2011 In Film

I’ve always told myself that I’d never create a blog, as everyone in the world seems to have one nowadays. Well, here we are. I have an extreme affinity for lists, writing them, reading them, debating them etc. So I wanted a place to make my own. I’ll not only be using this blog for that purpose, but for whatever else that happens to pop into my dome that I feel like rambling on about. My inaugural blog will be dedicated to the films of 2011. With the Academy Awards tonight, I found it apropos. Following is a list of the forty movies I’ve seen this year, ranked worst to best, with a rating and brief sometimes lazy synopsis of each.

Before we jump into my top forty movies of the past year, check out my top ten from 2010 and see how this year’s flicks compare to last’s.

10. The Town ★★★1/2
9. Winter’s Bone ★★★1/2
8. True Grit ★★★1/2
7. Toy Story 3 ★★★★
6. The Social Network ★★★★
5. 127 Hours ★★★★
4. Black Swan ★★★★1/2
3. The Fighter ★★★★1/2
2. The Kids Are All Right ★★★★1/2
1. The King’s Speech ★★★★★

Of the following forty, about 95% of them were seen in the theater. About 50% of that 95% were seen for free after I snuck in. Ushers are either dumb as hell or just couldn’t care less. Anyway, here we go…

40. Your Highness

James Franco? Danny McBride? Zooey Deschanel? NATALIE PORTMAN? This flick is going to be awesome! Right? WRONG. The most disappointing movie of 2011, is also the worst (that I saw). This movie was brutally corny, and painfully unfunny. I debated walking out of the theater, but business picked up a bit about half way through when Port-Dawg finally showed her face. Whether that was a coincidence or not, I’m not sure, but I am sure that I’ve never been more relieved in my life than when I seen those credits roll. The only way this movie may be tolerable is if you have a bong to your mouth, but I’m not sure if even that could salvage it.

Rating –

39. Battle: Los Angeles

Aliens declare war on L.A. Not my cup of tea, I knew this from the jump, but I tried to keep an open mind. It features acting savant Michelle Rodriguez showing her incredible range, this time playing a bad-ass chick. It also features the singer Neyo, for some reason. In the end, the movie was worse than I expected, and I’ve just about erased all memory of it’s existence from my mind.

Rating –

38. Just Go With It

Your typical Adam Sandler movie. Nothing special, enjoyable enough, blah blah whatever. None of that matters. This movie will be forever remembered as the acting debut of Brooklyn Decker’s titties. Oh, and what an immaculate pair of titties they are. The fact that Brooklyn Decker’s titties got snubbed from a Best Supporting Actress nom’ is mind boggling.

Rating –
Titty Rating – ★★★★★

37. Take Me Home Tonight

Set in 1988, and they make sure you know it. Way over the top with 80’s cliches, but surprisingly, it was a rather entertaining flick. My man (Chris)Topher Grace rises from the dead, joined by the always funny Anna Faris to make a solid nostalgia film. A nice reminder of your parent’s glory days.

Rating –

36. Scream 4

It’s back! Neve Campbell, where the hell you been, girl?! I’ve always loved the Scream series, so I was excited and skeptical going into the 4th installment. It didn’t disappoint, however, and fit right in with the previous three. It was funny with a little bit of spooky sprinkled in, exactly what you’re looking for here. By far the scariest part of the movie, though, was Courtney Cox’s new face. Yikes! Just say no to the knife.

Rating –

35. The Rite

Hannibal Lecter is probably my favorite movie character of all time, so I was pumped to see this one, knowing Hopkins role was somewhat similar. There were some cool scenes, but was overall rather boring.

Rating – ★1/2

34. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Fuck this movie. This was a pathetic attempt to tug at your heart strings, and pander to Oscar voters. Even worse is they exploited the greatest American tragedy we’ve ever experienced to do it. Between this and “The Blind Side”, Sandra Bullock has become just about insufferable. The only saving grace of this movie, is that the idiots who believe being gay is “a choice” will be smacked in the face by a blatantly homosexual 8 year old.

Rating – ★1/2

33. Our Idiot Brother

I was really expecting this movie to be funnier. It’s really barely even a comedy, which you wouldn’t expect based on the trailer and who’s in it. That’s not to say it was a bad movie, however, as it had a solid story with dramatic splashes that kept me entertained throughout. Oh, and Zooey’s in it. *drool*

Rating – ★★

32. Hall Pass

Solid but unspectacular flick about married men receiving free reign from their wives to do whatever they please. They try to jump right back into the lives they lived in their younger days, but find it harder to hang this time around. Had it’s moments, overall entertaining, nothing special.

