A Different Type of 10-List
Instead of doing a “Top 10” list for 2011 movies, I decided to make a list that better incorporated all of the movies I saw this year and not just the new ones. I will of course be excited to see Oscar nomination lists when they come out and all that jazz, but for now, here’s my personal 10 list:
Best 2011 Movie: Not sure yet / Super 8
This one is hard to call because there are a handful of 2011 releases (Tinker Tailor, Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, etc.) that I haven’t seen yet, but plan to soon. All of them also have a fair chance at being the best movie of 2011, both from a personal perspective and in the eyes of the academy. So while it may not be my final call, I will say Super 8 wins my heart from the movies I have seen. There really is all the elements needed for a great movie. It has heart, comedy, an alien, heck if it had been shot in England it would have a chance to win the Oscar! The best part about it to me (which apparently is what makes some people criticize it) is how much it feels like a Stand By Me or E.T.. I literally couldn’t name you any of the people in this movie off the top of my head, but it doesn’t matter! The main stars, the children, are great in their roles. Are they completely believable? Probably not, but no child in real life acts like children do in movies. I’ve seen tons of kids, I really wouldn’t want to watch a movie about actual kids doing what they actually do. Unless it was a documentary, but that’s a whole other story. Super 8 might not shine necessarily for being original in its concepts (although it’s not a complete rip off of anything) but it didn’t fail or disappoint me in any way, and kept me watching throughout. That deserves at least a nod in my book.
Best Non-New Movie: Adventureland
I re-watched 15 movies this year and most of them with good reason. They’re movies that are fun to watch or are just so good that sometimes you really need to watch that certain type of movie depending on your mood. This year, the cake goes to Adventureland. It is one of those movies that really does fit a mood with its plot, characters and overall message about life. Also, it’s not actually related to Zombieland, but the two together would make a great double feature.
Best New Movie To Me: The Nines
Ryan Reynolds and existentialism. Perfect combination if you ask me. In my attempt to keep all these blurbs spoiler free I won’t get into the details, but this finely crafted film doesn’t baby along the audience through its sometimes confusing moments, but still gives you a satisfactory conclusion.
Best Children’s / Animated Movie: How To Train Your Dragon
Looking back over the year I actually watched a lot of animated movies. Throw in the couple of live action/muppets and the total of children’s movies I saw is 15. I really do love animated movies. It’s knowing that the creators had to come up with something entertaining for kids, but if done right, should also be entertaining to adults. That can make movies a great combination of heart and laughter, fear and courage, darkness but knowing there will be light. While I contemplated limiting this list to only the 2011 releases, I couldn’t overlook How To Train Your Dragon. I know that Toy Story 3 won the Oscar last year, and there’s no doubt it did exactly what I described an animated movie should strive to do. Coupled with it being you know, TOY STORY 3, there really was no way it could lose. But I decided to watch its main competitors this year, and while Despicable Me was hilarious, How To Train Your Dragon had all those elements in a more unique and original idea.
New Instant Cult Classic: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
So I had been told I would love Scott Pilgrim. I even had advance screening passes for when it was out in theatres, but never made it to the movie. Queued up in my Netflix, I figured I would just wait until whenever it came out and then watch it by myself. That’s when the obsession began. I will admit it is not the best movie on any account that I can think of, but its references, styles, characters, writing, etc., made this one of those movies to just sit down and watch every once in a while. Of course, I took it to the next level and watched this movie at least 10 times this year. Even bought it on blu-ray, which I can’t remember the last time I did that. I would say to watch this movie at least once but I have a feeling it doesn’t come off so well under one viewing. So everyone, see it at least twice.
Movie That Went Beyond My Expectations: 50/50
This one is straight to the point: I wasn’t really expecting much when I went to see 50/50. Wasn’t even sure what the movie was about. So glad I saw it though. Powerful movie, great acting, and it didn’t try to be “bigger than life” like it very well could have. Very down to earth movie about real situations. I’ll also remember that I was in the theatre watching this when Steve Jobs passed away, and came home to find out the news and couldn’t help but notice the coincidence.
