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Anatomy of a List: My Top 10's In 2 Places

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn December 22, 2011 at 5:49PM

Anatomy of a List: My Top 10's In 2 Places

Off the top off my head, I can think of two movies I neglected to put on my top 10 list for 2011, and they couldn't be more dissimilar. Federico Veiroj's paean to cinephilia, "A Useful Life," and the vibrant homage to '80's blockbusters and the power of the green screen, "Manborg." But these omissions are neither here nor there. I was lucky enough to sing the praises of both films at different times of the year. So: Let's get to the movies that made the cut.

My top 10 list provided an opportunity consider the movies I kept thinking about throughout the year, and that spoke to me at the precise moment when I chose to narrow down the candidates. "Melancholia" took the top spot partly because it allowed me to experience emotions as narrative in a way I had never encountered before (which is part of driving engine for the constant "Tree of Life" love), but I'll admit it also had something to do the climate surrounding the movie that routinely gave it a starring role in various conversations I've had with people since I saw the movie at Cannes in May. Maybe I've fallen for the marketplace pressures Karen Durbin touched on for this week's Critical Consensus column when she confessed to dropping "Punch-Drunk Love" from her list 10 years ago in favor of "Adaptation."

But if "Melancholia" is overrated, so are top 10 lists. Here are a few of mine from two places: My Indiewire lists, including a conventional top 10 and a list of undistributed films, and the 40 films I submitted in two categories (those that were released this year and those that screened somewhere this year but haven't been released) for Film Comment's poll. For the Indiewire lists, I've linked to anything I've written about these films whenever the material is available.

Best Films of 2011 (Indiewire Poll)

1) Melancholia


2) Meek's Cutoff
Le Havre
4) Take Shelter
Take Shelter

5) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
6) Beginners
7) A Separation
8) Cold Weather
9) Le Quattro Volte
10) Nostalgia for the Light

Best Undistributed Films (Indiewire Poll)

1) Hanaan

2) You Hurt My Feelings
3) The Color Wheel
4) Without
5) Policeman
6) Oslo, August 31st
7) Seeking the Monkey King
8) How to Cheat
9) Best Intentions
10) Dark Horse
20 Best films that received a commercial/theatrical run in the U.S. in 2011 (Film Comment):

1. Melancholia
2. Meek's Cutoff
3. Le Havre
4. Take Shelter
5. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
6. Beginners
7. A Separation
8. Cold Weather
9. Le Quattro Volte
10. Nostalgia for the Light
11. The Interrupters
12. Martha Marcy May Marlene
13. Littlerock
14. Bellflower
15. Go Go Tales
16. Terri
17. Tomboy
18. Rampart
19. The Tiniest Place
20. Drive

20 Best new films not released in 2011 (Film Comment list):

Panahi in "This Is Not a Film."
Panahi in "This Is Not a Film."
1. This is Not a Film
2. Once Upon A Time in Anatolia
3. Hanaan
4. The Color Wheel
5. Kill List
7. The Turin Horse
8. sound of my voice
9. The Kid With the Bike
10. Best Intentions
11. Arirang
12. Monsieur Lazhar
13. Oslo, August, 31st
14. Headhunters
15. Seeking the Monkey King
16. Dark Horse
17. You Hurt My Feelings
18. Policeman
19. Without
20. How to Cheat

This article is related to: Blogs, Awards, Film Criticism , Critics' Poll