Now that we have talked about your favorite vial videos of 2011 and your favorite TV shows of 2011, it is time for us to announce and discuss your favorite movies of 2011. Yay! Aren’t movies the best? I had an argument with a friend recently who was saying that she thought movies weren’t culturally relevant anymore, at least not in the way that TV was culturally relevant, because there were a few shows that she felt like she HAD TO see, and she didn’t feel the same way about movies. (This argument is not to be confused with a somewhat similar argument that A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis had in the New York Times this weekend. It’s a different argument!) To this friend I say two things: 1) nonsense, and 2) if TV is beginning to encroach on movies’ cultural relevance territory that is because TV is now filled with movie stars and movie writers/directors. So, in that sense, sure. This isn’t to say that her argument was completely invalid. The fact of the matter is that movies ARE less culturally relevant than they used to be. But I don’t think it’s because of Breaking Bad, or whatever. I think it’s because everything is less culturally relevant because the culture is fractured and diffuse. And yet, there are few experiences more engrossing and enriching and sometimes even exciting than sitting in a movie theater and watching a movie. Even watching movies at home is great. (Watching movies on your phone is not great, and you should stop doing that.) What I’m trying to say is: fuck yeah movies dot tumblr dot com.

After the jump, your 10 favorite movies of 2011:


10. Submarine



9. Moneyball



8. Beginners



7. Super 8



6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2



5. Melancholia



4. Midnight In Paris



3. Bridesmaids



2. The Tree of Life



1. Drive


About this list: good list! I haven’t seen Submarine or Moneyball yet, but both of those are on my Things I’m Going To Watch During the Holidays list. (I also haven’t seen Melancholia yet, and I will someday, but it’s not on my TIGTWDTH list, and frankly I find the very IDEA of Lars Von Trier to be exhausting at the moment. But I’ll get to it. You guys convinced me!) I’m very glad to see Drive and The Tree of Life where they are. Those are good movies and they deserve top spots. But I’m disappointed in your selection of Beginners as only the 8th best movie. Seriously? Guys, that movie was VERY good. No offense to VOLDEMORT. I also would bump BOTH Bridesmaids and Midnight in Paris down a couple of notches, and also switch their places, because I thought Bridesmaids was much funnier than Midnight, but I thought Midnight had a much more interesting point to make about nostalgia and art and aging. I also thought it was very problematic how Kristen Wiig’s character in Bridesmaids was basically a horrible person throughout the whole movie and then at the end of the movie they kind of pretended like somehow she wasn’t horrible even though she had been horrible right up until the very last minute, so what was that all about? But this isn’t Gabe’s Favorite Movies of 2011, it’s YOUR favorite movies, and you have SPOKEN! Good work, though, guys, for real. This is a list we can all be proud of. Even whoever voted for Harry Potter so hard.

Comments (80)
  1. I would like to nominate Bellflower. I just watched this film and my wife DID NOT LIKE IT. But I thought it was a brilliant look at the male obsession with apocalypse (literal and emotional), competition, violence, pride, love, loyalty, etc. It was simultaneously the most bro-ed out movie I’ve seen in a long time and yet extremely tender, especially when it came to the dynamics of male friendships. In a weird way it was a Mad Max-obsessed equivalent to Hump Day. PLUS, EXPLOSIONS!

  2. Descendants should be on this list. Rad movie.
    Also enjoyed the Muppets movie.
    Plus that Trees of Life movie was just straight up bad.

    So in other words, this list is wrong.

    You know how in Schindlers List the guy was all like, “This list… this list is life!” So just try to imagine that guy but instead he is talking about this blog post and saying “This list… this list is WRONG!” etc. You get the picture now that I have illustrated it in detail and in a context that you can understand at long last.

  3. Where is Enlarged to Show Detail: 2?

  4. Boo, Tree of Life. If it had been me in that editing room, I would have taken out all that whispery prayer nonsense, edited it heavily and probably come out with a nice 15-minute high definition screen saver.

    • My sentiments exactly. Snooze fest McGee.

