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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