Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Best/Worst of Movies: 2011 Edition!

Greetings to the few readers who still stick around and check out what I have to say about things. (And the spambots who enjoy it too!) Another year has come and gone, and a crap-load of movies have been released upon us. Due to a poor career choice in the middle of year that left me uninvited to free movie screenings and making 150 phone calls a day telemarketing trying to sell people insurance in this terrible economy, my film viewings have been limited to a scant 45 movies!

Yes, I realize that's still a ridiculously large number, but coming from someone who's used to seeing well over 140 in a year, that's a crying shame.

But I love watching movies, and of the ones that I saw, these are how I felt about them. I won't get too much into specifics, as I probably did earlier on most of the flicks at some point or another throughout the year.

Here I present to you my picks for the best and worst of the year. Sadly, this year brought us nothing as groundbreaking as Piranha 3D, or Rambo, but it was a relatively strong year for solid flicks, if not altogether mind blowing cinema. As always, I'm up for suggestions regarding flicks I missed. (I included the list of things I haven't seen, but want to. Not to be confused with the list of movies that looked just too retarded for me to actually sit through… Twilight Breaking Dawn, I'm looking your way).

Still, from what I've seen, I give you my picks for my favorite movies of the year, with some justification for my picks.

(er... twelve)

Super 8
Loved this movie to death. I realize the flaws, and I completely understand anyone's argument against the film, but that doesn't change the fact that I unabashedly heart this flick, and have continued to do so since first seeing it back in June. Nothing's lived up to it yet.

This movie is just balls to the wall cool. It's spawned endless quotations and playings of the soundtrack in my household. Just badass from frame one, and I can even overlook the fact that Carey Mulligan's character would NEVER send her car that was broken down in Echo Park to a repair shop deep in the heart of the valley. The Tow truck alone would cost more than the repairs! Still, Worthy of the praise and hype.

The Descendants
Clooney's the man, I've made no secret about my unabashed worship. Put him in an Alexander Payne movie, and you have a terrifically acted and incredibly moving portrait of a man trying to hold his family together in a time of crisis. That also takes place in Hawaii. Well done, and worthy of every award it will be passed over for due to it's subtle and understated nature.

Win Win

Pretty much the same description of Descendants can be used for this movie. Though not quite as outstanding as director Thomas McCarthy's previous films, this film still has me smiling 10 months after it's release.

For the scene where Simon Pegg and Nick Frost walk into the redneck bar and the band is playing a country western version of the cantina band music from Star Wars alone. Brilliant sci-fi nerd love fest.

This movie was just utterly delightful. Enchanting, magical, and a must see for anybody who claims they like cinema. Naysayers be damned, this was a fun and charming flick, and the more I think about it, the higher up on the list it will climb. (I just saw it on Monday)

At first, I was a little bummed that it wasn't as Wes Anderson-y as I expected it to be. But then I realized it was it's own thing, and that thing is great. A very understated gem that needs to be sought out and loved.

Attack The Block
Again, upon first viewing, there was a bit of underwhelming involved, especially given the fanboy hype that most likely cost it even mild box office success. (Seriously, stop with the free screenings for the fanboys, they're the only ones who go and never see it when the film is actually released). But this John Carpenter-80s Chris Colombus hybrid grew on me and my opinion, and I realize that it really is pretty kick ass flick, with a badass score to match.

Source Code
Duncan Jones makes the greatest feature length Outer Limits episodes. I'll watch anything the guy does, because he does it with style, flair, and respect for an audience's intelligence. Sure, the movie is Deja Vu (all over again! HA!), but it's told with such confidence and weirdness that it works on it's own level. Even if the ending makes zero sense whatsoever.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

There's a character named Donkey Wang. That's just the beginning of the amazingness that is this movie.

Young Adult
This last spot was a tough one. I just saw this flick, and it's the freshest in my mind, but I really dug it. All the performances are terrific, from Theron as the heartless bitch main character to Patton Oswalt as the.. well, the Oswalt. The writing from my girl Diablo Cody was surprising and fresh, and those that hated Juno can put down their loathing, as it contains none of the hip slang, but all of the heart and wit. It's also dark as fuck, which is what elevated it above Rise of the Planet Of The Apes.

Alright, so there's 12 on this top ten, but this movie, the more I think about it, is really badass. More so than X-Men and Thor. It's got a great sense of pacing, fun and excitement. The set pieces are terrific, the writing is top notch, and the actors chemistry is superb. Frankly, it's the best one of the series, and a helluva fun time at the movies. 

