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Posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Dave!Time for my annual wrap-up of movies that came out this year.

THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw. Now, I fully admit that most of these were seen on an airplane or via iTunes rental on my iPad. That's about the only way I can find time to see movies anymore. Still, I don't think the small screen influenced my decision any. Stupid crap like Your Highness isn't going to suddenly become brilliant if seen on the big screen...

Dave's Favorite Movies 2011: 1-6

#1 Captain America. Captain America in the comics has been a mixed bag. When played as the American icon he was created to be, he seems cheesy and dated. When played as a straight super-hero he seems flashy and lame. But they somehow managed to sidestep both of these obstacles to not only make an awesome super-hero film, but an awesome film period. My review of the film is here.

#2 Thor. My only problem with this film... only problem is that the timing was way off. It seemed to take place over days when the events pretty much dictated that it should have taken place over months. That being said, director Kenneth Branagh and Co. did the impossible: film a magical super-hero film in a realistic way without having it turn into a big joke. Loved this movie more than I ever thought I would.

#3 Paul. Reaffirming my belief that Simon Pegg & Nick Frost can do no wrong (seriously... Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead!) they turn their engaging comedic talents to geek sci-fi. As if that wasn't an intriguing enough premise, Seth Rogan was cast as the voice of titular alien escapee "Paul." The result is a new take on the buddy comedy movie with a sci-fi twist and plenty of surprises. Genius.

#4 Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol. Brad Bird, the mastermind behind such animated genius as The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille, makes an effortless leap to live action in one of this year's most exciting and stylish films. Ghost Protocol is the best M:I installment yet, with the entire IMF team being disavowed and having to clear their name in one awesome action sequence to another.

#5 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While I'm not sure that I liked this David Fincher remake as well as the Swedish original, I can say it's a great film in its own right. Dark, disturbing, beautiful, and wholly engrossing, this movie is the whole taco. Disgraced reporter Mikael Blomkvist sets out to solve an old family mystery with the help of brilliant anti-hero Lisbeth Salander. The journey is more interesting than the ultimate end, but Fincher gives us one heck of a ride.

#6 X-Men: First Class. FINALLY! After three increasingly shitty films, we finally get a decent X-Men flick. Check that, it's more than decent... it's brilliant entertainment that fully captures the promise of what an "X-film" could be. Showing the early beginnings of the Marvel Universe's most famous mutants, First Class gives us engaging characters with enough super-hero action to keep things interesting. I am hoping beyond hope that they continue this story in future films instead of sliding back to the Bryan Singer franchise shit-fest.

Dave's Favorite Movies 2011: 7-12

#7 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Make no mistake, the Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie's films is not the Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novels. He's a sad imitation that happens to be entertaining as hell. So if you can manage to leave the "real" Sherlock behind, this is a highly entertaining film with nice stylistic touches and a decent story to boot. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are both note-perfect for the material, and the addition of Jared Harris as arch-nemesis Moriarty has me liking "Game of Shadows" even more than the first film.

#8 Horrible Bosses. By all accounts, this movie should have been an embarrassing mess. The previews assured me that it was one of those "so stupid it's stupid" flicks instead of one of those "so stupid it's funny" treasures. But my sister wanted to see it, so off we went... to one of my favorite films of 2011. I loved the way all the various plot-threads resolved themselves at the end. I loved that the characters were funny and felt three-dimensional and unique. I love that the "horrible bosses" were note-perfect in every way. Kevin Spacey was given room to be pure evil psycho genius. Colin Farrell was plain reprehensible. And then there was Jennifer Aniston... holy crap. Jennifer Aniston was not only brutally hot, but hysterically funny.

#9 Source Code. Duncan Jones, who gave us the utterly brilliant sci-fi film Moon, now gives us a thinking man's time-travel sci-fi thriller as a follow-up that doesn't disappoint.

#10 Bridesmaids. You will note that The Hangover 2 does not make my list. That film was just a pathetic retread of the original movie in a different location. The worthy successor to the R-rated comedy crown of The Hangover is actually Bridesmaids, which takes a similar idea to all new territory.

#11 Attack the Block. This flawless British sci-fi horror flick was a complete surprise as I was trying to kill time on the long, long flight back from Australia. It's action-sci-fi thrills that don't disappoint. Aliens are descending on street gang's turf in London and the war is on.

#12 Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. I have no idea where this redneck-buddy-comedy-horror-movie came from, but it was a guilty pleasure that was worth watching from start to finish. The film is more inline with the genius that is Shaun of the Dead or Evil Dead than stupid crap like Scary Movie. As if that weren't enough, it's got an actual message to it.

THE HONORABLE MENTIONS...
Winnie The Pooh. Go ahead. Laugh. But as an animation-lover who has been a fan of Pooh for as long as I can remember, this movie was amazing.

