If that picture isn’t misleading then I don’t know what is. Not only are none of those movies in my top ten but several of them are in my bottom 5. So my annual tradition of telling readers more of my opinion continues with this list. I understand every critic adds their list to the countless mix, but that never stops me from reading them. Let’s be honest, 2011 was a sucky year for fantastic Tier 1 movies but while compiling my list I found there to be a solid dozen great tier 2 movies. Based on this list, 2011 was a good year just not a great year. I’m pretty sure 2012 will blow it out of the water.
10. Fright Night
Yes, really. I am a fan of the 80’s cult classic and not a fan of remakes. But this updated Fright puts other remakes to shame. It manages to be pretty hilarious and also menacingly dark at the same time. Colin Farrell is a imposing force not to be messed with. He plays the Jerry character differently than the original, Chris Sarandon, and the movie is better for it. Doctor Who fans will recognize David Tennant, who plays Peter Vincent and steals the entire movie. I will be watching this movie every Halloween from now on.
One of the moodiest films of the year. Hanna is a child who has been raised to be an assassin. This movie does a great job of showing her struggles with the truth about people around her and at the same time gives us a dark European coming of age story. It doesn’t hurt that she is being hunted the entire movie. One of the first great soundtracks of the year, done by the Chemical Brothers.
8. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I’m saying this was the biggest surprise of the year. Even as this movie began I sat there thinking “Well this is gonna be the suckiest suck mcsuck movie ever…” (No, I don’t have terrets) How could a movie that is a prequel for the silliest series ever, and have James Franco as a scientist, be any good? What a shock that it is actually really quite good. Caesar, the ape, steals the movie. Bless you Andy Serkis.
The prettiest movie of the year. Every scene in Martin Scorcese’s first family film could be my desktop wallpaper. This is a movie for film lovers throughout the ages. It is a definite fan service for dorks like me who believe the in the escapism power of film. Great performances and though it’s a movie with a younger cast, it never gets predictable or settles with cliche jokes.
6. Source Code
This is Duncan Jones’ second film. He also directed the fantastic “Moon” a few years back. A perfect mix of science fiction and characters that you actually care about. Plays out like the lovechild of Quantum Leap and Groundhog Day. One would think they might get sick of watching the same 8 minutes repeatedly, but not in this case. Many people don’t like the ending, but I urge them to watch it again and think about all of the possibilities the end opens up. It never hurts to have a movie make you think.
All right, I admit I have a best friend crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I think he and I would get along quite well. He really knows how to pick his roles. Even Seth Rogen isn’t incredibly annoying in this one as his best friend who tries to help him take his mind off of his terminal cancer. 50/50 is great because it doesn’t try too hard to throw sentimentality at you. By the end you may even shed a tear or two, and it doesn’t hurt that there are plenty of laughs to be had as well.
4. Attack the Block
If you haven’t heard of this movie, go check out the trailer. This one is right up my alley. This british movie, directed by Joe Cornish (of the Edgar Wright crew), is all about an alien invasion on South London and the adolescent thugs who defend their block. It’s a lower budget movie but is really effective. Don’t expect a Shaun of the Dead with this one. There are funny moments but this movie is pretty intense. And there are a lot of great kill scenes, which never hurts. Not even the main characters are safe. Another great movie soundtrack, this one done by Crystal Method.
After his mother dies, Ewan Mcgregor’s dad decides to finally come out of the closet and Ewan somehow has to deal with it. If someone told me that premise I wouldn’t even bother watching for free on netflix. Though, the plot is far deeper than originally thought and the acting is the best of the year. Also, in a year of crap comedies, this can be genuinely funny at times. I think a main reason this movie has stayed with me is the clever/original way it was edited. What a great way to tell a story.
2. Super 8
So this one was my favorite for a long time. Upon subsequent viewings it just hasn’t held up as great. Though I still loved the feeling of seeing this one in the theater and feeling like I was 12 years old again and watching a Spielberg classic in the vein of Jurassic Park or ET. If only other summer blockbusters gave you the nostalgic and fun feelings this one did. (I’m looking at you Transformers and Pirates) I look forward to everything J.J. Abrams puts out from now on.
Ryan Gosling was in 2 movies I hated this year (Crazy, Stupid, Love and Ides of March). I kind of thought I hated him personally, but this movie changed my mind completely. Out of every movie I’ve seen this year, this is the one that has stuck with me. The soundtrack, the brutal violence, the cinematography, all of it is unforgettable. When people ask me to explain this movie, all I can really say is that it is “The Transporter” with brains. But that is underselling it. Ryan Gosling is now the “driver” in my mind and has created a classic movie character. I want his scorpion jacket so bad. (I take donations by the way) Albert Brooks has a great character turn as the villain. I will be buying this one on bluray the day it comes out. (Which is saying a lot because I’m extremely cheap) For those who haven’t yet seen this movie, be prepared for a jolting experience (thankfully not as bad as Dragon Tattoo) but a movie that will stay with you.