Note: Things that should be on my list such as Attack The Block, Submarine and some Oscar movies didn’t make it due to the fact that I’m lame and haven’t seen them yet and couldn’t fit them in before New Year’s so bear with me.
I have to say 2011 was a FANTASTIC year for films. I can’t remember a year where so many movies I’ve seen have had such an affect on me and have been dangerously close to entering my all time favorites list. If anything, this year just proved to me that Hollywood IS capable of producing great works of art if the studios just allowed them to do so.
To me, Super 8 is embodies the perfect summer film. It has aliens and kick ass action sequences but it has heart and excellent comedic timing. Joel Courtney (who lived 5 minutes away from me for a good chuck of time) is such a joy. Actually, the entire cast is. Super 8 proves that there is such a thing as good child actors who are capable of looking like real kids. Also, the film the kids make that is shown during the credits is a million times better than any movie the MST3K guys had to sit through.
9. The Ides of March
It saddens me how much I seem to love this movie more than everyone else. Maybe I love it so much because it was literally my way of readjusting to life after Africa. It’s a non-flashy drama that relies simply on it’s screenplay and it’s actors and nothing more and it hits out of the park in every aspect. Every actor is incredible. EVERY actor. I’m still confused to why the cast wasn’t nominated for a SAG. Ryan is fab, Clooney didn’t over do it, Paul was perfect, Evan is stunning and Philip holds everyone together.
8. Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
I feel like I’m one of the few people who genuinely enjoys the Mission:Impossible franchise (I pretend the second one doesn’t exist for the record). And by enjoy, I mean, I sincerely look forward to every installment. This one just blew me away and I wasn’t expecting to be THAT impressed. Brad Bird, never stop doing animation but PLEASE continue with live action because you’re just brilliant at everything. The action sequences were PERFECT. It knew how much of bang to produce and that scene with Tom hanging from the world’s largest building had me so anxious and also laughing my head off. That’s other thing, too. Ghost Protocol’s comedy was spot on. It knew when to poke fun at the absolute ridiculous situations these characters are put into. Plus, they utilized Simon Pegg just beautifully. He was funny when necessary but not to a point when he becomes the joke of the group. In fact, everyone had their moments. Also, TOM CRUISE IS AWESOME. People just need to accept that and move on.
7. The Muppets
The Muppets shows Hollywood that it is possible to make an amazing family film without dumbing it down and torturing anyone over the age of 7. My face was in pain from smiling so much. Jason Segel has so much love and respect for The Muppets and it reads all over the movie. The music numbers were perfect, the cameos was hysterical, and the nostalgia level was at an all time high. The scene where they were discussing how The Muppets were no longer relevant in today’s society broke my heart because sadly, it’s the truth. There seems to be no more room for their type of humor, heart and cleverness in today’s world and it makes me feel sorry for future generations. I’d say this cracks the top ten on the “Rainbow Connection” number alone.
6. The Tree of Life
Not going to lie, the first 25 minutes made me go, “…wtf?” But once the story started focusing on the family, I was sucked in. I get that The Tree of Life isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but that’s part of the reason why I loved it. Everyone is going to have a different response to it. What you take away from it is going to be completely different than what I take away from it. It’s a shame that Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain are getting their nominations for mediocre films like Moneyball and The Help and not for this. For people who can’t seem to wrap their heads around a non-linear film, watch it purely for the gorgeous imagery Terrence Malick brings.
5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
No, I haven’t seen the Swedish version. Stop jumping on my ass about it because I could careless. It won’t change my opinion on this particular adaptation. The opening credits alone deserve to be in the top five. Good god. First off, Daniel Craig has had an incredible year. I respect him more and more with each film I see and I’m SO glad that he’s making sure people don’t see him solely as James Bond. Secondly, ROONEY MARA. Where did this girl come from? She had a brilliant five minutes in The Social Network and then she pulls something like this off. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Anyway, the film itself fulfilled all my expectations of what I thought it was going to be in my head. The imagery was gorgeous, the acting was fantastic, but the score is the star of the picture. I get chills just thinking about the frakking opening credits.
