All The Year’s Best

All the year’s best are coming out now: Best books, best movies, best… whatever. And I admit, I’m one who’s always on the look-out for such lists. Hundreds of books and movies in a year reduced to a list of 10, definitely makes one convenient Christmas shopping list.

Here are some of the best book lists:

Publishers Weekly Top 10 Books of 2011

NPR 10 Best Novels of 2011

New York Times 10 Best Books of 2011

Best Fiction 2011 from “The World’s Toughest Book Critics”

The Globe 100 Best Books of 2011 shopping list

Books of the Year 2011 The Telegraph

A list of indispensable books from Harvard Gazette, not your usual best-sellers

And here’s a one-stop shopping lists for The Top 10 Everything of 2011 from TIME Magazine.


Movies? Year’s best lists are everywhere. Of course, all lead to the ultimate finale of the Award Season: The Oscars. But for Christmas shopping suggestions, here are several lists, albeit some of the current releases may not have come out in DVD or Blu-ray yet:

American Film Institute’s Best Films 2011

Critics Awards for 2011 Best Films

Roger Ebert’s Best Films of 2011

NYT Stephen Holden Best Films 2011

NYT A. O. Scott’s & Manohla Dargis’s lists

Metacritic’s Best Films 2011

Toronto Film Critics’ Picks

Time-Out London

And more lists are coming out even as I type.

But of course, the most important to readers/movie viewers is whether they agree or not, whether what the critics say happen to be their own favorites. If not, there’s really not much relevance to all these lists, is there? No? I’d like to hear from you… Do you read movie reviews first before heading out to the theatre? Do you depend more on film critics or ‘user-reviewers’? Herein lies another subtle (or not so subtle) battle between the critics vs. the reader/movie watcher, and… alright, the blogger.

So, from one POV, here’s Arti’s year-end tally. Yes, I happen to have written down, if I remembered to do so, all the movie titles I’ve watched this year. There are about 90 that I’ve got down, not including those I previewed for a film festival.

If I’m to choose the best film of this year from all that I’ve watched, I’ll have to say The Tree Of Life by Terrence Malick. It’s a film by far the most unique, cinematically gratifying, cerebral, transcendent, and a showcase of excellent talents. I hope the young actor Hunter McCracken can get some recognition for his sensitive and intelligent performance.

Other titles I should mention for my list of best 2011 films include The Artist, Midnight In Paris, Drive, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, My Week With Marilyn, and The Descendants. I’m still waiting for the screening in our city of some titles which I highly anticipate, including A Dangerous Method, Carnage, Take Shelter, Tomboy, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and We Need to Talk About Kevin.

And for older films I’ve seen this year, some I rewatched, others are my catch-up on acclaimed titles I’ve missed in the past. I’ve a few favorites (in no particular order):

Animal Kingdom, My Life As A Dog, Truly, Madly, Deeply, Autumn Sonata, Play It Again Sam, Interiors, Marvin’s Room, Shine, Badlands, Days of Heaven, Fargo, The Makioka Sisters, Radio Days, Anne Hall, Manhattan, Match Point, Pickpocket, Howards End, The Third Man.

As a slow reader, much slower than my movie-watching speed, the ratio of film to book for me this year is about 2:1. My picks for my favorite reads this year (not all published in 2011), and in no particular order:

Then Again by Diane Keaton, The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes, Blue Nights by Joan Didion, Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, True Grit by Charles Portis, Howards End by E. M. Forster, The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos.


What about you? What are your year’s best in books and movies?

Published by


If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

14 thoughts on “All The Year’s Best”

  1. I’ve heard about Tree of Life and had intended to read it… another for the TBR list. As for books first or movies first, usually it’s books first for me since I rarely get out for a movie.
    And about all those cookies and sweets…. actually, I don’t have a sweet tooth and these are all going to family and friends. I think I’ve eaten maybe six cookies total.


    Oh, put it on your TBW(watch) list since it’s not a book. The Tree of Life is a film. As a keen photographer yourself, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the cinematography. Try to watch it on the big screen, but if not, a Blu-ray is prob. better than a DVD.