   

THE UNSEEN...
Here are some movies that might have made the list had I the time to have seen them...
Miyazaki genius Arrietty; Martin Scorsese's critically acclaimed 3D epic Hugo; Cancer buddy comedy 50/50; Cold War LeCarre thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Romanian black comedy Tales from the Golden Age; Johnny Depp animated madness Rango; Monkey armageddon in Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Disease outbreak thriller Contagion; Classic cartoon adventure with The Adventures of Tintin; Heavily-praised chase film Drive; Silent B&W art flick The Artist; and Planet-demolishing mind-bender Melancholia.

   

THE SIX WORST...
There were quite a few disappointments in 2011 (like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) but there were few movies I actively loathed (though none of them as badly as the steaming pile of crap called Black Swan from last year)...

Dave's Worst Movies of 2011

#1 Green Lantern. One of my favorite comic book characters was completely butchered on the big screen with a hot mess of a story and an over abundance of shitty CGI effects. Yeah, It's probably not the worst movie of the year, but such a crushing disappointment made it feel that way. You can read my review here.

#2 Sucker Punch. Zack Snyder is a fascinating director. His take on 300 was genius. And, despite my disgust at the unnecessarily altered ending, I thought his take on Watchmen was also excellent. So when I saw the jaw-dropping visuals in the trailer for Sucker Punch, I was understandably excited. Finally Zack Snyder was giving us a world he wrote instead of reinterpreting what he'd seen in a comic book. Unfortunately, the film was absolute garbage. Sexist, convoluted, trite, boring, senseless, asinine, garbage. Abused girl is dropped into a mental institution to be lobotomized, but "escapes" into her imagination in sequences that alternate between pole dancing and super-heroics. This film is the epitome of style over substance and failed on just about every level. Let's hope Snyder doesn't bury his Superman movie under such a huge layer of idiotic crap like he did Sucker Punch.

#3 Tree of Life. This was a beautiful turd of a film. Wonderful to look at, but ultimately a pile of self-indulgent bullshit that was so pointless and boring that I was praying for it to just END already, even if it took the destruction of the entire earth to make it happen. I keep seeing this movie on people's "Best List" and am completely clueless over what I missed as I was being bored to tears.

#4 Cars 2. Holy shit... a Pixar film made my "worst list?" What is the world coming to? Admittedly, I wasn't a big fan of the original Cars, but it had enough charming moments to make me ultimately like the film. The sequel tosses all that out the window and instead gives us an extended Larry The Cable Guy comedy routine that is stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID! How in the hell this film ever made it out of the storyboarding room at Pixar is a complete mystery to me. An obvious cash-grab by Disney if there ever were one.

#5 Arthur. If you would have ever told me that I would have a movie with Helen Mirren end up in my "Worst List" I would have bitch-slapped you so hard your teeth would fall out. It's inconceivable that an actor of such renown would ever agree to be in such a film. And then the shitty and embarrassing Arthur remake happened. Holy crap what a soulless pile of shit. I guess my sole consolation is that Helen Mirren was the best thing in this worst film.

#6 Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Chicago is one of my favorite cities on earth, and the opportunity to see it blown to shit was too good to resist. Even if it meant having to suffer through another crappy "Transformers" movie with crappy Shia LaBeouf as the crappy focus instead of the fucking cool Transformers as it should be. Shockingly, these movies continue to be successful, so I'm guessing a fourth one will be crapped out of Michael Bay's ass any day now.

THE HONORABLE MENTIONS...
The movie so bad it couldn't be saved if Cameron Diaz was nude the entire time Bad Teacher; The "OMG I can't believe I watched it even if I was bored on an airplane" Mr. Popper's Penguins; So stupid it's stupid medieval farce Your Highness; This year's sci-fi answer to last year's absurdly stupid "Skyline" is the absurdly stupid Battle: Los Angeles; Shameless retread of a terrific original The Hangover 2; Insanely stupid and disrespectful adaptation of a great character in The Green Hornet; Scary trailer for a not scary and totally shitty movie with Apollo 18.

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Comments

  1. Mel says:

    You sure do see a lot of movies. On Xmas Eve, we went to see our one big screen movie of the year, Tintin. Loved it. I suppose an uptight purist would be upset that they changed around details from “The Secret of the Unicorn”, but I thought they did a great job of capturing the feel of the original comic, which was one of my hands-down favorites as a kid.

  2. Donna says:

    Did you know that Marvel is one of the companies that supports the SOPA act? That makes me sad.

    • Dave2 says:

      Well, yes. It is sad. So far as Apple is a member of organizations that support SOPA, they are also guilty by association.

      The problem is that companies like Marvel may not particularly care for SOPA, but it’s the only thing on the table! They want better protection from piracy of their property (and who can blame them!), so they go for what they can get.

      The problem here is not necessarily Marvel, but the dumbass politicians who let LOBBYISTS write policy. They let MONEY dictate what the laws are. If they were to seriously… and I mean SERIOUSLY… want to come up with good legislation to protect property-owner rights while not impacting the internet so badly… THEY WOULD HIRE EXPERTS IN THAT AREA TO HELP WRITE THE LAWS! But they don’t. They are appeasing their money-backers, and don’t give a shit about anything else. Until this mentality changes so that the laws serve THE PEOPLE (including the people who own companies like Marvel) we are going to get crappy laws that infringe on what makes the internet so great.

