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2011 Films of Note

A brief round-up of some of the year's better films, from arthouse to grindhouse

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Family dynamics get a workout in Win Win.
  • Family dynamics get a workout in Win Win.

The following round-up is hardly definitive; after all, I still haven't seen Mr. Popper's Penguins. But loosely organized, here are the films that entertained me somehow this year.

There were illuminating biographies about a metal god (Lemmy), iconoclastic photographer (Bill Cunningham: New York) and Formula 1 driver (Senna). Plus, two provocative essays from South America: Wasteland (making art from trash) and Nostalgia for the Light (pairing astronomy with political mass murder). Bonus art doc: Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.

Treat Animals Like Animals documentaries: Buck, journey of a horse-whisperer; the chimp-centric Project Nim; and The Elephant in the Living Room, the now-not-so-hidden world of keeping lions and bears as pets.

Films About Love and Relationships That Didn't Come From a Script-o-Matic: Win Win, Like Crazy, Biutiful, Beginners, Submarine, Martha Marcy May Marlene -- and for laughs, Bridesmaids.

"Smaller" Films That You Should Add to Your Queue: A-listers re-enact the Wall Street meltdown in Margin Call; broody character study-slash-sci-fi flick, Another Earth; and pioneer-trail slow-burner Meek's Cutoff.

And because junk food is part of any well-rounded diet ... I gobbled up some Preposterous Thrillers (Unknown, Limitless, Source Code); gorged on a couple Explosions (Drive Angry in 3-D, Fast Five); and stayed up late snacking on Horror Comedy (Troll Hunter, Fright Night, Dale & Tucker vs. Evil). 

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