Rating – ★★

31. Cedar Rapids

A very entertaining movie about a bland insurance agent who heads down from the great state of Wisconsin to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for business. While down there his shell gets cracked, and he starts to experience some of the wonders life can bring. John C. Reilly is great as always, and Anne Heche tries her best to not be a lesbian. One of the funnier movies of the year.

Rating – ★★

30. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

A prequel to the 60’s classic, ‘Rise’ stars my main man James Franco and documents the ape’s journey that starts off in captivity, and ends with them runnin’ shit. The apes themselves were visually amazing, and it was an overall fun movie that’s nothing more and nothing less than exactly what you would expect it to be.

Rating – ★★

29. Source Code

It’s like if “Groundhog’s Day” were a psychological thriller. In other words, it’s pretty awesome. Entertaining and original, yet flawed and implausible. This is a solid flick, and Jake Gyllenhaal was shockingly tolerable.

Rating – ★★

28. Contagion

A very well constructed disaster movie that will make you want to keep a bottle of sanitizer in your pocket at all times. Gwyneth Paltrow has never looked better than she does here, on a hospital bed, sickly and on the verge of death.

Rating – ★★

27. Water for Elephants

A very poor man’s “Titanic”. Replace the ship with a circus tent, the iceberg with an elephant, Leo with the guy from “Twilight”, and Kate with Reece Witherspoon’s chin.

Rating – ★★1/2

26. J. Edgar

A flick full of potential that ended up falling flat, and at times was almost laughingly bad. It was about 40 minutes too long and there were multiple occasions where I had to beg my eyelids to remain open. As the characters progressed in age, the actors wore geriatric makeup that ended up making them look like corpses. It was a good story to tell, and could have made a great movie, but just had too many moments of ridiculousness. Not Leo’s finest hour.

Rating – ★★1/2

25. The Rum Diary

The prequel to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, The Rum Diary features a very good performance from Johnny Depp, that in the end couldn’t quite overcome the scatter brained plot.

Rating – ★★1/2

24. Bridesmaids

A pretty good movie that’s become overrated because of the all female cast. I’m a huge fan of Kristin Wiig, and in her first starring role I was expecting her star to really shine. It flickered at times, but she personally left me disappointed with her performance. Melissa McCarthy was solid as the “gross fat chick”, but her resulting Oscar nom’ made me guffaw. Especially since Brooklyn Decker’s titties had to be spared for her to receive it.

Rating – ★★1/2

23. Paul

My name sake was probably the most pleasantly surprising movie of the year. I gave it a watch, figuring it couldn’t be too awful if Seth Rogen is involved, and ended up really loving it. It actually had the potential to be much greater. It didn’t reach that potential, but was pretty damn cool nonetheless.

Rating – ★★★

22. Horrible Bosses

This movie boasts a superbly awesome cast, with the three main characters (Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis) each planning to murder their respective asshole bosses. Sprinkle in a little Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx, and you have one of the funniest movies of the year. I can’t wait to see Charlie in more feature films.

Rating – ★★★

21. Limitless

Bradley Cooper is a total bell end so I couldn’t help but think he would douche up this movie. Wrong again I was, however, as he was excellent in this role. He plays a struggling writer who stumbles across this miracle pill that allows him to use a greater percentage of his brain power rather than the usual ten percent. He begins to write novel after novel, each of which is more acclaimed than the last. Something I wish I had right now as I try to write 40 mini-reviews in 2 hours.

Rating – ★★★

20. A Dangerous Method

A story about the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Great for people who are into psychoanalysis and human interaction. Keira Knightley’s acting can be painful at times, but overall an interesting watch.

Rating – ★★★

19. Young Adult

A divorced ghost writer (remember that show Ghost Writer? how sweet was that?) is struggling to meet the deadline for her final book of a series. She can’t get past the ol’ writer’s block when out of no where she receives some pictures of her old boyfriend’s new born child. For some reason she convinces herself that she and her old flame are meant to be together, so she travels to her old hometown to meet him, and hilarity ensues.

Rating – ★★★

18. Carnage

One of my absolute favorite movies of the year. It’s an hour+ of nothing but Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, and Christoph Waltz bickering about inside an apartment building. Directed by pedo-extraordinaire, Roman Polanski, the movie makes you feel as if you’re awkwardly standing in the corner of a New York City loft, watching as the two sets of husband and wife plunge from a cordial discussion of their children, into eye-gouging arguments, into drunken life revelations. This was an incredibly unique film that sucks you in and keeps you there all the way through.

