To say 2011 was a sub par year for movies could be an understatement. One of the biggest commercial and critical hits is my most overrated of the year. Not that any movies were terrible, but most had a 'been there, done that' vibe I couldn't shake. Maybe I've watched too many movies. Or am too old. Or both.
Whatever the reason, my lack of passion for this year's crop should be evident. I should point out that I'm usually six months to a year behind people that actually...you know...go to the movies.
For better or worse, let's run down the year that was.
Inception: I'm hooked every time I stumble across this on HBO. Doesn't matter where it is, my thumb hovers over the channel button until I slowly put down the remote and get sucked into this bizarre and addictive universe for the 50th time.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: For completely different reasons as I catch new details every viewing. That and it's entertaining as hell. The bass duel between Scott and the vegan has more care and craft put into it than most entire movies.
Knight and Day: Not because there are several scenes that were filmed in my neighborhood (although it helps), but because I still crack up over Tom Cruise's depiction of a secret agent who has become so bored with the spectacular nature of his job that he lays out compliments while hanging on the hood of an out of control car or politely giving a message to a henchman before knocking him out. That he can't understand why Cameron Diaz is freaked out by gunfire and car chases makes this all the more entertaining.
Piranha: Rarely have I fallen in love with a movie so totally and quickly as I did with this one. The opening scene (which I won't give away) had me laughing immediately. Funny, legitimately suspenseful and gory, and contains one of the more gruesome spring break parties you'll ever witness.
The Social Network: Despite all the accolades and buzz I was prepared for a let down. Not so. Just as great as everyone has been raving about.
127 Hours: How a movie about a dude stuck in a dark cave wound up more involving and exhilarating than 90% of the movies release this year is a testament to one of the best directors working today: Danny Boyle. 'Trainspotting', '28 Days Later', 'Slumdog Millionaire' and now '127 Hours'. Not a bad resume at all.
The Town: Ben Affleck proves 'Gone Baby Gone' was no fluke by directing and starring in one of the best heist movies of the year. A bit over dramatic with the girlfriend, but I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Winter's Bone: Cold, depressing, disturbing, yet oddly hopeful after a teenage girl goes looking for her missing father in order to save her younger siblings from eviction. One of those films that seems like a documentary nobody would allow to be made.
TrollHunter: Swedish movie that's a cross between 'Blair Witch' and the most demented children's show ever created. Team of journalists follow self proclaimed 'Troll Hunter' around the country side only to learn he's been telling the truth the entire time. The special effects are much better than you'd expect.
Easy A: Any other year, this wouldn't have made my list. I'm stretching this year, so I'll add it mainly because I'm in love with Emma Stone (but still won't see 'The Help') and she kills it here. Hated the ending, but enjoyed this for the most part.
BEST MOVIE I FINALLY WATCHED
City of God: Rented this through Netflix after the urging of several readers and was blown away. You will literally never see a more disturbing movie the rest of your lives. That it's based on real events makes this even more haunting.
Bridesmaids: Don't get me wrong; I laughed quite a few times at this movie, loved Kristen Wiig, John Hamm (who stole every scene), Melissa McCarthy, and all the actors. I just didn't think it was GREAT. If anything I was distracted that this was the same movie as 'I Love You, Man'. Replace Paul Rudd with Maya Rudolph, Jason Segal with Wiig, Rush with Wilson Philips, ad lib a few scenes and presto, new movie everyone loves.
OVERRATED RUNNER UP
Black Swan: Granted, any movie that has Mila Kunis going down on Natalie Portman is worth watching, but the 'descent into madness' angle we've seen a hundred times and the fake shocks with later realizations they were hallucinated wore thin. I did like the theme that all artistic genius has a touch of madness behind it, but I can't figure out why this garnered so much attention. Other than....you know...Mila Kunis going down on Natalie Portman.
Casey Affleck - The Killer Inside Me: Be warned, do not watch this movie if you can't handle some intensely brutal scenes (including one in which the love of my life - Jessica Alba - gets the living shit beat out of her). Affleck is supremely creepy as a sociopath who thinks he's smarter than everyone else (and just may be). The movie has flaws, but is held together by Affleck as a genial, aw shucks, cold blooded killer.
BEST USE OF MALE NUDITY
Hall Pass: The scene were Owen Wilson falls asleep in the hot tub. I will say no more, other than I'm glad the Farrelly Brothers can still bring their A game now and then.
BEST USE OF FEMALE NUDITY
The American: Which I liked because of it's bleak view of being a professional assassin. While many tend to glamorize it, this movie creates a lonely, bleak, paranoid world that is only broken by falling into the wrong kind of love...with a smoking hot girl who's naked a lot. Sounds like a perfect relationship to me.
MOVIE THAT WAS MUCH BETTER THAN EXPECTED
Predators: Frankly, any movie that begins with some dude free falling into a jungle is worth my time. That it didn't let up for over 90 minutes is why I'm mentioning it. Some serious dysfunction between the characters makes this more demented and entertaining than I could have ever hoped.
MOVE THAT WAS MUCH WORSE THAN EXPECTED
Dinner for Schmucks: No, it wasn't terrible, but when you have Paul Rudd and Steve Carell together again I was expecting a classic. Some amusing moments, but wanted so much more.
Think that's it for this year. Everyone enjoy their New Year's!