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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Movies that made an impression in 2011

Our top ten favorite movies of the year

10. The Tree of Life - We reviewed this movie here. It was totally weird and not for everyone, but it was original and we loved the message. The first half was laughable and the second half was pretty dang good. The movie rang true to life and was a great visual experience for people who like movies off the beaten path with little dialogue. Ultimately, it was deep and life-affirming, with good performances and lots of guts. 

9. Crazy Stupid Love - There’s a lot here to mock. The public love declarations, predictability, and anything with the cringe-worthy babysitter. But one of us thought this movie was sweet and funny. The performances were also good. Can anything with Steve Carell, Emma Stone, and Ryan Gosling be BAD? The answer is no. This was the second-best romantic comedy of the year.

8. Paranormal Activity 3 - Leeard and Ern saw this one together. We feel that it is vastly superior to the first one, where the two most annoying people in the world were terrorized and TOTALLY DESERVED IT. We liked the characters in this offering and thought the movie had enough scares to make it worthwhile. We were creeped out and we left still feeling creeped out/bummed.

7. Bridesmaids - The Hangover this is NOT, and those saying it was a female version of that movie did Bridesmaids a disservice. What the movie actually was: An adult romantic comedy with ample memorable comedic performances from women, along with a mature friendship and one of the tackiest weddings we've ever seen on film. Yeah, there are laughs. But you don’t see anyone’s penis or Mike Tyson’s tiger. Ern didn't like Melissa McCarthy because of Gilmore Girls (whatever, Ern. You're crazy). Ern thought that character was annoying. But Melissa proved herself to everyone in Bridesmaids, and just about no one disagrees.

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Ern has read and hates the book. The writing is as dry as it gets, and it’s bad writing on top of that. The heart and soul of this story is the main female character, Lisbeth Salander, which is why the movie was better than the book. We got to see a performance worthy of the character. Yes, we’ve seen Miss Noomi Rapace in the Swedish versions, and she was great, but we think Rooney Mara topped her. We also liked Daniel Craig’s warmer Mikael Blomkvist and the simpler, clearer plot. If you can go without reading the book first, David Fincher’s direction and vision elevate the source material. The only thing you should know is that there is a rape scene and those disturb just about everyone. It’s necessary to the trilogy and tone of the movie, though. We both understand why it happened, it's just our opinion that it's better to go in expecting something that violent and graphic - that's not a great surprise to see in a movie. This is dark dark dark, but worth seeing.

5. The Descendants - For a movie with its dark subject matter, this one had enough humor to balance that out. The performances were all great (who knew anyone on Secret Life could act?!! - Sidenote: THE OTHER BLOGGER, SUCK IT ERN.), and this movie was something that we could enjoy with our families who don’t mind a little bad language. Thoughtful family movies with pretty scenery never go out of style.

4. X-Men: First Class- Ern nerded out over this movie so hard. She saw it multiple times and then bought it. This movie made an impact because it let everyone who hasn’t been watching indies know how sexy and talented Michael Fassbender is, especially when you are writing slash fiction in your head featuring his co-star, James McAvoy, who is always hot. It also reinvigorated a franchise that was getting decidedly sucky, movie-wise. The X-Men deserved better, and they got better here. This movie didn’t have the budget of Captain America or Green Lantern, but it had the script, the humor, and the talent, which top special effects for us any day. Our only complaint is that the Xavier/Magneto friendship was supposed to last YEARS, not days. Ugh. Bring back the bromance!

3. Hanna -  Saoirse Ronan is gorgeous, talented, and super weird. We’re surprised Hollywood even likes her. We always enjoy Eric Bana and almost always enjoy Cate Blanchett (Indiana Jones was the exception - that wasn't entirely her fault though). This movie was unique. The script and dialogue were great (“I don’t wear makeup. I think it’s deceitful. This is my face, take it or leave it"). There was plentiful humor and action. It’s a lot better than the trailer makes it look. We really don't want to say anything else about it and spoil what it's like.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - This movie was a joy to watch. We liked the changes, because it made the events surprising even to those who have read the book multiple times (us). We don’t think Alan Rickman is the best onscreen crier in the world, but the rest of his acting was spot-on, which is important because Snape’s backstory is so much the heart of the film. Whether you were disappointed with the adaptation or not, you have to admit that the end of our childhoods was memorable and bittersweet. One of us thought it was perfect; one of us thought it was good enough. Both of us will own it and watch it over and over and over...

1. Drive - This movie showed us that our attention span has been shot to hell. It had pacing that tried our patience while it tried to go for building intensity. It succeeded in building intensity, but we were annoyed waiting for the camera to cut to the next scene while it would linger after the action was clearly over. Don’t let that stop you from seeing this movie, because it’s number one for a reason. The second half was kick-ass and we got to see people killed in creative ways. Ok, that sounded really bad. We just thought the action scenes were scenes that we haven’t seen before. Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, and Bryan Cranston are great, as always. The opening sequence is pretty widely considered the best of the year.

If we had a top 20, these would be the rest: Moneyball (Brad Pitt brought it this year), Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Hugo, Friends with Benefits, Our Idiot Brother, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, The Help (our favorite performance was Octavia Spencer's), Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska was the best Jane we've ever seen). MI4 was entertaining too.

We still need to see: War Horse, Melancholia, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Muppets, Shame,  We Bought a Zoo, Fast Five, A Dangerous Method, Like Crazy, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Sherlock Holmes 2

These are the ones that we will remember for being bad. We didn’t go see Jack and Jill, Pirates, Transformers, or anything like that, because we try to avoid bad movies. But these are the bad ones that slipped through the cracks of our judgment. Sadly, we saw them. Battle Los Angeles (boring), Bad Teacher (not funny enough), Green Lantern (bland), Captain America (disappointing trailer for another movie), Super 8 (not original enough), Source Code (depressing - we disagree on this one. Leeard really enjoyed it), The Adjustment Bureau (anticlimactic), I Am Number Four (boring AND unoriginal), Unknown (stupid and had January Jones), Arthur (not funny enough), and The Rite (slow and not scary). Actually, we wouldn't say Captain America and Super 8 were as bad as the others. They just should have been sooooo much better.

Overall, we think TV topped movies this year, but there were a few good offerings. 2012 is going to ROCK as far as movies go (Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, The Hobbit, Snow White and the Hunstman), so TV will have to bring it.

Ern saw Warrior and would now rank that at #3.