2011’s Most Underrated Films and Performances

As the year winds to a close, you’ve seen plenty of “best of 2011” lists — and we’ve certainly contributed a few of our own to the mix. Wading through them can lead to a sense of fatigue; yes, we liked The Artist and Hugo and The Descendants and The Tree of Life just fine too, but it feels like we’re reading praise for all the same movies and performances, everywhere we look. So, late in the “best of” season, we wanted to take a moment to spotlight a few films and actors who, we feel, are getting overlooked in the year-end shuffle. Our picks are after the jump; yours (we hope) will join in the comments.

Beginners

Plenty of folks are talking Oscar for Christopher Plummer’s rich supporting turn as the out-at-75 dad in Mike Mills’ seriocomic drama, but (aside from a tie for Best Picture at the Gotham Awards) the movie itself isn’t getting much chatter — and that’s altogether inexplicable, since this is truly one of the year’s best films. Sweet, funny, romantic, and moving, it’s indie without being twee, emotional without being manipulative, and has one of the most smoothly involving stream-of-consciousness structures since Annie Hall.