That time of the year again. Frankly, I thought this was, at best, a mediocre year at the movies. A lot of movies that I had expectations for last year were letdowns. That said, there were certainly movies I enjoyed, and I hope you caught a few of them along the way. Please note that the links take you to my reviews of the movies, where available.
Honorable Mentions: 50/50, Another Earth, The Artist, Bridesmaids, Captain America, Cars 2, The Descendents, Drive, Green Lantern, The Help, Horrible Bosses, Midnight in Paris, Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol, Moneyball, The Muppets, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Rango, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers Dark of the Moon, Thor, Tree of Life, Warrior
Ryan Gosling had a good year, as you can see with the movie just below this one…but Drive may be the movie that fans come back and watch in years ahead. An action filled movie that is becoming a cult classic, this is a movie most of you did not see…but should make sure you do.
9. Crazy, Stupid, Love
The best romantic comedy of the year. With an awesome and funny cast, and enough twists to keep you entertained, Steve Carell again shows that he is simply one of the funniest men around.
Hanna was a movie that simply flew under the radar. I knew it did for me…I ended up watching it on DVD. That said, I have to say it was one of the more enjoyable movies of the year. Saoirse Ronan, who plays the title character, is a star in the making. And her portrayal of a young girl trained to be the ultimate killing machine, and the forces that formed the world she has grown up in, are fascinating.
7. Attack the Block
This low budget movie from England simply was the one of the most entertaining science fiction movies of 2011. The story about a group of ghetto dwelling delinquents fighting an alien invasion, with the assistance of the woman they mugged hours earlier, is pure joy.
This was a movie that I was very unsure of a year ago. In my look forward from the end of 2011, I showed a lot of ambivalence. But the movie paid off. Probably the best of the X-Men movies…and that is saying quite a bit.
5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
I was quite ambivalent about the making of this film. I am a huge fan of the original European version, starring Noomi Rapace. That said…Director David Fincher has done a masterful job translating Stieg Larsson’s book to the American screen. Rooney Mara does a fantastic job, and this film can hold its own with the original…which is high praise indeed.
4. Super 8
I loved this movie. I cannot tell you how much. I can tell you why though. I grew up in the late 70s, in Ohio, much like the characters involved. I had a group of friends that would do exactly what these characters did. And of course, there was always a girl. This movie just happened to touch me where it counts. I think many others felt the same way, for their own reasons.
What a fantastic finish to one of the great movie series of all time. Individually, I would not call any of the movies in the Harry Potter franchise ‘classic’. In toto? Maybe. Warner Brothers, from start to finish, did a brilliant job putting together a cast, crew, directors, and ultimately, the support of author J.K. Rowling in what 1o years ago appeared like an almost impossible task.
The final movie, although somewhat a departure from the book, brought most of the feeling, anguish, heartbreak, and ultimate triumph necessary to conclude the Harry Potter saga.
Hugo is a magnificent movie for children and adults. Martin Scorcese has possibly created one of his greatest works of art…which is saying something. The artistry is beautiful, and the story is perfect. This could become a classic in years to come.
1. War Horse
Steven Spielberg has been hit-or-miss for the better part of several decades now. When he bombs a film, he really bombs it (see: Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull). But when nails a film, it becomes a classic. War Horse is in the latter category. Based on the 1982 children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, and later turned into a play, Spielberg demonstrates movie making at its best: blending the splendor of visual greatness, the epic scale of war, and the passion and emotions that pull at the heart strings. A masterpiece, and definitely in the running for Best Picture.