    • Two films on the list — Tree of Life and Super 8 — qualify for the most flawed, but nonetheless excellent films of the year. TOL was hobbled by numerous things — yes, the whispery talk (a hallmark of Malick’s films, to be fair), Sean Penn’s lack of purpose, the cloying ending on the beach. Still, it justified its scale and managed to take a big risk with the ‘origins of life’ sequence. I think it ranks with the Magnolia frog-rain sequence in terms of artistic choices that are uber divisive. Similarly, but less dramatically, Super 8 lost its heart about two thirds into the film and left me not caring as much as it should have.

  5. I was going to ask why the movie where Christina Hendricks and I made out for 2 1/2 hours in a car that was made out of mustard and pretzels wasn’t nominated. Then I realized it was all a fever dream. A beautiful, beautiful fever dream.

  6. Plus Pedro Almodovar’s kind of silly but still interesting and weird movie Skin I Live In was not on this list, thus and thereby contributing to said list’s aforementioned wrongness and/or wrongitude.

  7. Submarine really bugged me because the female lead was a GDB and I kept hoping the kid would push her into a pond. Noah Taylor was delightful because he is delightful always, but other than that it was not a very good movie IMO.

  8. No year end list is complete without Real Steel and Atlas Shrugged.

  9. I would probably move Bridesmaids down from number 3 to 11.

  10. I’m a cinematic failure this year, I’ve only seen two on this list and they are Bridesmaids and Deathly Hallows 2. But I refuse to be ashamed.

    That being said, which should I watch first? Drive?

    • Drive is way hella over rated. I liked the opening chase scene getaway type stuff at the very beginning, but the rest of it is a lot of vapid staring set to ambient hipster music and a lot of really lame and inauthentic sounding “wise guy gangster” cliche nonsense with Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, the least convincing goodfellas of all time.

    • I’m with Winwood that Drive is super overrated. BUT I also agree that I enjoyed it. It was not a good movie, but I enjoyed myself.

      I said the same thing about “Limitless” which says all I need to say about “Drive.”

      Chromatics and Kavinsky are dope though that soundtrack is good.

      • I must say it’s nice to find some like minded people, I was underwhelmed and actually extremely irritated by Drive at times. I feel like if the excessively slow pacing (And don’t get me wrong I appreciate and love well paced thriller, I think the American with George Clooney is a great example) and painfully (at times) slow camera pans were taken out the movie would be about 25 minutes shorter. I also understand that flashes of extreme violence have a lot more impact when juxtaposed with a fairly slow paced movie, I think Michael Haneke’s Cache is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen, although Benny’s Video is disturbing as hell too. In summation, I didn’t hate the movie, I just hated a lot of the way it was made.

        As far as the list goes I’ve been slacking, I’ve only seen Drive, HP and Super 8. Both Super 8 and Deathly Hallows:2 were definitely fun, super entertaining movies. HP will always have a special place for me because I grew up reading the books and it also reresents an enormous progression in the film versions of the series, the first one was fucking awful. Super 8 was just fun and fascinating and really great until it just got bogged down with stupid special effects in about the third act.

  11. Where’s Our Idiot Brother? It got a little more dramatic than it needed to be, but, son of a bitch, it had some of the most refreshing comedic ideas I’ve seen in ten years.

  12. I’ve never commented here, or really anywhere before, but I can keep silent no longer. I do not understand why people liked Drive. The first ten minutes were perfectly assembled but then everything fell away and it became a weird husk. The characters were almost catatonically blank, and the soundtrack and lighting was so heavy-handed as to be almost insulting. Halfway through I thought maybe it was some ironic send-up of America in general and Los Angeles in particular, but then I stopped thinking that and now I don’t know what to think.

    • Agreed completely. 100%.

      • Glad to see I wasn’t the only person alienated by Drive’s premeditated faux-cult stylishness and desire to characterize itself as a deviation from mass-appeal when it is in fact simply an appeal to a different mass, a mass that refuses to believe that it is a mass. It’s like what Community offers to people that watch it and love it as opposed to casually liking it.

