Sunday, January 8, 2012

Best of 2011

Well, it’s a new year so I thought I would take this time to look back at all the movies of 2011 and give my opinion of the best movies of the year. I would say that it was a pretty good year for movies, if you looked hard enough. So here they are, the 20 best movies of 2011:

Honorable mentions: Super, The Help, Our Idiot Brother, Thor, Win Win, Attack the Block, Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows, Drive, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Beginners, The Way.

20. The Muppets

I don’t really like Jason Segel but I have to admit that he wrote and helped make an incredible Muppets movie. This movie is hilarious from start to finish and the songs, written by Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie, are great. The Muppets is an extremely enjoyable movie for people of all ages.

19. X-Men: First Class

This sequel/reboot of the X-Men franchise is fascinating. It takes place in 1962 and gives an interesting twist on the Cuban missile crisis. It shows the origins of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr as well as many of the other X-Men. It is really well written and Matthew Vaughn did a great job of directing. One of the better superhero/comic book movies ever made.

18. The Guard

An unorthodox Irish policeman and a by-the-book FBI agent must work together in order to bring down a drug smuggling ring. Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle are great together in this movie. Mark Strong does a great job as the head of the drug smuggling ring. This movie is very funny as well as really well written.

17. Bridesmaids

One of the funniest movies to come out in years and to top it all off it shows that there are many funny women out there who are constantly over looked. The whole cast is great but Kristen Wiig really gets a chance to show off just how funny she can be. However, Melissa McCarthy, of Gilmore Girls fame, manages to steal every scene she is in.

16. Tucker and Dale vs Evil

A great twist on the horror genre. What starts out as a typical movie about a bunch of college students going camping in the Appalachian Mountains quickly turns into a great comedy about miscommunication and misjudgment. Tucker and Dale are two hapless hillbillies just trying to fix up their summer home. One of the college girls knocks herself unconscious while swimming in the lake and they save her but her friends think they are going to kill her. So they try to rescue her but one by one end up killing themselves and Tucker and Dale think they are all part of a suicide cult. A great movie that is written well and Alan Tudyk and Ty Labine do a great job as the titular characters. I cannot recommend this movie enough.

15. Hugo

I love movies that love movies. This movie suffered from really poor advertising. It is an extremely well made movie that looks beautiful. About a young boy who lives in the walls of a train station fixing clocks meets an old filmmaker. This movie shows that magic of movies from the early 1900s. Ben Kingsley is great as the famed George Méliès. This movie tells a great story and is a lot of fun to watch. Just don’t see it in 3D.

14. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

I love the Mission: Impossible movies and while this isn’t quite the best one, it is really close. It is loaded with tons of amazing action scenes and plenty of humor sprinkled throughout. Tom Cruise is back and just as entertaining as always as Ethan Hunt. Simon Pegg gets a more substantial role this go around and handles it really well. Jeremy Renner is really good in it. Brad Bird does a great job with his live action directorial debut. This is easily one of the most entertaining movies of the year.

13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

The epic final chapter in the Harry Potter franchise gets a spectacular conclusion. It does a great job wrapping everything up. The battle at Hogwarts is a spectacular sight to see. On top of all the great visuals it manages to have a deep and compelling story. Alan Rickman’s part in the movie as Snape is amazing and heart wrenching, it is one of the best performances of the year. Warwick Davis is great as Griphook. It is a very satisfying conclusion to a great series.

12. Paul

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two sci-fi geeks traveling across America when they encounter a real life alien (voiced by Seth Rogan). This movie is absolutely hilarious from start to finish. It is loaded with references to all of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. On top of that it is essentially a love note to people like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The supporting cast all add a lot to the movie as well.

11. The Artist

French writer/director Michel Hazanavicius made a bold and daring movie by making a silent film in 2011, but it completely works. Despite its lack of dialogue, The Artist tells a compelling and emotional story. The two leads, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, are wonderful. Jean Dujardin is amazing as a silent film actor who refuses to change with the times and start doing “talkies.” I was completely sucked into this movie from the start and never lost interst. It also features John Goodman, James Cromwell and Missi Pyle.

10. Captain America: The First Avenger

I have been waiting quite some time for there to be a good live action version of this character to be made. Marvel managed to make an amazing movie out of Cap. It was great that they kept the Cap in WWII fighting Nazis and Hydra. Chris Evans was a great choice to play Captain America and he did it perfectly. Hugo Weaving was great as the evil Red Skull. On top of that Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci and Sebastian Stan all did a great job at helping tell the origins of Captain America. Visually great with a fun and interesting story, this is one of my personal favorite Comic Book movies of all time.

