Margin Midnight Mara Marlene: Louis's 10 Favorite Films of 2011

5. Hugo

I'd been riding on my "The King of Comedy is my favorite Scorsese film ever, and I don't care whatever comes out, it's over, you're over, forget it, Bernhard for life, etc." high horse for years, but Hugo is so downright lovable that I nearly forfeited my Rupert Pupkin Fan Club visor. At its base, Hugo is just a delightful and droll film -- but it's also a testament to Scorsese's love of film in general. As Roger Ebert put it, "Leave it to Scorsese to make his first 3-D movie about the man who invented special effects."

4. Margin Call

The finest ensemble drama of the year is a nail-biting, character-unraveling doomsday procession to Wall Street's 2008 conniption. If you're not enthralled by Zachary Quinto's work as an unassuming hotshot or Penn Badgley's turn as a feeble, status-obsessed suit, simply gaze at veterans Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, and a spineless, imperious Jeremy Irons, and you'll still the theater fully sated.

3. Shame

Michael Fassbender is both a revelation and nothing as the empty, sex-addicted Brandon Sullivan, who interacts with civilization but exists mostly in a numbed vacuum. It's fascinating to watch Brandon act impetuously to quell his preoccupying desires, but it's heartbreaking to watch him rediscover his own humanity as his sister (Carey Mulligan) debilitates in front of him.

2. Martha Marcy May Marlene

Elizabeth Olsen is 2011's fabulous find as the brainwashed cult member whose reintroduction to society is a dehumanizing as the treatment she received from her odious cult leader (John Hawkes). If it's slightly difficult to believe that her sister (Sarah Paulson) would be so clueless about Martha's shift in character, that arc is redeemed by the sheer power of Olsen's extreme confusion and blank glance.

1. Coriolanus

All hail Ralph Fiennes, and not just because today is his 49th birthday -- he's directed a seismic update of Shakespeare's drama about war, dignity, family, and betrayal. The blood streaks on Fiennes's face as he plays the titular soldier conjure enough grit, but when you consider the added verve of Gerard Butler (who gives a harsh, meaty performance) and the indomitable Vanessa Redgrave as Coriolanus's mother Volumnia, you have the most compelling, uncompromising, and ferocious movie of the year.

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  • AS says:

    I agree with Dragoon Tattoo & Shame.

  • CharlesA says:

    "Hugo" currently heads my top-10 list, and "Midnight in Paris" and "Margin Call" are somewhere in the bottom half. The rest I haven't seen.

  • Stig says:

    This might be a complete pleb topic, but were there no more major releases ('hollywood') with the highest paid actors, worthy of inclusion. Perhaps you could include a list for the commoners?

  • julie says:

    My #1 is Warrior. I like your list in general, though. Not so obvious. Way to think for yourself!

  • zack says:

    Another Earth and The Skin I Live In were also up there...and who could forget Human Centipede 2

  • Remy says:

    I've seen six of these movies and thought they were all very good, except "Weekend".

    My own list would probably look more or less like this, as of right now:

    1. Shame
    2. The Ides of March
    3. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
    4. Carnage
    5. A Dangerous Method
    6. Melancholia
    7. Midnight in Paris
    8. My Week with Marilyn
    9. The Artist
    10. The Tree of Life

    With very honorable mentions going to "We Need to Talk About Kevin", "Jane Eyre", "Take Shelter", "Martha Marcy May Marlene", "50/50", "Coriolanus" and "Drive".

  • KevyB says:

    Wow, a list with Win Win but without Bridesmaids? Nice! Honestly, though, what the eff is up with the overlove for Bridesmaids?? Yes, it's way better than The Hangover, but it's still approximately a couple dozen laughs short of There's Something About Mary and critics weren't falling all over themselves putting that one in their year-end lists. Was this year really that bad? Or has comedy just gotten that mediocre?

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