that say otherwise, but that's what we see as the conventional wisdom from critics and awards shows over and over again. Bridesmaids was a very good, very funny movie. But in my opinion, Your Highness was funnier. So was the amazingly funny and frenetic 30 MINUTES OR LESS. There's another one that seemed to be graded more on the merits of its premise and less on the quality of its jokes. This is why the great comedies - from Wayne's World to Wet Hot American Summer - have year after year been terminally underrated by the establishment. They just don't get it.

By the same token, I won't pretend to love certain movies just because they have a certain arthouse appeal. I think you'll find that my Best-Of list is pretty eclectic and diverse. I love all kinds of movies, from big-budget blockbusters to quirky indie flicks to oddball foreign films. But try as I might, I just can't include TREE OF LIFE in my Top 10 list. I actually really enjoyed the film, and I'm glad I took the time to see it in theaters. But it also never 100% worked for me. As thematically ambitious as it was, I don't know that it ever all came together in a truly meaningful way. And sometimes, that's just a judgement call and a personal opinion. Maybe there was something about Tree of Life that really resonated with you, and that's cool. But I also wonder if there's a certain level of dishonesty in reviews of the movie, where some critics call it Film of the Year just because it seems like a movie that had ambitions of being Film of the Year. Personally, I'm more inclined to rave about a film like MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, a film so intense that it took my breath away with its absorbing intensity. I feel similarly about a movie I really wanted to love - TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. I keep seeing it pop up on Best-Of lists and part of me totally gets it - it's got an amazing cast, great atmosphere ... but it just didn't work for me as a narrative. Conversely, the spy movie that did really knock me out this year was the intricately-plotted, amazingly-acted, tension-filled THE DEBT, which seems to be getting overlooked by many.

So here are my picks for the best movies of the year. On this list, you'll find likely Oscar nominees as well as movies that many would dismiss. There's action, comedy, drama, and animation. There are badass B-movies and highbrow critical darlings. But ultimately, these are the movies that resonated with me most in 2011.


1.) Drive

- A cinematic tour de force from director Nicholas Winding Refn, Drive marks the emergence of a major new voice in film. With a pulsating 80's-synth soundtrack driving the action, Drive is dripping with atmosphere and style. It's a big, pulpy, larger-than-life movie, with an iconic lead performance from Ryan Gosling and memorably villainous turns from Albert Brooks and Ron Pearlman. Drive was one of the few movies this year that just flat-out blew me away - a beautifully-shot symphony of violence, sadness, and neo-noir fatalism.

2.) A Better Life

- Talk about powerful, A Better Life packs an emotional punch like few other films I've ever seen. On one level, this film is about the very real plight of illegal immigrants in America. It doesn't take sides, it just shows a stark depiction of these families living in poverty, in constant fear of deportation, hoping that, somehow, there's something better ahead for their children and children's children. But more than that, A Better Life is a story about a father and son, and the adventure that the two go on together to fight for their family. This movie made me misty-eyed, it made me want to stand up and cheer, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. And Demian Bichir knocks it out of the park, in what I think is the best performance by an actor in a movie this year.

3.) Rise of the Planet of the Apes

- Scoff if you like, but Apes to me was a truly awesome blockbuster event - a movie that thrilled me with its incredible action, gave me an emotional punch to the gut, and provoked my imagination with its high-concept sci-fi premise. Director Rupert Wyatt - where did he come from? - delivered absolutely amazing action, gradually ramping up the scale and the stakes until the movie became all-out mayhem. And Andy Serkis - what he did with his work as Ceaser the ape - it's mind-blowing. This was the surprise smash of the Summer, and deservedly so - all hail Ceaser!

