The best films of 2011

We’ve done the most disappointing films, we’ve done the worst films and now it’s time to shine the light on the best films of 2011.

The films are listed in descending order and the film that takes out the top spot earns the title of best film of 2011. 

The list is based on films seen in 2011 by the Popcorn Junkie Editor, Cameron Williams, and due to the delayed nature of film releases in Australia the list does feature a few 2012 releases that deserve to be on the list, and frankly, are worthy of a lot more respect than they’re currently being given.

We hope you enjoy our list and feel free to comment and share.

If you’ve visited the Popcorn Junkie frequently in 2011 we’d like to thank you for your support.

18. Water for Elephants

It had all the charm of an old school Hollywood film, terrific performances and a dangerous elephant. Director Francis Lawrence shot a beautiful film with a nice ending that didn’t play to the romantic clichés. A nice little love story with a lot of charm.







17. Fright Night

Remakes scare the hell out of us so we approached the new ‘Fright Night’ with apprehension but were pleasantly surprised. A traditional vampire hunt with blood suckers that don’t sparkle, they bite! It was a refreshing take on the vampire genre with a great soundtrack and David Tennant chewing up scenery playing Peter Vincent.








16. The Yellow Sea

Best described as a Quentin Tarrantino wet dream, this South Korean thriller had thrilling action, twisted bad guys and plenty of blood. It has one of the best chase sequences we’ve ever seen and an intriguing story that will keep you hooked until the end.








15. Senna

The only documentary on our list automatically is our pick for favourite documentary of 2011. The story of Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna is an inspiring tale full of drama told without the aid of a voiceover. An insight into the politics of F1 and a man driven by his passion to be the best despite the forces that work against him. You get to ride shotgun with Senna on the final lap of his life and it’s a chilling experience.







14. Win Win

Everyone loves an underdog and ‘Win Win’ is the ‘Rocky’ of 2011. A feel good film full of fantastic performances and lot of laughs. A superb effort from writer/director Tomas McCarthy.








13. Submarine
Writer/director Richard Ayoade delivered on of the best debut films with ‘Submarine’. An intelligent coming of age story with quirky characters, music and direction.









12. Attack the Block

Comedy and action collided in fine fashion with a different take on the alien invasion genre with street thugs verses aliens on the streets of London. Director Joe Cornish directs the action with a clenched fist full of fireworks. A great young cast of unknowns made it easy for you to cheer for the hooligans despite their likeness to participants of the London Riots this year.







11. Bridesmaids

Weddings are a nightmare and ‘Bridesmaids’ perfectly captured the horror of being part of a bridal party. A great ensemble cast led by the talented Kristen Wigg, lots of laugh out loud moments and a sprinkle of girl band Wilson Phillips made ‘Bridesmaids’ one of the best comedies of the year.








10. Ides of March

An outstanding political drama that didn’t treat the audience like fools and what a cast – George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marissa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeffrey Wright. Clooney is on actor/writer/directing duties and proves his directing may eventually outshine his acting.








9. Red Dog

Finally, a good Australian film that wasn’t about drug abuse, murder or incest. A feel good film about man’s best friend that showed off the beauty of the Australian landscape as well as everything that’s great about living in a sunburnt county. It’s so good they gave a copy to Barack Obama as a gift when he visited Australia.








8. Thor

We love superhero films and ‘Thor’ was a fantastic superhero epic that did justice to one of Marvel’s riskiest film adaptations that fit perfectly into the universe they’ve created on the big screen. It also gave critics around the world license to use the pun “hammer time”.








7. 13 Assassins

The film equivalent of a meat slicer, ’13 Assassins’ was a brilliant samurai film set in feudal Japan that tells a classic tale of good versus evil, with a smidge of political commentary thrown in for the thinkers out there. The final battle scene puts most mainstream Hollywood action directors to shame and it’s a fantastic achievement from director Takashe Mikke.







6. We Need to Talk About Kevin

Very difficult subject matter handled with care and led by an outstanding performance by Tilda Swinton, despite the blaring subtext of the film. One of the most challenging films of the year that will challenge your belief in the power of forgiveness and redemption.








5. Tree of Life

Terrance Malick’s masterpiece is visually stunning and emotionally engaging. Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain are at the top of their game. Bold filmmaking that shows off the power of film as a visual storytelling device that is often forgotten in a sea of special effects driven blockbusters.








4. Super 8

JJ Abram’s love letter to Steven Spielberg was a sweet hit of nostalgia and the mystery surrounding the film allowed for a unique viewing experience. Knowing nothing about the film helped as the big secret was kept in the shadows, and it reminded you of a time when you went into every film clueless – a nice surprise in an age of internet spoilers. Big action, lots of heart and talented kid actors is why ‘Super 8’ sits in our top five.







3. 50/50

We laughed tears of joy and cried like a little girl during ‘50/50’. The balance between drama and comedy is perfect and Joseph Gordon Levitt delivers a perfect performance while Seth Rogen provides the laughs. Most films that feature a character dealing with cancer play to a lot of clichés but ‘50/50’ manages to avoid them all thanks to clever scriptwriting from Will Reiser who based the story on his own experiences.






2. The Muppets

“I smiled so hard I think I broke my mouth” pretty much sums up the experience of ‘The Muppets’. Kermit and the gang prove their still relevant and hilarious to boot. The musical numbers are fun thanks to the work of Bret McKenzie and are beautifully brought to life by director James Bobin who are both known for their work on the cult hit ‘Flight of the Conchords’. Jason Segel and Amy Adams are great human leads and there a lots of celebrity cameos that add to the fun. The stars of the show are the Muppets themselves and it’s a rush seeing them all back together on the big screen, and it’s fun spotting all your favourites. The big surprise is how much emotion is packed into the film and it’s hard not to get teary at the sweet message that permeates throughout the film. A MUST see if you 8 or 80 years old, take your grandma, she’ll love it.




1. Drive

We could not find any faults with ‘Drive’ which is why it’s why we’ve picked it as our best film of 2011. It’s a gritty and intelligent action thriller with amazing performances from Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan, Ron Pearlman and Oscar Isaac. Director Nicolas Winding Refn crafts superb action as well as a few jaw-dropping moments of brutality. In the world of ‘Drive’ there are contrasts between the beauty and darkness of life, and Gosling’s character ‘the driver’ is like a wrecking ball that sweeps the film. The soundtrack pulses with 80s inspired music with good original music from Cliff Martinez. Congratulations to ‘Drive’ for becoming our best film of 2011.