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2011 Midway Point: Our Five Critics Reveal the Best So Far

Seeing that we’re at the half-way mark, I figured I’d round-up the troops and take a mid-season temperature — assessing the noteworthy film titles that were theatrically released and the the first six months of the film festival season has brought us so far. Including myself, I asked our regular contributors Ryan Brown, Jesse Klein, Jordan M. Smith and Blake Williams to submit their mid-year “Best of” Lists so far, no surprises here: we have a broad range of films to watch out for, some overlapping selections, some unique picks, a consensus top pick in this year’s Palme d’Or winner, but the real shocker is the omission of last year’s Palme recipient (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) which received a small theatrical release.

Seeing that we’re at the half-way mark, I figured I’d round-up the troops and take a mid-season temperature — assessing the noteworthy film titles that were theatrically released and the the first six months of the film festival season has brought us so far. Including myself, I asked our regular contributors Ryan Brown, Jesse Klein, Jordan M. Smith and Blake Williams to submit their mid-year “Best of” Lists so far, no surprises here: we have a broad range of films to watch out for, some overlapping selections, some unique picks, a consensus top pick in this year’s Palme d’Or winner, but the real shocker is the omission of last year’s Palme recipient (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) which received a small theatrical release. 

> With the exception of one title (a film that actually played at TIFF last year, but his second viewing of the film confirmed the genius that we all saw in Kelly Reichardt’s oeuvre), our Toronto-based critic and filmmaker Blake Williams’ best list so far is comprised of items from this year’s Cannes edition. Actually several films that figure on his list were either strongly considered or included in my own, but his top pair puts him in a cinephile category apart.

> Despite moving around from one locale to the next, Jesse Klein is an avid cinephile and filmmaker who covered SXSW (film premieres for picks 10 and 4) and I’m beginning to think that future year-end lists will several folks include this a real-life directing couple (spots 2 and 5) among their tops. Here’s his top 10 so far.

> Jordan M. Smith mostly covers docu-items for the site and gave us an overview of this year’s Hot Docs and Sheffield/Doc Fests, but as a cinephile has a top ten that is spread out to include (with the exception of one mainstream offering at his number three position) several 2011 Sundance indie, foreign and docu items. We hope that his number 10 pic (Korean horror thriller) finds an audience on home vid and we especially look forward in seeing his number 2 pick (here’s Jordan’s interview with the filmmaker, Tristen Patterson) released theatrically perhaps sometime this year.

> Ryan Brown sure loves his subtitles and at the half-year mark defends a pair of films that were pummelled by the vast majority of critics (see his number 3 and 5 pics), whereas his top film so far (a doc) appears to be a consensus pick for Best Documentary and, I’m giving it away here, top 3D film of 2011.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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