4.) The Artist

- It took me a little while to adjust to the wordless rhythms of The Artist, but soon enough, I was totally absorbed in its black-and-white world. The Artist is an homage to the silent movies of old, but it's also a wryly funny meta-commentary on the history of film. More than that though, it just has an old-school sense of movie magic. It makes us appreciate the sheer wonder of the moving picture, absorbing us in a classic tale of a man fallen from grace and the love that brings him back from the abyss. A unique gem of a movie, The Artist is a crowd-pleaser of the highest order.

5.) Martha Marcy May Marlene

- What a debut for writer-director Sean Durkin, and for actress Elizabeth Olsen. This harrowing psychological-thriller about a girl who manages to escape from a cult was ultra-intense, uber-creepy, and just plain disturbing. Durkin creates an atmosphere of near-oppressive tension as we flash between Olsen's time in the cult - where she's brainwashed to complete emotional numbness - and her time post-escape, where she lives in constant fear that she might be dragged back to that horrible place. But even more scary is the third possibility - that Olsen is so damaged that she might go back of her own volition. Gripping and thought-provoking, this movie left me breathless.

6.) Young Adult

- What an encore for the writer-director team of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman. I loved Juno, but Young Adult is in some ways more impressive - less stylized, more raw, it's a movie that will absolutely hit home for anyone who's ever hoped that they could go forth from their humble origins and make something of themselves in this world. Young Adult is, for one thing, hilarious. Charlize Theron kills it as Mavis Gary, a former high school mean girl who returns to her hometown to win back her old teenage flame. But Young Adult, even as it's making you laugh, will also have you wincing in recognition at the various characters that populate the film. There's an air of lived-in authenticity here that very few movies achieve. So many films that try to tell authentic human stories end up feeling to polished and distant. There's no distance here - Cody and Reitman cut right to the heart of Mavis Gary, and the results are both funny and poignant.

7.) Warrior

- Blame the marketing. The promos for Warrior made it look like the first Spike TV original movie. But in fact, Warrior is an emotion-packed fight film that channels the energy, spirit, gravitas, grittiness, and adrenaline-packed-action of films like Rocky and The Wrestler. This tale of two estranged brothers who each enter an MMA tournament as underdogs, only to come face to face with each other, just goes for broke - tossing everything plus the kitchen sink at you in order to build up its characters. By the time we reach the movie's climactic fight, we truly feel like we've been on an epic journey, and that we now have ringside seats to a grudge match of near-biblical proportions. But give credit to the trio of top-notch performances that really make this movie sing - Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, and Nick Nolte each tear the house down to create a film of true championship caliber.

8.) Hugo

- Martin Scorsese might not be the director you'd expect to create a living, breathing 3D storybook with an inspiring message about creativity and imagination. But that's exactly what he does with Hugo - a visually-stunning film that also serves as a surprising lesson on the history of film. But the educational aspect of Hugo is also its most entertaining, and that's because of Scorsese's passion for the subject matter, which emanates from every frame of the film. What starts out as the simple tale of a boy and a mysterious robot soon spirals into a love-letter to cinema. By the film's end, Scorsese seems to be speaking directly to us through the words of the figure at the center of the movie, the real-life movie pioneer George Melies: "I address you all tonight, as you truly are. Wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers ... Magicians!" "Come ..." says Scorsese through Melies, "... and dream with me." And so we do.

9.) The Ides of March

- Here was a political thriller that truly thrilled, a twisty, purposeful film that crackled with sharp dialogue and an absorbing plot, all the while holding up a funhouse mirror to the very real absurdities and tragedies of modern political theater. Ides of March popped thanks to a star-studded, perfectly chosen cast. Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Evan Rachel Wood, Marissa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, and Philip Seymour Hoffman all delivered fantastic performances. Clooney's direction was sure-footed and gave the story of election-year scandal a constant sense of driving, forward momentum. And the script was one of the year's best - brilliantly structured and elegantly constructed. A great cautionary tale about how hubris can bring down even the most promising of political prospects.