  2. I do like to look at the best of lists and I’ll certainly note down titles that seem interesting to me. For instance, I will definitely watch Midnight in Paris when it comes out on DVD and I have Julian Barnes’ book by my bedside to read. But the real fun comes from looking back over the year’s experiences and highlighting the best – I love that. I’ll be doing my best of 2011 books today, in fact!


    Midnight In Paris will be out Dec. 20. I’m sure that’ll make a nice Christmas gift for someone. 😉



  3. Thanks for all the links; I appreciate them.


    I’m glad you find them useful. After I’ve posted, Roger Ebert came up with his Best films of 2011. So I’ve added a link into the list as well.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment!



  4. I love the best books lists this time of year though my TBR list doesn’t! I haven’t decided my favorite books of the year yet, there’s still a few weeks left of December and I might find myself reading something amazing. 🙂


    I know, I still have a couple of weeks and I’m sure I’ll be watching more films, esp. the acclaimed ones which usually come out at the end of the year. I look forward to your list!



  5. What a compilation of links! and what a fine resource for those of us who always are behind the curve when it comes to books/film.

    Despite my best intentions, I didn’t do much film watching this year. You know my favorite of the current batch was The King’s Speech. I did enjoy watching three oldies – Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago. I remember each of them vividly from my youth, but only learned this year that David Lean was involved with all three. It was worth learning more about Lean and re-watching the films.

    Books? I suppose my favorites this year, for an assortment of reasons, were Rising Tide (John M. Barry), The Road to Quoz (William Least Heat-Moon), At Seventy (May Sarton) and The Art of the Commonplace (Wendell Berry). Next year, I’ve got to read more fiction!


    I have one recommendation. After reading Diane Keaton’s memoir Then Again, I came upon a movie called Marvin’s Room. Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep are sisters, with an ailing father whom Diane takes care of. Great acting, good story, and heart-warming, with realism. Since you like May Sarton, I have her novel about old age called: As We Are Now. It begins with this sentence: “I’m not mad. Only old.” Well, looks like a biographical novel.

    And about the movies you’ve watched this year, I remember you mentioned The Help. Well, it’s shooting high now, with 5 Golden Globe nominations, and I’m sure they can carry it all the way to the Oscars.



  6. Glad you gave “Tree of Life” high marks — Rick rented it for this weekend! Didn’t see many movies — The Help, King’s Speech, Sarah’s Key and Midnight in Paris. Loved them all.

    Books, my faves were “True North” (Jill Ker Conway), “Look Me in the Eye” (John Elder Robison), “Thrift Store Saints” (Jane Knuth), “Finishing the Hat” (Stephen Sondheim), “Saving CeeCee Hunnicutt” (Beth Hoffman), “Cold Pizza for Berakfast” (Christine Lavin), “The Paris Wife” (Paul McClain) and “The Postmistress” (Sarah Blake.)


    That’s why I’m so disappointed with the Golden Globe nominations. They’ve snubbed Terrence Malick, none for Tree of Life. To me, it’s that battle between “Accessibility” (box office sales) vs. “Artsy” films. But then again, I’m glad Midnight In Paris got 4 noms.

    As for your reads, one title stands out for me. Stephen Sondheim? What’s Finishing The Hat? I like his musicals, but never knew he writes… novels?



  7. Howard’s End also made my favorites list when I first read it. I remember that year as a EM Foster binge. Have you seen the movie adaptation?


    Yes, that’s one of the best lit. adaptations I’ve seen. Actually I’ve seen it several times before I picked up the book to read.



  8. Thanks for having the “Top 10 Everything of 2011 from TIME Magazine” on the list! For someone who is not in NA, I get the info from one site!


    Yes, in this busy Season, good to have things simplified to neat Top 10 Lists. (sarcasm font here) 😉



  9. It’s so fun to me that we both chose The Paris Wife and A Moveable Feast to be included in our top for 2011 lists!

    I look forward to persuing the films, and other titles, you’ve mentioned here, not to mention the lists of Best Of…

    Did you see that PBS is reshowing Downton Abbey season 1 beginning tomorrow, and then, of course, season 2 begins in January. Yippee!!


