Here is my list of the best movies of 2011. And by “best” I mean “I saw and liked”.
Top Five (not in order)
Warrior: It’s like two Rocky movies in one. The last hour of this movie has more good fight scenes (sporting event fight scenes—not necessarily action movie fight scenes) than you see in an entire year of movies.
Thor: I wasn’t expecting much from this movie so maybe that’s why I liked it so much. The landscapes and space looked awesome and I thought Thor had a good (although really simple) character arc. Even Thor needs friends, guys.
Moneyball: Finding the human center of baseball statistics ended up making for an awesome movie. You’ll have his daughter’s song stuck in your head for hours after seeing this, and you won’t mind at all.
Sucker Punch: Yes, I know, it’s horrible. But it also has robot samurais, mechs, blimps, orcs, dragons, ancient swords, modern guns, skimpy school girl outfits, and sweet music. Notice I left “good plot” out of that list. I’m not surprised people don’t like this movie, but for me, it was awesome.
Attack the Block: Not as funny as the marketing wanted you to believe (which isn’t a bad thing, it just messed up expectations), but ultimately a really, really good movie from out of nowhere with a young cast that nails it. And the first original alien I’ve seen in a long time.
Other Solid Flicks
Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol: Almost the entire movie is an action scene. And it finally feels like a team working together. Jeremy Renner is a good addition, and there are some awesome sequences (the hallway scene, the Burj Khalifa, the automated car lot). If you didn’t see this in real IMAX, then you missed out.
Source Code: Diminished somewhat once you know the end, I still really enjoyed this movie. Good story. Bittersweet ending.
Rango: This movie takes a while to get going, and even when it does the story never really pulled me in, but my God, what a gorgeous movie. Who knew Johnny Depp would be so good at voicing a cartoon? And I usually HATE celebrity voices.
Super 8: Fantastic first 2/3s. Awful ending. Highlight to read if you’ve seen it: You can’t all of a sudden decide that we should care about your stupid human-eating monster at the end of the movie just because it makes for a tear-jerker. What a misstep. If that’s where they wanted to go then they should have let us get to know the alien much sooner. And also have it not eat people like beef jerky. That being said, Michael Giacchino’s score is so moving at the end that I almost don’t care. Almost.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: I haven’t read the books or seen the Swedish version, so I wasn’t let down by the story or what was changed or left out. What I did get was a pretty interesting little mystery with amazing camerawork, sets, and wardrobe. Fincher’s movies look so F’ing good. I’ll see anything he puts out, and that’s pretty rare for me.
Drive: Can a movie stand on just an awesome soundtrack? Yes. Yes it can. I wish a movie called “Drive” had more, well, driving. But it did have insane amounts of violence! And that ain’t nothing.
Cowboys and Aliens: A really great opening and cool premise end up not delivering. I still enjoy it, it just could have been a lot cooler.
Captain American: Skinny Chris Evans is awesome. The first act of this movie is great. The rest, not so much. A lot of explosions but no real core to any of the fights.
Insidious: The first 2/3rds of this movie are scary, well-shot, and have some cool ideas. The last third turns into a farce with a horrible antagonist/monster/bad guy. Such a bummer.
X-Men: First Class: Really cool costumes, cool era, lame characters. I guess because these have to tie-in to the modern X-Men they were painted into a corner. But it was like the B-squad. Also, January Jones shouldn’t be allowed in anything except Mad Men. She is awful.
Battle: Los Angeles: None of this movie was good, but the premise was so good that I’m including it. What a let-down.
Bellflower: They spend the first half of this movie making you care just a bit about these fucking hipsters and then the second half making them the least likable people on the planet doing horrible things for almost no good reason. I knew nothing about it going in and wish I could go back to a time when I knew nothing about it.
Tree of Life: Visually stunning. And that is all. Did no one think to add a story to this movie? I’m pretty convinced that people that like this movie are really just in love with the idea of liking this movie. Or they are really, really high. I made it an hour in before I started skipping through just looking for bits of plot. I guess I’m not ready for a purely impressionistic movie.
Green Lantern: Shit sandwich.
No Strings Attached: When Friends with Benefits is “the good one” you’ve done something horribly wrong. I made it through 30 minutes and not only didn’t laugh, I didn’t even see anything that was supposed to be funny. Or romantic. Or interesting.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1: Yes, I saw it. Shut up. I will say this about this one: it finally got so bad that it’s funny. Like, laugh-out-loud funny at multiple parts. So there’s that. How anyone—woman, man, young, old—actually thinks this is good baffles me.
What did I miss on the best and worst? Comment below.