Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 Movies of 2011

I made a list of my favorite movies from 2011! My criteria is pretty broad, and I tried to include movies from a wide range of genres. The movies all had to have one thing in common: rewatchability. There is a place for movies that no one would ever want to watch a second time despite their critical acclaim, but this list is not that place.

I'm sure I've made some glaring omissions, and there are many great movies that I simply did not see, but all in all I'm happy with my list. Here are my top ten of movies from 2011 (in no particular order). Happy movie watching!

50/50 (drama, comedy, bromance). You may remember me talking about this movie endlessly, saying things like, "Drop what you are doing, and go see this movie!" I stand by that statement. This movie stars Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's about a guy who gets diagnosed with a type of cancer that has a 50% survival rate, and how he and his best friend deal with that reality. Next to Bridesmaids, this is the funniest movie I've seen all year. That said, I also sobbed more during this film than in any movie since the Lion King (Mufasa dying hit my 12 year old self pretty hard). I saw it twice in the theater (high praise). Although I did not put these movies in any order, if I had to pick my #1, this would be it. Hands down. So, again I say: drop what you are doing, and go see this movie.

Friends with Benefits (romantic comedy). Yes, I will give you that this movie is a predictable romantic comedy, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There is a comfort in the rom-com formula, and sometimes you want that comfort. This movie is the best out of the newly popular "friends with benefits fall in love" sub-genre of romantic comedies, and it's just generally the best romantic comedy I've seen in ages. Rom-coms have gotten lazy. Just because they have a predictable formula does not mean that things like on screen chemistry, good comedy, and a great "I love you moment" should be done half-assedly. And yet one need look no further than Something Borrowed or How Do You Know to see that this shoddy craftsmanship has become the norm. Not so with this movie. I laughed often, and I really wanted the two main characters to find each other. I was not disappointed.

Win Win (drama). Back when we were podcasting, my cohorts and I reviewed this movie here. I loved this movie, as has everyone I know that's seen it. The movie is about a down on his luck wrestling coach who finds himself looking after a down on his luck kid, who happens to be an amazing wrestler. They bond, and both their lives are better for it. While from that synopsis alone, you would have to drag me to see this movie, it was actually amazing. It manages to be heartwarming, but not cheesy in the slightest. It stars Paul Giamani as the lead. Listen to the podcast. See the movie. DO IT!

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (action): This is by far the best of all the Mission Impossible movies. Adjectives I would use to describe this movie include: funny, suspenseful, surprising, entertaining, cheese-free, and heart pounding. Some of you may remember my eye roll inducing attempt to rewatch MI:2, and I have to say I was a little leery of the 4th installment after that debacle, but this was amazingly entertaining. I can honestly say, I hope there is a 5th!

Super 8 (drama, suspense, monster, family friendly): This movie stars a bunch of kids, a monster, and Kyle Chandler. The kids in the film are amerature film-makers, something I can identify with as this was the number one hobby of my brother and his friends growing up, While the kids film a scene in their movie, a train crashes and a monster is released. The rest of the town is evacuated, and the kids (of course) are the only ones who know the about the monster, and they set out to find out what's going on. While the plot seems silly, the acting (superb) and visual effects , as well as directing, make the movie one of the best of the year. I actually think my ol' movie reviewing buddy Pete reviews the movie perfectly here.

Bridesmaids (comedy): I saw this movie twice in the theater, and happily would have paid to see it a third time. Although I've complained that raunchy humour has all but completely pushed good-clean comedy from the movie reels, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it when done right. This movie did everything right: it was both ridiculously (and sometimes disgustingly) hilarious, but it also had heart, and the characters, while exaggerated, felt like real people. I could identify with the main character, as I imagine just about any woman whose best friend got married before her might. while I cringed at many of her choices I could also see some of that stuff happening to me, which made it all funnier. Additionally, it was nice to see a "chic-flic" with some balls ovaries, and refreshing to see a movie focused on a female lead (Kristen Wiig) who was not on a mission to find love.

Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen movie): I picked this movie mostly because the cinematography was gorgeous. No movie has ever made me want to go to Paris as badly as this one did, and I started planning a trip before the end credits rolled. The movie is basically about a writer who is on a trip to Paris with his horrible fiance & her parents. At midnight, Paris is somehow transformed to 1920's, and the writer is able to hob-knob with literary & musical greats, as well as influential artists, and in doing so he learns a thing or two. I have to admit, I love this time period, which may have a large part in why I loved this movie. It was magical, humourous, thought-considering, and all in all enjoyable. If you are going to watch a Woody Allen movie, watch this one.

Crazy Stupid Love (dramedy, romantic, bromance): I guess this movie is about family, friendship, and finding that special someone. Barf! No really, it's good. Cal's (Steve Carell) wife (Julianne Moore) asks him for a divorce at the start of the movie. Depressed, he starts hanging out in a bar where he meets the sexy Jacob (Ryan Gossling) who kind of takes him under his wing and helps him get his grove back. Meanwhile, Jacob meets Hannah (Emma Stone), and falls in love. So, the movie has elements of romance & family, and is both funny and dramatic, but in the end, I really classify this movie as a bromance between Cal and Jacob. Their relationship is what drives the movie, and their relationship is the one you are most invested in. I loved everything about this movie. EVERYTHING. I can't say one negative thing about it. Sexy people, love, romance, and a few laughs. Great movie.

X-Men: First Class (fantasy, action/adventure): I believe the word I used to describe how I felt during this movie was "rivited." I was. This movie was absolutely gorgeous to watch. I loved the sense of time created by the colors used in the film. The movie was also smart. It was not just another X-Men movie; it had much more depth and was much more interesting (as is often the case with orgin stories). The action scenes were both beautful and intense. I just loved this movie. My only complaint (and I have to say it) was January Jones' pathetic acting in the movie. Not since Andie McDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral, has any one actor's performance done as much to ruin a movie. Ugh..she was dreadful, but if you can look past that, then you should be able to enjoy this movie.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts I&II (fantasy, action/adventure, family): I put both of these movies together because they are the same book, so really they are the same movie. I have long been disappointed with Harry Potter movies (the books are better), but I have a hard time finding fault with this one. It is truly Epic with a capital E. I believe my tweet after seeing this movie was something like, "As I was leaving Harry Potter, I thought to myself, "If anyone ever tries to remake this movie franchise, I will cut them." And, that's how I feel, mostly due to this last movie. It was larger than life, and I loved it.


Honorable Mentions: movies didn't quite make the list, but that I still recommend highly.

Drive - has a very low re-watchability, and it certainly is not for everyone, however I found it breathtaking. Caution: this movie has some incredibly violent scenes.
Adjustment Bureau
- I need to see this again, and I'll hazard a guess that when I do, I will regret not putting it on my top ten list. It was really interesting and an enjoyable ride. Also: Matt Damon.
The Future - okay, so I haven't actually seen this, but it's by Miranda July, so I'm sure I'll love it. It's in my queue.

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