As I look forward to 2012's films I want to take a moment and look back at 2011. Without a doubt 2011 was a year of progress, experimenting and nostalgia. Out of hundreds of films that were released I was fortunate enough to experience a plethora of them. Still I missed many of the great films and that is the reason you may not see some of your favorites on this list. However out of the all the films I did see, picking a top ten was extremely difficult. The following films represent films that were on the fringe line of my top ten.
"A Better Life" by Christ Weitz
When I first saw the trailer to this film I immediately neglected it as another exploitation film on immigration. It didn't help that Chris Weitz had also disappointed me with his last films. However, I decided to give the film a shot. What I saw was a subtle film that told the story of a father trying to give his son better opportunities to become a more educated and successful person. Demian Bichir's tremendous performance (one of the year's best) and a strong supporting cast coupled with Chris Weitz's unobtrusive direction make for an honest and heartfelt film.
"Drive" by Nicolas Winding Refn
Drive represents an ordinary story told in a stylish way. Nicolas Winding Refn (Best Director Winner at Cannes) brings his directorial style to the film by using slow dolly ins, slow motion and adrenaline rushing action sequences. While it isn't your typical action film, Refn brings everything one desires to this genre. For example the opening sequence fills the film with fast cutting coupled with a tense fast and the furious style sequence. The film owes it's value not only to Refn but also to its wonderful cast lead by a subtle and silent Ryan Gosling. Albert Brooks also gives an extraordinary performance that is winning all the critics circles. Without a doubt Drive makes for an interesting and exciting ride.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" by David Yates
The final installment of the series is a masterpiece by itself even though it is really the second part of a whole. The film moves and grips you to your seat from the beginning to end. David Yates direction continues to be equally visually stimulating and daring. The cast also continues to be solid and the visual effects are some of the best to date. Never has a final installment been so perfect and focused.
"Incendies" by Denis Villenueve
Incendies which was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 2010 for the Oscar was released in 2011, represents one of the most fractured narratives I have ever seen. While it is complex, Incendies is electrifying and tense. The film tells the story of a brother and sister attempting to find their father and long lost brother. The result is an unexpected twist that will shock you.
"Trust" by David Schwimmer
Trust is probably the film on this list most have never heard of. The film was released in April and made virtually no money. The reason was probably because of its subject matter. The film is about a teenage girl targeted by an online sexual predator. David Schwimmer's feature film debut is both visually stimulating and harsh, depicting torture and rape. It is not for the weak and it put some people off. Clive Owen's haunting performance marks one of his best turns in years coupled with a promising young actress Liana Liberato. Without a doubt this is one of the most underrated films of the year.
If you enjoyed this list check back in a few days for my top ten films.