Shame was one of those films that I didn’t expect to affect me the way it did. It was very uncomfortable to watch, but in the best way possible. I have such respect for actors like Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan who really could care less about being famous and who actually mean that. There are plenty of actors who say they care more about their art than the red carpet but I usually don’t buy it (*cough*Eva Mendes*cough*). With these two though, they truly just want to make good, honest movies. I was actually jealous of how Michael has no shame (sorry, there really wasn’t a better word) in exposing himself, both physically and emotionally. With Carey, wow, I was not expecting a character like that to come out of someone who is so sweet and precious. Also, the score was phenomenal. It literally brought me to tears. I don’t think I’ve ever audibly said, “Wow.” so many times at a film before.
3. Midnight in Paris
Midnight in Paris is essentially me in movie form. It made me think about whether it’s a good or bad thing that I tend to spend about 80% of my time wishing I lived in the past rather than experiencing the now. It’s such an adorable, fun film and I’m glad people are still remembering it. Owen Wilson just seems to get better and better with each role. Marion Cotillard, please let me be you. Rachel McAdams, how are you so sweet in person but play a bitch so frakking well!? Also, let’s be besties. Michael Sheen, you’re a dream. Woody Allen, never ever stop what you’re doing. Ever.
Hugo is me in movie form…again. This is a love note to film and film preservation. It shows just how amazing a director Martin Scorsese is. Honestly, what can’t he direct? This is how you’re suppose to do 3D, everyone. Take notes, James Cameron. Lots and lots of notes. From the Harold Lloyd imagery to showing how old film reels were turned into high heels, I was just crying buckets of tears throughout Hugo. It’s extremely unfortunate how badly it did at the box office. It’s such a beautiful piece of art and I think in 30, 40 years it’ll be the one of the shining lights of film making for our generation. Just as people look back at Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or Safety Last or City Lights or All About Eve, I truly believe people will define the 2010s with Hugo.
1. Drive/The Adventures of Tintin
I honestly couldn’t pick. Like I went back and forth several times and I couldn’t do it. Mainly because Drive and Tintin represent two very different things to me and they’re both equally important. We’ll start with Drive.
OMG DRIVE. You’re so surprised right? I really can’t start talking about why I love this movie because I’ll just incoherently babble on for god knows how long. I wrote an entire blog post about it so just scroll down. Anyway, Drive represents how far I’ve come with this whole movie buff business. It’s shown how I’ve evolved in terms of my tastes and also a person. If Drive came out 10 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have even seen it. Oddly enough, it also shows how I’ve kinda grown up with Ryan Gosling too. I swear I’m not trying to be, “I TOTES SAW HIM FIRST GUYS” (even though I did) but it’s fitting. I found him through the Mickey Mouse Club, Flash Forward, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, etc. It was a teenybopper phase. We all have them. Then as his roles evolved, I went with him. He’s a big reason why I started venturing into independent films. Drive has had such a profound affect on me and continues to. I really hope this is the direction films are going. It’s kinda funny because there was a Drive panel at SDCC this year but I didn’t go because it wasn’t on my radar yet. Biggest regret of 2011, guys.
Ok, Tintin is a giant representation of my childhood. It is everything I remember growing up with especially because it’s a Spielberg film. I get so much joy out of seeing Tintin. I smile, laugh, jump up and down and basically turn into a little kid again. With all the bad stuff that life throws at you, it was always good to know you had movies like Indiana Jones and E.T. to make you feel better and now I can add Tintin to that list. Before I even saw Tintin, I was already claiming it was going to be the best film of the year. The funny thing is, it not only fulfilled all my expectations but it exceeded them. Ten fold. Who else can do that? No one but Steven Spielberg.
Honorable Mentions: War Horse, Living in the Material World, Paul, My Week With Marilyn, Bridesmaids, Sucker Punch, The Trip, Crazy Stupid Love, Friends With Benefits