    • Drive is a movie about a monster of a person trying really hard to get away from the truth of who he really is. The director said after driving around Los Angeles with Gosling and hearing some song on the radio, he realized that he wanted this movie to be about a man driving around Los Angeles listening to pop music and trying to feel something. At one point in the film there is a reference to “The Scorpion And The Frog”, a fable about how creatures cannot ultimately hide from their true nature. The main character wears a jacket with a scorpion on the back. He is given no name in the story. The whole movie he seems to be restraining himself, until fate compels him to finally let loose and do what he does well, which is inflict harm. In order to hide from that truth, he’s adopted a purposefully superficial relationship with the outside world, as does the film in which he is featured.

      I find this movie to be largely misunderstood.

      • Good reading.

      • I think the problem is that they draw out this rather simple premise to a feature length movie, where it becomes vague and distorted, diluted by the length and buried under a unwarranted amount of hollow aesthetic and style which makes the good, but simple premise, seem overly self-important and bloated.

      • But what in the movie shows us that? Also, what is this “terrible true nature” he’s so intent on escaping from, and at what point was it demonstrated to us? From what we see, he’s simply a lonely guy. He was too poorly sketched-as was Mulligan’s character-for us to understand or really care about his actions or behaviors, so the weight of anything he did-being nice to a kid or murdering a guy in weird mask-felt the same and nearly arbitrary.

        • I couldn’t agree more, the ony character I felt sympathetic towards or emotionally attached was Brian Cranstons Character and as well all know Cranston is fucking phenomenal. It was mentioned above as well too, but I really take issue with movies that are designed to be “cult” movies. It seemed forced and slightly contrived, movies generally become cult classics arbitrarily not because someone tried to formulate one. The music was.. Well, okay? I quite liked it at parts but combined with the painful pacing and the fact that the only songs that felt like songs (with lyrics)n were fucking nauseating, not sure if they were part of the OST or not, but damn they were bad.

  13. I’d switch out Melancholia with Take Shelter but otherwise I agree with this list kind of. I mean I think X-Men should be on here too but whatever. Drive was perfect though and one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

  14. This is crazy. All of these are good movies. And now we really have nothing to fight about except maybe how the order is slightly wrong. Way to go, guys. You ruined comment wars.

  15. Shame Margin Call and Descendents aren’t on here.

    • Well, seeing as the Gummies are a reader poll voted on by everyone who visits Videogum and/or Stereogum, it’s not surprising. The Descendants JUST came out, and Margin Call is a German film.

      • Whoops! I didn’t mean German film. I misread the imdb page when i was looking for a release date for the Margin Call (as I am not familiar with it, obviously, right? oof). It looks like it came out very limited, right?

        Either way, my main point was it’s a reader poll, so hard-to-find or new films probably would have a harder time making it on the list.

    • Descendants as well.

  16. I enjoyed Moneyball far more than I thought I would. Really glad to see it on the list.

  17. I haven’t logged in for months (got a job/married/etc) but I felt that I had to in order to do two things: A. The Tree of Life was frustrating and made me uncomfortable with the too sensual kissing of the children B. Another Earth was amazing and I’m sorry that I didn’t know voting was going on or else I would have voted for it an illegal amount of times.

    Oh, one last thing: What ever happened with Take Shelter? I wanted to see it and then it just never came to my town? Did anyone see it? Was it wonderful?

    • TAKE SHELTER! I’d put it at my number #1 spot, although I haven’t seen some of these yet.

    • Take Shelter! My favourite movie of 2011!

    • Take Shelter was my fave. I was frustrated by Another Earth, specifically by how insufferable the protagonist was contrived to be. I do give it credit for [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER kind of] its particularly bleak ending.

      • I thought the ending of Another Earth was amazing, perfect, jarring and sad. I won’t spoil it here at all, but I will say I thought about it non-stop for a full four days afterward. So good. And I’ll see Take Shelter ASAP, I’m just praying that there’s no slow kissing of children.

  18. The kid from Submarine seemed like a younger, Welsher Max Fischer.

  19. I mean okay obviously Take Shelter blah blah my butt good movie put it on the list!! that movie, the list movie

    but Bridesmaids? That movie was like a Herzogian examination of the inside of a trashcan

  20. I’d say my favorites were Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super(the Rainn Wilson average man turned vigilante film), Hobo With a Shotgun, Hugo and Drive. So only one of my top five even cracked the list. I guess we aren’t compatible anymore guys.

