It’s no secret that the Alamo Drafthouse is the best theater chain in the country. Sure, it’s small, but the passion they have to create the perfect environment to watch a movie is unparalleled. Case in point, their hugely popular No Texting public service announcements, incredible in-theater food selection, stunning repertory screenings and so much more.
As the new year begins, the entire staff of the Drafthouse voted on their favorite films of 2011 and selected /Film as the outlet to exclusively premiere their list. It’s extremely eclectic (The Muppets, Beginners and 13 Assassin all made the cut) but you’d be hard pressed to find a better cross section of the best 2011 had to offer. Check it out after the jump.
Here’s the explanation of the list and how it came together.
Members of the Alamo Drafthouse team each submitted their Top 10 films of 2011, which were then aggregated into one master list of spectacular cinema. Below are the ten films of 2011 most voted on by Alamo Drafthouse team members. We don’t agree on much, but we can agree on these! Four of the films were Fantastic Fest selections; there are several mainstream hits and more than a few surprises.
We set a few guidelines—each film had to report box office grosses in 2011, so certain festival faves didn’t make the list—but you’ll probably see them on next year’s Top 10!
And now, the Alamo Drafthouse’s Top 10 Films of 2011 brought to you by “the creative voices at the Alamo Drafthouse.”
10) 13 ASSASSINS, Japan, directed by Takashi Miike, written by Daisuke Tengan, starring Kôji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada and Yûsuke Iseya
“Takeshi Miike’s miraculous film could have been made 40 years earlier (except for the obligatory single bad use of CGI). The action, pace and performances are all dead-on. Miike has always had the authority of a master, but this is a big, overwhelming traditional samurai epic. Who knew voices like these still existed? 13 ASSASSINS gave me a lot of hope about the continuing existence of all kinds of good things.”—Lars Nilsen, Alamo Drafthouse Programmer
9) MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, USA, directed and written by Sean Durkin, starring Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes
“Elizabeth Olsen was brilliant in this. The insight into what it was like to be brought into a cult and how hard it is to return to a semblance of a normal life was pretty tangible in this film. I also love movies that have you talking at the end of it, like ‘What do you think that meant when…,” which this one does!”—Lacy Smythe Edmondson, Alamo Drafthouse Houston Area Theaters, Events and PR Director
8) BEGINNERS, USA, directed and written by Mike Mills, starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Mélanie Laurent
“I didn’t watch this film until a week ago, and I’m so glad I did. Everything about it was so sweet, and honest, and a little sad, but ultimately felt real. I even like Ewan McGregor’s American accent. Especially when he was talking to his dog.”—Caitlin Stevens, Alamo Drafthouse Promotions and Social Media
7) RUBBER, France, directed and written by Quentin Dupieux, starring Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida and Wings Hauser
“How do you make a movie about a killer tire? Make it about the philosophy.”—James Emanuel Shapiro, Drafthouse Films Chief Operating Officer
6) BRIDESMAIDS, USA, directed by Paul Feig, written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Rose Byrne
“I’m pretty sure I suffered brain damage from this film. Because I was too busy laughing to breathe.”—Sarah Pitre, The Highball Programming and Promotions Manager
5) MELANCHOLIA, Denmark/France, directed and written by Lars von Trier, starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland
“MELANCHOLIA affected me like no other film this year; it’s affecting me now, months after my first viewing of it. The film gives a naked and painfully resonant portrayal of depression, thanks in large part to a career-changing performance by Kirsten Dunst and a typically flawless turn by Charlotte Gainsbourg. MELANCHOLIA is also a surprisingly funny and completely badass sci-fi film about worlds colliding, a very plain metaphor that works in its simplicity. And finally, it’s one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, with heartbreakingly gorgeous images that will stay with me forever.”—Meredith Borders, Alamo Drafthouse/Badass Digest Managing Editor
4) HUGO, USA, directed by Martin Scorsese, written by John Logan, starring Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz and Christopher Lee
