Not that I want these notions to simply be a collection of lists; but I thought this could be a good starting point. Because this way you can discount everything I have to say when you disagree violently with the order of my list.
So the 10 best films of 2011.
10. Midnight in Paris (dir. Woody Allen) -- A delightful, though slight, romp with many of my literary idols. A superb counter to many of Allen's critics which, in turn, becomes a comment on this generations not-as-harmless-as-first-thought obsession with nostalgia.
9. The Artist (dir. Michel Hazanavicius) -- A 21st century film, about the 1920s, that looks like it was made in the 1940s revels in a wonder and humanism that feels at home in all three.
8. Shame (dir. Steve McQueen) -- A clinical study of a man as much tormented by society as his own mind. Led by two outstanding performances; Fassbender proves what FishTank had hinted at - he is exceptional.
7. A Separation (dir. Asghar Farhadi) -- A rarity: a film about truth that actually rings true (Julien if I stole that line from you I apologise). With an outstanding ensemble and a heartbreaking authenticity it circles the mind for days.
6. Young Adult (dir. Jason Reitman) -- If one more person refers to this as the dark cousin of Juno I'm going to pull my hair out. Because it's a slap in the face to one of the best anti-heroes of the decade (and know this, she'll slap back). Theron shines in a film about the mundanely horrible things people inflict on each other.
5. Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir. Sean Durkin) -- This film treats its audience like they're members of a cult, withholding information with the one hand, rewarding our attention to detail (and ability to see through the fog) with the other. The most tension filled film of the year (an incredible feat for a debutant director) exemplified and incarnated by Hawkes and Olsen.
4. Moneyball (dir. Bennett Miller) -- A topsy-turvy sports movie which makes us cheer math and jeer 'old-fahioned gut thinking'; yet at the same time remains a warm, funny, and moving experience. Pitt leads a truly supportive cast in a film that asks us to look afresh at systems long accepted.
3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (dir. Tomas Alfredson) -- An adult thriller that pits smart men (and exceptional actors) in a battle of intellect and influence. A completely satisfactory and methodical film, that encourages and rewards multiple viewings.
2. Margaret (dir. Kenneth Lonergan) -- A sprawling, messy, operatic masterpiece (especially if one can find the 3hr version). A New York teen on the verge of womanhood (upon witnessing a tragedy) learns that nothing in this world is unbroken, untouched, or un-compromised -- it joins 25th Hour and United 93 as the 9/11 films to watch. Lonergan pulls off a film that straddles a line of "overheard" naturalism and "operatic" melodrama. Paquin works as hard as anyone in a crushing performance and Smith-Cameron remains a underrated favourite of mine.
1. The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick) -- The first time I saw this movie I sat, leaning forward, struggling to breath, my hands clasped, almost in prayer, throughout. I was told before entering the cinema that Malick was trying to reinvent the form, what I did not expect to see was a work of art that not only raised my expectations of film, but of life! Such an unparalleled exploration of human experience and feeling it is; that it encourages me to live and experience more and more, just so I can gain greater insight into this graceful epic! Pitt gives the performance of the year.