Gerard’s Top 10 FILMS of 2011

As promised, here is my Top 10 FILM list for 2011. I actually had to scramble in compiling this list, because there was one movie that I needed to see before my deadline and I was confident that it would go on my list. Did it, though? That’s what you’re going to have to read to find out. These films are all films that opened in limited or wide release, but that exhibited in 2011. Not all of these films were actually seen at the theater, some were seen on Blu-ray – the point is that they were all seen this. year. With that out of the way, enjoy what I have to offer you in my Top 10 list of 2011 at Why So Blu.   

Gerard’s Top 10 Films of



10. The Adjustment Bureau – The Adjustment Bureau is on my list, because 2011 was a turbulent year for me on a personal level and the film was there as sort of a comforter. It’s a love story rolled up into science fiction with a twist. What really sealed the deal for me was the chemistry that Matt Damon and Emily Blunt had onscreen. It was electric! I can’t remember the last time I saw an onscreen couple that played off of each other like a real life couple would. It was great!  The Adjustment Bureau was a film that won me over with performances as opposed to what the subject matter was, but I enjoyed the film’s subject matter anyways. It all worked out.

9. Bellflower – “Lord Humungus cannot be defied.”  —Lord Humungus

8. Melancholia – It’s the end of the world and I feel…depressed as hell. Okay, not really, but only someone like Lars Von Trier could make a film about the end of the world and have it be good. I mean, the world ends in the opening scenes, so what else could the film possibly tell me? There’s so much stuff to digest here, but what makes it a good film is the talent involved behind the camera and in front of it. If you’re down for it, I would suggest watching Tree of Life and Melancholia as they deal with subject matter that sort of correlates with one another. One film is about the beginning of all things and the other film is about the end of all things.  Make a weekend out of it. 😉

7. WarriorWarrior is a bit of a stunner. Meaning that it came out of nowhere and made it on my list. I saw the promotional materials and really didn’t care for the film. It also had people that I liked in the film, but I still didn’t care. Enter the Blu-ray format. I watched it and was blown away by how great it was! I see several Oscar nominations for the film itself and actors involved. The best way to describe Warrior would be to say that it’s Rocky meets the MMA. That’s also simplifying it a bit, but if you’ve seen the endless promotional blitzes for the film then you’ll already know what the film is all about. It also reaffirms my faith in the Bane character who is being played by Tom Hardy. Hardy was a monster in Warrior, but keep an eye out for Nick Nolte.

6. Tree of Life – Terence Malick made his triumphant return to film in 2011 with his philosophical look at the beginning of the universe. It revolved around the actual creation of the universe, dinosaurs, and a family set in the 50’s, along with one character who seemed to be drifting through life in the present or near past. What did it all mean, or what was it all about? Tree of Life is one of those esoteric films that cannot be explained, because they go much deeper than than a simplistic meaning. Malick films are never simplistic. I will say that no matter who you talk to about Tree of Life, you will get a different answer every time.  It’s a phenomenal piece of filmmaking, though.

5. The Skin I Live In – Being an Almodovar novice, but actually knowing a lot about him and his themes and techniques, The Skin I Live In would be one of those thrill rides that kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. When the end hit, the rug was pulled from right from under me. Well, that’s sort of a lie. The rug was pulled from under me halfway through the film, but you understand. I expect that Antonio Banderas will get some recognition from the Academy, and I also hope that more people give the film a shot when it hits Blu-ray in the coming months. You will be talking about it for a while a afterwards, I assure you.

4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Here’s the newest entry into my Top 10, because I just saw it this morning. I have a built in love for all of David Fincher’s work, and I kind of knew that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo would be no different. I’ll also admit that I was a virgin going into the world of author Stieg Larsson. I own, but have not read the trilogy of novels, and I have not seen any of the Swedish language films. What I do want to emphasize on is that I believe Fincher has taken this dark material about a young girl who vanished forty years and made it his own. Fincher is one director who is style AND substance rolled up into one. I cannot wait for the next two films which he will film back-to-back.

3. Insidious – Up until the middle of this past summer, Insidious had the number one spot on my list, but ended up being dethroned by a couple of other films. Insidious is the story of a young boy who is being “haunted” by demonic forces and it’s up to his family to save him. Insidious was scary all around. I saw it in a packed house and what made it stand out was how the crowds reacted to it. You had some hardcore grown ass men screaming in their seats. Literally. It was funny to walk out of the theater and hear these “tough guys” mumbling to their friends or significant others things like ” naw man, I wasn’t scared,” or “naw, I wasn’t screaming, that wasn’t me.” It just goes to show you what kind of power a great horror film has over people.