“What looked like it was to be Martin Scorsese’s steampunk kids adventure (at least from the trailers) actually turned out to be one of the most moving odes to the magic and mystery of cinema for movie lovers of any age, and one of the few films actually worth watching in 3D to come out this year! I guess this guy really knows what he’s doing.”—George Bragdon, Alamo Drafthouse Program Coordinator
3) THE MUPPETS, USA, directed by James Bobin, written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, starring Amy Adams, Jason Segel and Chris Cooper
“It may not have been the most ground-breaking film of the year, but it’s definitely the most fun I had in a theater all through 2011, and after the second time I saw it I already knew that I’d want to go back and check it out again. That doesn’t happen very often for me.”—Henri Mazza, Alamo Drafthouse Chief Creative Officer
2) ATTACK THE BLOCK, UK, directed and written by Joe Cornish, starring John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker and Alex Esmail
“Joe Cornish’s debut is perfect from its script to its pacing to its monster design to its incredible political conscience. It’s the ultimate movie for people raised on the GOOD 80s cinema, like that of John Carpenter. Coming before the London riots and the Occupy movement, ATTACK THE BLOCK is about the people at the bottom of the 99%… and how they fight aliens. I know that my obsession with the film’s politics makes it sound dour, but it’s actually fun and funny and exciting and a complete blast. ATTACK THE BLOCK works on every single level I want a movie to work: viscerally, emotionally and intellectually. In 20 years fans are going to be astounded to find out that this movie wasn’t a huge hit, because it will be a dominating force in the genre landscape.”—Devin Faraci, Badass Digest Editor-in-Chief
1) DRIVE, USA, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, written by Hossein Amini, starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston
“Maybe I’m wrong, but beneath the glossy cinematography and new disco beats, I’m pretty sure this movie was a serious exploration of mental illness. It’s also the first highly stylized movie of the 2000s that hasn’t insulted the audience’s intelligence. My deeply rooted disinterest in Ryan Gosling and Christina Hendricks was undermined by the brilliant casting of Albert Brooks as the film’s main heavy. Performance of the year, goddammit.”—Zack Carlson, Alamo Drafthouse Programmer
“This film absolutely blew me away. Going in the theater knowing nothing more than the fact that Ryan Gosling would look hot and the soundtrack would be rad was possibly the best thing I could have done for myself. The sheer, brutal violence and the conversation-less (but totally romantic) relationship between the Driver and Ms. Mulligan (okay – and Gosling being crazy hot and the amazing soundtrack) made me want to start this film over immediately after it finished.” –Caitlin Stevens, Alamo Drafthouse Promotions and Social Media
“The other car movie this year. Not quite as good as Fast Five, but, you know, the soundtrack was nice. And it’s the best Ryan Gosling movie of the year, which is saying something since he had a role in 83,000 feature films in 2011.”—Henri Mazza, Alamo Drafthouse Chief Creative Officer
“Nicolas Winding Refn threw back to the 60s and 70s for DRIVE, looking to a time when cool was uncalculated and natural for the great filmmakers and actors. Where Spielberg goes right for the heart, Refn goes right for the corner of the lip where James Dean’s cigarette dangled. Spare, smart and cooler than a thousand hipsters in a walk-in freezer, DRIVE is so good it made me rethink my general distaste for Mouseketeer Ryan Gosling. That’s saying something.”—Devin Faraci, Badass Digest Editor-in-Chief
“I liked it too.”—Lars Nilsen, Alamo Drafthouse Programmer
“The Man With No Name meets 70s car-cool flick. This is the movie that oozes I’m cooler than you. And it’s right.”—Ryan Fons, Fons PR
“Influenced by dozens of a films, all brilliant, all on repeat viewing in my head and on my TV. This may top them all.”—James Emanuel Shapiro, Drafthouse Films Chief Operating Officer
“Light on plot but HEAVY on style in the best possible way, this is the kind of action love story I think we all secretly wish we were starring in. Score another one for The Goz.”—George Bragdon, Alamo Drafthouse Program Coordinator
“DRIVE is note-perfect from first frame to last. I rarely leave a theater with goose bumps, so when DRIVE passed this age-old litmus test I knew I had seen my favorite film of the year. Refn has been quietly cranking out badass movies since the 90s, so I am ecstatic he is finally the toast of the Hollywood. ”—Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse owner and co-founder