Best Performances, Directing, Quotes, Kills, and More of 2011

     December 27, 2011

As we cruise through awards season, eventually all of the Oscar categories will firm up.  Four nominees will be certain and there will be a little debate concerning who gets the fifth slot.  Some of those choices will be correct and others will be boring and predictable.  After the jump, I’ve put forward my picks for best actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, director, cinematography, animated film and documentary.  I’ve also thrown in my choices for non-Oscar categories for Breakthrough Performance, “A Very Good Year”, Best Villain, “Who’s a Good Boy?”, Best Quote, Best Kill, Best Surprise, and Biggest Disappointment.  I hope that one day the Academy will recognize the validity and necessity of a “Best Kill” Oscar.

Hit the jump to check out my miscellaneous “Best of 2011″ picks.

[Note: Runners-Up are listed in alphabetical order]


Michael Fassbender as “Brandon” in Shame


George Clooney as “Matt King” in The Descendants

Jean Dujardin as “George Valentin” in The Artist

Ryan Gosling as “Driver” in Drive

Woody Harrelson as “Dave Brown” in Rampart


Tilda Swinton as “Eva” in We Need to Talk about Kevin


Viola Davis as “Aibileen Clark” in The Help

Kirsten Dunst as “Justine” in Melancholia

Elizabeth Olsen as “Martha” in Martha Marcy May Marlene

Charlize Theron as “Mavis Gary” in Young Adult


Albert Brooks as “Bernie Rose” in Drive


John Hawkes as “Patrick” in Martha Marcy May Marlene

Christopher Plummer as “Hal” in Beginners

John C. Reilly as “Michael Longstreet” in Carnage

Andy Serkis as “Caesar” in Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Carey Mulligan as “Sissy” in Shame


Berenice Bejo as “Peppy Miller” in The Artist

Melissa McCarthy as “Megan” in Bridesmaids

Amy Ryan as “Jackie Flaherty” in Win Win

Shailene Woodley as “Alexandra King” in The Descendants


(For an actor or actress whose career is likely to have a positive and dramatic shift based off one performance)

Melissa McCarthy as “Megan” in Bridesmaids


John Boyega as “Moses” in Attack the Block

Jean Dujardin as “George Valentin” as in The Artist

Elizabeth Olsen as “Martha” in Martha Marcy May Marlene

Shailene Woodley as “Alexandra King” in The Descendants


(For an actor or actress who was noteworthy in multiple films this year; please note that I’ve only written down the films I’ve seen for each actor this year, not every movie they appeared in)

Michael Fassbender (Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method, Shame)


Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter, The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Coriolanus)

Elle Fanning (Super 8, Twixt, We Bought a Zoo)

Tom Hiddleston (Thor, Midnight in Paris, War Horse)

[Note: Fassbender didn't get "Breakthrough Performance" for two reasons: 1) His star status isn't due to only one movie; 2) More people will probably recognize him from X-Men: First Class than Shame, but both have been huge for his career.  But the larger point still stands: 2011 has been his year]


Nicolas Winding Refn – Drive


Sean Durkin – Martha Marcy May Marlene

Steve McQueen – Shame

Oren Moverman – Rampart

Joe Wright – Hanna


Albert Brooks as “Bernie Rose” in Drive


Kevin Bacon as “Sebastian Shaw” in X-Men: First Class

Cate Blanchett as “Marissa Wiegler” in Hanna

John Hawkes as “Patrick” in Martha Marcy May Marlene

Hugo Weaving as “Johann Schmidt/Red Skull” in Captain America: The First Avenger

WHO’S A GOOD BOY? (Best Dog)


Uggie in The Artist

Also Deserving of Treats:

