Best Films of 2011

I’m writing this on June 15, 2012, a full six months after the annual explosion of year-end listmaking and a year-and-a-half after the archival date of this post. With the latest redesign and relaunch of Long Pauses, I’ve decided to take a different approach. Rather than wait until December, I’m going to rank films as I see them. The only 2011 release I haven’t yet seen that might have a chance of cracking the top 15 is Abel Ferrara’s Go Go Tales.

Favorite Commercial Releases of 2011

Going by the one-week in NYC rule.

Top Five
In preferential order.

  1. House of Pleasures (Bertrand Bonello)
  2. Mysteries of Lisbon (Raúl Ruiz)
  3. Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard)
  4. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
  5. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)

The Next Ten
In alphabetical order.

The Arbor (Clio Barnard)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher)
Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
My Joy (Sergei Loznitsa)
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman)
To Die Like a Man (João Pedro Rodrigues)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
Tuesday, After Christmas (Radu Muntean)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Favorite Undistributed Films of 2011

As of December 31, 2011, these films had not yet been released commercially in the States. On a level playing field, Low Life and The Loneliest Planet would knock Certified Copy and Meek’s Cutoff out of my top 5.

  1. Low Life (Nicolas Klotz and Elisabeth Perceval)
  2. The Loneliest Planet (Julia Loktev)
  3. Almayer’s Folly (Chantal Akerman)
  4. A Burning Hot Summer (Philippe Garrel)
  5. Fatherland (Nicolas Prividera)
  6. The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
  7. Twenty Cigarettes (James Benning)
  8. Dreileben: Beats Being Dead (Christian Petzold)
  9. The Silver Cliff (Karim Aïnouz)
  10. The Student (Santiago Mitre)