Kam’s Annual Assessment Of The Cream Of The Cinematic Crop

The standout flick of 2011 is The Artist, a silent love song that can nonetheless be heard by all who enjoy film. If you’ve been motivated to read this Top 100 list, you are undoubtedly among those devoted theatergoers I’m talking about.

The Artist not only runs silent, but also runs deep into the very soul of moviemaking, as it eloquently endeavors to entertain while simultaneously chronicling the evolution of the art form from its earliest beginnings to today’s blockbusters. As such, this black & white throwback is a tour de force, which earns well-deserved recognition for its unique contribution to cinema. Consequently, it would be unfair to pigeonhole such a genre-blending masterpiece, or to compare it to any of the other offerings of 2011.

The Artist aside, rather than limit my annual list just to the 10 best offerings, I’ve expanded it, as usual, to 100, including documentaries, independents and foreign films, along with the obligatory Hollywood blockbusters. The idea is to encourage you to discover some of those lesser-known sleepers, which might not have previously registered a blip on your radar.

 

 

10 Best Big Budget Films of 2011

1. Bridesmaids

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

3. The Help

4. Super 8

5. The Lincoln Lawyer

6. Moneyball

7. Anonymous

8. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

9. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

10. War Horse

 

Big Budgets Honorable Mention

 

  1. Crazy, Stupid, Love
  2. Real Steel
  3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  4. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  5. Fast Five
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
  7. Thor
  8. Scream 4
  9. The Ides of March
  10. X-Men: First Class
  11. Captain America
  12. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules
  13. I Don’t Know How She Does It
  14. Jumping the Broom
  15. Bad Teacher

 

 

Best Foreign Films

 

  1. Sarah’s Key (France)
  2. Leap Year (Mexico)
  3. Life, Above All (South Africa)
  4. The Woman on the 6th Floor (France)
  5. Point Blank (France)
  6. Kinyarwanda (Rwanda)
  7. True Legend (China)
  8. Elles (France)
  9. Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story (Egypt)
  10. The First Grader (Kenya)

 

Foreign Films Honorable Mention

 

  1. Senna (Brazil)
  2. Viva Riva! (Congo)
  3. King of Devil’s Island (Norway)
  4. Hell and Back Again (Afghanistan)
  5. Shaolin (Hong Kong)
  6. Certified Copy (Italy)
  7. The First Rasta (Jamaica)
  8. TrollHunter (Norway)
  9. Ip Man 2 (Hong Kong)
  10. The Sleeping Beauty (France)
  11. The Carrier (Zambia)

22. Le Havre (France)

  1. I Saw the Devil (Korea)
  2. Amigo (Philippines)
  3. Special Treatment (France)

 

 

10 Best Independent Films

 

  1. Drive
  2. Melancholia
  3. Art History
  4. Gabi on the Roof in July
  5. Shame
  6. Midnight in Paris
  7. The Debt
  8. Courageous
  9. I Will Follow
  10. Trust

 

Independent Films Honorable Mention

 

  1. My Reincarnation
  2. Martha Marcy May Marlene
  3. The Descendants
  4. Silver Bullets
  5. Meek’s Cutoff
  6. Hello, Lonesome
  7. London River
  8. Albert Norris
  9. The Grace Card
  10. Tyrannosaur
  11. Pariah
  12. The Iron Lady
  13. Spork
  14. Fire in Babylon
  15. Bellflower

 

 

10 Best Documentaries

 

  1. Charlotte Rampling: The Look
  2. Eames: The Architect and the Painter
  3. Chasing Madoff
  4. Dear Daddy
  5. Carbon Nation
  6. Hey Boo: Harper Lee and “To Kill a Mockingbird”
  7. The Blackpower Mixtape 1967-1975
  8. Crime after Crime
  9. Orgasm, Inc.
  10. Tabloid

 

Documentaries Honorable Mention

 

  1. Thunder Soul
  2. Forks over Knives
  3. Beware of Christians
  4. Rejoice & Shout
  5. Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
  6. Fear of a Black Republican
  7. Into the Abyss
  8. Rebirth
  9. Muhammad Ali 1973-1974
  10. Sarah Palin: You Betcha!
  11. The Interrupters
  12. Under the Boardwalk
  13. The Story of Lovers Rock
  14. America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments
  15. Undefeated

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

 

For movies opening January 6, 2012

 

The Devil Inside (R for profanity, disturbing images, grisly violence and sexual references). Found-footage horror flick about a young woman (Fernande Andrade) who enlists the assistance of two priests (Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth) to conduct an exorcism on her mother (Suzan Crowley) at the hospital for the criminally insane where the demon-possessed murderer has been locked up since committing to a triple slaying back in 1989. With Ionut Grama, Bonnie Morgan and Brian Johnson.

 

Beneath The Darkness (R for violence and profanity). Suspense thriller about four teenagers (Tony Oller, Aimee Teegarden, Stephen Lunsford and Devon Werkheiser) whose grim discovery at the local funeral home makes them the target of a sadistic mortician (Dennis Quaid) who will stop at nothing to keep his secret buried. With Brett Cullen, Dahlia Waingort and Wilbur Penn.

 

It’s About You (Unrated). Rockumentary road flick, shot on Super 8 film, chronicling John Mellencamp’s 2009 studio sessions and summer concert tour where he shared the bill with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

 

Norwegian Wood (Unrated). Romance drama, set in Tokyo in 1969, about a Beatles fan (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) torn between dating a cute, college classmate (Kiko Mizuhara) and the emotionally-unavailable ex-girlfriend (Rinko Kikuchi) of a pal (Kengo Kora) who recently committed suicide. With Yuki Ito, Eriko Hatsune and Takao Handa. (In Japanese with subtitles.)

 

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Unrated). Fact-based drama about a posse formed to search the grasslands outside the town of Ceskin for the body of a murder victim (Erol Eraslan) buried alive by a couple of inebriated brothers (Burhan Yildiz and Firat Tanis). With Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan and Taner Birsel. (In Turkish with subtitles.)

 

Roadie (R for drug use and pervasive profanity). Prodigal Son drama about an aging roadie (Ron Eldard) who retires after 20 years working for the rock group Blue Oyster Cult to return to his childhood home in Queens to care for his ailing mom (Lois Smith). With David Margulies, Bobby Cannavale, Jill Hennessy and Suzette Gunn.

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