There’s almost nothing movie fans love more than making lists, and honestly, maybe that’s one of the things I love so much about movies. I’ve always loved to rank things, whether it is movies, favorite baseball players, or memes. So with the decade coming to a close, it is the perfect time to do an annual retrospective on each year in the decade, continuing with 2011.
(Throughout this series, I’ll be using the Letterboxd release dates to determine which year’s list to put each film on.)
10. Source Code – If you’re looking for some fun along with some proof that Jake Gyllenhaal can do more than just prestige dramas, Source Code is the perfect option. It comes a couple years before Edge of Tomorrow, but it’s part of this group of action movies with a similar premise to Groundhog Day. This is just a fun movie with a charismatic A list actor that’s worth lots of rewatches.
9. The Descendants – Other than Up in the Air, this is my favorite George Clooney performance. He is emotionally raw from beginning to end as a man trying to maneuver love, loss, and family. Even though those themes can seem super cliché and cheesy, they’re handled in a real and heartbreaking way. Also, it gave us Shailene Woodley as a dramatic movie actress, so you have to be grateful for that.
8. X-Men First Class – After X-Men: Origins and The Last Stand, this is the exact X-Men movie that we needed. It’s fun, enjoyable, and exciting all while delivering everything we’ve come to know and love about this franchise. The new cast is each perfectly cast, and they work well as young versions of their characters before the series’ timeline becomes confusing.
7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – The beginning of what would become the best trilogy since The Lord of the Rings. When I did a deep dive on this series, I found that it’s much less about what it means to be an ape than what it means to be human. This movie only starts to explore all of the deep cultural and societal themes that the rest of the series would go on to present.
6. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – This movie showed just how fun a Mission: Impossible movie could be. From the hallway scene to the Burj Khalifa sequence this movie is a nonstop good time. It is the first time in a M:I movie that you see things start to go wrong, but in the end, they still get the job done. What a great message to send in a movie about people who seem larger than life.
5. Fast Five – Up until this point, the Fast & Furious movies were more street racing movies with action sprinkled in. But this is the movie where the franchise turned to action movies with street racing sprinkled in, and it is better off for it. The addition of The Rock make the movie a great time that is endlessly rewatchable.
4. The Grey – This is the movie that benefitted most from Liam Neeson becoming an action star. Because while it has action and physically demanding sequences, it has more to do with Neeson’s character’s inner turmoil than it does with set pieces. He struggles with questions of faith and loss. It’s my favorite kind of movie – one that will make you think deeply while keeping your interest narratively all the way through.
3. Crazy, Stupid Love – When a movie stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, chances are that I’m going to love it. In this movie, it is true because of the natural chemistry between the two actors. Other than The Nice Guys, this is some of the funniest that Gosling has ever been, and it makes you appreciate him taking a role like this more knowing how rarely he does them. But besides him, it’s a hilarious and absurd romp from beginning to end that you can’t help but enjoy.
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – The huge Harry Potter fan in me just about forces me to have this movie so high up on this list. In a year with so many disappointing endings (Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and even IT), it’s nice to think back on a series that ended about as perfectly as you can. This film has high stakes and incredible character work to make it the most satisfying ending to this beloved series that you could ask for.
1. Moneyball – As soon as I saw this movie, it became one of my favorites of all time. Since then, I’ve quoted it endlessly and watched it dozens of times. It satisfies me on two levels – it’s a baseball movie, and baseball is the only thing I love as much as movies, and it’s the story of a man realizing what’s important in his life. Brad Pitt delivers one of the best performances of his career and of the decade to make this a perfect movie in my mind.
All images retrieved from IMDb