10.) 13 Assassins

- 13 Assassins, a Japanese import directed by the prolific Takashi Miike, is a period-piece samurai flick that just plain kicks ass. One one hand, the movie tells a fascinating historical parable about the waning days of the samurai - torn between a sense of honor and justice, and a still-strong loyalty to their country's increasingly corrupt rulers. On the other hand, this is a movie that just delivers complete and total ownage - after its first half expertly builds up the movie's team of assassins and the evil threat they face, its second half erupts into all-out carnage - a massive, epic battle for the ages. Miike proves a master at giving gravitas the movie's quieter moments while bringing jaw-dropping brutality to its action sequences. Seek this one out (hint: it's on Netflix) and bask in the badassery.


11.) Captain America: The First Avenger

- Filled with old-school adventure, two-fisted action, and heroes and villains that leap off the screen, Captain America stands as perhaps my favorite Marvel Comics movie adaptation to date. Chris Evans shines as Steve Rogers, and Hugo Weaving is fantastic as The Red Skull. Perfectly capturing the fun and pulpy sensibilities of the original comics, Joe Johnston and co. have crafted a superhero story that does Simon and Kirby proud.

12.) Attack the Block

- "Allow it!" Attack the Block is an awesome debut film from Joe Cornish, who channels the visual inventiveness, irreverent humor, and biting satirical edge of his friend and producer Edgar Wright to create a hugely entertaining action-horror-comedy. When aliens invade a poor London neighborhood, a ragtag gang of scrappy street kids band together to defend their turf. The result is a movie filled with action, humor, and a surprising amount of heart.

13.) The Adventures of Tintin

- Steven Spielberg cuts loose in this visually-dynamic animated film. Working off of a fun, funny script from Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, Spielberg mastefully channels the pulpy spirit of adventure of the Belgian comics on which the film is based. Tintin is simply a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and it once again proves that nobody does action/adventure quite like Mr. Spielberg.

14.) The Debt

- The Debt is a thematically-rich and completely riveting thriller about a botched attempt by a covert Israeli spy team to assassinate a former Nazi. Flashing back and forth between the 60's and the 90's, we see the spies' attempt to carry out their mission, and then, thirty years later, the realization that old mistakes, long swept under the rug, might come back to haunt them. The Debt is packed with tension and action, but it's also a haunting reflection on the emotional scars of the Holocaust that still reverberated for decades after the fact. With killer peformances from actors like Jessica Chastain, Helen Mirren, and Tom Wilkinson, The Debt is a must-see.

15.) 30 Minutes or Less

- A crazy, kinetic action-comedy from the director of Zombieland, 30 Minutes Or Less stands as one of the most underrated movies of 2011. The story of an aimless 20-something slacker who suddenly finds purpose when two crooks strap a bomb to his chest and force him to do their bidding, the movie goes to some pretty dark places, but also keeps the laughs coming. Jessie Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari make for a hilariously neurotic comedic duo, and Danny McBride and Nick Kroll kill it as the pair of bumbling thugs and would-be badasses who torment them. With some of the craziest humor I've seen in any comedy in a while, 30 Minutes Or Less is a twisted and frenetic comedy that may just be a cult classic in the making.

16.) Beginners

- Christopher Plummer delivers an incredible performance in this lyrical, moving dramedy. Plummer plays an elderly man who finally comes out of the closet after years of self-repression and finally begins living his life as he's always wanted, only to find out that he's been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Meanwhile, his son, played by Ewan McGregor, does what he can to support his dad, even as he grapples with his own relationship issues. Beginners is a sad, funny, slightly surreal film about making the most of the time we have.

17.) My Week With Marilyn

- Michelle Williams is a knockout as Marilyn Monroe, in this entertaining and fascinating look at Hollywood history. William's performance is transcendent - she makes Monroe at once larger than life but also human and vulnerable. We see the legendary icon's ability to turn on the charm and become this goddess-like symbol, but we also see the emotional and physical toll that this unprecedented level of fame takes on her. This isn't a Marilyn biopic though - what sold it for me was the fact that, really, it's a story about a wide-eyed kid, an average Joe, who gets to hang out and hook up with the world's most famous woman. It's a great little story about big Hollywood dreams come true.