Arthur in Beginners

Snowy in The Adventures of Tintin



Emmanuel Lubezki – The Tree of Life

Runner-Up: Newton Thomas Sigel -  Drive



Cliff Martinez – Drive

Runner-Up: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo




Runner-Up: Winnie the Pooh



Project Nim

Runner-Up: Tabloid


“Why cookie Rocket?” – Rise of the Planet of the Apes


“It’s not the end!  He’s been reincarnated as a tricycle!” – Rubber


Will It Blend? – You’re Next


Piano Man – The Details

Disco Inferno – Hobo with a Shotgun

Magneto Returns Shaw’s Coin – X-Men: First Class

I’ve Got Someone on My Shoe – Drive

[Note: I don't see a lot of horror movies, and I missed Final Destination 5, so if you have a suggestion for a better kill, let loose in the comments section.  Be sure to provide a spoiler warning or at least try to make it so only people who have seen the movie will get what you're referencing]



Green Lantern

A fair share of films this year disappointed me, but the one with the biggest ramifications is the failure of Green Lantern.  Green Lantern is a superhero with a rich, interesting world and immense possibilities.  Instead, the story was an absolute mess and instead of blaming the crappy script, folks will draw erroneous conclusions like “People don’t want space aliens in their superhero movies” and “Green Lantern needs to be edgier and darker.”  Ironically, Green Lantern‘s best asset—how the scenes work better out of context and away from the “story”—made it ideal for trailers, which only added to the eventual disappointment.



Conan the Barbarian

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Your Highness



Bad Teacher

When you only see one TV spot for a movie and the only good joke in it is a crack about LeBron James, there’s cause for concern.  I went to Israel this summer and missed the press screening of Bad Teacher, but when I got back I heard the movie was shockingly good.  I bought a ticket and ended up laughing my ass off all the way through the picture.  I was pleased to see Cameron Diaz had such a delightfully mean-spirited character in her and she played it wonderfully.  And when I’m feeling down, I just think about Justin Timberlake saying how much he hates slavery.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Real Steel


Winnie the Pooh

Monday: Top 10 Posters of 2011

Tuesday: Top 10 Trailers of 2011

Wednesday: Best Performances, Directing, and other Miscellany of 2011

Thursday: Worst 5 of 2011

Friday: Top 10 of 2011

For everyone who says that I hate everything, I would like to point out that you can’t be disappointed if you didn’t have hope in the first place.
  • SaadGKhan

    I think Oscar committee should take a look at your Nominations, they are all most perfect.
    Though I would have loved to see Jessica Chastain as supporting actress too.. she was Superb in The Help.
    she is already on Horizon but one Oscar nomination will take her to the Next Level.
    I’m still angry on Golden Globe snubbs of Kirsten Dunst, Elizabeth Olsen & Mellisa McCarthy.

  • Strong Enough

    I REALLY hope Michael wins for Shame. I don’t think anyone deserves it more than him this year.

  • Liam_H

    Wasn’t as crazy about Drive as everyone else but I have no problem with all the love you’re giving it. Totally agree that Green Lantern was so bad, had so much hope for that movie.

    Would also like to give some love to Joseph Gordon Levitt for 50/50, everyone and him in that movie were great.

  • Dsimolke

    Really like this list overall. Maybe a little too much love for Hanna in my opinion, but hey, at least it’s not Oscar-bait. Fassbender is the man. Maybe some Patton Oswalt recognition for Young Adult?

  • News Hit

    Why the crap is John Hawkes getting so much love for MMMM? It was a one-note, boring role, and he does little with it, playing nearly every scene with the same stupid, leery grin.

  • Miles

    Great list, but how could PotC be considered a disappointment? Surely, given how bad the last two sequels were, it was exactly as bad as people expected.

  • Geoffrey

    I wouldn’t call Pirates of the Caribbean 4 a disappointment since every installment after the first one was crap. Did anyone really expect it to be any good?

    • davidsimple

      Totally agreed. The only reason I saw the second and the third one was Keira Knightley. In the case of this one I didn’t even bother to watch it. Penelope Cruz is such an awful actress…(I’m from Spain, by the way) The only reason I can find so all you americans think she’s a goog one is because of her accent. It maybe tricks you…

  • sam

    Biggest surprise for me was “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes”.
    Such a BIG Surprise!

  • jymmmymack

    I don’t get how Melissa McCarthy is the biggest Breakthrough Performance. She was on one show for almost 10 years, and already had a starring role in a successful sitcom before Bridesmaids even came out. Now, John Boyega on the other hand, is about to blow up thanks to his role in Attack the Block, which landed him the lead on a HBO drama series.

