Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

" Nobody goes into the valley of death. That’s why they call it the valley of death. "
— Grant Heslov, The Scorpion King

MRQE Top Critic

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After compiling the top ten lists of our four contributors, we declare 2011 to be a year of many good movies. Robert Denerstein summed it up best: “If 2011 wasn’t a banner year for movies, it wasn’t bad either. I always figure that if I have a difficult time narrowing my list to 10, it must have been a better-than-average year.”

However, we are careful not to declare 2011 to be a year of great movies. Nearly all of our contributors agree on the point. Robert introduces his list by saying “Whether any of these movies becomes an important part of movie history remains to be seen....” And Marty Mapes says “I don’t feel like my list is a collection of timeless classics. I would have to concede a flaw or two on just about every movie on my list.”

Matt Anderson presented his list in alphabetical order, rather than ranked. He says “I do qualify this as a list of favorites, not a Top 10 in the classic ‘Best of the Year’ sense.”

Don’t get us wrong. Everyone seems more than satisfied with 2011’s offerings. So without further ado, let us show your our list. We’re including a little bar chart this year that shows both our weighted, absolute score, and the “popularity” that considers how well a movie fared among all our critics.

Malick captures the texture of childhood
Malick captures the texture of childhood

1. The Tree of Life

  • Score: 100
  • Popularity: 73

Terrence Malick has another movie in the works, but it’s hard to imagine that he’ll top Tree of Life

2. The Artist

  • Score: 93
  • Popularity: 70

It may be silent, but The Artist earns some very loud applause.

3. Hugo

  • Score: 59
  • Popularity: 43

Hugo is a dreamy triumph for Scorsese.

4. A Separation

  • Score: 44
  • Popularity: 18

Iranian movies have matured; A Separation is one of the most emotionally complex movies of the year.

5. The Skin I Live In

  • Score: 38
  • Popularity: 25
Is this a Pygmalion story? Perhaps Frankenstein?
Is this a Pygmalion story? Perhaps Frankenstein?

Director Pedro Almodóvar returns to his horror roots.

6. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

  • Score: 36
  • Popularity: 25

A Game of Shadows starts strong and ends even stronger.

7. War Horse

  • Score: 33
  • Popularity: 23

War Horse stumbles out of the gate but finishes strong.

8. The Descendants

  • Score: 32
  • Popularity: 18

George Clooney holds his tribe together in Alexander Payne’s family drama.

9. Rango

  • Score: 31
  • Popularity: 13
Too enjoyably weird to ignore
Too enjoyably weird to ignore

Sergio Leone meets Chuck Jones in Gore Verbinski’s animated western.

10. Samsara

  • Score: 31
  • Popularity: 20

Ron Fricke returns after a decade, and Samsara is even better than Baraka.

There are 19 other nominees for Top Ten from the lists of 4 Movie Habit writers. See more at the page with our Top Ten 2011 Data.