2011 has been something of a mixed bag so far. We've seen some truly awful films. I've only walked out on about 5 films in my life, and 2 of them (Battle: Los Angeles and Transformers: Dark of the Moon) were this year. We've seen a lot of mediocre films (Limitless, I Am Number Four, etc). But, we've seen some very good ones as well. Here are my choices for the best films of the year up to this point, in alphabetical order:
Born To Be Wild
This Imax 3D story of orphan elephants and orangutans is a sheer delight. The only Imax documentary I've ever seen that's that's good enough to be worth owning on DVD and watching even on a small screen.
Director Robert Redford bounces back from the disappointment of his Lions For Lambs with a much more subtle and dramatically satisfying political piece, in the historical context of the trial of Lincoln's alleged assassins. James McAvoy and Robin Wright are exceptional. Though the film was dismissed by many critics as slow and stagy, and ignored entirely by audiences, I found it to be great drama and superb filmmaking.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
A thrilling, emotional climax to the epic series. Full of action, humor, drama and excellent perfomances, this is one of the best films of the series, and one of the best fantasy films ever made.
Kung Fu Panda 2
Dazzling action scenes, hilarious comedy, top-notch animation and some surprisingly touching moments make this a winner.
J.J. Abrams' tribute to Steven Spielberg's late 70s and early 80s classics captures the joy, excitement and thrills of those films, reminding me why I loved movies in the first place.
Kenneth Branagh actually manages to make a superhero film that feels unique and fresh.
Duncan Jones sci-fi thriller is smart, original, and thoroughly entertaining. This one hits DVD next week and is very much worth a look.