  • AlexHeyNa

    Not even a mention of Gary Oldman for Best Actor in Tinker, or Alan Rickman for Supporting in Deathly Hallows – Part 2?

    Matt Goldberg must have written this article…

  • Elcoolguy

    Nick Nolte I thought was more impressive than Albert Brooks as he just played a gangster slimeball. I believe more people where just surprised more that Albert Brooks was cast for this role then the usually quirky goofball that is Albert Brooks. I mean Nolte was brilliant as the thousand day sober father who was trying to reconcile with his two sons. Especially the scene with him in the hotel with the headphones and well… go see for yourself.

    • Liam_H

      I agree with this but I would say the scene of Nolte and Edgerton on the porch was far better, subtle but got very heartbreaking. The one in the hotel was just a little too much for me.

  • Nick

    Best Actor: Michael Shannon – Take Shelter
    Best Actress: Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
    Best Supporting Actor: Corey Stoll – Midnight in Paris
    Best Supporting Actress – Shailene Woodley – The Descendants
    Breakthrough Performance – Elizabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene
    Best Year – Jessica Chastain
    Best Director – Nicholas Winding Refn – Drive
    Best Villain – Ezra Miller – We Need to Talk About Kevin
    Best Animated – Rango
    Best Documentary – Cave of Forgotten Dreams
    Best Quote – “Caesar is home” – ROTPOTA
    Best Kill – Cab Stabbing Scene – I Saw the Devil
    Biggest Disappointment – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
    Best Surprise – ROTPOTA

    • Nope

      Best Actor: Gosling in Drive (although I might agree with Nick here)
      Best Actress: Chastain in Take Shelter
      Best Supporting Actor: Nolte in Warrior
      Best Supporting Actress – McCarthy in Bridesmaids
      Breakthrough Performance – Tom Hardy in Warrior
      Best Year – Fassbender
      Best Director – Mathew Vaughn for X-Men: First Class
      Best Villain – Hiddleston in Thor (seriously underrated)
      Best Animated – Kung Fu Panda 2
      Best Documentary – N/A
      Best Quote – “NO!” – ROTPOTA
      Best Kill – Laser Eye Surgery in Final Destination 5 3D
      Biggest Disappointment – Hangover: Part 2
      Best Surprise – Rise of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men:

      • Nick

        I would say that Chastain had more of a supporting role in Take Shelter. And I really like Nolte as supporting actor. For me it’s basically a toss up between Stoll, Brooks, and Nolte, but it doesn’t seem like Stoll is getting much recognition for his performance.

  • Nicolas

    If Andy Serkis plays supporting role in ROTPOTA, who is the lead then ??????

    • Salfie

      Exactly. I don’t know if I’d give Serkis a best actor nod, but he’s certainly the lead in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Franco is the supporting character.

  • Jason White

    Best Kill – Ball-pein hammer scene – Killist

  • nelson

    did you just snub Nick Nolte?

    how is he not on your list for best supporting actor?

    he gave imo one of the best perfromances of the year and he was way better than Brooks

    The hotel Scene alone in Warrior kills everything Brooks did in Drive

  • zac

    You know what pisses me off? Drive a is a good movie but lets not overblow it seriously, just because someone has deep seated tendancies to feel special because they know what movies drive references and no one else does, doesn’t make it the best film of the year! warrior for one was a million times better as were many others, im not saying i didnt love drive Im just saying some people are pushing it into echelons it doesn’t deserve.

    Moneyball?? Cmon!

    • Liam_H

      What about Moneyball? Are you saying it should be on there for Brad Pitt’s performance?

      • Nope

        Moneyball was fantastic and Pitt was pretty great in it. Also, let’s give it up for Jonah Hill in Moneyball. We all knew Pitt would be great, but goddamn, Jonah Hill killed it.

