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From a strictly financial standpoint, movies in 2011 have been defined by unimaginative crap. The year’s two biggest worldwide smashes, The Hangover Part II and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, exemplify all that’s wrong with big studio fare, drying out creative wells with lazy rehashing and generally unnecessary existences outside of instant monetary satisfaction. With two of the year’s worst flicks topping the box office charts, it’d be easy to get discouraged and write off the first half of ’11 as a artistic disappointment.

That is, if there weren’t so many high quality films to choose from on the lower end of the profit spectrum. From legitimate hits to more obscure independent genre entries, the year’s first two quarters have poured a surfeit of commendable pics, making it easy to forget about the Wolfpack’s substantial letdown and Johnny Depp’s continued descent into lameness.

With 2011’s midpoint upon us, and plenty of worthwhile cinema still yet to premiere, we’re taking a look back at the best of what’s been presented thus far; chances are, many of these flicks will be unfamiliar, but that’s a positive—there’s too much under-appreciated goodness out there in theaters for us not to champion the underdogs. But then, of course, we love Michael Fassbender’s Magneto as much as the next popcorn junkie. Check the duality as Complex counts down The 25 Best Movies Of 2011 (So Far).

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