A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Time To Wrap It All Up, 2011 Favorites

In Uncategorized on December 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

So, another year has come and gone. This is definitely the year of my posting the least on this blog. There’s a few reasons for that – lack of interest, I’ll admit, is kind of a larger part of that; actually being busy with other things that kept me from seeing a lot of movies (as of right now, it looks like I won’t even have seen the equivalent of a movie a day – though, I’ll be close); and I’ll admit, my mind has been thinking more on the side of WRITING movies, as opposed to writing ABOUT movies.

But, like everyone else at this time of year; I have a list of favorites for you. The major caveat to this list is my having not seen a large amount of the movies I really wanted to. Though, I have to say, no matter what I missed, I can’t really see it affecting my top picks too much.

So, let’s get started. 

10. HORRIBLE BOSSES is a comedy that I loved. From our bumbling heroes (Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, and Jason Bateman) to their…well, horrible bosses (Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston, and Kevin Spacey); I loved every second. From Aniston’s over-the-top sexual advances – and Day’s repeatedly being harassed by his friends as that not making her a bad person. This dark comedy offers some great twists, some hilarious moments, and characters that I could empathize with and I have to say wedged BRIDESMAIDS out as my favorite straight-up comedy of the year.

9. INSIDIOUS really caught me off guard. I’m not big into horror, until I am. I had no interest in this movie until word started spreading that it was actually really good, and just how much money it raked in. (I mean, I don’t care how much money a movie does, but it was surprising HOW successful this one was.) Being that I am kind of a sucker for the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies – and this is produced by the mastermind behind that series, Oren Peli – it wound up being directly in my wheelhouse. Despite its climax kind of falling into the trite, “fight the monster”, though the final moment is pretty fun. But, throughout there are some fantastic, frightening scenes. Surprisingly, it’s also pretty light on the gore – considering this is also from the guys who created the SAW series.

8. HANNA redefined the low-fi action movie for me this year. Forget about MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL’s climb on the tallest building in the world (which, honestly, looked like it could have easily been green-screened – not that I’m saying it was); let’s talk about the all-in-one shot of Eric Bana’s chase/fight scene in a Berlin subway station. Then his fight scene in a playground. Then the bookend moments of the movie. Joe Wright crafted a fantastic post-Bourne movie, that managed to entertain (the family touring around and unknowingly harboring Hanna – played by Saoirse Ronan), thrill (part of that is attributed to The Chemical Brothers’ addictive score), and horrify (Cate Blanchett, who I spent the whole movie waiting for her to transform into an actual “Big Bad Wolf”… Which kind of happens.)

7. LIMITLESS was a fun thriller that used its intelligence wisely – though there are still plenty of holes. The zooming images, a Robert De Niro who actually showed up to work, and the fun ambiguity made this a great movie that I’ve now watched numerous times. Otherwise, I’ll admit, this movie shouldn’t really work for me as well as it does. But between, Bradley Cooper’s performance, the artistic rendition of the world when on or off the drug that the movie circles around, and a fun twist that isn’t really that surprising; it’s just a good, entertaining movie.

6. CONTAGION was really affecting while I watched it. I’ll admit that its influence disappeared after just a few overzealous hand-scrubbings. But, while I watched – and obviously it’s still stuck in my head, a little bit – it freaked me the hell out. With an ensemble cast (do I really have to list them?) – that with this subject matter – where no one was safe at all; it had me riveted. There are moments of scientific study, journalistic exploitation of situations, and the  idea of “taking care of our own, over others”. I don’t necessarily know if it surpasses (for me) other films like this – CHILDREN OF MEN and BLINDNESS – but it’s certainly up there with them. And those final moments will turn you off from eating ANYTHING, more than “Fast Food Nation” ever could.

5. CRAZY STUPID LOVE was a surprise. I knew that the screenplay had been pretty favorably been reviewed. I knew that the combination of Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell offered some great comedic conflict. And my two favorite red-heads Julianne Moore and Emma Stone, all made the appeal to this movie unavoidable. Then it actually lived up to all of that. Great comedic moments (love the “photoshop” line). Dramatic moments that never get too over the top, and a couple of subplots that were mercifully not exploited in the trailers and marketing materials.

4. THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU was a revelation to me. I’m a major sucker for “free-will/destiny” kinds of movies. Then you add the amazing skills of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt – not to forget John Slattery getting to stay in his MAD MEN wardrobe – and this one is an instant keeper for me. I loved the way they laid out alternatives, the give and take of following what you see as your free-will and what that can do to other people.

3. JANE EYRE was another surprise. From the trailer, I expected it to be a gothic horror movie. What I got was even better. A gothic drama about love and loss, that was truly horrific. Mia Wasikowska was amazing in this role. Putting the timid, shy, and yet very strong-willed skills she’s shown in all of her roles in this 19th century character. I was amazingly off-balance on where this movie was going to go, from minute to minute. (Guess if I’d read the book…)

2. ATTACK THE BLOCK is weird to place above Jane Eyre, since they’re so diametrically opposite in genre and tone. But, this movie just made my year when I saw it. An alien invasion in a London tenement, where a group of thuggish kids have to defend their neighborhood? I was in. It had all the things I loved (and missed) from the movies of my youth. Kids unattended. Kids placed in real life or death situations. Hilarious commentary running along with the troubles they’re dealing with. It’s GOONIES if they could cuss (more) and were attacked by aliens! I loved it.

1. 13 ASSASSINS was oddly enough, what all the previous had (grotesqueries, violence, passion, vengeance, intelligence, destiny) and then added the amazing – and brilliantly realized – setting of Samurai-era Japan. It was a perfect movie. Just when it seemed it might be getting too wrapped up in strategy, or in the honor of a samurai to die in this manner (the “boring” stuff); we’d cut to a flashback revealing what it was these men were fighting for. And it was brutal, sickening stuff. Then there’s the final hour-long action sequence, followed by the denouement that yeah this is all exciting; unless you actually wind up being a part of it.

None of the movies this year were quite as breath-taking, or disorienting as what I saw as the best movie of last year – ENTER THE VOID, which I might just label as the best movie of this decade – but there were some amazing movies that I got to see. And I’m sure there are some even more fantastic ones I didn’t. There were a number of disappointing ones as well, but I’ll leave others around the internet to give you those lists.

So, here’s to 2011, and now let’s see what kind of trouble we can get into in 2012.

  1. Top notch composition. Sustain up the smart work.

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