Let's be upfront here: I am no movie aficionado nor critic. I enjoy them, so this is all based on 1) their redeeming value; 2) level of enjoyment they brought. These are movies I watched in 2011, not necessarily that came out last year.
In no particular order:
1) Temple Grandin. I love based-on-true-story movies, and Claire Danes did an amazing job portraying Grandin in this. Amazing. I actually interviewed Grandin for an article once, back in the years when I had an income, so that plus the whole subject matter was a bonus.
2) The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry. We tend to be skeptical of low-budget "Christian" films, so I had my doubts, but this movie totally won me over. Well done, well acted - especially by the kids. Great movie.
3) Get Low. This was one of those movies that stays with you for days afterward. The kind you absorb, and made me want to actually look at the special features on the DVD. The acting is superb, with Robert Duvall. It is not an action movie. It's slow and simmering and makes you think about your choices in life.
4) The Help. Could be my favorite of the year. Does a great job of capturing the time period and the attitudes and the seemingly impossible obstacles to moving out of "the way things are".
5) Rango. Usually, you can hear me groan when Eric says he's gotten an animated movie for movie night. Really good ones are few and far between. This one is h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s. Loved it. Ranks close to Hoodwinked, which is our all-time favorite animated.
6) The Conspirator. Did I mention yet that I also favor based-on-true-story period pieces? This Civil War drama has great acting and lots of good detail. This one will be great for the kids to watch in a few years (heavy subjects and some gore).
There were some other good ones (Secretariat, 127 Hours) but these are really just the ones I can say I'm glad we took time to watch.
Your favorites from the year??