My Top 10 Movies of 2011
10. Senna - PG-13
It seems like there are always one or two really good documentaries every year, and Senna definitely fits that description. I don’t care much for motor “sports,” but this movie isn’t really about that as much as it is the meteoric rise and sudden death of one of the greatest racers of all time. The best documentaries have a natural character arc, and Senna doesn’t disappoint. It’s worth a watch even if you have no interest in racing.
09. Warrior – PG-13
Warrior is completely unbelievable, quite predictable, moderately clichéd, and somehow still manages to be entertaining. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton play brothers who haven’t seen each other for many years, but both end up in a mixed martial arts tournament. Nick Nolte is their recovering alcoholic father. Their performances are fantastic. Several other real life MMA personalities also play themselves. If you like sports movies at all it’s worth a watch to be sure. I think you could enjoy it just for the universal theme of life’s struggles, but I tend to like sports movies so I can’t say for sure.
08. Red State – R
Kevin Smith can’t win with some people. I can’t think of too many filmmakers who are willing, or able, to make such a drastic departure from their traditional style. Red State follows three typical high school kids and their attempt to respond to an online classified ad offering sex with a mature woman. That could be a story element for a typical Kevin Smith film, but that is pretty much the only similarity aside from a lot of often clever dialog. The rest of movie is a thriller involving a psycho preacher and his congregation (read family). Several familiar faces like John Goodman, Kevin Pollak, and Stephen Root play opposite a strong performance from Michael Parks as the aforementioned preacher. If you are a thriller fan that likes brainless dialog, and non-stop action/gore then you probably won’t like Red State. It’s definitely a more methodical journey.
07. Bridesmaids - R
I kept hearing Bridesmaids was like Hangover for women. I see where that comparison comes from, but it also kept me away. I finally succumbed after looking at the cast that includes: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, Chris O’ Dowd, and Melissa McCarthy. There are also tons of familiar faces scattered throughout the film like Jon Hamm, Terry Crews, Michael Hitchcock, and Matt Lucas. Certainly a capable cast, and it doesn’t disappoint, although I have to say McCarthy steals the show. Like Hangover there are tons of funny moments, and more than a few disgusting ones. If you like Kristen Wiig you should be good to go.
06. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – PG-13
I refused to watch this one until someone finally told me Tim Burton was in no way involved. With that guarantee in hand I was safe to commence viewing. I was treated to an exemplary prequel to the original Planet of the Apes with references galore. The cast is strong with the likes of James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, and Tyler Labine, and Andy Serkis. As a casual fan of the original this one seemed to fit really well. The amazing advances in technology have allowed for exceptionally skilled performances from actors like Serkis, and do so in a way that doesn’t force the viewer to recognize the illusion.
05. Paul - R
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, and Jason Bateman all in the same film. I don’t really have to say anything else do I? I do? How about Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Lynch, David Koechner, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Blythe Danner, and some guy named Steven Spielberg? Still not interested? Then screw you. I don’t think I want to associate with you. Go away.
04. Your Highness - R
Okay, I probably like Paul more, but two of my favorite actresses in a fantasy setting, and more importantly costuming, must be rewarded. That, and I love Franco and Danny McBride. Any movie that involves a minotaur penis deserves consideration. What needs to be considered is another matter entirely.
03. X-Men: First Class – PG-13
As a non-Marvel comic book fan I have enjoyed every X-Men movie. This one is the best. That pretty much sums it up.
02. Hesher - R
I looked forward to this with a great deal of anticipation after seeing the trailer with Metallica music playing. They let them use their music, and the movie poster utilized the classic Metallica font. Joseph Gordon-Levitt based his character on Cliff Burton. How epic is that? Devin Brochu, Rainn Wilson, and Piper Laurie are all strong. Oh yeah, and Natalie Portman. She can dress poor and nerdy, but she’s still hot. Dare I say hotter?
01. Super 8 – PG-13
Super 8 is almost like a cross between The Goonies, E.T., and Romeo and Juliet. If that doesn’t at least partially interest you then you are in need of some self-reflection. Six kids are making a zombie movie on Super 8 when they become entangled in a military conspiracy involving an alien. The kids are all solid, but Elle Fanning especially so. Kyle Chandler, Ron Eldard, and Noah Emmerich are also quite good as the main adults in the movie. To top it all off, Michael Hitchcock makes an appearance as a policemen. It may not be the best movie of all time, but it is certainly entertaining.
Slight spoiler alert:
Ignore those people who get hung up on the believability of the derailment scene. The movie has an alien with telepathic powers and technology necessary to make a ship out of toasters, and the derailment is the part they can’t believe? These people are morons, and should be shunned.