Monday, January 2, 2012

My Top Ten Films in 2011

My rules for the list, the film was released in 2011 and I have to have seen it in 2011. (So there are films that might prove list worthy, such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Guard that I didn’t get around to seeing.)

10) Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol

It helps that I saw this film in IMAX, so the scenes shot at the Dubai tower were frightening and exhilarating. The cast was fine and Simon Pegg was particularly amusing. The action sequences made were fun and exciting. Brad Bird can obviously do the live action as well as the animated. But the back story didn’t make sense to me. (Spoiler: If Cruise told me the reveal he told Renner at the end of the film, in the rather smug way he did, I’d want to smack him.)

9) The Way Back

Peter Weir (The Last Wave, Witness, Master and Commander) has long been one of my favorite directors, so it was good to see him working again and on an epic. Hollywood finally comes to the realization that the Soviet Union was an evil empire only a couple of generations after Reagan. The story of an escape from a Siberian Gulag is heart rending and exciting. Sadly, it does have its share of clich├ęs (such as “tastes like chicken”.) I very much enjoyed Colin Farrell’s performance as a man who perhaps deserved to be in the camp.

8) Attack the Block :

If you see only one Nick Frost film about aliens from last year, make sure it’s this one and not Paul. The story of a gang of young English street thugs fighting alien invaders is fun and has a couple of moment of tenderness. Fun stuff.

7) The Descendants :

Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways, About Schmitt) has not made a bad film yet. This is just one of his lesser works. The script is great, as are most of the actors, especially the young ones. My only problem was I didn’t believe George Clooney as a father or a cuckolded husband. But he’s still fun to spend time with.

6) Rango :

The best animated film I saw this year. Johnny Depp is quite fun in another telling of The Seven Samurai in the 3 Amigos/Bug’s Life mode of the mock hero that comes through. I particularly enjoyed Timothy Olyphant as a thinly disguised Clint Eastwood.

5) Captain America :

My favorite super hero film this year. I’m quite glad they choose to place the film in WWII period as should be for the origin of Cap. I loved the character as a kid and enjoyed seeing him come to life in a form better than the crappy ‘60’s animation I watched as a kid. They even found a creative way for Cap to punch Hitler. Yes, I will be seeing The Avengers right when it opens.

4) 50/50:

Yes, you can make a comedy about cancer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen are not surprisingly excessively crude at times, but overall it really works. It’s about friendship as much as it’s about disease.

3) Win Win

Sure, I’m happy to spend time with Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan, especially if it has a realistic and funny family drama and features high school wrestling. Because as a former high school wrestler I say there is not enough of it in movies.

2) Tree of Life:

Not an easy film, but a great one.

1) Moneyball:

What can I say, I’m an A’s fan.

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