Best Films Of 2011 (That I saw)

Here’s my annual year end list of the films I say this year ranked from best to worst.

Melancholia
This film reminded me of Tree of Life in that it leaves you contemplating some of life’s most important mysteries. Films like this are important because they help break the spell of the monotonous everyday distractions from real life. This film is beautiful and the acting is great. It is a draining experience that builds to an epic climax.

The Tree of Life
This movie would have felt drawn out at times if it wasn’t so beautifully shot, and it has such a huge scale that it is understandable that it would feel long. I felt like it could be interpreted in many ways which is sometimes what artists strive for. But I understand that some people feel its ridiculous and pretensions because of the scale.

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Olsen is great as a haunted and strong-willed girl trying to escape the complicated scars from her past 2 years as a member of a cult and Hawkes is great as the leader of the cult. The story is fairly barebones but told in such a way that it I never felt that it dragged and at the end I wanted more.

Drive
This film does a good job at simply establishing a love interest that sets into motion the gory and beautifully stylized ride. The music is great and the acting is good. It wants to be a cult film and it doesn’t say much about anything but is entertaining.

 We Need to Talk About Kevin

“Kevin” is a horror story that is thrilling and disturbing because it could be based on a true story and it seems like it is. Bad child actors can often ruin films for me, but I don’t really have any problems with the kids who portrayed younger Kevin. The acting is pretty great all around especially from Tilda Swinton (no surprise there). The film is well balanced and well paced as it navigates through the current setting and flashbacks and it leads up well to Kevin’s big plan.

 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I hadn’t seen the Tim Burton movie or too much of the tv before seeing this movie and I didn’t have many expectations for it. I was kind of expecting a popcorn movie and for most of the movie to be a big monkey fight but that was only part of it. The main ape, Ceasar is well developed emotionally and visually. It is a popcorn movie but its a well-made popcorn movie.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
I used to be a Harry Potter freak like everybody else but the phenomenon had worn out a couple films ago. I didn’t reread the book before watching the film like I used to do. The movie starts out where the last one left off, like the plot of a videogame  where Harry Ron and Hermione are collecting he magical objects they need to defeat the evil boss Lord Voldemort. The rest of the film does a good job at pacing itself and reaching the crescendo of the series. There are great little moments with the characters portrayed by the awesome British actors that most of the world have been watching for the last decade. Alan Rickman’s performance as Snape is the best part of this film.

Super 8
Super 8 feels a bit like it has two separate parts. The story of a young boy named Joe who meets a girl while shooting a zombie movie with his friends while he and his father are trying to figure out how to cope with the death of his mother and about how it influences their somewhat distant relationship.  The other part of the story is your basic alien invasion in a small town story. It is a little predictable. I really expected this part of the story to be more complicated and have more mysterious puzzle pieces, seeing as it is from the person who brought life to “Lost” and “Star Trek”. Overall I really enjoyed this movie and recommend it.  It is thrilling, has good action, and has a heart.  Full Review

Bridesmaids
Kristen Wiiig was hilarious in this movie. This movie is often compared to the first “Hangover” and I definitely enjoyed it more even though I’m a Zach Galifinakis fan. I think the movie could have been funnier if they did without the formulaic, chick flick, relationship between Wiig and the police officer, but I guess that made it more accessible to both genders. Overall I enjoyed this movie, lots of good laughs.

Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen’s latest is a love letter to Paris and the power of nostalgia. Owen Wilson travels back Paris in the twenties and meets the era’s greatest artists.This is kind of fun at first but it gets kind of silly after a bit. But its a fun and dream-like film.

Mission Impossible IV
This was the first film I have seen of the Mission Impossible franchise. It was probably the most fun I had at the theater this year and I felt that it was worth spending the ten dollars to see it in Imax. Its understandable that there would be some cliche and nearly cheesy moments but they were well handled. The fact that the gadgets that could have easily ruled a movie like this, seemed to malfunction in every mission made the film more believable and more about human triumph.

Uncle Boonme Who can Recount his Past Lives
This is a difficult film to rank because it is quite unlike anything I’ve seen before. It is quite dreamlike in the way it seems to wander but never too far and still maintaining a feeling of purpose. Its quite slow and its quite an experience of a fantasy where spirits live amongst the living in a way that is so matter-of-fact that it seems dull while still keeping your attention.

