2011 is already over, but it’s always fun to indulge in more of the year-end awards and Top 10 lists. You can find my Top 20 films here and here, but in this post I list my favorite performances of the year, both lead and supporting. You’ll also find my Top 10 scenes of the year and my favorite, the year in miscellaneous superlatives.

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Best Lead Performances of 2011

  • Choi Min-sik – I Saw the Devil
  • Steve Coogan – The Trip
  • Michael Fassbender – Shame
  • Gary Oldman – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  • Owen Wilson – Midnight in Paris

Best Supporting Performances of 2011

  • Bruce Greenwood – Meek’s Cutoff
  • Tom Hardy – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  • Ben Kingsley – Hugo
  • Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life
  • Viggo Mortensen – A Dangerous Method

[I feel bad that none of our great actresses made my lists this year. Some of the best performances were Michele Williams in Meek’s Cutoff, Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene and Elena Anaya in The Skin I Live In.]

The Trip

Top 10 Scenes or Moments from 2011

1) Creation – The Tree of Life

Unquestionably the most breathtaking and cinematic moment of 2011. Grand, moving and beautiful thanks to the vision of Terrence Malick and the marriage of analog and digital effects from Douglas Trumbull.

2) Overture – Midnight in Paris

A lovely collection of highly romanticized images of Paris that sets the tone of the film. Shows great patience and fells both nostalgic and modern at once.

3) Dueling Impersonations – The Trip

The war of Michael Cain impressions, each funnier than the last, works as a hilarious microcosm of the mutual respect and one-upsmanship of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.

4) Strange Dinner – Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

A perfect distillation of all the weird, wonderful things that can happen in an Apichatpong film. Funny, but done with the straightest of faces.

5) The Taxi Cab – I Saw the Devil

A frenzied, dizzying orgy of blood that’s over before you know what hit you, this unforgettable moment represents the entire twisted world of the film.

6) Cloak and Dagger – Le Havre

Our main character plays a strange supporting role in a 1-minute tongue-in-cheek film noir that shows the stylistic and tonal originality of the film.

7) Dashboard Footage – Senna

I’ve never been a fan of racing, but the 1st person perspective of Senna’s joyous and aggressive style is positively exhilarating and offers insight into the man himself.

8) The End – Melancholia

I wasn’t a fan of Melancholia overall, but there’s no denying the visceral impact of its conclusion, which needs to seen in a theater with the volume turned way up.

9) The Jacket – The Artist

The Artist is a very clever silent film, but its most effective visual gag stages an endearing flirtation between Bérénice Bejo’s aspiring actress and an empty suit jacket.

10) Flamo’s Epilogue – The Interrupters

The Interrupters documents many dangerous brushes with gang violence in Chicago, but the way the most frightening and volatile encounter concludes shows the film’s genuine hope for a brighter future.

Fast Five

The Year in Miscellaneous Superlatives

  • Best Performance from an Inanimate Object: The Cell Phone – Carnage
  • Special Achievement in Interior Car Lighting: Drive
  • Sweatiest Performance: The Rock – Fast Five
  • Worst Performance: Keifer Sutherland – Melancholia
  • Most Unfairly Maligned: Your Highness
  • Wow, it Didn’t Suck: Thor
  • Most Welcomed Actor: John C. Reilly – Terri, Carnage, Cedar Rapids
  • Coolest Creature Design: Attack the Block
  • Most Distracting Cinematography: A Horribe Way to Die
  • Most Convincing Locations: Cold Weather
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