  • nowseed

    I hardly ever write here (although I visit Collider regularly) but I had to say this: I cannot understand why Albert Brooks is blowing everyone’s minds with his role in Drive. Like seriously, has anybody seen Beginners or Warrior? Nick Nolte and Chritopher Plummer DESTROY Brooks performance in one scene (it’s all they need). Wow, I will never understand some Academy/Critics choices……

    Brooks = overrated x1000

    • Salfie

      I heard Nolte was amazing in “Warrior” and who knows, maybe he’ll get a nod and the award, but I think the reason people are lauding Albert Brooks is because he’s playing so against type in “Drive” and it’s his first movie in a while. It really brings to light the futility in awarding actors, because obviously Nolte is doing something different than Brooks, and they can’t be compared. Their first job is to service the film they’re in.

  • JLC

    No gore, but my favorite kill was “taking out half the Frost Giants with one shot” in Thor. Too bad they couldn’t have saved the Frost Giant battle for the end, since it was far more impressive than the battle with the Destroyer.

    • Salfie

      Haha, yes! A really neat scene! Really shows off what Mjolnir can do!

  • droopy

    ryan gosling not a runner up for a very good year? drive, ides of march, crazy stupid love (yes even crazy stupid love), c’mon!

    • Christopher S

      I totally agree, I was about to put a comment about that when I finished reading the entire thread, until I came across your comment. Ryan Gosling should at least be on the list, he doesn’t have to win but he should be on at least. He was in nothing really since the notebook, totally silent, and then boom Drive, Ides of March, Crazy, Stupid, Love, which I thought was a far more entertaining movie than Drive, but that’s just me.

      • Sccitylhh

        Half Nelson….Blue Valentine….Lars and the Real Girl…..Stay (I’m in the minority with this one, but what can I say, I love it)

        This was certainly Gosling’s breakout year, but he’s done quality work since The Notebook.

  • dudeabides

    good lists except for director, needs malick, scorsese, payne, yates

  • Nomis1700

    BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: The Adventures of Tintin Secret of the Unicorn. Not Rango.

    • Salfie

      Rango looked amazing and was very original, but I saw Tintin on Monday night and it’s simply gorgeous looking. Overall TinTin is just the better animated feature. I’d also have to throw in Kung Fu Panda 2 as a nominee because the voice acting in that film was sooo top notch. Gary Oldman nailed it.

  • Marlboroliteman

    Andy Serkis??? Seriously? His character was a cartoon in a live action movie, if you think he’s deserving for that character then so should the animators who created all his facial expressions with a computer.

    • James

      Not necessarily. Just like with any animated project he does, Andy Serkis’ every nuance is mapped, including his facial expressions. He is still very much required to act the part.

    • nelson

      no they did’nt all the facial expressions are all serkis go watch the behind the scenes clips

      and if john hurt can get a nomination for playing the elephant man in all that make up then so can serkis for Cesar

  • Josh

    I cannot understand why Hugo was stubbed here. Mostly everything about the film was great – directing, acting, etc. For sure Scorsese could get a Best Director nod.

  • It’s Called A Phone!

    I’m disappointed that there is no love for 50/50! Surely Joseph Gordon Levitt deserves an honorable mention! I think 50/50 truly was one of the best films of the year!

  • sentient_afterbirth

    No love for Nick Nolte in Warrior? He was excellent.

  • Bobmann

    No Nolte or GARY OLDMAN in this either!
    Just like the golden globes!

  • Stephens

    No love for Rooney Mara in GWTDT? I know you’re not a fan of the movie or book, but anyone who has read the book knows that she absolutely killed the role. She played Lisbeth exactly as how I pictured her when I read the book.

  • Luhks

    Mostly great choices here. I really thought Bad Teacher was excellent as well, and I was happy to see some agreement.

  • Amardeep Lakra

    He lost his point when he chose Bad Teacher as best surprise.

  • Mr.Rich316

    How did Matt Goldberg get away with an article without his HateCrew filling the comment section? You better step it up Goldberg. I can’t find one serious rant about you in this thing!

  • Keith Demko

    It’s a real shame the usually reliable Mr. Goldberg clearly put this together without seeing Michael Shannon in “Take Shelter” … unforgettable, and clearly the performance of the year

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  • mitch

    Drive was shit and you were suprised Green Lantern was bad, really?

  • steve

    Tucker and Dale versus Evil definitely needs a nomination for best kill.

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