Submarine
It doesn’t fully plant its few attempts at meta-jokes and the stylistic tendencies seem a bit forced. It has a tone that may not feel unique but the quirky and simple take on coming of age, virginity, and the persistence of love is entertaining and somewhat refreshing.

Hanna
Fairly mindless but quite entertaining. Its fast paced and the fight scenes are well choreographed and they are short and quick. Long fight scenes usually bore me.

Weekend
Through the love interests of the film, Weekend shows two perspectives of the gay community. Its fairly understated and honest and it portrays gay people as actual people.

Winnie the Pooh
Winne the Pooh is fittingly a simple and short film. It is fairly entertaining for an adult audience as well with fun meta-humor and original music from She and Him. It does well at capturing the characters and spirit of the classic franchise for a new generation.

Beginners
This movie was maybe trying to hard to be cute, and a few times it was dead on but a lot of the times it wasn’t. Too much dog dialogue. In the end its not much more then a somewhat unique romantic comedy.

Paul
This movie was pretty funny. It did a good job at playing homage to films in the extraterrestrial vein, and maybe for that reason the plot of the film didn’t feel very new or exciting. Kristen Wiig was probably the funniest part of this movie but her swear jokes were not as funny after a couple go-rounds.

Another Earth
The high-concept sci-fi drama does what most well-made sci-fi films do by not focusing on scientific explanations of going-ons but the way these going-ons effect people. The relationship at the center of the film did not feel real to me and I think that may be more due to the writing and pacing of the film then the acting.

Cars 2
I don’t really remember most of this movie for some reason. Cars was my least favorite Pixar film and Cars 2 was a bit worse. It was just  generic spy movie with a forced eco-friendly message with humor that was mostly corny and delivered by Larry the Cable Guy. This movie doesn’t lower my faith in Pixar “Brave” should be good.

The Trip

This film is sometimes quite funny but also sometimes feels like a waste of time. The random ranting could be funnier and the impressions get old fast as I think think they are meant to. I’m normally a fan of dry satirical comedy but The Trip just didnt do it for me sometimes. Its fairly entertaining though and has some heart.

Source Code
This movie was enjoyable if you ignored their attempt at “science”, their reasoning for why things worked, and the fact that most of the film was the same scene being revisited. They made this movie more entertaining then “Vantage Point” which isn’t saying a whole lot, but I didn’t get as bored by revisiting the same scene over and over. The acting was alright. I feel like the story and writing needed some work.

Captain America
A movie full of lame short jokes and endless action scenes.This movie takes place during world war II but the weapons are just as, if not more, advanced then the technology of today. The supervillan is literally an evil Nazi demon who is trying to destroy the world with an evil death ray, come on now, really? I’m glad “The Avengers” is coming out soon so they can stop making these movies.

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To Be Released in 2010: Movies

Here is a list of some of the movies I am most looking forward to this year.

February 19: Shutter Island

I’m not really into scary movies because I am a bit of a whimp, but this movie just looks good. The idea of a Martian Scorsese horror/suspense film interests me.

March 5: Alice in Wonderland

The old animated Disney “Alice and Wonderland” does not hold up very well, I feel a remake was necessary and this rendition is supposed to be more faithful to the book. Also, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton are awesome.

April 9: Date Night

I don’t really like that a Nickleback song is used in that trailer, but it still looks funny. I mean Steve Carell and Tina Fey are in it, together, and they are married to each other, come on!

April 16: Kick-Ass

Based on the red band trailer it looks like this movie could be quite gory, but it also looks really fun. I have not been a fan of Nicholas Cage recently, but he was alright in “Matchstick Men” and “Adaptation”, and judging by the few seconds he is in the red band trailer, it looks like he may be bearable in this film.

June 18: Toy Story 3

Pixar is awesome, Toy Story is classic, and Toy Story 2 was pretty good also. Its good that the whole voice cast is coming back and it should be cool to see new characters in the third installment.

July 16: Inception

All that I have heard about the plot of this movie is that it is a thriller that takes place in the architecture of the mind. I have no clue what that is supposed to mean, and that makes me want to see this movie. Christopher Nolan has not directed many movies yet, but he is one of my favorites. I hope “Inception” is as confusing as “Memento” and “The Prestige”. I love the Hans Zimmer music in this trailer.

