Col Needham's Best Movies of 2011

I'm the founder and CEO of IMDb and here are my choices for the best films of the past year. This is drawn from a longer list of all my 9/10 and 10/10 movies from 2011; choosing just 10 is really difficult. If your IMDb vote history is up-to-date then you can see your own list via these search results.

“ 1. The Descendants (2011)

George Clooney gives a career best performance and leads a near-perfect cast in a movie skillfully directed by Alexander Payne. The blend of comedy and drama, sometimes even combined into single lines of dialogue, is superb. Also of particular note are Clooney's daughters played by Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller, both of whom look to have bright futures ahead. You'll laugh and you'll cry as the posters might have said. I am hopeful of Oscar glory across the board for this one. Alexander Payne should really make movies more frequently. I saw this at The Toronto International Film Festival in September and was fortunate to spend time talking to Alexander Payne and some of the cast at the Fox Searchlight after-party. ”
Image
“ 2. Shame (2011)

Director Steve McQueen takes us on a dark journey through sex addiction in New York thanks to a striking original screenplay which he co-wrote with Abi Morgan. Lead actor Michael Fassbender is receiving much-deserved rave reviews, as in supporting actress Carey Mulligan. The haunting score and McQueen's stylish long takes contribute to a memorable experience which is enhanced by Mulligan's singing performance of "New York, New York". I saw this first at The Toronto International Film Festival in September and then again at The Bath Film Festival in November; present at the latter for an interesting Q&A was producer Iain Canning who is the reigning Best Picture Oscar holder. Iain explained that owing to the controversial nature of the film and the filmmakers' decision not to compromise, they did not expect to secure US distribution, however, it sold and became the first movie in several years to be released with an NC-17 rating in the US. ”
Image
“ 3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

A fitting finale for what is now the highest grossing movie franchise in history. Part 1 was my #4 choice last year and as I explained then, the books and the movies have a special place in my life. I've always appreciated J.K. Rowling's attention to detail and forward planning throughout the series. Additionally, it has made people here in the UK even more proud of our local film industry. Seen at the Cinerama in Seattle on its opening weekend during a family holiday to the US. "C'mon, Tom... let's finish this the way we started it. Together!". ”
Image
“ 4. The Artist (2011)

This is a beautiful love letter to the silent cinema and is well worth catching whether you are an admirer of the era or whether this would be your first ever silent. There are echoes of A Star Is Born and Singin' in the Rain yet plenty of originality in this touching and funny story. Good to see it appearing in so many end-of-year lists and awards short lists. Seen at its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival where it received a 20+ minute standing ovation (apparently the longest for many years) and again at the Lumiere Film Festival in Lyon where IMDb was honoured this year in the birthplace of cinema. ”
Image
“ 5. Melancholia (2011)

I seem to have a love / hate relationship with Lars von Trier's films and this one firmly landed in the love category. It has haunted me for months after seeing it at The Toronto Film Festival. Without revealing any spoilers, there are many literally gorgeous shot compositions which make this a visual treat. The inventive unveiling of the plot adds to the experience and Kirsten Dunst is amazing in her role ... "Hold my hand. Close your eyes." ”
Image
“ 6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I had been looking forward to this movie since last year and I was not disappointed. The movie opens with a fabulous credit sequence from which I was instantly hooked thanks to the cover of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Director David Fincher has excelled yet again in this remake which will work whether or not you are familiar with either the original movie or the novel. The pacing is superb and it feels significantly shorter than the 158 minute running time which is packed with plot and is beautifully shot by Jeff Cronenweth. Daniel Craig seems born to play this role and Rooney Mara is someone to watch. Seen on a cold and rainy December day (perfect) at its world premiere at The Odeon Leicester Square in London. ”
Image
“ 7. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa bring Dan Fogelman's script to life in such a charming fashion that I couldn't help falling in love with this movie. The clever twist was nicely played to seal the deal and, finally, the ensemble cast shines in this delightful movie. Seen at the local cinema. ”
Image
“ 8. Super 8 (2011)

Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams transport us back to 1979 for a science fiction adventure of the best kind. Everything great about this movie can be summarized in this brief scene, note especially Elle Fanning's rehearsal. It helps that in 1979 I was the same age as some of the characters, but the movie should be accessible to anyone, young or old. Seen with the IMDb team on one of our movie nights in Seattle. ”
Image
“ 9. Like Crazy (2011)

Who could blame Anton Yelchin's character for falling instantly in love with Felicity Jones' portrayal of Anna in this intense romance from director Drake Doremus? I first noticed Felicity in her film debut as Young Ruth in Flashbacks of a Fool, but this year and particularly this movie have confirmed her as a major talent; she is my favourite British actress. Felicity is busy and has appeared in a range of recent movies, equally deserving of recognition is her performance in Albatross which is just outside my top 10 list. I am looking forward to seeing her in Drake's next project. Seen at its world premiere at The Sundance Film Festival where I also met Drake, Felicity and several cast members. ”
Image
“ 10. The Ides of March (2011)

A sharp political thriller with George Clooney returning to the director's chair and co-adapting the screenplay with frequent collaborator Grant Heslov and the original author of the play, Beau Willimon. This is writing of the highest caliber all the way down to the selection of the title! Another brilliant cast with Evan Rachel Wood particularly outstanding. This neatly book-ends my list with a Clooney title at both #1 and #10 so I agree with the general sentiment that this is George's year. Good to see the range of comments via our user reviews section. Seen with the IMDb team on one of our movie nights in Seattle. ”
Image