2011 Movies Year in Review

HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody!! What a year it’s been at the movies… sequels definitely ruled Hollywood in 2011 and no doubt this trend is likely to continue. According to this site, the movie industry churned out 28 sequels, the most ever released in a single year! And this Box Office Mojo list shows that 7 out of the top 10 biggest-grossing movies this year have all been sequels (and one remake), topped by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, raking in over $1.3 billion worldwide. That’s just ONE freakin’ movie of the already very profitable franchise!

I’d say it’s been a relatively good year at the movies… despite the slew of sequels and remakes, there have been some inventive and wonderfully creative films like The Artist, Midnight in Paris, Source Code, Tree of Life, just to name a few. Of course I wish there were more arty films released this year to balance all the sequels!!… 

For me personally, I saw almost 40 films released in 2011 (well 60 if you count all the Gregory Peck films I saw in the past two months) with more than half of those seen at the theater. Thanks to the 2011 Twin Cities Film Fest, I got  to see some films that barely made it to our local theaters, such as Machine Gun Preacher and a few good documentaries like Where Soldiers Come From and the Stan Lee’s With Great Power. Not bad at all, though I hope to see more movies in 2012… but with the fantastic lineup like Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, etc. on top of the other non-franchise movies I’m anticipating, next year sure is shaping up to be another awesome year at the movies!

Well, it’s customary for bloggers to sum up the end of the year with their picks of favorite films. So here’s my top ten favorite movies of 2011:… 

10. Thor
Branagh infused witty dialog and draw compelling performances from his actors, whilst still delivering satisfying special effects for fans of the superhero genre. The ending is so satisfying and naturally set up for a sequel. It doesn’t seem forced at all, in fact, Branagh gives us much to look forward to, too bad he didn’t sign up to helm the sequel.
As I’ve mentioned in my noteworthy performances post, one of the main highlights of this film is the character Rachel Singer, played by both Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain. But John Madden crafted an intriguing WWII thriller with unflinching action and sharp dialog. I don’t even mind renting this one again when it’s out on DVD. It’s not every day I come across a solid espionage piece that’s as taut and well-acted as this one.
Biggest surprise of the year for me as I wasn’t initially interested in seeing this film! It’s an impressive movie that it kept me engaged from start to finish, there’s no slow or ho-hum second act, or unnecessary ‘fillers’… I feel that every single scene in this film is worthy to be included. I commend UK director Rupert Wyatt—a relative newcomer with only two previous feature films under his belt—for creating such a satisfying film with a ‘whoa’ kind of ending.
I never would’ve thought that this sequel to a Mission movie would end up in my top 10, but if you’ve read my review, you’ll know why. Brad Bird’s confident direction and the inventive actions scenes makes this movie work, and Tom Cruise’s definitely in his elements as the super agent Ethan Hunt. Easily the most electrifying action movie I’ve seen in a while!
I made a snafu in including Tangled on this list as it’s actually released in 2010. In its place, I’m including the final film of the mega-successful Harry Potter franchise. Though I had said in my ‘review’ that it wasn’t as epic as I had expected it to be, in hindsight I think it truly was a great finish to a well-crafted franchise. It’s quite something to see how much Harry, Hermione and Ron have grown over the years. These three friends have been through a lot and the finale captures a lot of their emotional moments, as well as other beloved characters, especially Professor Snape! Not many franchises THIS big could’ve ended in such a high note.
5. Hugo
Martin Scorsese’s foray into family movies is an enchanting one. It’s another film on my list that takes place in the city of lights, captured in a brilliant cinematography by Robert Richardson. This film looks beautiful in 3D that’s used expertly to enhance the story instead of hindering it. I especially love the homage to history of filmmaking, intertwined with the story of a lonely boy trying to find his place in the world.
I don’t make a top 40 list like this to just any film, so naturally I LOVE this film. I’m naturally fond of the X-Men story, but Matthew Vaughn took this up a notch and delivered on his promise of putting together a Cold War setting + a Bond flick + Frankenheimer political thriller all in one heck of an entertaining movie. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy’s great performance is also major factor this movie works so well. Even after seeing over a dozen 2011 movies since, I still rank this pretty high on my list.
3. The Help
This is the last 2011 film I saw this year and what a way to end the year! I never read the book but I’ve heard that it’s one of the few adaptations that lives up to it, and I can see why. The story alone is inspiring and thought-provoking, and the acting is top notch. As I mentioned in my previous post, I sure hope Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis will continue to get recognition during award season. I laughed and cried throughout the film, it’s one of those films that’ll stay with me long after the end credits roll.
This is the kind of movie to get lost into, to be swept off your feet and be magically transported into the charming Parisian world that Woody Allen’s dreamt up. Right from the opening sequence with the jazzy music Si tu vois ma mère all the way to the rainy setting of the finale, this movie is just so irresistibly beguiling. I’m not even an Owen Wilson fan by a long shot, nor am I a longtime admirer of Woody Allen’s work, but Allen’s got a real winner with this one.

