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The 'Silver Screen’s' Top Films of 2011

Our movie critic, Stephen Silver, takes a look back at the very best movies of the year.

Celebrating the close of 2011, here are my top ten movie choices of the year:

1.

The year's most unlikely film is also its best – . Michel Hazanavicius' film is just plain beautiful, both thematically and aesthetically, and sports standout performances from Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo. And the dog, Uggie, should win Best Supporting Actor. (In theaters now.)

2.

This most international of films, shot in Italy with English and French leads by an Iranian director, is also the mind bender of the year. Directed by master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, Certified Copy looks at a couple (William Shimell and Juliette Binoche) who may be strangers or may be an estranged couple – the film, on that point, isn't quite clear. But what it is is absolutely spellbinding. (Available on DVD now.)

3.

Here's a thriller that's thrilling in a whole other way than what you'd expect. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and sporting a dream cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston and even Christina Hendricks, the film opens with a thrilling chase scene, before turning into something resembling a European art film. But trust me – it's way more thrilling than it sounds. (Coming to DVD in late January.)

4. Melancholia

I've never exactly been the biggest fan of Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier, but this is his masterpiece. Centered around the wedding of a severely depressed American girl (Kirsten Dunst) to Eric from True Blood, Melancholia is set against the backdrop of, literally, the end of the world. Just wondrously shot and acted, especially an amazing overture that opens the film. (In theaters and also available on demand.)

5.

Jim Henson's beloved franchise was revived, by writer-star Jason Segel and the creative team behind Flight of the Conchords, in the most satisfying and crowd-pleasing fashion imaginable. Boasting numerous memorable moments, first-rate songs and a spirit completely faithful to the Muppet legacy, The Muppets may not have been the best movie of the year, but it was the movie that made me the happiest. (Still in some theaters.)

6.

Martin Scorsese's first 3D film was the only great movie shot in the format released this year. Like The Artist, Hugo is a love letter to movies of the early 20th century told through the eyes of a young boy living in the clock of a Parisian train station. It's so delightful that I almost didn't mind that it amounts to a propaganda film in favor of the director's pet cause of film preservation. (Coming to DVD in 2012.)

7.

This extremely uncomfortable and hard-to-watch portrait of a sex addict in New York City featured the best performance of the year – by Michael Fassbender – and one of the most creative depictions of Manhattan I've ever seen. I highly recommend director Steve McQueen's film, but you probably shouldn't bring your parents, or a date. (Still in theaters)

8.

Terrence Malick's answer to 2001: A Space Odyssey cut back and forth between the story of a young boy and his family in 1950s Texas and an expansive history of the entire cosmos. The at-times inexplicable narrative – a Malick speciality – was at times hard to follow and the ending was iffy, but those are outweighed by amazing performances from Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain. (Available on DVD.)

9.

Pitt delivered a different kind of standout performance in Bennett Miller's adaptation of Michael Lewis' baseball book, which seemed the most non-cinematic projects you could possibly imagine. The movie appeals to the baseball nerd in all of us, bringing the debates I've been following on baseball blogs for ten years to the big screen without coming across as boring or wonky. (Available on DVD.) 

10.

The best movie in years for both director Woody Allen and star Owen Wilson, who played both the least likely and most successful Woody stand-in of the last decade. A delightful, hilarious story about a contemporary screenwriter who stumbles into the literary salon of 1920s Paris, Allen's film if nothing else shows that the 76-year-old auteur still has his touch. (Available on DVD.)

Honorable Mention

To see Stephen Silver's  ranking of every 2011 movie, visit his blog.

Bob Guzzardi December 31, 2011 at 04:10 PM
dr. bob and I saw Mission Impossible at Franklin Mills IMAX. terrific movie.

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