2. The Devil’s Double – Me and some of my fellow Why So Blu crew members caught a screening of The Devil’s Double when we were all down covering Comic-Con in the summer time. I will say that the film did heat up the screen and stuck with me for a while after watching it. Dominic Cooper gave us a dual performance as one of Saddam Hussein’s sadistic sons and the man who would be drafted to be his body double. It was a performance for the ages, and I do hope he is not overlooked by the Academy. I don’t think the film was properly marketed, because it never opened in wide release and it quickly went away. The good news is that it is now available on Blu-ray and it is your duty to check it out for yourself.

1. Drive – I saw Drive the week after it opened and I was FLOORED, pardon the pun. It’s an art house film disguised as a mainstream film, and rightfully so, because it actually crossed over the barrier. Audiences embraced the film even if it was a bit unconventional and went against what they were normally into. Me, I was hooked on the film about a stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver. I also bought the soundtrack to the film, and even drove around my city a couple of nights a week like Ryan Gosling’s character in the film. It also helps that I live in L.A., so I know where all of the locations used in the film were. Here we are several months later and I am still thinking about the freakin’ film! It just shows what kind of power it has over certain film-goers, and it’s that kind of power that makes it my number 1 film of 2011.

Honorable Mentions:

I Saw The Devil, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, Super, Hanna, Thor, X-Men: First Class, Crazy, Stupid, Love., Horrible Bosses, The Help, Killer Elite, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, The Ides of March, Immortals.


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

17 Responses to “Gerard’s Top 10 FILMS of 2011”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Solid List Gerard.

    Biggest surprise: The Adjustment Bureau – I dug that film as well, but was not expecting a top 10 spot placement from you. Kudos.

    Glad you liked Warrior a lot too. That film needs more love.

  2. Sean Ferguson

    I haven’t seen any of these.

  3. Brian White

    I wanted to love AB do bad, but the whole angel thing just ruined it for me. It was one of those films where the trailer really misled viewers.

    Here’s what I want to know. How can you say this?

    “What I do want to emphasize on is that I believe Fincher has taken this dark material about a young girl who vanished forty years and made it his own.”

    You have not seen the Swedish film that came before. That’s a false statement buddy even if it’s what you believe. And besides the girl, do you really find the mystery element that thrilling?

  4. Gregg

    DRIVE! Another awesome, awesome film.

    I’m not sure about Adjustment Bureau as far as what actually happened in the movie. I don’t know if the trailer truly misled viewers, but it did leave a lot of questions unanswered once the end credits rolled. I’m not sure about an angel or any religious hints in the film like Brian mentioned. I didn’t pick up on that at all. What I want to know is who is the Bureau? Are they the Illuminati? Are they even human? Are they Annunaki? Do those fedoras let them teleport via thought? To me, when a film leaves that many questions behind, it failed to tell its story proficiently from start to finish.

  5. Will Santana

    G I cant even lie to you, i havent seen half of these movies. we dont go to the theater as often. What did you think of Hugo? That was the last film I saw in theater and really liked it.

  6. Gerard Iribe

    Wow, maybe I should have put down NO SPOILERS in there somewhere, guys. I also did say that the performances are what won me over aside from the subject matter.

    And as far as what I said about Dragon Tattoo, Brian, I think I was just making a general statement. Fincher ALWAYS makes things his own. Yes, I did find the mystery element thrilling. I’m sorry you can’t sit still for more than 90 minutes at a time.

    Will, I still haven’t seen Hugo yet.

  7. Aaron Neuwirth

    Will, you saw one of the best films of the year – Hugo.

    Dragon Tattoo – This isn’t Gus Van Sant’s Psycho, the film was shot for shot or even a remake of the Swedish film, it’s another adaptation of the same story. Even if it’s not not my favorite Fincher film, I still agree with G that he made it his own.

    Seriously, this got too SPOILER-y, but with that said, Gregg, how did you not see the angel thing? It’s even in the dialogue. If there’s one thing that faults this film (and there are a few things, even though I enjoyed it), it’s how explicit they laid everything out and hit you over the head in this movie to make sure everyone understood.

