Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Peter Knegt
June 27, 2011 3:14 AM
12 Comments
  • |

The Best Indie Movies of 2011 So Far: "Sound of My Voice" and "The Interrupters" Top criticWIRE

Steve James's "The Interrupters."

With the midway point of 2011 just days away, it's a good time to look at how the year's films have fared on criticWIRE thus far. At film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW and Berlin, and as films are released theatrically, indieWIRE polls over 100 critics and bloggers for letter grades and review links.

Of any film to either be released theatrically in 2011, or have their film festival premiere in 2011, 16 managed to score "A-" level averages. These include foreign-language narratives João Pedro Rodrigues's "To Die Like a Man," Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives," Michelangelo Frammartino's "Le Quattro Volte," and Maryam Keshavarz's "Circumstance."

Documentaries included Steve James' "The Interrupters" (which had the highest score overall), Peter D. Richardson's "How To Die In Oregon," Göran Hugo Olsson's "The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975," David Weissman's "We Were Here," Danfung Dennis's "Hell and Back Again," Clio Barnard's "The Arbor," Richard Press's "Bill Cunningham, New York," Patricio Guzman's "Nostalgia For The Light," Rodman Flender's "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop," and James Marsh's "Project Nim."

There were also two English-language narrative films in the very top ranks: Zal Batmanglij's "sound of my voice" and Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

All 30 of these films debuted at a film festival, with 13 at the Sundance Film Festival, and another eight at the Cannes Film Festival (Only two of the eight came from this year's festival. The others were theatrically released holdovers from the 2010 fest.) The remaining third was divided between SXSW (three), Venice and Toronto (two each), and Tribeca and New Directors/New Films (one each).

The poll's timing obviously skews the numbers toward festivals like Sundance and Cannes; we expect by year's end the crop of films debuting at Venice and the Toronto International Film Festival will enjoy considerable placements.

Here's how we broke it down:


  • The lists are divided into three categories: English-language narrative films, foreign-language narrative films, and documentary films.

  • The film must have either been theatrically released in 2011, or have had their film festival premiere in 2011.

  • The averages are as of June 26, 2011

  • Only films with four or more grades are included.

Click on the links provided for a full breakdown of grades, and for a complete list of films on criticWIRE, check out the criticWIRE homepage.


Top English-Language Films of 2011

1. sound of my voice, directed by Zal Batmanglij (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (10.0 out of 13)

2. Martha Marcy May Marlene, directed by Sean Durkin (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.64 out of 13)

3. Weekend, directed by Andrew Haigh (SXSW 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.43 out of 13)

4. Pariah, directed by Dee Rees (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.27 out of 13)

5. Cold Weather, directed by Aaron Katz (SXSW 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.43 out of 13)

6. Like Crazy, directed by Drake Doremus (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.14 out of 13)

7. Meek's Cutoff, directed by Kelly Reichardt (Venice 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.08 out of 13)

8. Terri, directed by Azazel Jacobs (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (8.81 out of 13)

9. Submarine, directed by Richard Ayoade (Toronto 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (8.79 out of 13)

10. Take Shelter, directed by Jeff Nichols (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (8.71 out of 13)


Top Foreign Language Films of 2011

1. To Die Like a Man, directed by João Pedro Rodrigues (Cannes 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (10.17 out of 13)

2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Cannes 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.74 out of 13)

3. Le Quattro volte, directed by Michelangelo Frammartino (Cannes 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.50 out of 13)

3. Circumstance, directed by Maryam Keshavarz (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.50 out of 13)

5. The Kid With a Bike, directed by Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Cannes 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.08 out of 13)

6. Le Havre, directed by Aki Kaurismaki (Cannes 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.07 out of 13)

7. Certified Copy, directed by Abbas Kiarostami (Cannes 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.02 out of 13)

8. I Saw the Devil, directed by Kim Jee-woon (Toronto 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (9.00 out of 13)

9. Tuesday After Christmas, directed by Radu Muntean (Cannes 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (8.95 out of 13)

10. Incendies, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Venice 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: B+ (8.90 out of 13)


Top Documentaries of 2011

1. The Interrupters, directed by Steve James (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (10.20 out of 13)

2. How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter D. Richardson (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (10.00 out of 13)

