The Best Movies of 2011

It’s time to take stock in the past year and in this case, the year in movies.  The annual ritual of best and worst lists by movie critics is probably tough for your average citizen to relate to. After all, even Oscar front-runners like “The Artist,” won’t be available to 90% of the country until it hits DVD and On-Demand. So, my list is more of a “favorites” lists, the movies that I enjoyed the most. They may not be the most technically sound or the most critically lauded, but they’re movies I’ll watch again and again for years to come. So, here goes… Let me know what you think I’ve left off or what you think I should’ve.

10. The Interrupters – A powerful documentary about so-called Violence Interrupters on the south side of Chicago. As usual, the best documentary of the year didn’t even make the short list for the Oscars.

9. The Descendants – Simply put, some of George Clooney’s best work. Featuring a star turning performance from young Shailene Woodley and solid work from director Alexander Payne. I’ve heard from some that Clooney plays the entire movie on one note. I disagree…

8. Crazy, Stupid, Love – Will this make many best of the year lists? Nope. So why does it make mine? Because it was the most enjoyable film of the year for me. Ryan Gosling is a revelation. We all knew he could act and that he’s good-looking, but he’s funny too. It’s almost unfair. Also strong performances from Emma Stone, Steve Carell and Julianne Moore.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – The final chapter in one of the greatest film franchises of all time. Enough said…

6. 50/50 – This movie was coined a “cancer comedy,” but I prefer to think of it as just a really good movie about a really tough subject. Joseph Gordon Levitt is heartbreaking as a young man battling a form of spinal cancer and Seth Rogen is the perfect comic relief. Sometimes life is unfair and if we didn’t laugh we’d cry. See this movie and you’ll do a little of both.

5. The Help – A movie that should be shown in high schools, just to show kids what race relations were really like not that long ago. Strong performances all around. You’ll learn something and you’ll be entertained.

4. Warrior – Absolutely overlooked and probably hurt by the fact that it came out the year after “The Fighter.” Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy are both Oscar worthy. In a different year, it coulda been a contender. It’s about so much more than mixed martial arts. Both heartbreaking and inspirational. If you haven’t seen it, check it out and thank me later.

3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – A fitting prequel to a great film franchise. James Franco may be the lead, but Andy Serkis is the star. Amazing special effects and a solid script make this movie an extremely enjoyable film.

2. Young Adult – From the director and writer of “Juno,” Charlize Theron shines as Mavis, a writer struggling with her past in small town Minnesota. She’s an alcoholic who goes back home to try to rekindle her romance with her high school boyfriend, who happens to be married with a child. That doesn’t stop Mavis. The script is strong and its a step in the right direction for screenwriter Diablo Cody.

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – David Fincher’s adaptation of the wildly popular book and a remake of the 2009 film from Denmark. I think this one outdoes the original. Nobody creates mood like Fincher. It’s tough to watch (extremely violent and graphic), but worth it.

Honorable mention: My Week with Marilyn, Moneyball, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Bridesmaids, The Muppets, Hugo, Source Code, The Adjustment Bureau, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse


Reviews of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, We Bought a Zoo, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin


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Reviews of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


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Reviews of New Year’s Eve, Young Adult and The Sitter


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Reviews of Hugo, The Muppets and My Week with Marilyn

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest movie-watching holidays of the year. WCL movie critics Paige & Plummer stopped by to tell us whether we should spend or save on four big new releases.

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Reviews of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1, Happy Feet 2 and The Descendents

Three big movies hit theaters this weekend. WCL movie critics Paige and Plummer stopped by to tell us whether we should spend or save on “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,” “The Descendants” and “Happy Feet 2.”

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Review of Martha, Marcy, May Marlene

The new movie

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Reviews of J. Edgar and Jack & Jill

Two new movies hit theaters this weekend: “J. Edgar,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Clint Eastwood and “Jack & Jill,” starring Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes and Al Pacino.

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Reviews of Tower Heist and the new Harold & Kumar movie

Two new comedies hit theaters this weekend, so our movie critic team of Paige Wiser and David Plummer dropped by to tell us whether “Tower Heist” or “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” are worth your hard earned dollar.

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Reviews of Puss In Boots, In Time and The Rum Diary

Three new movies hit theaters this weekend. “Puss in Boots,” voiced by Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek; “In Time” with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried; and “The Rum Diary” with Johnny Depp.

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