Rating – ★★★

17. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I was immediately struck by the extreme length of this movie and the corny title. So I can’t say I went into it with a completely open mind. It turned out to be a pretty solid flick, but was most certainly too long. I felt myself drifting a bit at times, but Rooney Mara getting butt naked and smanged woke me up rather quickly. Good movie to see if you have eight or so hours to kill.

Rating – ★★★

16. The Help

Two black maids tell their story of racism and prejudice to a white college student. She writes a book on them that ends up being published and gives a portion of the royalties to the maids. All I have to say, is this: as good as Viola Davis was, if she takes home Best Actress over Michelle Williams, it would be a crime. Anyway, it was a solid movie, but I don’t get the hype for Emma Stone. She is not attractive to me at all.

Rating – ★★★

15. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

An espionage film based on the 1974 book of the same name. Features last year’s best actor Colin Firth in a supporting role. I really enjoyed it, though I felt myself getting lost at a couple points.

Rating – ★★★1/2

14. Rango

The first quarter of the year is always a dead period for movies, and I had a hankering to hit the cinema. This was the only thing that was getting decent reviews, so I figured what the hell. I ended up loving it more than I could have ever expected, and went immediately to Target afterward to see if they had any Rango dolls. What can I say, he was cute, and I’m still twelve years old in many aspects.

Rating – ★★★1/2

13. The Lincoln Lawyer ★★★1/2

No way a Matthew McConaughey movie could be good, right? That of course is what most justifiably think, but this movie absolutely ruled. It was my favorite movie of the year all the way up until August, and still remains one of my personal favorites of 2011.

12. Ides of March

Clooney and Gosling in the same flick? Bring along your spare pair of pantaloons, ladies. Clooney’s running for president (quite convincingly might I add) and Gosling is his campaign manager. Gosling gets a call from Clooney’s competitor asking if he’d be willing to switch his alliances. When George catches wind of this he lops him off of his squad. Gosling then tries to blackmail Clooney, some chick kills herself, just good shit all around.

Rating – ★★★1/2

11. War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s World War I epic centered around a horse’s journey from his original owner who raised him, to the soldier who bought him, to being out on his own in the middle of a war zone, and back again. Could have been an amazing film, and in a lot of ways it was. But it tried a little too hard and got a little to cliche and pretentious at times. Despite all that, I would still consider it yet another Spielberg triumph.

Rating – ★★★1/2

10. 50/50

Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are two of the coolest fellas around, so you knew this one was going to be good. The inspiration for the script was Seth’s buddy who was diagnosed with cancer in his early 20’s. Extremely funny and touching, 50/50 is without a doubt the best comedy of the year.

Rating – ★★★1/2

9. My Week With Marilyn

Before stepping foot inside the theater for this much-anticipated film, my only knowledge of Michelle Williams was that she was the not-so attractive widow of Heath Ledger. Two hours later, I was a love-drunk smitten kitten. She absolutely captured Marilyn Monroe down to a T. I caught myself gazing upon the screen and losing myself in Michelle’s eyes. All corniness aside, she honestly put a spell on me. Her portrayal was absolutely magnificent, and is the one most deserving of getting a statue for Best Actress. The movie itself, was brilliant, documenting the true story of one lucky young man’s seven days spent with arguably the most seductive and sexy woman to ever walk the Earth. An all around excellent film that you’ll want to watch again and again.

Rating – ★★★1/2

8. Drive

I never even bothered to see this in the theater, because based on the commercials I assumed it was some “Fast and Furious-esque” type of movie. As word of mouth began to spread, I soon found that it was nothing like that at all. I popped in the DVD and was immediately hit by the hot pink font and blaring soundtrack. I felt like I was playing a game of Vice City or something. I wasn’t buying pretty boy Ryan Gosling as some badass, that is until he slapped the shit out of the girl from Mad Men. There’s a whole lot of blood, whole lot of violence, whole lot of awkward silence, and a whole lot of awesome going down in this flick. It seems this is one of those movies you either love or you hate, and I really loved it. Without a doubt the coolest movie out in 2011.

Rating – ★★★1/2

7. Hugo

An orphan boy living in a Paris train station, fixing clocks. He’s on a mission to find a key that is his final connection to his estranged Father. While on his journey he encounters an old man who knew of his Dad, and he starts recollecting. One of the best movies of the year, just don’t see it in 3D, because well that’s just stupid.