    O is it tomorrow? I just might have to miss it. But good that we’re given a repeat of it gearing up for the new season 2. Has been a long wait!

    And for Hemingway related reads, you know, it all started with Midnight In Paris for me. 😉



  10. Loved this. Now have to look at ALL the lists to which you so wonderfully provided links. Concentrated on your faves first. Really? TRULY MADLY DEEPLY is a personal fave and I don’t know anyone else who has seen it!!!!! so, we are herein “movie pals!” That Rickman.

    And I, too, am curious about Tree of Life. Will rent.

    My favorite movie this year? Hmmmm….would have to say, even surprising myself, that it’s THE DESCENDANTS. And I think the new Sherlock is going to be a hit, too, at least for entertainment. (yes, agree on MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Loved it).

    As for favorite book, that is very difficult. I reread several Austen novels so yet might put good old PRIDE AND PREJUDICE up there. And then I’d have to add Delafields DIARY OF A PROVINCIAL LADY.

    Will write more soon; you’ve inspired me to possibly do a post on “favorite list” of books/movies. (need time to think that over).


    1. Oh,

      Well, these are my faves from the movies I’ve watched in 2011. As I mentioned, there are a lot of catch-up’s, some of the films I’ve missed in the past years that I’ve wanted to see but for some reasons, never got the chance to… yes, including Truly, Madly, Deeply. You see, I’m partial to cellos and Rickman. 😉 I also went on a Bergman binge and caught up with 9 of his films in 10 days. Same with my W.Allen binge after that.

      The Descendants is a good film, with some excellent acting from Clooney. And I also saw Moneyball, which you said is an ‘American’ movie. Well, I have to say I’m quite surprised by how good it is. Funny, my limited knowledge of baseball all come from movies: Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, For Love of the Game (Yes, you can see, all Kevin Costner’s)

      I’m not very happy about the Golden Globe pics, looks like they’re going for the box office and ‘accessibility’factor. I’m glad though Midnight In Paris got 4 GG noms. And it’s just ludicrous that Tree of Life got snubbed. But then again, I don’t think either Woody Allen or Terrence Malick could care less.

      And as for reads, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Diane Keatons’ memoir.


  11. The year’s not over yet so I’m holding off on final lists, but in my annual Xmas newsletter I listed my favourite books as: Barbara Hanrahan’s The scent of eucalyptus, Mario Vargas Llosa’s The feast of the goat, Lloyd Jones’ Hand me down world, Kim Scott’s That deadman dance, Alice Pung’s Her father’s daughter … and rereads of Jane Austen’s Sense and sensibility and Northanger Abbey, and Albert Camus’ The plague. And I listed my favourite films as Black Swan, The tree of life, The guard, Midnight in Paris, and Red Dog. I would have added The King’s Speech but as I recollect I saw it right at the end of 2010 (though I think I reviewed it on my blog early in 2011).

    Of your past films, I totally concur re Truly, madly, deeply; Animal Kingdom; Fargo; Shine; and others. You have good taste Arti!!


    And you too… I think we share similar favorites in films. And… what a delight to receive a Christmas letter outlining good reads and movies! I went on a Bergman binge and a Woody Allen one after that, too many good films to mention there. But yes, there are those that speak lightly and softly, touch the heart with less serious tones, and that’s Truly, Madly, Deeply… not a high calibre, serious film, but definitely a favorable introduction to Anthony Minghella, who a few years later, produced one of my all time faves, The English Patient. Yes, we’re romantic to the core, aren’t we?



  12. I’ll definitely do a best-of list, but I like to do it right at the year’s end. I’m hoping to read the Julian Barnes soon, and perhaps it will be good enough to make the list! We’ll see. I agree with you about Howards End — what a great book! I’m very curious about Blue Nights too; I’ll get there eventually, no doubt.


    And I look forward to your Best of 2011 List!



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