I felt that I should distinguish what I think will be the winners in each respective Oscar category from what I believe were the best films of 2011. As we all know, the Academy is far from perfect. Hence bamboozling nominations of films like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
and War Horse over films like Drive and Win Win. I should add in a qualifier: this list is subject to change. I have not seen every movie from 2011, that's impossible. I haven't seen every movie up for Best Picture (I've seen most of them). This list is based on the most critically acclaimed films that I have seen. So, while the moniker may be "Top Films of 2011," it's really the "Top Films of 2011 I've Seen." But, that just sounds lame.
As I mentioned before, it being a weak year in terms of caliber of films, it's not surprising that my list, for the most part, includes Oscar nominees. However, there are a couple of notable differences I will explain after I present them to you:
5. Win Win
4. The Tree of Life
2. The Descendants
1. The Artist
Two inclusions that may spark surprise are Win Win and Beginners.
Win Win is an independent film by Thomas McCarthy, the same exceptional director that made The Station Agent. It was a really well done, realist film (typical of McCarthy) with great performances from Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, and Bobby Cannavale, who rejoins McCarthy after also starring in The Station Agent. While it is up for a couple Independent Spirit Awards, for some reason it escaped the Academy. But, it was undoubtedly one of my favorites of the year and definitely worth seeing.
Beginners got a nod for Best Supporting Actor in Christopher Plummer, but, puzzlingly, that was it. I'm really not sure why. There has been a reluctance, in recent years, from the Academy to take romantic films seriously (as was the case with Blue Valentine last year). But I believe this film was far more exigent than the usual romantic film. Plummer was undoubtedly fantastic and well worthy of the Best Supporting Actor nomination. Ewan McGregor did what he had to do very well, but was not worthy of a nod. But, I do feel that Melanie Laurent was overlooked for Best Supporting Actress. It was a great performance by the French actress. Beginners can be looked at as this year's The Kids Are All Right, but it stands on its own. Mike Mills (director of Thumbsucker) did a great job and deserved more recognition for his work.
I would love to give reviews and more explanation as to my other 3 choices, but I feel the point is moot given all the talk surrounding those three great films. My hope is to review films more regularly, and in a somewhat timely manner in relation to their popular theatrical release.
What do you think of my top 5? Missing anything? What are your top films of 2011?