Friday, February 10, 2012

My top films of 2011

I know I'm late to the party, but I've been lazy about doing this list this year. Partly because I'm not sure who really cares. The other part because there are several movies from last year that I still haven't seen.
That being said, I figured that it's probably time to just post it. I'll rank them and and put a short description about why I liked it.

One - Thor

Simply put, Thor is one of the best super hero movies made. The lead actor looks like the character. The story was interesting and engaging. The effects were phenomenal and Natalie Portman was not as annoying as you expect her to be. And come on, even I wanna hit Hemsworth. That's a sexy beast. Thor was everything Captain America tried to be and wasn't.

Two - The Housemaid

I didn't know what to expect from the Housemaid. I kind of rented it on a whim. But I was glad I did. I love when a movie can be quiet but hold your interest. The movie 3 Iron achieved that a few years ago. And while The Housemaid isn't quite that quiet, it's still and interesting study on the rich vs poor dynamic.

Three - The Skin I Live In

I did not know what I was getting into with this film. The only things I knew was that it looked sciencey and it was directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Films of his that I've really liked include Volver, All About My Mother and Broken Embraces. Everything he does is always Academy Award fodder. While watching Skin, I got the same feeling I got when watching Inception last year. I was thrown off with the concept, had no idea what was going on and then you get hit with a moment where you understand everything that's going on and say to yourself "Holy shit that's awesome!". The twist of the film is what makes it work. What I can say is that the film is about Antonio Banderas playing a plastic surgeon that, for all intents and purposes, is out of his mind. But we learn what drives him to that state. Anything more than that would be a spoiler.

Four - The High Cost Of Living

The drug dealer goes to a club, gets a call to sell somewhere, hits the pregnant woman on the way, and then enters her life as a stranger who shows sympathy. And that's the sound of you going "one of these again?". And then you continue to watch it and get pulled in the emotion, or in Braff's case, non-emotion. Isabelle Blais is really the star of the film as she goes through the terrible feeling of being in a loveless marriage and then losing the only thing keeping them together. Braff making a dramatic turn is notable though and he does a great job.

Five - The Adjustment Bureau

I'm so tired of the typical romance film that it's refreshing to see something different. This film panders to my curiosities about string theory and what ifs. Matt Damon is headed for one path and his life in a different direction goes against a plan setting in motion a different destiny for the world. He finds out and fights it because he's fallen in love. It's a sci-fi romance film with religious elements, but really it's about fighting destiny and making your own path.

Six - The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

I was expecting TGMES to be better than it was but it still landed in the top 10 for being a great film and a look inside the advertising industry. This is the, self described,  Inception of documentaries. The concept is that Morgan wanted to fund his film about advertising by selling spots and ad space in his film and documenting it, turning that footage into the film. The concept is brilliant and it's amazing how many people laughed. I think those laughs were actually concerns about exposing the business and how corporations are constantly trying grab out attention by any means possible. The brands that did accept Morgan's offer did what companies should do. Settle down and have fun with the product. Overall it was fascinating but I would have liked to see it go a little more in depth. That problem is not necessarily the directors fault as it is the industry's.

Seven - Moneyball

Here's another film that I said "here we go again" to. Another struggling team wins despite the odds. But like The Blind Side before it (curious white lady helps poor black kid despite the odds), I found myself enjoying the film in spite of it's cliche premise. When I got over that, I found Pitt's performance to be fantastic and the directing offering a fresh take on the genre. It's less about the team over coming the odds as it is about the man that goes against the system to beat them (which I've noticed is a bit of a theme for this and #5 and #6, going against the system that is). I definitely don't think Jonah Hill was Oscar worthy. He did his Jonah thing but more seriously. This is Pitt's film

Eight - Cell 211

Cell 211 is a film from Spain that I'd heard about because it was getting some buzz and was then rumored that an American version was in the planning stages. The film takes place in a prison as a new guard is being shown around. The action takes place fairly quickly as the new guy gets injured and then a riot breaks out. In order not to become a hostage, the guard dresses down and pretends to be one of the prisoners while also trying to help the guards on the other side. The acting, by just about everyone, is fantastic. The story progresses well and builds up and you're never quite sure where it's going. There were a couple of weird moments that I'm sure were just lost in cultural translation. I'm both looking forward to and hesitant about the American version. Let's hope they don't screw it up.

Nine - Cowboys And Aliens

The trailer for C&A was shown many months before the release of the film to build up a buzz, which it did. And even thought it received mixed reviews, it was an early favorite to be in the top ten. I've become a big fan of Daniel Craig because of the Bond films and he doesn't disappoint here. I think the room for error on the film came from Harrison Ford and I think he delivered as the greedy land owner who eventually makes good. The only thing that felt out of place was Olivia Wilde. She certainly does not look like she belongs in that era and the twist she's involved in makes the whole thing a whole cliche. A fun ride despite the flaws.

Ten - Attack The Block

I got to see ATB during it's pre-release screening run and it was a blast. It brought back a style of film that's been missing for decades. The edgy teen adventure. Imagine The Goonies are black and being attacked by aliens. In the projects. The creatures were bad ass, this kids did a good job and Nick Mothafuckin Frost. I would have ranked the film higher, but I thought there could have been a little more meat to it and I didn't really feel connected to the characters. Could be because of lack of good character development. I still highly recommend it.

The Rest... (In order of rank)

Batman: Year One
Water for Elephants
The Bang Bang Club
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Super 8
Beats, Rhymes & Life: A Tribe Called Quest
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Quarantine 2: Terminal
The Wild Hunt
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Horrible Bosses
Rammbock: Berlin Undead
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Mr. Popper's Penguins
The Caller
Apollo 18
Exporting Raymond
Captain America: The First Avenger
Another Earth
The Green Hornet
Fast Five
X-Men: First Class
The Devil's Double
Beyond the Blackboard
The Perfect Host
Red State
The Hangover Part II
Green Lantern
The Lincoln Lawyer
The Sitter
I Am Number Four
Battle: Los Angeles
Jackass 3.5
Megan is Missing
Everything Must Go
How Do You Know
The Chameleon
The Waiting City
Scream 4
The Mechanic
30 Minutes or Less
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Bad Teacher
Burke and Hare
The Change-Up
The Dilemma
The Task
I Saw the Devil
Hall Pass
The Tree of Life
The Roommate
Phase 7
Darkest Hour
Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
Sucker Punch
Elektra Luxx
Thor: Tales of Asgard
Elephant White
The Trip
The Presence
Psychic Experiment
Living Will
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
Cedar Rapids
2012: Zombie Apocalypse
Waiting for Forever
Battle of Los Angeles
The Presence
Stag Night
Deadtime Stories Vol. 1
River of Darkness