Movie That Let Me Down: Green Lantern
The only negative spot on my 10 list. I contemplated choosing Melancholia, but realised that the movie didn’t let me down, because I never had any real expectations of it to begin. Green Lantern is another story. I don’t particularly like DC comic characters, but I was looking forward to seeing what they brought to the table next. The 21st century has been the battle of super-hero movies. It began with X-Men, Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Hulk for Marvel, which although they were corny in their own rights (or just bad), they were definitely a step up from the past generations of super-hero movies in presentation. Then DC struck back with a Batman that did an almost complete 180 from the Tim Burton era. Nolan’s Batman was real, was dark, and wasn’t confused about whether it should be for adults or for children. Not only did Nolan call all of the Marvel movies with only one, he raised the stakes. Marvel then came back with a slew of sequels, some disappointing and some not, but Nolan looked to blow them all away with his Batman sequel. But then Marvel found its mark in Iron Man, which combined seriousness with the fun attitude of its main character. It also pulled out the card of The Avengers and took place to set up its knock out move to Batman. What could DC do?
So in came the Green Lantern. A lot of people had high hopes for this movie, considering how the stakes were ever rising in the super-hero bids. It starred Ryan Reynolds, which made it seem even more amazing (Reynolds is a star of 2 other movies on this list), and a stellar voice-acting cast to boot. Alas, it fell back into that jumbled group of super-hero movies that didn’t understand what its audience was supposed to be, and just came off as corny and not very engaging.
Actor I’m Looking Forward To Seeing More: Michael Fassbender/ Ryan Gosling
This category comes in as a tie because they both caught my eye in different ways. They both also had breakout years. Gosling I’ve kept my eye on for a while now: he was in Remember The Titans and (one of my favorites) Stay. He was a fine kid, up and comer, and now he has reached that destination. Between a romantic comedy, a crime thriller, and a political drama, Gosling has so many faces while staying such the same guy that it’s a beautiful thing. Michael Fassbender is more the traditional ideal, as in someone I hadn’t really seen before. He had important, although not huge, roles in 300 and Inglourious Basterds, but otherwise he wasn’t a name or a face that readily came to mind. Fassbender also had a huge breakout year with four new movies, two of which I’ve seen and the other two are on my “to see” list. With two more movies scheduled to come out in 2012, here’s to hoping he becomes a household name.
Actress I’m Looking Forward To Seeing More: Carey Mulligan
If you had said the name “Carey Mulligan” to me I would have replied “Who?” Actually, ask me again in about a week and I’ll probably say the same thing. She’s actually been in more movies than I realised, but like a lot of actresses, I don’t usually plan out my movie tastes around what they’re in (although there are of course some great exceptions to that). Mulligan starred alongside Gosling in Drive and both put in amazing performances. So much that I now want to see what else she’s capable of. I’ll probably Netflix a few of her older films, go see her in Shame (which also includes Fassbender), and anticipate her role in The Great Gatsby coming out in 2012. Hopefully in a year from now, maybe her name will be on the posters with DiCaprio.
Best Performance: Brendan Gleeson – The Guard
Most of the times when I’m watching a movie, I know I’m watching a movie. Likewise, I feel like most of the time actors know that they are actors in a movie. It’s quite reasonable: a movie is supposed to tell a story and deliver a message. You don’t necessarily need completely life-like characters in order to do this. Once in a while though I see performances where I truly feel an actor owns a role, to a point where it wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t actually acting. Brendan Gleeson plays Gerry Boyle in The Guard, and his depiction is so candid and realistic, if it wasn’t for the other actors in the movie I would have believed that it really was about an Irish cop and Gleeson was him. I also have to say that Gleeson does a fantastic job overall at all the parts he plays. He’s one of the few characters in Harry Potter I enjoy, because I could actually see Gleeson as Mad Eye Moody. When he play Ken in In Bruges, I actually believe he could be Ken. I could go on forever considering his extensive filmography, but I won’t.
Of all the 2011 movies you probably didn’t see, I recommend watching The Guard. Once you’re pass the heavy accents, you’ll be glad you gave it a watch.