The Best and Worst Movies of 2011

  • Comments: ↓ 8 user comments
  • Publish Date: January 5, 2012

Limited releases: Subtitles required

Breakdown of 2011 Limited Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
Good (Metascore ≥ 61) 198 films
Mixed (40-60) 133 films
Bad (≤ 39) 51 films
Average Metascore 59.2

Just one of our 10 highest-scoring limited releases of 2011 is neither a documentary nor in a language other than English: Oscar favorite The Artist 89. And even that crowd-pleasing film is an import, though, as a silent movie, it's not a foreign-language film. The rest of the list, as is usually the case, is dominated by nonfiction films and foreign dramas.

Overall, critics voiced their approval of just under 52% of the year's limited releases. That's a lower percentage than the year before, when 54% of limited releases received positive reviews, and a fairly significant drop from 2009, when 58% of such films were liked by reviewers. But for the second year in a row, three films managed to meet or exceed the 90 mark. Interestingly, fewer than 30% of the positively reviewed limited releases were released after Labor Day, meaning that the good limited releases were more spread out throughout the year than the well reviewed wide releases.

Below, we list the past year's best- and worst-reviewed limited releases.

The Best Limited Releases of 2011
  Title Genre(s) Netflix Metascore Users
1 A Separation Foreign Drama + Queue 94 9.1
2 We Were Here Documentary + Queue 94 7.2
3 My Perestroika Documentary + Queue 90 7.8
4 Poetry Foreign Drama + Queue 89 6.2
5 The Artist Drama/Romance + Queue 89 7.6
6 The Arbor Experimental Documentary + Queue 88 6.2
7 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Foreign Drama/Fantasy + Queue 87 6.6
8 The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu Foreign Documentary + Queue 87 n/a
9 13 Assassins Foreign Action + Queue 87 7.6
10 Cave of Forgotten Dreams Documentary + Queue 86 6.6
11 Of Gods and Men Foreign Drama + Queue 86 6.7
12 The Interrupters Documentary + Queue 86 n/a
13 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy * Thriller + Queue 85 6.4
14 City of Life and Death Foreign Drama + Queue 85 8.1
15 Nostalgia for the Light Foreign Documentary + Queue 85 n/a
16 Take Shelter Drama/Thriller + Queue 85 7.1
17 The Tree of Life Drama + Queue 85 6.4
18 Meek's Cutoff Western + Queue 85 5.6
19 Project Nim Documentary + Queue 83 n/a
20 Le Havre Foreign Comedy/Drama + Queue 82 7.8
21 Incendies Foreign Drama + Queue 82 7.8
22 The Trip Comedy + Queue 82 6.7
23 Certified Copy Foreign Drama/Romance + Queue 82 6.7
24 To Be Heard Documentary + Queue 82 n/a
25 Mysteries of Lisbon Foreign Drama + Queue 82 7.8

* Limited release in 2011; likely opening wide in early 2012.
Only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011 were considered. Re-releases are excluded. A limited release film is one that screens at fewer than 600 theaters. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, movies are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores in this article are from January 4, 2012.

The Worst Limited Releases of 2011
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 Love, Wedding, Marriage Romantic Comedy 13 3.7
2 All's Faire in Love Romantic Comedy 17 n/a
3 The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) Horror 17 2.6
4 A Love Affair of Sorts Drama 22 n/a
5 Passion Play Drama/Romance 22 n/a
6 Brother's Justice Comedy 22 n/a
7 An Invisible Sign Drama 23 n/a
8 The Family Tree Comedy/Drama 24 n/a
9 The Big Bang Thriller 25 n/a
10 I Melt with You Thriller 26 n/a

What are your favorites?

What are your picks for the best or worst movies of 2011? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (8)

  • MovieMachine  

    Oh, and Midnight in Paris, of course. And Take Shelter.

  • MovieMachine  

    I'm really disappointed Melancholia didn't make it up there. That was definitely my favorite film of the year. A separation was just as incredible, though. Other favorites, for me, include Drive, HP7 Part 2, The Tree of Life, Mysteries of Lisbon, Super 8, Bridesmaids, The Artist, Rango, Source Code, and The Help.
    Some of my favorites are really artsy, others are just really good. I hope you all agree!

  • ShuteTheRunner  

    Hello and I am aspiring critic. I am 16 years of age and have created a blog for a few reviews that I have written. I was hoping that you may be interested in checking it out http://shutethecritic.blogspot.com/2012/01/inbetweeners-movie-2011-film-review.html
    One day I hope to have a an impact on metascores, but first I need some feedback

  • movi60cent  

    A seperation! best movie of year.tnx

  • Christopher_G2  

    A rather good year, though I don't think quite as good as 2010. I still have to see a number of the critically praised darlings. Moneyball was probably my favorite of what I saw. Harry Potter and Bridesmaids wouldn't be too far behind. I'm still mixed on Tree of Life. I know I saw something worthy of being called art, and it was an experience. How many more time would I really want to watch it though, I don't know.

  • GlenM  

    My top 2011 movies were Source Code and Bridesmaids, although I haven't seen many of the top ones yet, some aren't released in New Zealand yet and some won't come to Christchurch where I live because our art cinemas have been lost in the earthquakes. I won't offer a worst picture, because I avoid poorly reviewed films but Drive was definitley the most overrated.

  • Sycsa  

    The Moneyball was really "out there".

  • MarcDoyle  

    Congrats to the makers of A Separation. It's a really good film.

What Our Users Are Talking About

  1. /feature/best-new-streaming-movies-and-tv-september-2014 Image
    What to Watch Now: Best New Streaming Movies & TV at Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu
    September 18, 2014 - 2 comments
    1. MarcDoyle : Netflix Picks: Blue Ruin, Sling Blade, Ordinary People, School of Rock, Silver Linings Playbook, There Will Be Blood,... Read »
    2. LamontRaymond : If you've got Hulu, Bellflower is one of my all-time faves.... Great soundtrack.... Read »
  2. /feature/critics-reassess-youre-the-worst-the-leftovers-the-bridge- Image
    Second Opinions: TV Critics Re-Evaluate the Summer Shows
    September 17, 2014 - 4 comments
    1. urkobg : Outlander, Penny Dreadful and the Leftovers have been the 3 stand out dramas of the summer for me. All three are... Read »
    2. NeoBasch : I came here to see Metacritic's coverage of The Leftovers after all the extremely positive reviews I've read... Read »
    3. Duke_Challenger : Masters of Sex: Season 2 is really great. I like the critics started growing tired after a bit, but the show gets... Read »
    4. JRath : What to say about The Leftovers? I initially watched the first three episodes and found myself bored with it so I... Read »
  3. /feature/music-releases-for-the-week-of-september-15-2014 Image
    Music Monday (9/15): This Week's New Albums + Videos
    September 15, 2014 - 1 comment
    1. LamontRaymond : Jeff the Brotherhood hits the road this week in support of their new album. And Bella Novela is putting the... Read »
  4. /feature/destiny-ps4-xbox-early-reviews-and-observations Image
    Destiny: Early Impressions From Critics
    September 9, 2014 - 22 comments
    1. norhavic : I completed destiny in two days, solod the story, have done various strikes, what there is of them anyway, i now have... Read »
    2. poker909 : I kept telling myself if I played more I would start to like it, but I don't. I love FPS and MMO and understand the... Read »
  5. /feature/best-new-streaming-movies-and-tv-august-2014 Image
    What to Watch Now: Best New Streaming Movies & TV at Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu
    August 20, 2014 - 3 comments
    1. unstrucksound : This is a great monthly topic -- very helpful to make an informed decision before viewing. I really hope you keep... Read »