Beautiful. Enchanting. Inventive. I’m running out of adjectives to describe this film. I’m so glad I got to see it this year. Even though I’ve been waiting for this for a while and had a high expectation for it, this film still delivers! Major kudos to director Michel Hazanavicius for creating a film that’s not only delightful to watch but also so refreshingly different from the sequel/remake-laden pack of Hollywood offerings. As I said in my review, there really isn’t a single darn thing wrong with this film and even my husband who isn’t keen on black & white films, let alone a silent one, loves every minuted of it! A truly a magical time at the movies, hands down The Artist is my favorite I’ve seen all year!


As for worst films of the year, well I’m quite fortunate that I’ve been avoiding a lot of duds this year like Cowboys & Aliens, Green Lantern or Battle L.A. But if I were to name one disappointing film I saw this year, it’d be Somewhere by Sofia Coppola. Fortunately I didn’t waste my money seeing that at the cinema!

Another major disappointment is how Relativity Studio mishandled the distribution of Machine Gun Preacher, as my friend Sherry articulated in this article. It’s hard for any film, let alone a small indie like this one, to have a chance at success when most people I talked to didn’t even know it existed! I hope more people see it when it’s out on dvd.

Before I sign off, I just want to say have a HAPPY NEW YEAR and THANK YOU for your continued support and readership. It’s been a fun blogging year for me and ‘meeting’ new people who love movies as much as I do.

I hope to chat more about movies in the years to come… why don’t you start now by sharing your favorite movies of 2011.

59 thoughts on “2011 Movies Year in Review

  1. Melissa Bradley

    Happy New Year and what a spectacular list. I loved Thor, the Shakespearean drama and of course, Chris Hemsworth. 😉 Tangled was awesomely hilarious and I loved X-Men: First Class. 2012 is going to be a great year for movies and I look forward to more reviews from you. 🙂

    1. Thanks Mel, always glad to see you drop by. I like Branagh’s style and he did a wonderful job putting his own spin on a superhero movie! Glad you agree on Tangled and First Class too!

  2. A great list! Happy New Years! Wish I could’ve seen The Artist before the years end. Funny, I did not realize there were so many sequels last year. Prob because I subconsciously wanted to block that info out of my head. Lol. Love your list…all except for the HM for Tree of Life. 😀

    1. Happy New Year T. Hey no biggie that you haven’t seen The Artist, there are way more movies you saw that I haven’t. I was quite surprised by the number of sequels, I mean I know there were tons but 28, wow!

  3. Nice list! I can’t wait to see The Debt…I actually watched the original 2007 Israeli version yesterday (or last year, whichever way you wanna put it :P) and while it had it’s problems, I was quite impressed. Only Jessica Chastain could better it for me 🙂

    Thor was awesome, too. So cool that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are making it big now. Midnight in Paris is my #2, as well! I still have to see The Artist…I’m really looking forward to it!

    Hope you have a good 2012!

    1. Oh you’ll love The Debt if you’re a big fan of miss Chastain. It’s such a bravura performance yet she has such a sympathetic quality about her in everything I’ve seen her in so far.

