Saturday, December 31, 2011

the 46 best movies of 2011!

DISCLAIMER: Once again, I'm late posting this, but at least I started typing before the year ended, so this post should still "appear" as posted in 2011.

Notice from this year's ticket stub scan that it was a very fruitful year for filmgoing (+5 from last year!). This year I grouped it by stub for some interesting stats:

- 9 Sundance movies at the festival itself (one of which was a collection of shorts (which, for the most part, sucked))
- Only 1 movie at the dollar theater
- 10 movies at Broadway (not including the ones from Sundance or the X96 horror special)
- 14 movies at the Gateway (the most popular theater of 2011!)
- 8 movies at Century 16
- 1 movie at Union Heights
- (If all these movies don't add up, I did see several movies on DVD and streaming a few months after they came out)

The list:

46. Hobo with a Shotgun
I was so excited to see this movie, but it wound up being my least favorite experience in the theater all year. Subtlety in itself isn't important in making a movie, but subtlety is necessary when straddling the line between honoring a genre and ridiculing a genre. Ridicule, in itself, is loud and tedious. And the line I mentioned that this movie needed to straddle? It painted over that line with blood and skin and then exploded it.

45. The Hangover Part II
This was insultingly exactly like the first movie -- even taking into account how often that kind of thing happens in this day and age. It doesn't help that I'm one of the only people who thought the first movie kinda blew. Maybe people will come to their senses in hindsight with the release of this one.

44. to.get.her
This one's something I caught at Sundance about a bunch of girls getting killed. The previous sentence was sorta more exciting than the movie.

43. Bellflower
Another Sundance movie. Most people who saw it that I'm aware of (critics mostly) really loved it. Probably because it was a real big chance-taker as far as tonal changes go. Even though I really didn't like the movie, I want people to see it so people can convince me otherwise. SPOILER ALERT (sorta): The first half of the movie is a meet-cute romantic comedy and the second half of the movie is psychotic and violent. It was very memorable, but I felt the tonal shift wasn't earned and was pretty cheap.

42. Another Earth
Lots of people are understandably hesitant to check out independent movies for several reasons. They may be afraid the movie is pretentious or boring or something. Usually, they're not -- BUT every year I see one that absolutely justifies everybody's fears. This year I felt it was Another Earth. The idea of "show, don't tell" is a good one, to be sure; BUT when the emotion you're trying to tell is "mopey," PLEASE don't just show a girl actually silently moping for two hours. The side story concept of the movie is actually pretty cool (another mirror earth is heading toward ours, presumably with duplicates of ourselves that we may be able to converse with regarding our own strengths and frailties), but the movie reveals no deep insight and doesn't even ask any further questions than what exists in the trailer for the movie.

41. Tower Heist
I guess I couldn't see what was coming, but ONLY because the twists were very unnatural, and forced. Also, I COULD see the jokes coming.

40. Anonymous
I suppose it was way better than I thought it would be. This one didn't have a chance of winning me over because even before I went to see it I proclaimed that the identity of Shakespeare was vague enough for me that his identity didn't matter in the slightest. Certainly a rose by any other name, right? Still though, the movie was way more fun with the assumption it was just a period piece and not one sorta based on facts. SPOILER ALERT: incest.

39. Bobby Fischer vs. the World
It's a pretty good documentary, but the unanswered stuff was still unanswered. Bobby Fischer's most interesting years are lost to us because nobody was bothering to film him during his super crazy years.

38. Knuckle
A documentary on Irish Travelers settling their differences through punching each other. I sort of felt bad about watching it, considering its exploitation possibly contributed to more bare knuckle boxing -- also the footage wasn't ideal.

37. Unknown
Eric Snider summed it up best when he said it's a movie about a man named Martin Harris who "loses things." Jeff Bayer summed it up with an impersonation of Liam Neeson saying, "I'd like you to find someone... me!" January Jones is in this movie. She's a great example of why the sex robot industry will never actually catch on.

36. Troll Hunter
I love the documentary feel of this thing, but it strangely went on too long or something. Maybe, what if the Trolls were about 20 feet shorter I'd get involved in the world maybe? Oh well, whatever nobody saw this one anyway.

35. Take Me Home Tonight
If you see this one you may be very confused when Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer play a little game where they see who can yell an embarrassing word the loudest. Yes, the very same game played in (500) Days of Summer. I guess the reason for this is because Take Me Home Tonight has been shelved for several years. Now it comes out and its embarrassing scene is also embarrassing because it looks like it's very blatantly ripping off another film. Well that's sad. The movie isn't incredibly funny, but I did like it because it's about a guy who is insecure about what he wants to do with his life. In this particular case, they knew their audience.

34. Footloose
Exactly like the original only with a few black people and I won't fondly remember this 20 years from now like I did with the original. It's science. You can't beat the Bacon. Strangely, the punch dance sequence is replaced with a very non-dancy White Stripes song. Points for the White Stripes, as always.

33. Moneyball
Fascinating. Also interesting Jonah Hill work. Way to go dramatic, fat man. Too bad his character doesn't exist in real life.