THE ALSO QUITE GOOD (in No Order Whatsoever)

Adjustment Bureau, The Mechanic, Cedar Rapids, Super, Hanna, Fast FIve, Thor, Hobo WIth A Shotgun, Bridesmaids, Make Believe, X-Men: First Class, Bad Teacher, Harry Potter 7.2, Captain America, Our Idiot Brother, Rum Diary, Rise of the Planet of the Apes


These movies brought me pain and wasted time that I will never get back. No matter how many blows to the head or bottles of whiskey I may encounter in my days.  There wasn't a full on ten, which I attribute to my ability to choose only movies I genuinely wanted to see and not waste time with the garbage.

Drive Angry Shot in 3-Crap

This movie was BULLSHIT! It's like the director had a coked out fever dream and caught Shoot Em Up on cable, but forgot about it and thought that this movie would be a good idea. Even writing about this movie angers me.

Season of the Witch

Nic Cage! 2 for 2! This movie at least had the benefit of being heavily edited for the PG13 to make up for the fact that it's terrible. However, it should be noted that both these flicks make for excellent listening on the "How Did This Get Made" podcast, which you should listen to if you don't already.

Sucker Punch
I wanted to like it. I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt, and read alternate readings into what Snyder was trying to do. But in the end, this movie was just garbage. Very cool looking garbage, but it was some bizarre video game/pin up girl/anime/wet dream hybrid that everyone should've just walked away from. Or at least had a few more meetings about before production started.

Transforming Robots Nonsense

To all those internet critics who stated that this was light years better than the last one, and that the last hour was spectacular filmmaking, all I have to say is this: FUCK YOU! It still made absolutely no sense, and was a rape of the senses. And of good taste. Even the siege of Chicago, which granted had some cool moments, made absolutely no sense and was should've stopped after 20 minutes.

The Roommate

Let's take Single White Female and remake it for the Gossip Girl era, but take out all the subtlety and suspense but instead feature ridiculously named actresses who speak in obscenely high pitched voices. Also, let's not have any nudity in it. Way to go, jerks. However, bonus points for having Billy Zane. Actually, this and the next movie were at least entertainingly awful, which is a plus.

Let's take that 10 minute desert sequence from Judge Dredd, cross it with Underworld and Blade Runner, wash it under a waterfall of stupid, and voila! I did enjoy how stupid this movie would continue to plummet, but it does have some genuinely great production design and a FANTASTIC (no sarcasm needed) Karl Urban performance.


Sadly, there were a lot more of these than of the truly bad movies. These were movies that were either boring, stupid, or nowhere near offensive enough to be considered terrible, but also weren't a complete waste of time. Mostly.

Red State
Usually, I'm a staunch Kevin Smith supporter, and while I applaud him for branching out and finally trying something new (especially with his method of distribution) doesn't change the fact that I didn't care for the flick that much. Nothing terrible about it (in fact, the siege on the compound is some genuinely great filmmaking) he's just too in love with his own writing sometimes. And what the hell is up with the "Psycho" ending, just having a character explain everything? I know you ran out of money, but still, sir, that's just lazy.

Green Hornet

Literally fifteen minutes after watching this movie, I had no idea what happened in the movie. But I remember not hating it.

This actually is 3/4 of a badass flick that gets ruined the second they explain everything and turn Neeson into an ass kicking machine. (Although, that stuff is great too, but it felt generic when compared to everything else that happened before). Also, STOP LETTING JANUARY JONES BE IN MOVIES! (see X-Men First Class also for more proof of this argument)

Battle: Los Angeles

It actually got better as it went along, but for fuck's sake by a tripod! Enough with shaky cam when it's not in a combat scene, especially when you're trying to differentiate the generic alien fodder soldiers that populate the flick. Still, there's some good in it, mostly involving fighting aliens in city streets. (Which reminds me, it really should be called Battle: Santa Monica).

Troll Hunter
Great premise, awesome special effects, but what a boring execution. The main problem I have is the found footage/fake documentary approach. The troll hunter himself is such a badass character that it should have been done straight up narrative. Still, the scene in the ace is pretty cool.

Green Lantern

Another great "How Did This Get Made" flick. Nothing much made any sense, but at least it was different in an extremely bizarre sort of way. Made me wish I still watched movies under the influence.

30 Minutes or Less
This one is an anomaly, because I enjoyed the hell out of the trailer and was shocked to discover that the trailer was pretty much the movie. Almost beat for beat. Like, no surprises or hilarious scenes beyond everything seen. Pretty astounding. And while it's not necessarily bad, there wasn't anything left for me to really enjoy. Weird.