18.) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

- While there's a lot of plot packed-in to David Fincher's moody adaptation of the popular crime novel, the real power of this movie is that it's a stunning, rock n' roll intro to Rooney Mara as goth-punk savant Lisbeth Salander. With style and aplomb, we meet perhaps the definitive version of the new queen of the badasses, and with her as our guide we get taken on a dark and grimy journey into her world of killers and crooks and men who do bad things.

19.) Kung Fu Panda 2

- Featuring eye-popping animation and incredible action scenes, Kung Fu Panda 2 improves on the original film in every way. It delves into the mysterious background of our lovable hero Po, but even as the movie's mythology expands, it takes the time to deliver a heartwarming story about the importance of family and friends. But make no mistake, this is no mere cuddly kids movie - the kung fu is strong in this one, with a bevy of legitimately badass action set-pieces that are among the year's best, animated or otherwise.

20.) A Dangerous Method

- David Cronenberg has always specialized in the psychological thriller, so it makes sense that his latest film explores the relationship between two of the iconic innovators of psychological study, Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Cronenberg shoots the film in a straightforward, clinical manner, which makes the increasingly deviant behavior of Michael Fassbender's Carl Jung all the more eyebrow-raising. Fassbender delivers a great performance here in what has, clearly, been a breakout year for him. So too does Kiera Knightly as the traumatized patient that gets entangled with Jung. And of course, Viggo Mortensen - Cronenberg's go-to great actor - is reliably fantastic as Freud.

21.) The Descendants

- In Alexander Payne's sweet and funny film, the director ponders the way in which one generation inherits the world from the one before it. What lessons have we learned from our parents, and how does that shape us, and in turn cause us to shape those who come after? That sounds like a lot of headiness for a quirky little film about a father and his kids who go off in search of the man who his comatose wife had an affair with ... but hey, that's sort of what I took from it. Regardless, The Descendants is a movie with thematic depth, but also with a lot of great little moments of humor and heart. George Clooney does his best to play a schlubby dad, but the breakout here is likely young actress Shailene Woodley, who does a great job playing his teenaged daughter - whose bad attitude and rebellious nature slowly gives way to a more adult understanding of the world.

22.) Sucker Punch

- Okay, here's a film that many hated, that was a box-office flop, and that inspired a lot of heated discussion and debate upon its release. I guess I am part of a small and semi-vocal minority that really dug this movie. To me, this film works purely as a visual showpiece for directory Zack Snyder. It's sensory overload, delivering future-shock dreamscape visuals that combine the aesthetics of videogames, comics, and Japanese anime that mesh into a sort of geek nirvana. I think too many people tried to watch this movie as a more traditional narrative, and got too caught up in deciphering the plot and decoding the subtext, questioning whether it was more about empowered girls kicking ass, or just arrested-development male fantasy brought to life. To me, Sucker Punch wowed me as, quite simply, an awesome piece of fantasy-art-in-motion.

23.) Your Highness

- Sure, perhaps Your Highness is only a great comedy if, like me, you grew up on a steady diet of cheesy-yet-amazing 80's sword n' sorcery movies. Maybe if the likes of Krull and Beastmaster aren't a part of your cinematic vocabulary, then you won't fully appreciate the sheer levels of comedic awesome that Your Highness reaches. And yes, perhaps parts of the movie are just too ridiculous, and maybe some of the jokes occasionally fall flat. But mostly, this one had me rolling in laughter. The inherent absurdity of Danny McBride's blue-collar inflection in a high fantasy world straight out of Conan cracks me up just thinking about it. The stoner-hero over-the-topness of James Franco in this one results in numerous moments of hilarity. And with Natalie Portman as a warrior princess, and Zooey Daschenel as a medieval maiden, I think the real question might be: how is this *not* on more people's Best-Of lists?