2. The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975, directed by Göran Hugo Olsson (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (10.00 out of 13)

4. We Were Here, directed by David Weissman (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.88 out of 13)

5. Hell and Back Again, directed by Danfung Dennis (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.75 out of 13)

6. The Arbor, directed by Clio Barnard (Tribeca 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.73 out of 13)

7. Bill Cunningham New York, directed by Richard Press (New Directors New Films 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.63 out of 13)

8. Nostalgia for the Light, directed by Patricio Guzman (Cannes 2010/Theatrical Release 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.58 out of 13)

9. Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, directed by Rodman Flender (SXSW 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.57 out of 13)

10. Project Nim, directed by James Marsh (Sundance 2011)
criticWIRE average: A- (9.52 out of 13)


iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

12 Comments

  • me | January 13, 2012 4:11 PMReply

    The top 2 movies are about cult shit wtf !

  • Brian Fantana | September 16, 2011 1:45 AMReply

    Sarah - thanks for clarification on doc winners at Sundance - looking how BUCK (and SENNA to a lesser degree) have performed at box office makes me think Audience Award is probably the one worth paying attention to - Juries tend to be rigged, no?

  • MJ | August 15, 2011 12:04 PMReply

    Favourite doc so far for me is "Marathon Boy" from HBO. Caught at RIIFF last week where it picked up the Grand Jury award. Great film.

  • jingmei | July 4, 2011 6:30 AMReply

    mainly everything from this year's Sundance, are worthy of being checked out.

  • Sarah | June 30, 2011 6:20 AMReply

    Yes, the films mentioned, Buck, and Senna, won awards (U.S. Documentary Audience Award and World Cinema Documentary Audience Award respectively) but THE winners are the Grand Jury Prize winners broken down into the categories of Documentary and Dramatic and U.S. and World Cinema. The winners are as follows:

    -How to Die in Oregon (Grand Jury Prize Documentary)
    -Like Crazy (Grand Jury Prize Dramatic)
    -Hell and Back Again (World Cinema Jury Prize Documentary)
    -Happy, Happy (World Cinema Jury Prize Dramatic)

    Obviously any film that even made it in to Sundance (or any other film festival) is there because it is a great film but I just thought I would clarify, as I myself was somewhat confused.

    http://www.sundance.org/press-center/release/2011-sundance-film-festival-announces-awards1/

  • Nia | June 28, 2011 9:29 AMReply

    Such a shame "The Interrupters" is such a long cut, 2 hrs 45 mins! Filmmakers need to remember they make a film for an audience. Needed a good 60 mins trimmed of it and a 100 mins cut would have lost nothing and been a better, tighter watch.

    Yes, Buck won at Sundance. Agree this poll is totally weighted to US films.

  • Adam | June 28, 2011 8:06 AMReply

    Sundance has lots of documentary awards - Nim, SENNA, Resurrect Dead, Buck and BPMixtape were all winners.

    As for the Interrupters being long, I think the latest theatrical cut takes it down to 2h 26 mins. It is a shame some people aren't seeing it because it's long yes, but some things just are. Like War and Peace, Crime & Punishment, or The Wire. People should make the effort, because it's brilliant.

  • Robert Koehler | June 27, 2011 7:47 AMReply

    The bias in this poll is the dominant nationality of the critics polled (American), and the fact that most American critics don't travel enough to see the REALLY important new films. Thus, a more comprehensive international poll, including Asian, African, European and Latin American critics would yield significantly different results. There were more vital docs, for example, in a middling Berlinale than the entirety of Sundance. This fact of life escapes most American critics.

  • Brian Fantana | June 27, 2011 7:30 AMReply

    I thought BUCK was the Sundance documentary winner

  • P. Shields | June 27, 2011 7:29 AMReply

    What happened to "Coriolanus" and "Machine Gun Preacher"?

  • Prost | June 27, 2011 6:43 AMReply

    COUGH ~ *SENNA* ~ COUGH ~ SUNDANCE WINNER, LA FILM FEST WINNER, BROKE UK BOX OFFICE OPENING DAY RECORDS FOR A DOCUMENTARY ~ COUGH COUGH

  • jimbo | June 27, 2011 3:29 AMReply

    Curious where A SEPARATION is.