I saw over 50 new movie releases in the year 2011. I know this, because I counted them just now. Below are my favorite movies, as well as some other gibberish. I should point out, I have yet to see some of the Oscar contenders, including Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and Melancholia.
I am not saying these are the best movies of the year, simply the movies I personally enjoyed the most.
Honorable Mention: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, We Bought a Zoo, Mission Impossible 4, Thor, The Adjustment Bureau, Horrible Bosses, The Help, Warrior, Contagion, Crazy Stupid Love, Paradise Lost 3. 15. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2
It wasn't exactly what I wanted. It wasn't exactly what I didn't want. I got the resolution I desired with Snape, so that was important. It was a fun ride with Harry and crew, even if I never developed an emotional connection with any of the characters other than Snape. Nice ending to the series. Though one day I'm sure it'll rear its head again... Seriously though, how did Alan Rickman never get a Best Supporting nod for his indelible portrayal?
14. The Artist
It's clever. It's unique. It's charming. And yes, it'll win Best Picture and deservedly so. I was impressed with everything and everyone associated with this film, even if it's not something I neccesarily ever watch again. Loved the two stars. And certainly the director was daring and courageous in even attempting this film.
13. The Beaver
If you can detach yourself from Mel Gibson's personal problems, then this is an overlooked film which is pretty damn daring in its own right. And again, if you take away the man's personal life, there's no doubt Gibson gives the best performance of his career. And talk about an ending that isn't Hollywood? I won't spoil it, but let's just say I didn't see certain aspects of it coming.
12. A Better Life
An interesting story of a Los Angeles gardener and his struggle to give his son a better life. The Oscar surprise of the year, Demian Bichir gets a well-deserved Best Actor nomination. I'm delighted this movie is getting added exposure. It's the type of movie that produces engaging conversation about tough topics afterward.
11. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
A summer popcorn flick that kicked my ass with both drama and action. I couldn't believe they were attempting to make another Planet of the Apes movie. Personally, the entire concept seemed tired and dated. I was wrong, because this movie was the surprise summer smash. Really cool. Really entertaining. Just awesome. Can't wait to see where they go next...
Drive is everything they say it is. It's cool and classy, smooth and intoxicating. Honestly, 'cool' is the best way to describe it. It's fresh. Visually sharp. Killer soundtrack. The kind of movie that stands the test of time and becomes a classic. Bonus for what has to be one of the coolest scenees I've seen in a while... again, I won't spoil... but Gosling by the night ocean, fitted with his mask... wow, what an awesome visual.
9. Water for Elephants
I know a lot of people who didn't dig this movie. For some reason, I did. It's the kind of old-fashioned Hollywood love story often missing from today's cynical films. I admit to be enthralled with the circus setting and the music that wafted throughout this story. I really enjoyed it.
Yes, I'm biased because of my own current movie aspirations. Yes, I admit to liking Ed Burns. But taking all that away, I think this is his best movie since The Brothers McMullen. The reason I think it's his best work is because it seems the most real of any of his films. There's no Hollywood gloss or shoe-horning of plot points. It's a sharp and real look at adult relationships. I highly recommend it to any couples out there between the age of 25-50. Totally enjoyable, and for my money, Dara Coleman steals every scene he's in as the cliche aspiring actor. Very funny stuff.
Baseball. Brad Pitt. Aaron Sorkin.
My favorite moment is when Pitt is driving alone... and he just casually says to himself, "What am I doing?"
What man hasn't said that before?
6. Like Crazy
An indie film that brilliantly captures that first love of your life. The one that goes from silly notes to painful reality. Perfectly executed, this movie really does an excellent job of showcasing what that period of time is like. Starting out in the world, blissfully naive to the world and its problems. I fell in love with Felicity Jones, and you will too. This should have gotten more awards recognition...
My favorite band with one of my all-time influences, Cameron Crowe, steering the ship. It was everything I hoped for, and so much more.
4. Captain America
Even I was growing weary of super-hero movies. Yet if 2011 showed me anything, it's that Marvel knows exactly who their audience is and how to make them happy while still staying fresh. Chris Evans, I apologize for doubting you. You WERE Captain America, 100%. Cap had a retro feel to it, yet still managed to stay current. I LOVED the way they chose to make Cap's costume believable. Clever guys over there at Marvel...
3. The Muppets
The bottom line here was that I just had so much damn fun. I laughed. I felt for the gang. I even enjoyed the songs. The backstory of Jason Segal and his unwavering, unabashed love for The Muppets is endearing. He made his dreams come true. How can you not love that?
2. X-Men First Class
What a groovy, amazing, cool film! Wow. Again, I was shocked. I didn't see this coming. I honestly think X-Men First Class belongs up there with the best comic book movies of all-time. McAvoy and Fassbender are the stars, and they deserve to be. It's their friendship that ties the plot together, and they achieved emotional depths generally unseen in these movies. Totally rad.
1. Midnight in Paris
I'm not a Woody Allen buff, and the whole premise of this movie is something I'm usually totally against. Yet, I can't deny my love for this film. I can't even put my finger on why. I suppose it helps that I went to Paris this past summer. Whatever the reason, I lost myself in this whimsical tale of yearning for the past. And for someone like me, losing myself in the story is most important.
All in all, I thought this year was opposite of 2010 where the 'artsy' awards movies were fantastic and the summer movies just okay. 2011 was the year of the popcorn movie, as the summer reigned supreme for me. Best part of it was, I didn't see it coming.
In the end, I'm constantly amazed at the unique talents that dot the film landscape. Diverse, gifted, and inspirational people abound out here. I only hope 2012 brings more surprises. Until then...
See you at the movies...