      I have a big of crush on Hiddleston now that I’ve seen him in 3 films. I might have to blog about him soon 😀

      Hope you get to see The Artist soon too, here’s to more great movies in 2012!

  4. Ted S.

    I still haven’t seen many films on your list, not surprisingly though I ones I saw were the action big budget ones. I definitely want to see Midnight in Paris, The Debt and Hugo. If someday I’m in the mood, I might rent The Artist.

    The worst three films I saw this past year were Battle: LA, Transformers 3 and Cowboys & Aliens. The most pretentious small budget worst film of the year goes to Another Earth, a great concept but poor execution. It was badly written and directed.

    BTW, just FYI The Man of Steel has been moved to summer 2013 instead of December 2012. Since Warner Bros. is already releasing The Hobbit in December, they don’t want their two huge tent pole pictures to compete with one another.

    1. Ahah, I’m surprised & delighted you’d be willing to rent The Artist. Let me know what you think Ted. I think you’ll enjoy The Debt as you like more action stuff, but Midnight in Paris & Hugo are definitely worth a watch.

      Glad I haven’t seen the 3 you mentioned. Oh bummer, so I have to wait even longer to see Henry Cavill??!!! Heh, well I suppose that’s wise not competing w/ The Hobbit.

  5. Happy new year Ruth and the FC crew 🙂

    That’s a great list, my list is scheduled 3days from today. The rise of the planet of the apes is also in my list

  6. Pingback: Everybody’s Talkin’ 12 – 29 (Year-End Chatter from Other Bloggers) | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective

  7. I must admit I banned MISSION IMPOSSIBLE from my site since I can’t really believe than in a modern world Tom Cruise would have a disgusting, horrid, racists, evil and ignorant line in GHOST PROTOCOLE saying – “killed Serbs like flies”. I was shocked when I heard that one.

  8. Hello, Ruth. I stumbled upon your blog FlixChatter.net and now I’m addicted. My name is Javid, I’m 17 years old business student and I love movies a lot. I decided to create a movie blog and start to write my own reviews. I had a blog before but this one is only for movies. If you go and check this out, I would really be glad. My blog is located on http://JavidS.wordpress.com/ Thanks in advance. Bye 🙂

    1. Hi Javid, welcome to FC! Always nice to see fellow film fans. I’ll check your blog soon, thanks for stopping by and hope to see you around.

  9. Interesting that you have mostly mainstream movies at the bottom of your list … and then “Midnight in Paris” and “The Artist” at the top! I personally thought it was a dreadful year for studio flicks – only “The Help” and “Harry Potter” made my top 10. But to each their own; I’m glad someone enjoyed many of these movies that I didn’t!

    1. Hi Marshall, yeah I wish I had seen more indie flicks but I do like quite a lot of the mainstream offerings this year. I also have a penchant for superhero movies, as you can see 🙂

  10. I just saw The Artist today and you are right! It lives up to the hype and beyond. It really is a love letter to the movies.

    Best Supporting Actor has to be Uggie the dog!

    1. Hi Fabo, oh yeah indeed. I mentioned Uggie on my post yesterday about best performances in 2011. He should’ve won an award for best performance by an animal in a movie! 😀

  11. It’s fun to see some blockbusters including in your list Ruth. I tried to stay away from them, but Super 8 and Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol were my favorites. The only movie on your list that I would throw away is The Debt. I couldn’t even remember that I saw it come end of the year lists. I enjoyed your take on the top movies of the year. Looking forward to what’s coming to flixchatter in 2012.

    1. I have no problem with blockbuster movies, not all of them are crappy obviously. I really like The Debt, maybe ’cause I like the two female leads. Thanks Max.

  12. PrairieGirl

    The only two on your list I’ve seen are Midnight in Paris and Tangled… I’m sure I’ll end up seeing at least Hugo and The Help, maybe a few more on DVD. And I love your description of Rapunzel: “Rapunzel is a heck of a lot more assertive and strong but never losing her naivete and vulnerability. She’s bubbly and vivacious but not dim-witted.” Not only does it describe Rapunzel, I had to read it twice because at first I thought it completely described YOU!! I’m sure other FlixChatter readers could say the same because your now famous, fabulous personality comes across in every single FC post.