Rating – ★★★★

6. Moneyball

When I heard that one of my favorite books was going to be made into a movie, I was excited, yet skeptical. I couldn’t really see how the book could even be adapted to the big screen. Well, it really wasn’t, and that’s a good thing. The movie ended up being almost completely different from the book, instead focusing on the human drama, rather than pure baseball analysis. I never thought much of Brad Pitt before this, but he really earned my respect with this role. Yes Brad, that’s right, you can finally sleep well at night knowing you have my respect. There’s a scene towards the end where Brad’s (or Billy’s rather) daughter is singing him a song while playing an acoustic guitar. Woo boy lemme tell ya, a brotha had to hold back some tears for that one. They turned a book about statistics made for super baseball nerds, into a movie about life and loyalty that anyone can appreciate.

Rating – ★★★★

5. Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen is back at it once again, writing and directing one of the best films of his career. Owen Wilson is a writer on vacation in Paris, who gets sucked into a time warp every night when the clock strikes 12 midnight. While there he meets some of his idols, Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein to name a few. It is a fantastic journey with excellent performances all across the board. The beauty of The City of Light is on full display and you’ll be wishing you could hop on the first flight out to France by the time the movie’s through.

Rating – ★★★★

4. Beginners

I fell in love with Melanie Laurent while watching Inglorious Basterds, so when I seen she was in Beginners, I knew I had to check it out. The film’s plot is very relevant to the happenings of today, as we see a man’s father, knowing society has become more tolerant than the one he grew up in, come out of the closet after his wife of several years passes away. Besides that is a love story where a man and woman have to overcome there insecurities and emotional instabilities before they can fully accept each other. It’s a great flick that somehow got looked over when it came to Best Pic’ nominations.

Rating – ★★★★

3. The Artist

A black and white silent film, deep in the heart of the era where everyone has a 60 inch HD TV in their kitchen. Ballsy for sure. I was going into it expecting a solid flick that relied on it’s unique gimmick rather than a solid story. I was happily wrong, as The Artist was a spectacular movie with a great and very timely story: a man who’s the biggest thing going, who all of a sudden must fight to stay relevant when a new and better technology comes along, and struggles to find his self worth when he loses that fight. A brilliantly unique film that is the odds on favorite to win Best Picture.

Rating – ★★★★1/2

2. The Tree of Life

Ahh where do I begin, this is quite possibly the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It is also, without a doubt, the most visually appealing, incredibly beautiful movie I’ve ever seen. Almost every second of it is filled with gorgeous landscapes, angles, and still shots that would look great framed and nailed to your wall. The movie is based in the 1950’s, and starts off with two parents welcoming their newborn into the world. He is soon joined by his two brothers, and we see these three as they try to adapt to their new surroundings. Then, out of nowhere, we’re thrown into a 20 minute creation of Earth montage, that ends with some dinosaurs sprouting up. We shoot back to the fifties and rejoin the kids as they learn life lessons and try to avoid getting their face caved in by their uber strict father, played by Brad Pitt. The story was a bit choppy, moved at a snail’s pace, and seemed almost impossible to understand at times. So it’s a testament to it’s greatness that it could overcome all of that. This isn’t for everyone, and you should be aware of it’s downfalls before you sit down to watch it. But if you keep an open mind, you are in for one helluva experience.

Rating – ★★★★1/2

1. The Descendants

At first glance, the plot of The Descendants may appear to be rather cliche. Wife is in a coma, husband finds out she’s been cheating, husband goes on crusade to find guy who’s plugging his woman, etc. Doesn’t appear to be anything special, but it goes far deeper than anticipated. This is a bonafide masterpiece, that is just about perfect in every aspect. Brilliant acting from everyone involved, but especially from newcomer Shailene Woodley, and the man himself, my favorite for Best Actor: George Clooney. Clooney stretches himself out more than ever for this role, and convinces you that his heartbreak is real, so real in fact that you can’t help but share it with him. The Descendants is my favorite movie of 2011, it is the best movie of 2011, but unfortunately, is unlikely to take home the Best Picture trophy it rightfully deserves. Not many movies can establish such an emotional connection with the audience like this movie does, so I hope I’m wrong, and I hope I see Alexander Payne, Clooney, and the whole crew up on that stage Sunday night, before the 84th annual Academy Awards fade to black.

Rating – ★★★★1/2

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