24.) Tree of Life

- Here's the thing about Tree of Life ... to me, if it was just a movie about a family in the 50's, a film about how the idyllic facade of suburbia often disguised lives of trauma and tragedy - well, maybe then it could have been a great film. Certainly, Bradd Pitt is great as the stern, slightly unbalanced father, and Jessica Chastain is similarly excellent as his repressed dreamer of a wife. In those small-town-America scenes of postwar angst, Terence Malick crafts a story that is, in-and-of-itself, a powerful and nostalgia-swept coming-of-age story. But I just couldn't make the connection between this - the bulk of the movie - and the maddeningly disconnected scenes of cosmic odyssey. They are, taken on their own, awe-inspiring. But I don't feel that Malick effectively connects them to his main story. Same goes for the bookends with Sean Penn - I had to really stretch to imagine how Malick intended the movie to come together as a cohesive whole. But as I've said before, Tree of Life is impressively ambitious, and it was indeed one of the more absorbing, thought-provoking, and beautifully-shot movies I saw this year. It's essential viewing, I think, but I just can't bring myself to rank it higher on this list.

25.) Drive Angry 3D

- And finally, here's my wild-card pick - a B-movie, instant-cult classic that is just pure, unadulterated, completely ridiculous insanity. Nicholas Cage is in full-on madman mode here, as a back-from-the-dead dad determined to wreak unholy vengeance on the evil cult leader who killed his daughter. William Fichtner is endlessly entertaining as Satan's too-cool accountant, intent on dragging Cage back to the underworld. And Amber Heard shows bonafide B-movie chops, kicking ass with style as a blonde bombshell who gets caught up in Cage's revenge-quest. Is Drive Angry in any way a conventionally good movie? I suppose not. But is it all kinds of awesome? Hells yes.

Runners Up: Rango, Colombiana, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Thor, X-Men: First Class, Paul, J. Edgar, War Horse, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Bridesmaids, Super 8, Cars 2, Source Code, Midnight In Paris, Super, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, The Muppets, Moneyball, The Sitter, Real Steel, Hanna, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Pariah



1.) Demian Bichir - A Better Life

2.) Jean Dujardin - The Artist
3.) Ryan Gosling - Drive
4.) Michael Fassbender - A Dangerous Method
5.) Tie: Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy - Warrior


1.) Christopher Plummer - Beginners

2.) Nick Nolte - Warrior
3.) Ben Kingsley - Hugo
4.) Kenneth Branaugh - My Week With Marilyn
5.) Viggo Mortensen - A Dangerous Method


1.) Charlize Theron - Young Adult

2.) Michelle Williams - My Week With Marilyn
3.) Elizabeth Olsen - Martha Marcy May Marlene
4.) Rooney Mara - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
5.) Jessica Chastain - The Debt


1.) Berenice Bejo - The Artist

2.) Evan Rachel Wood - The Ides of March
3.) Carey Mulligan - Drive
4.) Shailene Woodley - The Descendents
5.) Helen Mirren - The Debt


1.) Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive

2.) Michael Hazanavicus - The Artist
3.) Martin Scorsese - Hugo
4.) Sean Durkin - Martha Marcy May Marlene
5.) Chris Weitz - A Better Life

Runners Up: Rupert Wyatt - Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Steven Spielberg - The Adventures of Tintin


1.) Young Adult
2.) The Ides of March
3.) A Better Life
4.) Martha Marcy May Marlene
5.) Rise of the Planet of the Apes
6.) A Dangerous Method
7.) Attack the Block
8.) The Descendants
9.) Beginners
10.) 30 Minutes or Less

So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Personal favorites, disappointments, or surprises? Already, it's looking like 2012 is going to be an absolutely stacked year for great movies. January alone is looking jam-packed with potentially cool films, and looming on the horizon are, among others, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, and The Hobbit. So here's to another great year at the movies.

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