Top Ten Films of 2011: Staff Picks

As any year comes to an end, the two chief tasks facing a film critic collective such as Front Row Reviews are the compilation of a “Top Ten” that best represents the individual tastes of its writers, and which films to make eligible. The first question finds its answer easily enough, by way of the closed ballot – each of us submits a personal top ten, ranked 1-10, with each film receiving different points according to its place on the list. The second question comes down, in essence, to whether or not a “Top Ten Films of 2011” list should have room for films most people can’t and won’t see until 2012. Or, put another way: does a film critic review for other film critics, or for the mortals who have to wait in line and even pay to go to the movies months after their flashy premieres?

For this reason, we at FRR agreed not to include films not yet on theatrical release, save for The Artist, which comes out next week. That means those of us already excited by the likes of Shame, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Kid with a Bike and so on get to vote for them this time next year, when many more people will have had the chance to see them – and at FRR, we pride ourselves in our resistance to snobbery.

This shows in the Top Ten itself. Palme d’Or-winning The Tree of Life shares space, for instance, with Bridesmaids. Richard Ayoade’s debut feature, Submarine, the only British film that made the final list, though some of its funding was American. Rango, meanwhile, is one of a surprising two animated films that feature – the other is Arrietty.

It’s often very difficult to find a balanced perspective between more recent viewings and those needing a little more reflection, especially since film journalism of our sort demands less revisiting of films we have seen than keeping up with what we haven’t. It might be surprising, then, to find Black Swan on the list – and so high, too. Released three weeks into 2011, the film has obviously endured the year better than any of its fellow Oscar contenders – no room for The King’s Speech or True Grit. And yet, Black Swan isn’t even the earliest release here: that title is Blue Valentine.

Of the 67 films put forward in the ballots, we had a clear, runaway winner in the end, with 8 of our 13 staff members voting for it. Its star, Ryan Gosling, is surely the leading male of the moment, featuring in two other films on the list too, namely Blue Valentine and The Ides of March. His turn in FRR’s favourite film of 2011 is intense and enigmatic, as a cipher who’s probably watched too many movies. To varying degrees, we probably all related to him in this sense… if not in others.


Front Row Reviews’ 2011 Top Ten


Individual Ballots

Alex Rowland, Reviews Editor Alice Bishop, Writer Charlotte Stretch, Writer Daniel Cole, Writer Daniel Perrin, Writer Luke Woellhaf, Writer
Manleen Gill, News Editor
1 Drive Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 We Were Here Black Swan Arrietty Bridesmaids Bridesmaids
2 The Tree of Life Black Swan Submarine Blue Valentine Drive Rango The Help
3 The Artist Blue Valentine Blue Valentine Rango Submarine Drive The Tree of Life
4 Take Shelter I Saw the Devil The Ides of March How I Ended This Summer Sleeping Beauty Submarine The Ides of March
5 13 Assassins The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 Tyrannosaur The Artist Black Swan Arrietty Drive
6 We Need to Talk About Kevin Friends With Benefits Bridesmaids The Rise of the Planet of the Apes Blue Valentine Midnight in Paris Friends With Benefits
7 Kill List Limitless Black Swan Attack the Block Tucker & Dale vs Evil Troll Hunter The Debt
8 Melancholia Source Code Bobby Fischer Against the World Warrior Snowtown Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The Adjustment Bureau
9 Tomboy 127 Hours The Skin I Live In Super 8 Tyrannosaur Attack the Block Crazy Stupid Love
10 Moneyball The King’s Speech Hanna Meek’s Cutoff Tangled The Skin I Live In Water for Elephants