Killer Elite
This one should've been amazing. Statham! Owen with a mustache! DeNiro! Guns! Espionage! Scorpions on the soundtrack! But it turned into low rent Munich, and while that turns out to be a neat idea, it's not the awesome movie this should've been. Also, one of the slowest 100 minutes of film I've seen in a long time.

Tower Heist
Still haven't seen the rest of it, but probably don't really need to. I have no beef with Ratner as a filmmaker that most fanboys do, but this is really one of the laziest directed films I've seen in awhile.

Yeah, there's a scene where a guy in a barbed wire minotaur helmet smashes a dude in the junk with an enormous mallet because Mickey Rourke wanted the guy to know he will never have a kid to know what a traitor his father is. And there is a naked Frieda Pinto. (or body double). But every other money shot was in the trailer, leaving a gorgeous but vapid 300 wanabe.


Your Highness
Really stupid, but I chuckled more than I should, right from the beginning when McBride gets hung at the midget gallows. Plus, really appreciated the 80s fantasy films specificity. David Gordon Green is a fascinating director these days. I want him to go back to Snow Angles level films, but as long as he remains weird, I'm on board.

Friends With Benefits
The more I think about the editing in this movie, the more it bothers me. There's a lot about this movie that's easy to hate, but the chemistry between the two leads is so damn charming, it put a smile on my face. Also, it took me away from insurance business for 2 hours, which is alright by me.

Cowboys and Aliens
Well, I saw the first half on an airplane, then hit wicked turbulence, so I never got to finish it, much to my dismay, but most movies I watch on an airplane get a pass because they take my mind off the fact that I'm in an airplane. Hence my love for G-Force).

Cold Weather, Ip Man 2, Ong Bak 3, The Eagle, Gnomeo and Juliet, Vanishing on 7th Street, Hall Pass, Rango, I Saw The Devil, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Black Death, Electra Luxx, Kill The Irishman, Limitless, Lincoln Lawyer, Bill Cunningham New York, Peep World, Insidious, Rubber, Arthur, Meeks Cutoff, Henrys Crime, Evil Bong 3D,Conspirator, Atlas Shrugged, Legend of the Fist, Stakeland, Dylan Dog, 13 Assassins, Prom,  Cave of Forgotten Dreams, The Beaver, Everything Must Go, Hesher, Skateland, Pirates 4, Midnight In Paris, HAngover 2, Tree of Life, Beginners, The Trip, Cars 2, Larry Crowne, Terri, Perfect Host, Horrible Bosses, Zookeeper, Smurfs, Project Nim, Sleeping Beauty, Winnie The Pooh, Salvation Blvd, London Blvd, Another Earth,  Crazy Stupid Love, Devils Double, The Future, The Guard, Point Blank, Life In A Day, Bellflower, ChangeUp, Final Destination 5, The HElp, Conan, Fright Night, Last Circus, Colombiana, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Apollo 18, Shark Night 3D, The Debt A Good Old Fashion Orgy, Shut Up Little Man, Gainsbourg a Heroic Life, Contagion, Warrior, Burke and Hare, Straw Dogs, Moneyball, Pearl Jam 20, 50/50, Whats Your Number, Magaret, Take Shelter, Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, Ides of March, Real Steel, Human Centipede 2, The Way, The Thing, Big Year, Footloose, Texas Killing Fields, Trespass, Johnny English Reborn, Three Musketers, Paranormal Activity 3, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Being Elmo, In Time, Like Crazy, Very Harold and Kumar Xmas, 11-11-11. Elite Squad, J Edgar, Melancholia, Another Happy Day, Muppets, Arthur Christmas, Artist, Shame, Dangerous Method, Tyrannosaur, Rampart, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,  We Need To Talk about Kevin, Sherlock Holmes, Carnage, TinTin, The American Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, War Horse, We Bought a Zoo, Darkest Hour

Just Go With It, Justin Bieber Never Say Never, Bucky Larson, Jack and Jill, I Don't Know How She Does It, Abduction, New Years Eve, The Sitter, I Melt WIth You, WE, Twilight: Bullshit


Michelle said...

I have a lot of movies to catch up with you... I did see 'Another Earth' - best scene is with a guy playing music on a saw - how many movies have that?! This is the music from this scene on the composer's website http://www.scottmunsonmusic.com/news/music-in-film-another-earth-soundtrack

R.BillMountain said...

I have seen 35 of the pictures you have! I saw 40 of those you didn't!See I Saw The Devil RIGHT NOW, you won't like it, you'll LOVE it. The other best pics of the year, in no particular order: Meek's Cutoff, 13 Assassins, Of Gods and Men, Take Shelter, Cell 211. Dude, what is best in life? Forget that crushing enemies nonsense, watch more movies!