9. Young Adult

Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, this is an outstanding movie. It starts out like a pretty typical romantic comedy about a woman who wants to win back her old high school sweetheart. But when she returns to her hometown things quickly take a turn as we find out that she is mentally deranged. Charlize Theron gives the best performance of her career and she managed to do it without altering her appearance a la Monster. She is funny yet disturbed and depressing at times. Patton Owsalt gives an incredible (and dare I say award worthy) performance as someone whom Charlize's character used to go to high school with. I really enjoyed everything about this movie and can’t recommend it enough.

8. The Descendants

The latest movie from Alexander Payne tales a very surreal story about a man whose wife is in a coma and he then discovers that she has been having an affair and on top of that he is trying to get his daughters to understand him and everything that is happening. It is a very powerful movie with some incredibly real moments. I loved every moment of this movie. I will say, though, that the best part of the movie is George Cloony’s spectacular performance. Just when I thought the man couldn’t get any better he managed to pull this one out.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher’s take on the blockbuster book is a great movie. I was very glad to see that he didn’t hold back at all on the book’s, at times, tough subject matter. Daniel Craig did a great job as the lead character, Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist hired to find a killer. Roony Mara, however, is the reason to see the movie as she plays Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. The movie starts out with one of the best opening title sequences ever and then moves along at a breakneck pace. Its run time is a little over 2 and a half hours but the movie is so good you don’t even realize it. This is one of the rare instances where the movie is better than the book, in my opinion.

6. Midnight in Paris

This is easily my new favorite movie from writer/director Woody Allen. When I first saw the movie I knew nothing about it but was blown away by its premise and everything that happens in it. It is a very charming movie and all of the people in it are just great. I love the characters, I love the beautiful scenery, I love the movie’s sense of humor, I just love this movie.

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I have been a Planet of the Apes fan my whole life. I enjoy all 5 original Planet movies. So I was pretty excited about this movie and am glad to say that it more than exceeded my expectations. It makes the idea of an Ape uprising seem like a very real thing. It is a very emotional movie and by the end of it you are cheering on the Apes to overcome the evil humans. Andy Serkis gives an amazing performance as Caesar, the lead chimpanzee. James Franco and John Lithgow are great as well and so it the rest of the cast. This movie makes an excellent addition to the franchise.

4. Moneyball

I don’t like baseball… at all, which is why I find it amazing that I loved this movie so much. Part of that is Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian’s spectacular script. The writing in the movie really gets you into the story in a big bad way. Brad Pitt gives one of the best performances of the year as Billy Beane and Jonah Hill pulls a wonderful performance out of nowhere. I could not get enough of this movie and have seen it multiple times already and have been itching to see it again soon.

3. Red State

Writer/director Kevin Smith takes his career in a completely different direction with his latest movie. He makes an awe-inspiring movie the likes I have never seen before. It is loaded with so many twists and turns that every time you get comfortable it feels as though the rug is being pulled out from under you . It is terrifying but not scary, it is humorous but not a comedy. It tells a dark tale of fundamentalism gone wrong in the Midwest. If for no other reason, see this movie for Michael Parks’ performance as Abin Cooper, it is incredible and my favorite performance of the year. It also features great performances from John Goodman, Steven Root, Melissa Leo and more.

2. 50/50

This is the most compelling and emotional movie I saw all year not to mention it’s pretty funny. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing as Adam, a 26 year old who finds out that he has cancer. Seth Rogan is great as his friend Kyle. This movie is the most honest representation of someone getting cancer that I have ever seen. There is no “hero” of the story and people act like real people. This is all a result of being written by Will Reiser who wrote the story based on his true story and experiences. This movie is just amazing and loaded with many great performances like Angelica Huston as Adam’s over protective mom.

1. Super 8

This was definitely my favorite movie of the year. J.J. Abrams actually got to work with Steven Spielberg while making is thank you note to the man. Super 8 plays out like an amazing mash up of E.T., Jaws and The Goonies. It is rare for a movie to find one halfway decent child actor but Abrams managed to find five incredible child actors. Everyone in this movie is just so good and so much fun to watch. It is another movie that loves movie as one of the main story lines is following the kids around while they make a zombie movie around a recent train wreck. With this movie I am completely sucked in and involved with the biggest smile on my face from start to finish, cannot get enough of it.

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