It should never be easy to say “X is the best movie made this year,” because, presumably, filmmakers should offer us so many quality productions to make it impossible to choose just one from them.
Since this is a brand new year and tradition calls to come up with a year-end list to show the highlights of the one that ended, below is our very own personal list of the best and most awesome films of 2011.
As noted above, it's hard to say which movie is the ultimate best, so we tried to set them apart by category, listing one or two honorees for each one.
Of course, that's not to say that the list is set in stone: in fact, we should mention that it's made based on a mix of ticket sales (i.e. fan reaction), critical reception and, last but not least, a small dose of subjectivity.
By following the links on the titles, you can read our full, in-depth reviews of the film.
Best Superhero Flick - “X-Men: First Class”
2011 wasn't exactly the year of the superhero, but that's mostly because 2012 will be just that. Next year, we have “The Dark Knight Rises” (Batman), “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” coming out, so it's no wonder this year was a bit scarce in comic book-based productions.
However, that's not to say it didn't have any. In fact, 2011 was the year of one of the best reboots we've ever seen, “X-Men: First Class.” Solid acting, great directing, a compelling story and exciting action scenes made this film a must-see on our list.
An honorable mention goes to “Captain America: The First Avenger
,” with Chris Evans as the lead. It would have been a tie if the film didn't have rather questionable 3D, which left us feeling a tad cheated when we left the theater – in the sense that the film is just as impressive in 2D, so there was no need for the premium ticket price. Best Comedy - “Crazy Stupid Love”
This is a film of which you think you know what to expect, but are pleasantly surprised to learn you were wrong. It's funny, it's sweet, it's incredibly relatable and, most importantly, well acted. It also deserves kudos for the twist in the end and, of course, for starring Ryan Gosling. Best Horror - “Paranormal Activity 3”
The “Paranormal Activity” franchise seemed spent by the time “PA3” came out, but it still managed to do major damage at the box office. Granted, the latest installment wasn't as good as the original film (or even the sequel for that matter), but it definitely rose above average, delivering an interesting story, good acting and plenty of scares.
An honorable mention goes to "Fright Night"
with Colin Farrell. Just know that it's not what you'd expect, so let yourself be surprised. Best Action - “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”
The latest “MI” installment is so action packed that you're virtually exhausted by the time you leave the theater because of everything that goes on onscreen. It may have very lame dialog and it could be perceived as a waste of talent (Jeremy Renner and Tom Cruise's), but it has unparalleled action scenes and stunts: best seen in IMAX and, believe it or not, performed by Cruise himself almost entirely.
An honorable mention goes here to “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,”
the sequel to Guy Ritchie's take on the classic tale. If we hadn't felt like we were having action scenes shoved down our throat to compensate for the rather hiccupy story, it would have been a tie with “MI.”Best Love Story - “Never Let Me Go”
Here is a movie that has been around for a while and that only arrived to the US in January 2011. If you know you have a soft spot for films of unspeakable sadness, you should definitely give it a try: it has a very original and compelling story, superb acting, beautiful cinematography and a heart-breaking score to match. Best Sci-Fi Fantasy - “Sucker Punch”
Zach Snyder's “Sucker Punch” has already been named one of the worst and most disappointing
films of 2011 but that doesn't change the fact that we liked it (while still very much aware of its flaws, of course). It has insane cinematography and imagery, awesome music and gorgeous editing. If you're in for something “light,” all this can make you overlook the horrible plot, the occasionally inane scenes and the bad acting. Best Thriller - “Contagion”
“Contagion” is a film like no other, though we would recommend seeing it when you're not too tired because it plays at a very slow pace. It's one of the best thrillers in recent years, building up tension with every scene and relying on an impressive cast to make viewers feel the same dread as the characters in it do. Best Summer Blockbuster - “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
Contrary to what industry insiders and even some fans said, Disney proved the “Pirates” franchise could survive without two of the stars who helped it become so huge. Steered by Johnny Depp, the “Pirates” ship will sail on: and it's no wonder two more movies are now in the making, since this one became Disney's biggest release ever. Best Sequel - “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Say what you will about Michal Bay (you'd probably be right anyway), but the third “Transformers” film was a definite improvement from the previous ones. Action scenes were easier to watch, funny scenes were actually funny and the acting wasn't that bad anymore. Thumbs up for Bay for making it in 3D and doing a fine job at it. Best 3D - “Drive Angry 3D”
This is probably not the first choice of many but, truth be told, “Drive Angry” looked pretty neat in 3D. Yes, Nicolas Cage is making movies these days for a paycheck to pay off debts and yes, it was an average production with a sub-par plot, but the 3D was awesome. We rest our case. Best Teen Flick - “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1”
For yet another year at least, expect “Twilight” to pop in conversations. Like it or not (we didn't so much), the vampire saga is insanely popular and fans will pay good money to see it. Not only was “Breaking Dawn” one of the most anticipated releases of 2011, but it was also a blockbuster, even though critics jumped on it like vultures on roadkill. Best Sleeper - “The Help”
It would seem that Emma Stone simply doesn't know how to make a bad movie. “The Help,” a film about a white woman caring enough to write a book about the plight of the help (African-American maids) in 60's America, is as delicate as a rose petal, for lack of a better term. It's funny, touching and incredibly humane – so don't be ashamed to turn on the waterworks if you feel like it. Best Underdog / The Misunderstood - “Drive”
This is a film like a work of art, where image and music combine and mimic every gesture of the characters to create a layered structure that is as impressive to behold as it's occasionally terrifying. As if that wasn't enough to recommend it, “Drive” also stands out for the acting, the score, the directing and the remarkable way in which it presents and defines space.
So there you have it, Softpedia's list of the best movies of 2011. If you feel like we've left some out (and we most likely did) or if you want to add your own films to the list, you're more than welcome to do so in the comments section below. Let's hear it from you.
Here's to an even better and more spectacular 2012!*[Update January 5, 2012]
As noted above, our list of Best Movies of 2011 also contains a mild dose of subjectivity. Even if it didn't, it would have been impossible for us to list all
the awesome movies we saw / were released in 2011, which is why we ask you (again) to post your own list in the comments section below. Bring it!