If you missed this fantastic arthouse film starring Ryan Gosling, then you should stop reading this post, find it, and watch it right NOW!
Done? Well, now you understand why Drive is the number one movie on this list. Gosling plays a heart-melting, mysterious nameless Driver who gets caught up in the criminal dealings in L.A. He does it so well that he doesn't even need to speak; Gosling does about 80% of the acting in Drive with his eyes. The hypnotic soundtrack is also amazing, and I find myself listening to it over and over again. And, folks, don't get misled. Drive is an action film; it may start slow, but when the action hits, it's a non-stop intense ride until the end, all without being gimmicky or corny. It would be a crime to miss this movie.
2. Win Win
While Drive may have stolen the top spot with its hypno-electronic music and atmosphere, it isn't a very family-friendly film. Win Win, starring Paul Giamatti, is a different story. It's a heartwarming story about a lawyer and high school wrestling coach (Giamatti) and his family who ends up taking in an extremely talented wrestler from Ohio. Win Win may have wrestling, but it isn't a sports movie. It's more of a movie about family and it's so genuine that it's hard not to feel warm and fuzzy inside while you're watching it. Definitely a movie from 2011 worth catching.
A friend of mine recommended this Japanese samurai flick to me. While it did release overseas in 2010, it didn't hit U.S. shores until last year, and thank the Lords of Kobol it did. 13 Assassins stars Koji Yakusho as Shinzaemon, a samurai chosen to lead an assassination attempt on the sadistic Lord Naritsugu. Now, I've never seen Seven Samurai (I know, heresy!), but I imagine 13 Assassins is up there on the list of greatest samurai flicks of all time. The huge battle at the end of the film pits 13 men against 200 of Naritsugu's soldiers and goes on unbroken for 40 whole minutes! You'll have to read subtitles, of course, but that just adds to the authenticity of the film. If you're into bloody samurai revenge movies, then 13 Assassins should definitely be on your viewing list.
Do not be alarmed. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is not some bad hillbilly horror movie. It's actually a comedy parodying those horror movies. Normally, I'm not really into parody movies, but Tucker & Dale is so genuinely and darkly humorous that I was laughing pretty much through the whole thing. It stars Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine as the titular characters, and both guys do a splendid job of playing simple-minded heroes that you can't help but cheer for. Jesse Moss, who plays Chad, who is pretty much the Evil of the movie, also deserves some praise because he plays his crazy dude so well.
There really aren't any words for this film. It's called Trollhunter. It's shot mockumentary style, like The Blair Witch Project, except about trolls and set in Norway. There are some stunning vistas in the film, but the focus is primarily on the trolls and the titular character, Hans, played by Otto Jespersen (who is actually some sort of Norwegian comedian). While it won't change the minds of anybody who hates shaky-cam films, Trollhunter is a real treat for anyone appreciative of monster flicks.