    Thanks for another great year of friendship (movies AND more). Here’s to a fantastic 2012 to you, FlixChatter, and the two new offsprings of FC, mainly FlixChatter tumblr, and then the FlixChatter channel on YouTube (under construction as of now, it will be up and running soon, I promise!). Love and blessings ;-D Becky

    1. WOW, what a lovely thing to say Becky… I don’t think I can live up to that description but thanks! 😀 Unfortunately me including Tangled on this 2011 list is a snafu so I have to revise it. It doesn’t change the fact that I LOVE the movie!

      Thank you for loyal support from the beginning 2.5 yrs ago (can’t believe it’s been that long! And thanks for capturing all those clips for me for YouTube, too! 😀

  13. I have to ask…why is Tangled on this list? A great movie, but it was a 2010 film with nominations in the last award season?

    Are you counting it since it released on Blu-ray in 2011? Just curious. I had to take a second look when I saw it on your list.

    1. D’oh!!! I feel like having a senior moment, ha..ha.. thanks for noticing that T, I definitely have to revise this list. I was debating to include HP7.2 on my top 10 anyway. As I said on Twitter, I did see Tangled this year on Blu-ray but my list should be 2011 theatrical releases. Thanks again, man!

  14. Fun list Ruth! It seems like we only have two movies in common (at least, they are in the same sequence although mine are #2 and #3). I have yet to see The Help and The Debt but it looks like you really loved your blockbusters this year.

    Keep on being awesome and happy new year Ruth 😀

    1. Thanks Cas! I thought I was the one person who hadn’t seen The Help until a few days ago… you should give that a watch Castor, it’s sooo good!

      Awww thanks for the kind words, likewise my friends and happy new year to you both!

  15. Matt Stewart

    Great list Ruth, this is one of the best I have seen so far! The only ones I can’t agree with are 10 and 4, for some reason I have a hard time getting into those comic book films, though of course with a few exceptions (Spider Man, Batman). However, First Class had some incredible acting and I cannot deny the special effects in Thor. I just didn’t find either of them great, I simply enjoyed them and nothing more.

    Love the placing of Midnight in Paris, Mission Impossible, Deathly Hallows, and pretty much everything else 😀

    1. Thanks Matt, what, no love for First Class? So I take it you’re not a fan of X-Men series? That’s ok, I guess comic-book movies aren’t for everyone. Seems like Nolan’s Batmans perhaps the only ones that transcend even comic-book lovers. Glad you agree w/ the rest, thanks Matt!

      1. Matt Stewart

        Actually, as embarrassing as it is I have only seen the two most recent X-Men films, so I really don’t feel right reviewing them until I see the rest!

        What Nolan did was not simply make a great comic book film, but create a dark, incredible, smart action trilogy. That’s how I see it anyway 😀

      2. Matt Stewart

        Also, and I know this is probably no biggie to you by now, but I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award… haha. Just a way of me showing my appreciation for your work 😀

      3. I’m with Matt, I really hated X-men First Class but you already know that and I’m a fan of both the comics and the first X-men features.

        I still haven’t checked out Midnight in Paris. I need to get on that.

  16. Wow, you saw a LOT of movies…do I calculate correctly 20 Peck films in 2 months? Good for you! I agree with your list…the only ones I can’t say I agree with are the ones I didn’t see 🙂

    Since I was so late with my Best & Worst lists, I did a different kind of list with some goofball categories 😉 http://paulascinemaclub.com/cinema-snacks/2011ye/

    Thanks so much Ruth and co. for such a fun blog…I had a lot of fun writing and commenting here, and I learned so much from you all. Happy New Year and all best for 2012 🙂

    1. I could hardly believe it myself when I did the calculations, but a majority of it are Gregory Peck films, tee..he… I never thought I’d be crushing on him in a major way like this, felt like the first time I saw Gerry in Phantom of the Opera, it was like… (borrowing Greg’s line in Spellbound) lightning striking, ahah.