  8. Gregg

    I’m not alone on Adjustment Bureau. Three roommates and myself never sight any angel anything.

  9. Gregg

    Saw, not sight

  10. Bob Ignizio

    I really like this list (other than ‘Insidious’). It was a good year to be a fan of serious, intelligent sci-fi, and ‘Adjustment Bureau’ and ‘Melancholia’ are two of the reasons why.

    Also happy to see ‘Bellflower’ on here. Really good and one of the more original movies to come out this year. Just watched ‘Warrior’ in trying to get caught up with 2011 and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Sure, it’s a pretty typical “underdog athlete” plot, but the performances, writing, and directing were all top notch.

    ‘Tree of Life’ is probably going to get some kind of special mention on my list. I have to be honest and say I didn’t like most of it, but for sheer ambition no American film this year came close. I’ve heard Malick will be cutting an extended version of the “origin of life” segment to play as its own film, and that’s something I’d really like to see.

    As for the comments about trailers being misleading, my advice is don’t watch trailers. The best way to see a movie is with as little advance knowledge as possible. Then you don’t have any expectations of preconceptions, and can just let the film be what it is on its own terms, and judge it accordingly. It’s not easy to do that with all the hype movies get these days, but you can at least mitigate it.

    The agents of the Bureau in ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ said flat out what they were not, but that to some they might appear that way. I don’t think it’s necessary to one’s enjoyment of the film to have a concrete answer as to what exactly these beings are. They serve a certain function and symbolize certain ideas and beliefs, and similar beings recur in various forms throughout human culture. These are the beings behind those various beliefs, and as the sheer number of different interpretations of them indicates, pinning them down with any degree of exactitude is beyond our present level of human consciousness. This is all very much in keeping with what writer Phillip K. Dick, who wrote the story the movie is based on, believed personally (a fascinating subject in its own right).

  11. Gregg

    I suppose we can debate the fogginess of Adjustment Bureau all day. However, I wanted that explanation. Otherwise, it feels like an unfinished script. These guys are not a byproduct, but a the main controlling factor of the film. To simply walk away from explaining that is a cheap way of executing of the delivery. You wouldn’t buy a car off the lot without wheels. Why release a movie without explaining the main ‘how’ of the film? One word: Incomplete.

  12. Aaron Neuwirth

    Gregg, where did The Crow come from? Does that film explicitly give an answer?

  13. Brian White

    The crow was birthed by it’s momma crow. Duh! Everyone knows that.
    While I agree with Bob, I also disagree. The Adjustment Bur had a very misleading premise in it’s trailer. However, I see your point. My fault for putting too much stock in the trailer. I wanted to LOVE this film so bad. It had such great chemistry and an engaging plot, but I felt as I went into Act 3 I got lost and lost overall interest because as Gregg said I wanted more. I wanted to know why I invested my time there. I needed that answer. Now I agree not every movie should provide that. I disagree here. I think the AB needed some kind of cohesive resolution to make me say wow…I want to see that again!

  14. Gregg

    @ Aaron: True, the crow’s abilities in ‘The Crow’ were never mentioned but that’s different and here is why. #1, that bird wasn’t the focus of the movie. In AB, you had a couple on the run and the Bureau. That’s it. In ‘The Crow’, you had a lot more characters to spread the wealth of the film’s focus. #2, there is more than enough rising-from-the-dead folklore in just about any culture that audiences don’t need an explanation these days. Several people do need an explanation on why guys in fedoras open a gas station bathroom door that leads to Yankee Stadium. AB was a lame duck for me.

  15. Aaron Neuwirth

    It’s funny because I was re-reading my review and I specifically wrote about how I was annoyed with how much explaining there was in the film to make sure everyone knew what was going on.

  16. Mark

    It’s nice tom see The Adjustment Bureau get some love. I haven’t heard much about it since it came out. Insidious was one of my top picks as well so great choice there. Still have to see Bellflower and The Skin I Live In. I hated Melancholia but Drive is a worthy #1 . Great List!

  17. Brian White

    It’s great to see someone with the Warrior on their lists. If I could do it all,over again, armed with the knowledge I know have, Warrior would be ranked as my #1 film of the year. No doubt about it. It’s the magic of Rocky taken to a wole new complex level. It’s one of the finest films I have ever seen in my life. I was smitten by it. Love at first site.