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One thing I like to do every year is spend some time re-visiting the films of the year one decade previous. This year, I have been less excited at the prospect of taking on that task because 2011 is generally one of my least favorite movie years.
And the reasons for that are easy to point to- the box office was dominated by blockbuster franchise sequels- nine of the top 10 movies at the box office that year are sequels, and the outlier there is The Smurfs, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Even the Academy seemed to balk at the movies of 2011, giving Best Picture and Best Actor to The Artist, an almost-silent film that is cute, but would have been forgotten by now if now for its place is Oscars trivia lore.
But the encouraging thing with filmmaking is that if you look deep enough, you’ll almost always find something to love. So here are my picks for 2011 movies actually worth revisiting. The first one is a slam dunk: Moneyball, an adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book of the same name about Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland A’s, is genuinely great, and it is my runaway pick for the best film of the year.
Steven Soderbergh’s pandemic drama/thriller Contagion is also very good, and has been oft-revisited over the past year for obvious reasons. No Strings Attached with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, as well as Crazy, Stupid, Love starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone may just be my two favorite studio comedies of the decade. George Clooney’s The Ides of March is something of a forgotten political drama, but I find it to be very watchable and certainly a precursor to writer Beau Willimon’s stint as showrunner of Netflix’s House of Cards.
And finally, 2011 gave audiences the beloved, heartwarming documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about Jiro Ono, who has dedicated his life to the art of making sushi.
2011 was far from a perfect movie year, and the fact that it came right after 2010, which was incredibly strong is probably a portion of why it seems so weak as well. Despite its flaws, 2011 does have a number of quality movies if you’re willing to seek them out. And seriously, Moneyball is a genuinely great film, so if nothing else, there is always that.
I’m Evan Rook.