November 19: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

I have been a Harry potter fan for a while. I feel that David Yates did well at girecting the last two book adaptaions. I feel that Half-Blood Prince was probably the best done Harry Potter Movie. The Deathly Hallows was one of my favorite books of the series I love how different it s from the others.

Dec 17 Tron Legacy

I have not seen the original Tron, but I sure I will be able to follow this movie anyway. It looks like it will be a good, old, fun, summertime blockbuster.

Best and Worst Movies of 2009 (That I Saw)

The Best

1. Star Trek

I am not a fan of the old Star Trek. I’ve tried watching the old show a couple of times. But, this Star Trek was directed by J. J. Abrams. That would explain the complicated storyline, which is not common in many mainstream, big-budget movies. Another thing that Star Trek has that the Tranformers and GI Joes don’t have is character development. J. J. Abrams knows that it is important to be invested in the characters, because otherwise you won’t really care what happens to them. The only low point in the movie is the villan, but since the focus is more on introducing the character it doesn’t matter that much and it leaves room for improvement in the sequel. This movie was written by the writers of Lost, directed by the creator of Lost, and the music was even composed by Michael Giacchino, so of course it was awesome.

2. District 9

I feel that the marketing for this movie was well done. It was a viral campaign and not much was revealed about the plot in trailers. This gave the movie an unpredictable feel. I would not usually say something like this about a movie, but the guns were really cool and it had one of the best robot fights in any movie I saw this year. Director, Neill Blomkamp and actor, Sharlto Copley both did a great job in their first big movie.

3. Avatar

In “Avatar”, James Cameron has created a beautiful world with cool glowing, floating things, crazy hyena-like creatures, and glowing plants. This movie has themes of imperialism, and it involves a lot of action, a story of forbidden love, and its also funny sometimes. Read my full review of Avatar here.

4. Up

Pixar has not made a bad movie yet and Up is no exception. I admit that the first couple of minutes were quite sad I may have even teared up a little bit, maybe. I did not care for the dogs flying mini-planes or they squeaky voice collar, and the scene where the dogs are actually playing poker, usually Pixar would not pull cutesy tricks like that but I can look over that for this movie.

5. Inglorious Bastards

There were not a lot of gory parts in this movie, but the parts that are gory are quite gory. I was more disturbed by the way some of the members of the audience reacted during these gory scenes. I feel when you see someone get their head banged in with a baseball bat or when you see someone get scalped you should probably feel a bit uneasy and you probably would not cheer when something like this happens, but anyways… Quentin Tarantino does a good job at building up the tensions to a climax cyclically, throughout this movie. He does this mostly through scenes with intense dialogue and actually I feel that the music used is really helpful in that as well.

6. Adventureland

Adventureland looks like what some people would call “another teen movie” but it’s not. Its more of a fun love story. After watching this movie, I almost wanted to watch “Twilight” to see Kristen Stewart again. She and Jesse Eisenberg are pretty good in this movie. Even though Jesse’s character is very much like one Micheal Cera would play. Martin Star, Bill Hader , and Kristen Wiig are all quite funny as the other workers at Adventureland. The film does a good job at capturing the feeling of a dull summer in the 80’s (or so I’d assume) and it has a good 80’s soundtrack.

7. Fantastic Mr. Fox

After going with a couple of my friends to see this movie a second time, I noticed that many people did not catch the subtle and simple humor of “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. I feel this movie is probably enjoyed more by Wes Anderson fans then by children. But, I feel that this movie has a very simple and cheerful feel to it. And, the stop-animation is a feast for the eyes. Here is my full review of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” if your interested.

8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I felt that this was the first Harry Potter movie that was actually funny, mostly because of the awkward moments between the characters. I know a lot of people were complaining about the way they dealt with the death scene at the end, but I like the way that it was done. I usually make a big deal about the differences between the movie and the book, but I finally got over that with this one. The big difference in the movie was the attack on the Burrow that wasn’t in the book, which is kind of weird because Bill and Fleur’s wedding is there in the 7th book. But, I think this was the best adaptation of a Harry Potter book, yet.

