No. 3. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Martha Marcy May Marlene works on many levels, relying on small inflections, nearly unnoticeable character reactions and an underlying buzz of dread and depression to guide the story and engage the audience. The film develops at a slow boil, the tension ratcheting up as Martha struggles all too humanly to comprehend the actions she’s taken, and to maintain her sanity.
The movie also features the debut of Elizabeth Olsen, who delivers a quiet, haunting performance. She is spellbinding and elevates the material even further.
No. 2. Shame
Masturbating in the bathroom at work. If you’ve ever done it, you might relate to Shame. Sex addict? Quite possible. Unable to form a relationship with another woman, even your sister? Yeah, you’ll relate to Shame, the gripping new drama from director Steve McQueen.
Michael Fassbender delivers one of the finest, if not the finest, performance of the year in Shame. As for the movie, it is nearly flawless, one of those rare movies that fire on all cylinders.
No. 1. Drive
When will criminals learn? Stick to your guns, stick to your rules, and things will be fine. Deviate from your simple guidelines, mix in a love interest and let things get personal, and all things will go to hell. Oh, and don’t mess with the quiet guy who looks a lot like Ryan Gosling.
Drive is the best movie of the year. Engaging, dramatic, romantic, exciting, violent, gory and yet oddly artistic, Drive is at once a moving drama and thrilling revenge flick, the best of both worlds.
See a full list of the best and worst movies of 2011.
Tags: aaron sorkin, brad pitt, carey mulligan, chirstopher plummer, daniel radcliffe, elizabeth olsen, emma watson, ewan mcgregor, melanie laurent, michael fassbender, ralph fiennes, Ryan Gosling, sean penn, werner herzog