  3. Avitable says:

    It’s so funny how our taste can be so different in movies. Sucker Punch and Green Hornet are in my top 20 – with the exception of the last 10 minutes, I loved every second of Sucker Punch, and Green Hornet was excellent.

    Thor was boring and toneless with some really cool characters in the mix, MI: Ghost Protocol was fun but once again Brad Bird ruined it for me, and Paul was mostly a misfire.

    I did want to see Winnie the Pooh, though – that looked really good. Did you see The Muppets?

    I disagree with you that Downey’s Sherlock is not the Sherlock of the novels. Doyle intended for the reader to fill in much of the blanks and he was described as a boxer and a man who sprang in to action. I think that Ritchie managed to make a portrayal of Holmes that shows both his keen mind and his athletic prowess and is quite true to the original Holmes.

    • Dave2 says:

      It IS odd, because I would expect that we’d like similar movies given our comic book compatibility!

      When it comes to Sherlock Holmes, don’t get me wrong… I totally agree that there are aspects of Robert Downey Jr.’s character that are spot on… but, as a major Sherlock fan, he ultimately comes up hollow to me. In the Doyle original, the mystery is EVERYTHING. It’s how Holmes finds his bliss. He lives for it. And I just don’t find that in the movie version. It’s like they’re too busy focusing on the action and Downey’s eccentricities to find joy in the mystery. And the whole goofy costume thing really bothers me because in the book his use of disguise is unsurpassed and undetectable… in the movie… well…

      But, as I said, if I leave these things behind and just enjoy the movie, I love it. I enjoyed Game of Shadows immensely, and dearly hope they make more.

      Have you seen the BBC television Sherlock series movies? Well worth a look. :-)

      Haven’t seen the Muppets. Very much want to though!

  4. the muskrat says:

    Good suggestions (and bad) for our Netflix que!

  5. Sybil Law says:

    Holy shit – that’s an asston of movies I haven’t seen!!

  6. martymankins says:

    I still need to see Captain America. For shame on me. Loved Source Code and Paul. The rest except for Bridesmaids, I’ve not seen yet. Bridesmaids was a disappointment for me with the exception of Melissa McCarthy’s character. I give props to Kristen Wiig for creating this movie and her character was great, I just didn’t connect with it enough to laugh. Perhaps I need another view.

    • Dave2 says:

      I fully admit that Bridesmaids is not a movie for everybody. A friend of mine hated it, and found the “potty humor” to be stupid and insulting. So, yeah, highbrow entertainment it isn’t. And there were definitely parts that drove me nuts because they were an SNL skit that went on too long. But, overall, it was absolutely good for a laugh. Any time a movie can make me feel like laughing, I give it high marks (so please excuse my love of potty humor!).

  7. you have higher movie standards than i do so i am going to put paul on my netflix list. (i didn’t hate green hornet. i just didn’t. although i couldn’t bring myself to see green lantern, even with the beautiful ryan reynolds.)

    • Dave2 says:

      I know people who say that I am totally overreacting to Green Lantern and think that it was a decent film that was good entertainment. I wish I could have focused on that, but I just couldn’t. There were just SO many things I felt were “wrong” and since Green Lantern is one of my favorite super-heroes, I couldn’t let it go. Maybe in time I will feel differently.

  8. Zuke says:

    I ADORED Whinnie The Pooh!

    I took my kids to see it in theaters and I think I came home more excited than they did. It’s animation was incredible (for being so true to the original) and it didn’t bother trying to act hip and modernized like other Pooh films.

    I actually put it up on my list of top films of 2011 in my podcast! (Captain America won in ours, too)

  9. Blimey, best blog post ever. While I watched a measly 2% of the films you cover here, I’m going to keep this list handy for things we should catch up on in the new year.

    Oh, and I thought the poster for Apollo 18 was kinda cool but didn’t ever get around to seeing the movie. Gladly by the sounds of it.

  10. mike says:

    It has irked me somewhat that most scifi will only let the heroes be somewhat middle class and not trailer trash/chavvy, possibly playing to the audience… yet Attack The Block was one of those movies where I didn’t care if anyone made it out of the estate alive. I’m a fan of Misfits, a tv show where teen chavs get super powers, maybe it set my expectations too high. I’m sure the diagloue was supposed to be realistic but everyone came off as too dumb to live stereotypes.

    Currently British scifi/speculative fiction is doing okay – bar Torchwood Miracle Day’s painfully hammy acting and writing, Misfits could go toe-to-toe with Doctor Who and Black Mirror as the (only) highlights.

  11. Invader_Stu says:

    Cars 1 was not my fav movie but I was stunned by how bad Cars 2 was. Not one funny joke. Like you said; A bad Pixar movie? How?

  12. Poppy says:

    THANK YOU for agreeing with me about Sucker Punch. It’s also set in one of the UNSEXIEST places in the country — Brattleboro, Vermont. Cannot STAND that they associated this POS story with Vermont. ARGH. If they were going to say she was from a mental institution they should have at least had the balls to say it was in Waterbury!

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