32. Conan O'brien Can't Stop
Another documentary. Conan made fun of one of his backup singers and all I can think about is how awkward it is between them now that he made fun of her everyone behind her back.

31. Scream 4
I saw it mostly to see Alison Brie. I liked the end. I sorta saw it coming, but that's not the point. I like it less now that I've thought about it. Horror probably needs another injection of something original (like Scream did in 1996). This franchise is long gone though.

30. Jane Eyre
Aaaand Michael Fassbender makes his first appearance on the list! *platonicswoon* I liked the movie okay, but I was slightly disappointed. This is my first exposure to the Charlotte Bronte story and I was hoping for more horror or supernatural elements (which I had heard this particular version was going to emphasize (and it really didn't)).

29. Tabloid
Very weird documentary about the Mormon missionary who was kidnapped by an insane woman in England. Weird subject that may have crossed some weird LDS lines in its presentation. Still, I credit for layering a story of exploitation into a sort of exploitation itself.

28. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
This was very very good. People who saw it initially were really surprised at how good it was. People who saw it after the initial positive hype wore down were again surprised. I think I saw it in the middle when the energy died down, because I don't remember much of it. I'll have to see it again. There's no beating the films in the '60s and '70s, though. That goes without saying. It should anyway. Forget I said that, then.

27. 30 Minutes or Less
Very dark comedy. I like how the jokes work in life or death type situations.

26. Horrible Bosses
Very dark comedy. I like how the jokes work in life or death type situations.

25. Captain America
When I walked out of it I said I liked it more than Thor, but now that the year's over I'm finding myself change my mind. Still liked it though. The movie really made me appreciate the character and I've never cared about Cap before.

24. Tree of Life
It's only my 24th favorite movie of the year, but the movie really, truly is majestic. Honestly, it's also boring though. It faces the limitation of our automatic expectations of going to movies. We expect to come in, sit down, hear exposition through dialogue and action, build to a climax, get resolution and then view the credits. When a movie like Tree of Life comes into our lives, I think we automatically resist it. This movie just doesn't tell a story the way movies do. It tells it more like a painting does.

23. Like Crazy
I would have liked this movie more if it wasn't so depressing. I was expecting something more feel-good and I would say that's exactly what I needed going into the theater. Much better than the Drew Barrymore movie Going the Distance, which pretty much shares the same plot.

22. The Descendants
"Nothing just happens." "EVERYTHING just happens!" Usually tact and restraint aren't heralded as virtues, and maybe they aren't here, but I like where things went in this.

21. Young Adult
If you see this, tell me what you think of the very end. It bugged me at first, but I think I really like it now. The movie isn't as funny as I thought it would be (and isn't supposed to be), but it proved that Charlize Theron is built for humor (more than I would have thought).

20. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
May as well see the Swedish version. The American version is way more explicit in the really vile scenes that I thought for sure would be heavier in Europe. Also, I was lost the entire time because none of the characters elaborated on why they're all in Sweden yet constantly spoke English.

19. Crazy Stupid Love
One of my favorite scenes of the year (which I've elaborated on elsewhere) is the seduction scene between Gosling and Emma Stone (in which there's no sex, but liberating conversation).

18. The Adjustment Bureau
The moral seems to be to shun all the angels watching over us. Of course, "be the best YOU you can be" is good too (also good as the moral of an after school special). Still, see it with friends. It's always great to have a stimulating conversation on the true nature of free will.

17. Source Code
The guy who directed this also directed Moon (which is an awesome indie sci-fi movie from a few years ago) AND is the son of David Bowie! This movie was good.

16. Thor
Like Captain America, Thor is a Marvel Universe character that's always annoyed me. Really loved his character in the movie though. I liked the story arc. I mean the guy was a god and he really became a good character through passing through the valley (all by "descending" to Earth like some other God-man we know (Superman (okay, fine. E.T.))). Also, we must assume that the abs and pecs on Chris Hemsworth were CGI. Right?!?! Gotta be, RIGHT!?!?

15. The Devil's Double
This movie is about the true story of the guy who was the body double for Uday Hussein. It's as interesting as it sounds -- also with car chases and exotic middle eastern women.

14. Beginners
I really loved Ewan McGregor's character dealing with his dad's sudden gayness and cancerness. Christopher Plummer is always welcome. I did have a problem with the hot girl popping into his life so readily and willingly for no apparent reason. This trend happens more in independent movies than mainstream movies for some reason. Maybe it makes me pissed off that I consider myself an independent film goer, but I'm not part of the real-life scene where hot girls want to be with me from the moment they meet me. Still, though, the hot girl was played by Melanie Laurant who is on the short list for crush of the year (probably just beaten by Michael Fassbender).

13. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
This movie is a bit cathartic for me since it consists entirely of douchebags getting violently killed (by their own idiocy).

