Maybe everybody learned their lesson from the forboding start of last year and decided to make some improvements, because 2011 was a wonderful year of moviegoing for me, not quite the watershed that 2007 was, but similar in the excellent pace and parcel of good movies throughout and not just in the fall. As the countdown of 13 primes began there were many early releases that held on for an awful long time, until the limits of my categories reluctantly forced me to send them lower. I've heard more than one critic say that they could make a second list of choices just as strong as the first, and I'll join that quorum. My one disappointment is that this year did not yield any strange, misbegotten, left-field, O.G. Watasnozzle-type movies that I could savor and pass on to other daring souls like a clubhouse password. Granted, SUCKER PUNCH had a decent amount of what-the-fuckery, but it did not qualify, because it is not a fun movie; when I watch it again, I will simultaneously be crying in my ice cream for that hideous, perverted corner of my soul that would not join the rest of my rational mind in abandoning the Saturn train, for it is that Black Spot which will certainly doom me to a solitary death in a welfare hotel.
LOVE EXPOSURE, because in its lightning-fast four hour running time, I was catapulted into a whirlpool of unexpected emotions unlike any other I'd seen in a cinema in years. A plot that encompasses upskirt photography, religious cults, and cross-dressing makes it sound like something you would be buying in a burlap sack in a seedy backroom, but it posesses every bit the sincere grasp of art and humanity that the works of Sergio Leone or Douglas Sirk tapped into previously. The long gap between the initial 2008 release in Japan and the slow rollout to reasonable U.S. availability made it ineligible for actual placement on this year's list, but it's a special film that you will not forget if you open yourself up to take the plunge.
And now that we've got our feet wet, on with the wade...
9. THE GUARD
8. THE DESCENDANTS
7. THE TREE OF LIFE
5. ATTACK THE BLOCK
1. YOUNG ADULT