10. Spirited Away (2001) - Spirited Away presents an imaginative new world with fantastic characters and creatures. It reminds me of movies such as Labyrinth and Alice and Wonderland, where the bizarre becomes acceptable and reality is easily suspended. This is the first film I had ever seen by Hayao Miyazaki, and I was blown away by his stylized animation and fantastic imagery. This film won't be enjoyable for some (it's very odd), but Miyazaki's folkloric fantasy is undeniably unique.
9. Tangled (2010) - Tangled is a cute, cute movie. The animation is brilliant, the characters are fun and the story is entertaining. I could easily see this being performed on Broadway and Mother Gothel being the coveted role for many an actress. I will admit that I liked the book Rapunzel's Revenge better than this movie, but Tangled still felt like the return of classic Disney animated movies.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011) - This isn't my favorite Harry Potter movie, but this film is a fitting finish to the Harry Potter series. It packs a powerful dramatic punch and shows how far our characters have come from the original movie. I was bothered by some changes they made from the book, but I understand (kind of) why they had to do it. I'm sad to see the Harry Potter films go, but it was a great ride.
7. Best Worst Movie (2009) - Best Worst Movie is surprisingly deep for a documentary about "Troll 2." For those of you that haven't seen Troll 2, please stop reading this post and do it now. It's one of those movies that is so bad that it's good. This documentary is very humorous at times, but it also delves into serious drama. It's probably better if you have seen Troll 2, but if you haven't seen it, this documentary will stir a desire in you to watch one of the best worst movies ever made.
6. Devil (2010) - Devil is the result of M. Night Shyamalan coming up with a story, and then letting other people write the screenplay and direct the film - and it works. This surprisingly clean horror movie has some well-done creepy moments and interesting twists. It reminded me of a Twilight Zone or X-files episode. Plus, it has a very faith-affirming message, despite the demonic title.
5. Catfish (2010) - The less you know about Catfish, the better. Just know that 1. It's a real documentary and 2. It's absolutely fascinating to watch the story unfold. I went into this movie expecting one thing and was completely taken off guard by where it ended up. Even if you know how it all ends, this movie is still worth a watch.
4. The Social Network (2010) - The Social Network presents a fascinating take on the origins of Facebook and the social media craze. David Fincher does a spectacular job of creating complex characters that go from despicable to likable and back in a matter of minutes. From the story to the acting to the soundtrack - this movie excelled. I was surprised by how much I liked this film, even with all the hype surrounding it.
3. 127 Hours (2010) - 127 Hours is Aron Ralston's amazing story, told beautifully by Danny Boyle and his filmmaking crew. James Franco gives a very believable performance as Ralston and it's hard not to get caught up in it all. This high-quality film is upbeat and uplifting, despite the grim subject matter. Danny Boyle has already impressed me with a number of his films already, and this one has firmly cemented him into one of my favorite directors of all time.
2. Kick-@$$ (2010) - I feel that Kick-@$$ would have been better as a PG-13 movie. Sure, this would have upset the comic book fan boys, but the strong, vulgar language and intense violence are distractions from the heart of this movie. At its core, this is an inspiring film about humanity rising to its full potential, and it's a fresh take on the superhero genre. The acting, plot, costume design, art direction, cinematography and soundtrack are all very well done, but I think the general public didn't embrace this movie because it is, simply, too much and I wouldn't recommend watching it unless you have a Clearplay DVD player, like me, or could find an edited version.
And my #1 favorite movie of 2011 is. . .
1. The Muppets (2011) - Watching The Muppets made me feel like a kid again. I honestly felt great after watching this movie. The humor in this loving tribute is quick and plentiful, plus, at its core, this movie has a heart. It's not a campy/cheesy reboot like many of the half-hearted attempts from studio executives today, vainly attempting to re-live their childhood. The Muppets is a well-made well-thought-out sequel to the other Muppet movies and should please both the Muppet lover as well as newcomers to the world of Jim Henson. I loved this movie and I gladly welcome it to the Muppet canon.
So there you have it, faithful readers, those are my top ten movies that I saw in 2011. I understand that all art is subjective, and that you may (and probably do) disagree with some of the choices on this list, but I would still recommend all of the movies on this list for your viewing enjoyment.
I'd also like to give honorable mentions to The King's Speech (2010) , Dear Frankie (2004), Rio (2011), Paper Moon (1973), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), (500) Days of Summer (2009), RED (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011), Super 8 (2011) and True Grit (2010). Overall, 2011 was a pretty good year for movies.