Matt Sharp, A/V Film Events Reviewer Michael Pattison, Writer Mike Chapman, Writer Nathaneal Smith, Writer Ollie Coleman, Press Editor Pete Thornton, Editor and Design Manager Sam Inglis, Writer
1 Hanna Archipelago Drive Arrietty The Ides of March The Tree of Life Confessions
2 Drive Le Quattro Volte The Tree of Life Take Shelter Drive We Need to Talk About Kevin Tomboy
3 The Rise of the Planet of the Apes Meek’s Cutoff Midnight in Paris True Grit Weekend Senna The Artist
4 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The Interrupters Kill List Midnight in Paris The King’s Speech The Rise of the Planet of the Apes Melancholia
5 True Grit Blue Valentine Black Swan Attack the Block The Skin I Live In Dreams of a Life Love Like Poison
6 The Ides of March A Screaming Man Attack the Block Hanna Black Swan Drive Attenberg
7 Super 8 Incendies Weekend Never Let Me Go Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Kill List Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
8 Arrietty The Salt of Life True Grit Submarine Kaboom Shame Tangled
9 Rango Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Blue Valentine Crazy, Stupid Love Bridesmaids Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The Tree of Life
10 X-Men: First Class Animal Kingdom The Guard Another Earth Friends With Benefits The Ides of March Potiche


About The Author

Michael Pattison is a film critic from Gateshead.

3 Responses

  1. Colin

    Snubbing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 out of those state critcs awards is one thing, but at the BFCA Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, and maybe (Best Pictue)at the Oscars, well that’s unfair and pathetic.

    Look I might get banned for saying this but this is the truth, I mean sure Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris are great movies and have critical acclaim but was either 2 voted best movie of the summer….no it was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; it’s not only a global box office success but it broke records, had universal critical acclaim, and had maybe higher grades and more reviewes than any film this year….it has a 100% among top and professional critics on Rotten Tomatoes and got a 93% [Critics Choice] by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (higher than film this year) and no disrespect to Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, Hugo, The Artist, Drive, and War Horse; and to me those movies also should be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

    Maybe it’s not a silent film/a film based on a president or the stock market/independant film/may not have a famous movie actor being the star of the movie/ not go by a few things written in the Harry Potter books/and it maybe to only a few critics a kids film. You see HP:DH 2 should not be known as a film known buy a visual tech stuff; it’s like maybe all the other HP films (however it was their last one) it will never be forgotten, had many respect from not only critcs but socially, and has done many things probably no film from England has never done, turned rookie kid stars to fantastic well respected and famous movies stars like Daniel Radcliffe. And i don’t think this movie and film franchise will never be forgotten; I mean for the past 10 years I see kids/teenagers/a few adults dressed as wizards/students/and a quidditch team with broom sticks (even in a few tv shows or movies) and did they hated all those Harry Potter films….no they didn’t, they loved or really liked HP:DH 2 like either Lord of the Rings or Star Wars (you know the ending battle scene between Voldermolt and Potter was like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings).

    To a few movie critics the only award show that respects this movie is MTV Movie Awards or Kids Choice Award….they’re right and wrong and maybe a few critics would ithink it’s just a kids film and they’re wrong. To me this movie has what it takes to not only be nominated for those Tech stuff, but to be nominated for Best Picture (like Avatar and Lord of the Rings), maybe it might not win an Oscar but you got a give this movie and all those Harry Potter films credit for trying.

  2. alexa

    For me “Drive” is the number 1 movie in 2011. You might hear one comparing this to a Tarantino film, but take a second and leave all worries at the door, this is an absorbing and tremendously unique piece of cinema from the well known danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. The reason it works so exquisitely well is because the film grabs hold of you and takes you inside this often dark and dream-like LA setting. So, when the end of the film hits, you feel apart of this film, and it’s there to stay.

    This film also offers a Ryan Gosling like you’ve never seen him, speaking only when necessary, with tension and fury in his eyes. He’s silent, caring, and ridiculously tough. Every line is delivered perfectly and every gesture is natural.

    I saw this at the LA Film Festival on a mammoth screen with booming speakers. The music only makes this film more unique. It is catchy and synchronized perfectly with the TRULY beautiful cinematography.

    This film is the BEST of its genre, but really. I honestly cannot compare it to any other film, for it is truly that different. “Drive” is already the best of the year, because I’m POSITIVE no other film will haunt and invade me quite like this film has. This is not just a classic for its genre, but a beautiful and bold classic in all.

    Have a lovely day


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