My Favorite Films of 2011

While I didn’t see a ton of movies this year, these were the ones that passed my “would I stop and watch it if it were on tv” test. If you haven’t seen them yet, I say rent them in 2012.

50/50

Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered on a 27-year-old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease. -IMDb

Great acting all around, although Seth Rogen only plays a mild variation of his teddy bear pothead persona. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Heath Ledger 2.0. The script was nicely balanced and knew exactly when to cut the sap with a joke.

Barney’s Version

The picaresque and touching story of the politically incorrect, fully lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky. -IMDb

This movie feels like an epic even though it’s focused on a single life. It was goofy with a very good cast. Often funny, sometimes sad, always unpredictable.

Cedar Rapids

Tim Lippe has no idea what he’s in for when he’s sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at an annual insurance convention, where he soon finds himself under the “guidance” of three convention veterans. -IMDb

A small comedy that wears its heart on its sleeve. John C. Riley is hilarious as an alcoholic buffoon. Also stars that guy from The Wire who always says “Sheeeeeit“.

Horrible Bosses

Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness. -IMDb

My vote for funniest flick of the year. A thousand times better than Hangover 2. The 3 leads complement each other well but Charlie Day steals the show as usual. Give that guy his own movie.

Midnight in Paris

A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better. -IMDb

A whimsical Woody Allen show, brainy and nostalgic. Not laugh out loud funny but definitely one of a kind. If you don’t like the Great Gatsby or Old Man and the Sea, you probably won’t be crazy about this film.

Moneyball

The story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players. -IMDb

Aaron Sorkin writes the best dialogue and this film is no exception. Everything is well done and you learn a great deal about the inner workings of a professional sports team.

Senna

A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34. -IMDb

Unlike most documentaries, this one doesn’t cut away to a narrator or talking heads and instead keeps it’s focus on actual footage of it’s subject. Senna was essentially seen as a saint, a Brazilian Tebow times ten, who was also the greatest driver ever.

The Tree of Life

The story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.-IMDb

I wrote about this one before but aside from its stellar cinematography, it’s a deep meditation on childhood and how the temperaments of our parents shape the evolution of our lives. I hope this wins Best Picture.

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