  21. Has anyone seen ‘tinker tailor soldier spy’ yet? Is it good? as good as its critical acclaim suggests?

  22. Very much in agreement with this list, I would only change the positions and replace Harry Potter by The Descendants or The Devil’ s Double. Other films that I’d enjoyed much this year were: Hanna, Insidious, Limitless, Hobo With A Shotgun and Sucker Punch. Cheers!

  23. This list in which we all participated and whose ranking was based on number of votes and not quality of film is wrong.

  24. I didn’t know people liked Super 8. That movie stinks. No suspense and what depressing lives everyone had in that town. And speaking of depressing: Melancholia. Whoa. What a downer. My favorite movie so far was Hanna. Crazy and fun. And, Young Adult was really good. If more people had seen it by now, they’d put it on this list. That Charlize Theron can really act even if she looks like what I’d paint of I could paint and someone said, “paint a really pretty lady who almost doesn’t look real.”

    • I think the thing that was great about Super 8 was that Abrams managed to recapture the heart and sense of wonder in a similar way that Spielberg was able to do in the 80′s with things like E.T. And so, for me personally, it really evoked some cinematic nostalgia from a childhood spent sort of revering Spielberg. I really wanted to hate Super 8, because I generally hate J.J. Abrams and how blatantly he manipulates the audience in really elementary ways. But Super 8 kind of reminded me why I loved movies in the first place.

  25. I think I’ll be the one guy to defend Drive…even though it won Favorite Movie?

    My two favorite movies this year were Drive and Hobo With a Shotgun. They were very much the same movie, both just choosing alternate paths to get there. Hobo reveled in ’80s action-vigilante cliches and Street Trash-style gore. But it was still an overtly stylized action movie, loud and obnoxious like almost any Stallone or Arnold cheeseball action film. Drive was channeling roughly the same era, ’80s action films, but it was aiming more for character-driven pieces like The Stunt Man or Nighthawks, which were still overtly stylized in the same way as their louder, more chest-baring brothers, but done in a different manner.

    I also do think the intention was to at least partially send up the tough guy stereotypes we see in most of these movies. I mean, Perlman is a completely ineffective jackass used almost completely as comic relief (the character’s stupidity being entirely responsible for his eventual fate), and Brooks is also ineffective in his own passive-aggressive way. They’re both so obsessed with self-image, trying to play into or against gangster stereotypes, that they sabotage any chances at success by trying to fit into roles they’re clearly not designed for. And Gosling’s blank staring is probably as much a goof on the silent loner hero as it an attempt to make him appear “bad ass.” The dude only deals in extremes. He’s either longingly pining over the woman of his dreams or he’s threatening to smash a dude’s head in with a hammer. For a movie as self-conscious as this one obviously is, they had to have known how cliche that type of character is, so I got the impression it wasn’t entirely serious.

    I’m not claiming Drive is the greatest movie ever made, Hobo With a Shotgun is clearly THAT movie, but it was still really fun.

    • Many good points well made.

      • I don’t know that you really defended Drive their, but I didn’t love it so I agree. Hobo with a Shotgun on the other hand was fan-fucking-tastic.. Brilliant… The usage of forshadowing that never came to fruition, the whole speach about the bears, had me waiting for bears to pop in the conclusion of the movie. Also, my favourite scene of the whole movie is the “careful you’re crushing my smokes!” scene at the end, pure comic gold.

  26. Melancholia? Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t seen it myself… But It just came out, and in very limited release. and on top of that, I have heard mixed reviews from the people I do know who have seen it. So I am a bit shocked that it is so high.

  27. Oh, and lets get some ATTACK THE BLOCK in here. That movie is fantastic. I also loved “The Trip”, but I am not sure a lot of people saw it.

  28. I disagree, wholeheartedly, that Tree of Life should be on this list. I respect the risks it took. I appreciate that. But, about 3 minutes into the origin of life sequence I was furiously angry.

    I thought the whole movie was trying to evoke that feeling of being in awe of the sublime, all of life, but anything can evoke that awe. What’s difficult is making a meaningful comment on it, drawing conclusions from the sublime. I guess the whispered prayers and path of light/path of darkness were trying to do that, but they felt totally empty to me.

