As usual films seen for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2011.
Alphabetical this year - normally I figure if I'm silly enough to do this at all might as well go all the way but maybe it's time to be only 90% silly.
Attack the Block (Joe Cornish 2011) - Don't know what it says about me that there are two monster-attack films on this list but as pure entertainment nothing I saw was this clever, imaginative or tightly controlled and as social observation it was nearly as strong.
Dillinger e Morto (Marco Ferrri 1969) - I'd never heard of this until Criterion's release but what a stupefying experience. Sometimes starkly controlled and other times almost over-determined but cryptic, elliptical and not quite like anything else.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates 1973) - Yep, I'm a sucker for naturalistic, low-level crime stories and they're actually fairly uncommon in films - this one is even an adaptation from a fantastic novel. This look at a bottom-rung fixer/go-between who slowly gets ground in the gears could easily have been too heavy-handed or, oddly, too dark but there's more going on here than in the handful of episodes of The Wire that I saw.
Greenberg (Noah Baumbach 2010) - Another almost slice-of-life story about a nobody, only this time no crime just a confused, badly adjusted guy trying to make something happen - but the film manages to capture life's confusion and unexpected changes.
The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus (Terry Gilliam 2009) - Childish fantasy films like the Lord of the Rings series get the attention but this is the real thing.
Lola (Jacques Demy 1961) - Like its New Wave contemporaries a sharp, not entirely cheerful character study of two people drifting through life - one competely aware of it, the other not.
Le Quattro Volte (Michelangelo Frammartino 2010) - Forget all the spiritual mumbo-jumbo surrounding this film and go for the minimal, nearly blank look at rural life that's either one of the most peculiar documentaries ever made or one of the least story-filled stories. And it boasts probably the most audacious shot I saw this year - a lengthy, single-take gag that I swear is a Tati tribute.
Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu 2009) - Odd that a film this visual and where so little happens is actually about language though instead of a dissertation this is more allusive and open - poetic in the deepest sense.
Pontypool (Bruce MacDonald 2008) - And hey another film that's "about language" and in this case it had me laughing out loud even though this isn't a comedy (and the humor was intentional or at least not unintended). Just imagine a Beckett zombie film only this is by Canadians so they're smarter and more human than Beckett ever was.
Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman 2010) - If you don't like it that title is all too descriptive but I'd claim it's a Rivettean hall-of-mirrors and in a way more audacious than Tree of Life. Hellman is one of America's great directors and it's a shame it takes so many years for his films to get made.
The Social Network (David Fincher 2010) - Citizen Kane reimagined for the consumer generation.
The 3 Rs (David Lynch 2011) - A "trailer" for the Vienna Film Festival that borders on self-parody but is just as confusing (and disturbing) as his best work.
American Revolution 2 (Howard Alk & Mike Gray 1969)
Bridesmaids (Paul Feig 2011)
Bug (William Friedkin 2006)
Careful! (Guy Maddin 1992)
Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (Roy Boulting 1959)
Death Rides a Horse (Giulio Petroni 1967)
Deep Red (Dario Argento 1975)
Don't Look Back (Marina de Van 2009)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy 2010)
Extract (Mike Judge 2009)
Flaming Creatures (Jack Smith 1963)
La Jetee (Chris Marker 1962)
The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom 2010)
Monsters (Gareth Edwards 2010)
A Prophet (Jacques Audiard 2009)
Red State (Kevin Smith 2011)
Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas 2008)
The Sun's Burial (Nagisa Oshima 1960)
The Tempest (Derek Jarman 1979)
Trollhunter (André Øvredal 2010)
24 City (Jia Zhang-ke 2008)
Va Savoir (Jacques Rivette 2001)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke 2009)
Winter's Bone (Debra Granik 2010)
Jonah Hex (Jimmy Hayward 2010)
Knight and Day (James Mangold 2010)
Don't Touch the White Woman (Marco Ferreri 1974)
The Room (Tommy Wiseau 2003)
Antichrist (Lars von Trier 2009)
Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul 2006)
The Green Hornet (Michel Gondry 2011)
Rubber (Quentin Dupieux 2010)
The Expendables (Sylvester Stallone 2010)
Battle Los Angeles (Jonathan Liebesman 2011)
Seven Mummies (Nick Quested 2006)
Enter the Void (Gaspar Noé 2009)
Top films I didn't see:
Borrowing an idea from another critic who decided to show some of the arbitrariness of this whole process by listing the top films he hadn't seen. I'm only including ones that I would be likely to, well, like - things along the lines of the highly praised Uncle Boonmee or Midnight in Paris seem long shots to me.
The Turin Horse
This Is Not a Film
A Dangerous Method
Mysteries of Lisbon
Life Without Principle
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
and I can't imagine where I'd ever get to see Christian Marclay's The Clock (saw his Guitar Drag at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago) but it sounds incredible.