7. X-Men: First Class – 2011 has been stuffed full of superhero movies- X-MEN: FIRST CLASS got its licks in before they really started to wear me down. The thing is that X-MEN works as a thoroughly engaging character piece just as much as if not more than it does as a superhero movie. If you had asked me before this year that any superhero property turned to film would end up on my best list and the movie didn’t involve Batman I would have had a good laugh and now X-MEN: FIRST CLASS has come around to make me think twice.
6. Warrior – I can’t tell you how many times I went out to catch this in theaters only to have my efforts thwarted by errands or other time sensitive issues. Luckily I did finally check it out because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to include one of the best emotionally driven sports dramas in recent memory. WARRIOR may have been released in the shadow of the equally as fantastic film THE FIGHTER last year where Christian Bale received Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. I believe each actor here is worthy of at least a nomination here as Tom Hardy is mysterious and even frightening at times, Joel Edgerton is sympathetic and has a bit of built up rage and Nick Nolte at times is heartbreaking as the father seeking forgiveness and redemption from his sons for his past mistakes. WARRIOR is a winning formula and a great piece of emotional drama and fun sports flick.
5. Drive – On some level I believe I expected a little more out of DRIVE before actually sitting to watch it. I didn’t have overly lofty expectations but I was kind of hoping for something more like the opening scene except I wanted that all the way through. What I got was different, not in a bad way, but different enough for it to not land higher on the list. Every actor is pretty great, the score is great and there are quite a few memorable visuals. Overall, DRIVE is quietly thrilling and exciting in a very subdued way and strikes at a visceral level in the extreme outburts of violence.
4. Source Code – Duncan Jones’ name has been planted on my directors I have to keep an eye on, then again he’s been there since I watched MOON. SOURCE CODE didn’t quite enthrall me as much as MOON did, but it is still a very engaging and entertaining movie boasting a premise/concept that could carry subsequent films or even a TV show. Jones’ film is sci fi action that works on every level.