9. Coraline

To borrow the word that my cousin used to describe Coraline, it is whimsical. Its also quite trippy and dark for what is considered a children’s movie. I mean, come on, she goes to a parallel universe where people have buttons for eyes and that spider-lady is pretty creepy, admit it. I saw this movie in the theaters and it had the best 3-D I have ever seen. And, you know it was one of those stop-motion movies, so it took a really long time to make and stuff, and it looks really cool.

10. Where the Wild Things Are

One of the things that I felt really made this movie stand out was the soundtrack by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. It gave it a very tribal feel.This movie was so different from any other movie that I had ever seen that I did not know what to think about it at first. There were a lot of things that happened in this film that I found to be kind of strange. Like, when Carol pulled Douglas’ arm off and sand fell out of the wound.  But, I have learned to appreciated the absurdity of “Where the Wild Things Are”.

11. Funny People

Funny People is partially a life and death drama but its also very funny and kind of raunchy. There are a lot of jokes about a certain male body part. Leslie Mann is great in this movie, she just seems so sweet and vulnerable. And I have to mention that Aziz Ansari is hilarious, even though he has a small part.

12. Observe and Report

Observe and Report does well at doing the comedy-action thing. And the random and unpredictable feel of this movie makes it interesting to watch. Its kind of dark, kind of sick, but its also pretty funny.

13. Paranormal Activity

I liked that the way the director, Oren Peli, built up the tension in this movie. He seems to believe in the idea that less is more. This movie would not be any good if it had poor lead actors, but the fresh new faces, Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat, did a great job at pulling through. If you are interested here is my full review on “Paranormal Activity”.

14. Watchmen

This is the part of my list where I began wondering if these movies should go at the end of my best list or my worst list. I felt that this movie was more gory then it had to be. (In one scene a man gets his arms chainsawed off, in another someone gets hit so hard that we see their bones come out of their arm.) The matrix style fighting did not seem to make sense. There is a sex scene that shows way more then they needed to. I also found it ridiculous that they played the song “Hallelujah” during this scene. I thought that one scene that was done well in this movie and that was when Dr. Manhattan and Sally are on Mars. However,  I feel that overall the movie was pretty faithful to the graphic novel.

15. Public Enemies

Not to my surprise, Johnny Depp did a great job performing in this movie. Cotillard is mesmerising. Christian Bale’s performance was less the brilliant though.  I have to mention that Emilie de Ravin (Claire Littleton from “Lost”) was in this movie for a very small part. Some parts seemed to drag on a bit in this movie, but it has good action scenes and a love story at the center.

16. Angels and Demons

I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. I liked it better than “The Davinci Code”, which I think may have been because I did not read “Angels and Demons” before watching it. This movie is pretty much a basic mystery/action movie, it doesn’t really do anything else very well, but the ending was surprising and it was a fairly entertaining film.

The Worst

1. The Soloist

This movie is probably the most boring movie I have ever seen, I don’t even wanna write about it. I don’t know if I like Robert Downey Jr. he recently said this about himself: “I’m f–king really good at what I do—and have been for a long time, so I don’t waver on that,”(Source: E online) and in an interview with moviehole.com he complains about the Dark Knight being “so high brow and so f–king smart, I clearly need a college education to understand [it]” and he goes on to say “F-ck DC comics.” He just seems kind of stuck-up and rude to me but, you know, he might be a good guy or something. Anywho, this movie is fraking boring, don’t watch it.

2. Terminator Salvation

I thought Terminator Salvation would be a good movie. I like movies involving timetravel…usually. I thought that there would be more focus on Marcus being half human and half robot and for the movie to hit on themes like Battlestar Galactica and the whole debate about what makes humans, humans. There wasn’t much of that though, there were a lot of giant robots and stuff instead. Yeah, sure, giant robot battles are kind of cool but I’m tired of them and I’m tired of them being meaningless.

3. Transformers 2

Speaking of meaningless robot battles. This is Robert Downey Jr.’s kind of movie, no thinking involved at all. There are bad robots and there are good robots and they fight, for two and a half longs hours. Yeah, the bad robots are back because…well…magic! and how else would there be a sequel? The last scene is so drawn out and the whole thing where the main character goes to robot heaven and comes back to life is ridiculous.

4. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

I didn’t have high expectations for this film and it lived up to my low expectations. Rachel McAdams is the only good thing about the sequel. Night at the Museum 2 just seems like another kids movie utilizing slapstick humor and other cutesy tricks.

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