    The movie was beautiful and powerful in feeling, but it never carried that into any thought. Vagueness and hinting at unspecified significance in things is frustrating. It eludes the problem. By the end, the beach scene, I was just spewing. I don’t think you can sustain that feeling of awe for two hours. I totally applaud the movie for its insane, huge scope, but I think it failed to say anything solid about what it showed.

    But I loved the dinosaurs.

  29. Bridesmaids should not be on that list. It was simple and self-congratulatory. It wasn’t even useful as a guilty pleasure. How about The Skin I Live In, Mysteries of Lisbon, Take Shelter, Into the Abyss?

  30. Loved Tree of Life. I think its comments on religion and family permeated by the dichotomy of grace and violence were exceptionally profound even if it hadn’t all been so lovingly rendered. I confess that Penn was unnecessary but I wish every movie was as brave.

    Nobody needs to defend Drive. It took first place. I enjoyed every second of it.

    I would have put 50/50 and the Descendants on here, and probably bumped Moneyball and Super 8, but I am me.

    • I loved The Tree of Life so much. And Drive was also so great. There are a ton of movies I still haven’t seen yet: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Melancholia, Bellflower, Beginners, Submarine, Midnight in Paris, Hugo, The Artist, American – The Bill Hicks Story, Cowboys & Aliens, Our Idiot Brother, The Rum Diary, The Muppets, 50/50, The Descendants, and Take Shelter.

      Although, of the movies I saw this year, here is my list:

      1) The Tree of Life
      2) Drive
      3) Inni
      4) The King’s Speech
      5) Bridesmaids
      6) Super 8
      7) Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
      8) Biutiful
      9) Win Win
      10) Hesher

      Honorable mentions: Life In A Day / The Music Never Stopped.

  31. My list looks very different from this list, even though I like a bunch of the movies on here that didn’t make my 10. Oh and I also haven’t got to see Dragon Tattoo or the 2 Spielberg movies yet:

    1. Hugo
    2. Drive
    3. Midnight In Paris
    4. 13 Assassins
    5. The Artist
    6. Take Shelter
    7. Win Win
    8. The Descendants
    9. Hanna
    10. Young Adult

  32. Midnight in Paris
    50/50
    Descendants
    Martha Marcy May Marlene
    Harry Potter
    Hugo
    Bridesmaids
    Moneyball
    Source Code
    Young Adult

    Honorable mention is the Adjustment Bureau, which I couldn’t tell if it was the best or the worst movie of the year

    My list has both similarities and differences from that of the overall Videogum community! What a surprise!

  33. Drive is the best?

    It’s ok….the soundtrack is overbearing, that Eeal Hero song is annoying, the Eno track seems out of place.

    a lot of these movies about low stake crime circles and such need a really strong villian. Albert Brooks is in no way menacing or dangerous in this role. overall he’s a cheeseball in any role he plays. and the guy who plays Hellboy is no better.

    Drive is fun, has some great camera work, the action is good, but it’s overall overated.

  34. I know the answer to this question already, but did nobody see Kill List? It was on a very limited release schedule over here in the UK and was probably only shown in some guy’s cupboard in Manhattan in Yankeeville, but it is easily one of my fave – if not my actual fave – films of the year.

    It’ll be out on DVD in the next few weeks, so I advise everybody to go and see it. It is one of the most brutal and creepy films I have seen in years. And you have to see it twice because you will HATE it the first time.

  35. somewhat predictable list..no offense!

  36. I really really want to see Kill List, also has anyone seen Rampart yet? I think it got a relatively limited release, not playing in Vancouver anyways, but I really really want to see it. Another movie I’m dying to see is the Raid, if anyone hasn’t seen a trailer, watch it now.

  37. [http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u204/deadcute20/BlackBiscuit-TotalFilm.png?t=1324983260]

  38. My List of stunners

    1) Black Biscuit – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJOwFetCUmI
    2) Attenberg
    3) My week with Marylin
    4) Win Win
    5) Submarine
    6) Drive
    7) Tree of Life
    8) Hesher
    9) Weekend
    10) Shame

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