My Favorite Movies of 2011

Out of the 68 movies I watched for the first time in 2011, there were quite a few 4-star movies (out of 5), but very few 4.5s and 5s. I’ve listed those top movies below.

  1. Midnight in Paris: The whimsy of this movie delighted me from the first scene to the last, and the theme of nostalgia has stayed with me like no other film’s theme this year.
  2. Harry Potter 7.2: The last few Harry Potter movies left me wanting, but this one fulfilled my every desire for closing out the series. 5 points for Gryffindor!
  3. Win Win: How such a simple movie made such an impact on me, I don’t know. It’s heartfelt, funny, and extremely well written.
  4. The Fighter: Amazing acting makes this movie stands out, and the fight scenes are some of the best I’ve ever seen on film. Amy Adams in her underwear certainly didn’t hurt.
  5. Real Steel: The best action movie of the year. It’s pure popcorn entertainment at its best.
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger: The best comic book movie of the year. And it’s a period piece!
  7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: This one is still fresh on my mind, but it deserves recognition for such a tight script and some truly chilling scenes. Rooney Mara is a revelation as Lisbeth Salander.
  8. Exit Through the Gift Shop: Probably the most fascinating documentary I’ve ever seen. It’ll let you into a hidden world that you know nothing about.

And my least favorite movies of 2011:

  1. The Hangover Part II
  2. Young Adult
  3. Your Highness
  4. Buried
  5. Everything Must Go
  6. The Dilemma
  7. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  8. Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief

Here’s last year’s list. What were your favorite movies you watched for the first time in 2011?


14 Responses to “My Favorite Movies of 2011”

  1. Great list, Jamey! Here’s mine (Keeping in mind that a few 2011 movies that I haven’t yet seen might change my mind)…

    1) Take Shelter
    2) Hugo
    3) The Artist
    4) Tree of Life
    5) Midnight in Paris
    6) Cedar Rapids
    7) Win Win
    8) Source Code
    9) Margin Call
    10) Winter in Wartime

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Nice list! Source Code almost made my list–I should probably rewatch that one. And you’ve definitely inspired me to check out Take Shelter.

      Hugo is the one I don’t understand, and it’s not just you–many critics have put it on the top of their list, citing it as a “love letter to film making.” Which it totally is…in the last 45 minutes. The nearly 2 hours leading up to that are a completely different movie about a boy putting together an automaton and making friends and enemies. That 2 hours is a series of people not telling each other things that they could simply go ahead and tell each other.

      That said, the last 45 minutes is spectacular. If that 45 minutes was the entire movie, it would be near the top of my list. But I can’t forget the previous 2 hours that I had to trudge through (I went to the bathroom with no qualms at all of missing something important). What am I missing, Cara? I trust your judgment.

      • I doubt you’re missing anything, Jamey. 🙂 However, I went into the theatre without having heard it was a “love letter to film making.” Though I was tickled by the homage to film, to me that was just part of the tapestry. I saw the plot this way: a boy who has lost his family and feels alone and loveless, believes that if he fulfills his purpose he’ll find a place in the world. We learn that his purpose is to fix broken things, and through that gift to help fix broken people. In so doing he repairs himself. The theme is that we all have a purpose.

        As for characters withholding information: I believe this is often a source of mystery and comedy in stories. I suppose the withholding of info in this movie might seem contrived to some. But I didn’t find it so, maybe because I know people who have kept similar secrets due to feelings of failure, a fear of being laughed at, or a belief that they’ve become useless.

        On another note, I thought Martin Scorsese made good use of the medium: with stunning visuals, movement, sound, color, lighting, and even 3-D (which I often don’t care for.)

        • Jamey Stegmaier says:

          Cara–that’s an interesting perspective. I definitely agree about the visuals and 3D–they were stunning.

          I also agree that sometimes people keep secrets, especially due to their fears. But sometimes it just comes across as convenient storytelling instead of how a real person would actually respond. That’s how I felt a number of times while watching Hugo. And Lost.

  2. Penelope says:

    I’ve been wondering about Midnight in Paris – I’ll put that on my to watch list. I also thought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was extremely well done.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Oh Penelope, I seriously think you’d LOVE Midnight in Paris. I actually think it might be kid friendly enough to include your little one. Might want to check on that, but I’m pretty sure it’s fine.

  3. Jill says:

    I don’t really remember what movies I’ve seen this year, but I did see the original version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (the Swedish, subtitled one) and thought it was excellent. I’m kinda meh on American remakes of movies, but I’ll probably end up seeing the U.S. version just because.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Jill–I actually saw the American version with a friend who had seen the Swedish version, and he said it was essentially the same thing but with a slightly different ending and more attractive people. I think it’s worth watching for Rooney Mara’s performance alone, though.

    • Katie says:

      Jill, I saw the Swedish film as well, and was a little aprehensive about seeing the American version, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t think anyone could play Lisbeth as well as Noomi Rapace did, but Rooney Mara was EXCELLENT. I feel like the American version was more of a visual delight, as well as a little more humorous and playful, which sounds strange for a story like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but it worked really well. I think you should go see it!

  4. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Also, while I’m here, I wanted to mention the latest Mission: Impossible movie. I was VERY excited about the movie, perhaps too excited, as I like the M:I series (except for 2), I think Tom Cruise (despite his real-life weirdness) makes a good action star, and director Brad Bird was behind one of my favorite movies ever, The Incredibles.

    I watched it, I liked it, and there’s nothing wrong with it–it’s a solid action movie with some great set pieces and constantly forward momentum. And yet I’ve just kind of shrugged it off. It’s not sticking with me. In fact, I would say that no M:I scenes have ever eclipsed the original heist scene with Cruise hanging from the ceiling and the last scene with Cruise on the train.

    Also, just so I can get it off my chest, the latest movie had one HUGE mistake: The opening credits use frames from the entire movie–the movie you’re about to watch. So you can spoil the movie by paying close attention in the first 2 minutes as the credits roll. It doesn’t make sense. Clearly that real estate should have used frames from the previous 3 movies to add a nostalgia factor to what you’re about to watch. A bewildering choice from an otherwise meticulous director.

  5. Gabby says:

    Your Highness is one of the 5 worst movies I have ever seen.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I know! And to think I was actually somewhat excited about it. I thought it would be a great mix of fantasy, action, and comedy. The only highlight was Natalie Portman in a thong. It probably wasn’t even her real butt. Sigh.

  6. Eric says:

    Jamey, have you seen Warrior? The best movie I have seen this year.

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