In the second of our four-part countdown, Marvel's iconic superhero team head back to the '60s and a couple of big Oscar winners from the start of the year reappear to remind us just how good they are...
> Top 20 Movies of 2011: 20-16
15. X-Men: First Class
"X-Men: First Class has noble intentions beneath its glossy sheen, as its impressive subtext confronts what it means to be different in a society in which conformism prevails. This loosely mirrors its own identity as a movie, being an all too rare beast - an action blockbuster with rollercoaster thrills and laughs that has a fundamentally intelligent core." [BRJ]
14. Source Code
"Zipping along at a speed to match the doomed commuter train aboard which most of its story takes place, Source Code is a tense, thrilling and unexpectedly emotional science fiction thriller from Moon director Duncan Jones. Those fearing Jones would fall victim to the difficult second feature syndrome need not worry because the Brit director's assured hand behind the camera transforms a loopy premise into a gripping genre piece." [SR]
13. The King's Speech
"Colin Firth takes centre stage in The King's Speech and does a great job of looking reluctant. He plays George VI striving to overcome a nervous stammer which threatens his ability to pull the British people together after brother Edward swaps sovereignty for Mrs Simpson and Hitler begins the march across Europe. His hiring of an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush), turns this personal battle into an absorbing and quietly moving story of friendship." [SP]
"Moneyball loosely follows the trajectory of a sports film, but refreshingly there's no last-gasp euphoria. Director Bennett Miller stays true to the events that unfolded and wisely keeps the on-field action to a minimum, perhaps realising that sport, the great unscripted entertainment, doesn't have the same impact when faked in a narrative." [SR]
11. Black Swan
"Darren Aronofsky's mesmerising masterpiece is an audacious look at the cut-throat world of ballet, merging beauty with brutality and gritty realism with unexpected fantastical elements. Natalie Portman's bold performance propels us into the tormented mind of a professional athlete with the same raw power as Mickey Rourke in Aronofsky's previous effort The Wrestler." [BRJ]
Review excerpts from Simon Reynolds, Ben Rawson-Jones and Stella Papamichael
What do you make of these Top 20 entries? Leave your comments in the space below!