12. The Trip
This one's different. Watch this clip:
That's pretty much how the whole movie is.

11. Fast 5
Every movie in this franchise has sucked except for the first one, the third one, the fourth one and now the fifth one. The joy of these movies are in the irony only in concept (but not execution). Take the story's "easy" job for example. The characters need some quick cash so they can pull off their "big job" later in the movie. What's their easy job? It's robbing CARS from a MOVING TRAIN using a DUNE BUGGY in the five minutes before the train goes over a BRIDGE 500 FEET OVER A RIVER. Now THAT'S an exciting "easy job."

10. Insidious
There was good horror here lacking in Scream 4. Fun horror. Weird horror. Good times.

9. Super 8
Not perfect, but Abrams did an awesome job of sucking us in with the kids' characters before the imperfections were oh, so apparent (i.e. the alien thing (also the meaningless reconciliation of the two fathers)). Was your favorite scene of the year when Elle Fanning did her practice take? It was probably mine.

8. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Brad Bird is a reality. Also, do sandstorms like that exist in Dubai? Because 1) it makes me grateful I only need to worry about snow and 2) if you're that rich, maybe you ought to live in a place where you don't walk outside and are blinded. Also, huge kudos to the franchise for abandoning the lame concept of just throwing a mask on Tom Cruise for everything. It's a cop out of a concept.

7. X-Men: First Class
Fassbender strikes again. I'm a huge huge X-Men fan and this may have strayed a little too far from X-canon (for those of you who don't know, Alex Summers (Havok) is Scott Summers' (Cyclops) YOUNGER BROTHER, not father -- that little detail will be hard to explain if they consider the future of the franchise). BUT the heart of this thing is the close relationship of two men with very different ideals and a pretty thrilling period piece of a swinging '60s storyline that ultimately separates them. This movie also has Sex Robot January Jones.

6. Midnight in Paris
This year's Woody achieved a better ranking than last year (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger only hit 11 on last year's list), but I actually liked Midnight in Paris less than most other who saw it. As a pretty die-hard Woody Allen fan, I was very surprised that this on is his huge hit. His last big buzz was for Match Point and that one deserves a lot more credit than this one. Still, like I said, I'm a die hard, so even though I can say I was disappointed -- I still loved it. If you do like Midnight in Paris I would definitely suggest checking out The Purple Rose of Cairo. It's got a similar feel and story plus Woody Allen doesn't actually appear in it if that's what annoys you about most Woody Allen movies.

5. Bridesmaids
I already knew I loved Kristen Wiig, but my bit revelation with this movie was Melissa McCarthy. Feel free to check out her character's introductions when Kristen Wiig meets her and she responds with the story of falling off a cruise ship and "kinda pin-balled down hit a lot of railings, broke a lot of shit." The movie was probably mis-titled since it's really only one character's story and not an ensemble. Laughed though. Pretty hard.

4. Drive
Ahh. So cool. Have you seen it? If you have, picture the evolution of Carey Mulligan's character's state of mind from when she gets into the elevator to when she gets out of the elevator. She's going to the crazy house, right? That soundtrack is just so groovy. It's vintage '80s pastels in audio form, but here's the thing -- no irony. I'm really looking forward to the coming decade because I think we're finally starting to put the irony-laden '90s behind us. Oh! Also Albert Brooks is the scariest guy of the year -- and it's ALBERT BROOKS!

3. Silent House
Time for my Elizabeth Olsen double header. Okay, this may have been the scariest HORROR movie I saw all year. Yes, it did have a gimmick -- a 75 minute single take -- but the gimmick was beyond impressive and it only made the imagery scarier seeing it applied in real time with no cutaways.

2. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Okay, this may have been the scariest MOVIE I saw all year. It's not a horror, but the psychological manipulation worked for me. Once again, this has Sundance darling Elizabeth Olsen steering the ship sideways. I actually caught Silent House at Sundance, but not this one. They both played concurrently. Even though I think I liked Martha Marcy May Marlene more, I'm glad to have seen it later (because Silent House won't be released until later this year). Anyway, this sucker's weird and psychological and mind trippy and sort of incomplete (which helps in its illustration of confusion).

1. Hanna
People didn't like it as much as I did. I thought it was an exhilarating action movie. Okay, you know what? Obviously my favorite scene of the year was the long take of Eric Bana in the subway station. Chemical Brothers on the soundtrack for the ultimate win. The director, is Joe Wright, and I think he does stuff like Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. I think he injected quite a bit of character and class to the weird troubled kid action movie genre (that's a weird genre)

Here is a list of movie stubs of 2010 movies that I saw in 2011.

One was good and three were pretty good.


Blogger Steph said...

Agree on January Jones. Still think you need to see Warrior. Maybe only continue to go to the Broadway if you don't have to sit on a big spring the whole time.

January 05, 2012 12:22 PM  
Blogger Rhett said...

I think this year anytime you go out of town you should see a movie. Just sounds like something you'd do.

January 05, 2012 2:07 PM  
Blogger joN. said...

fyi, the stats at the beginning are totally wrong. Apparently I saw fast 5 and Captain America at cineplexes down south.

January 05, 2012 10:20 PM  

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