Hey gang, even though I still have some screeners to watch of "Take Me Home Tonight", "New Year's Eve", and "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu" here's how the 2011 year-in-film pans out, ranked most best to least best.
1. Cars 2
John Lasseter’s moving spy-movie parody sequel boldly switches genres from its predecessor, (the apocalyptic film from 2006 in which sentient automobiles waged a war against humanity) deftly orchestrating this exceptional and moving tale of American exceptionalism.
2. The Artist
In the theater when the credits rolled, I applauded along with many elderly ladies, an experience of movie-going magic not had by myself since the release of Slumdog Millionaire during its award season run-up in 2005.
3. Green Lantern
Ground zero for fans of color coded myth-making. Despite large scale special effects, star Ryan Reynolds manifests the films greatest movie magic with the kind of charismatic soulfullness only a real Canadian could provide.
4. Red State
As a subscriber to Kevin Smith’s "Smodcast" podcast, a vocal member of the Askew universe online forums, and an attendee of View Askew conventions across the country, I feel uniquely qualified to evaluate the significance of what this film means to the director’s career as a person whose success vicariously ignites the desire within myself to get out of bed and bravely regard my own ugly dumb white guy face in the mirror everyday.
5. Larry Crowne
Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, individually and as united through inspired casting, speak to challenges specific to 2011 and beyond. A rough hewn poem for America’s wounded economy.
6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, individually and as a duo united on-screen through inspired casting, speak to the challenges specific to 2011 and beyond. The infamous movie goer who yelled out "Too Soon!" during the trailer for Paul Greengrass’s United 93 now has the 9/11 film he or she has been waiting for.
7. Water for Elephants
As soon as this adaptation of the best selling novel opened with an old man leading us to a long flashback of what he wistfully remembered about the majesty and wonder of the travelling circus, I knew I would be compelled and engaged intently throughout.
8. I Don't Know How She Does It
In a cinematic device which mimics the structure of a novelistic aside and television’s "Saved By the Bell" series, Sarah Jessica Parker’s titular "she" freezes the on-screen action and directly addresses the camera, reiterating the difficulties for ladies everywhere in balancing work and family. As Ms. Parker’s powerful and aloof boss in the big city, Kelsey Grammer’s freeze-framed brow (surgically resisting a full furrow) remains the most indelible image in movies.
9. The Zookeeper
"He saw an animal that liked to growl
Big furry paws and he liked to howl
Great big furry back and furry hair
"Ah, think I'll call it a bear".
-Bob Dylan "Man Gave Names to All the Animals"
10. Atlas Shrugged Part 1
Although managing to only achieve .05% of what the brilliant philosopher Ayn Rand achieved with her landmark novel, what remains is a stark "outsider art" vision shared by an insular and abnormally un-introspective cult .
Honorable Mentions: Jack & Jill, Anonymous, and Just Go With It.