      LOVE your list, I just left a comment. Best wishes on your blog, Paula, I’ll be sure to visit often. Thanks for your support here, it means so much to me!

  17. Alright, more love for The Help, Rise and Thor…Ruth your lists are always in good taste:)

    Right there with you on X-Men, that just gets better with each viewing, dontcha think? Lots of love for The Artist, I must see it just haven’t been able to yet…tick tock, Oscar time is a coming:P

    1. Aww thanks Marc. Yay on First Class, I’ve watched it 3 times since I got the Blu-ray and yep, it just gets better. I think the story about Xavier + Magneto is just so timeless.

      I hope you get to see The Artist real soon, Marc, I think you’ll enjoy it!

  18. Fantastic list Ruth, what a way to end 2011 and a great post to set up for 2012! Great choices too. I’ve seen all but six of your list (really want to see The Artist, I keep hearing such great things about it). I thought Midnight in Paris was good but I wasn’t as impressed as everyone else seems to have been by it, it was a nice idea for a Woody Allen movie though, I enjoyed the warmer tone, he seems to have mellowed in his old age. I was thinking about doing my worst of 2011 but I couldn’t think of anything that really deserved being put on a ‘worst’ list. Glad I missed Somewhere. Happy New Year Ruth, here’s to an even more successful year than the last. Thanks for being one of my most faithful readers last year!

    1. Thanks Ronan. I’m not usually a fan of Woody Allen but there’s something so enchanting about the fantasy world he created in MIP, especially after the clock strikes midnight 🙂

  19. Happy (belated) New Year, Ruth! I am a little shocked that I have only seen four of the movies from your list. I agree with you on Hugo, which was a great film for film lovers, and I really enjoyed X-Men as well. I can’t wait to see The Artist, especially since that was your #1 overall. Fun list!

    1. Glad you’re with me on First Class, I guess I’m just a big X-Men fan in terms of storyline. Then they got actors like Fassbender & McAvoy on it, so naturally it’s a good one! If only they’d replace January Jones!

  20. Great top ten list! Looks like I will have to be the cynic and say that 2011 has to be one of the worst years for movies in a long time. However, I did love Midnight in Paris and Melancholia, and I am looking forward to Shame and The Artist, so that’s alright.

    1. Well I kinda figured you don’t like all the blockbuster movies, but yet you still complimented my list, how kind of you 🙂 Well I hope 2012 brings more movies that are right up your alley, Ty.

  21. Have not seen a couple of movies out of your top 10, but agree with you on most of them. Still looking forward to seeing Mission Impossible and Hugo.

    Somewhere was a movie I didn’t like either…I should have included it in my most disappointing movies, it was very boring.

    1. I was hoping I’d at least appreciate Somewhere as I like Lost in Translation, but meh, it was just overindulgent non-sense and uber boring!

  22. This is a great list! I I recently just saw The Artist and was blown away by it! I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. The Help and X-Men: First Class were also a couple favorites of mine.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog this year! Thanks for always being able to interest, educate, and entertain with your movie reviews and opinions.

    1. Thanks Kristin, glad you love The Artist. I had high expectation but it still exceeded them.

      I really appreciate your kind words and you stopping by my wee blog 😀

  23. Happy New Year! 🙂

    I can’t believe you watched 20 Peck films in two months… Well done!

    I agree with many of your choices and from what I’ve heard, The Artist is a worthy No 1. It’s not showing at my local cinema but hopefully it’ll come to my independent soon.

    1. Ahah yeah, it’s Peck mania at my house… I think I might’ve seen more than 20 if you count the stuff I saw on YouTube as well. I just love that guy so much, he made me fall for classic cinema as well.

      I do hope you catch The Artist on the big screen when it comes your way, Claire.

  24. “The Debt”? Interesting. I’ll have to check that out.

    And I’m so sorry, Ruth, but I hated “The Help.” I typed up my review a couple weeks ago but still haven’t posted it, partially because I tear into it a little bit. Just not my thing I guess. But you know, to each his/her own. At least we can agree on “Midnight in Paris.”

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