In 2011, I saw 93 movies (and 13 television series). This list is my favorites. The only stipulation is that it had to be the first time I saw the movie. Otherwise Die Hard would be on this list every year.
1. The Fighter – it took me a bit to warm up to this movie and more importantly to Mark Wahlberg. He really only has two modes. Angry and whiny. Thankfully, that’s his character in the movie. BUT this movie isn’t about him anyway. The real magic is with Christian Bale. You will believe he is a legitimate crack-head. It’s odd to watch him so masterfully nail his role all the while remembering “this is batman!” His performance alone is worth your time but it turns out the movie is pretty dynamite all around. Major props to Amy Addams and Melissa Leo for their strong roles as well.
2. The King’s Speech – This is easily my favorite movie of 2011 and it was the favorite of the Academy Awards in 2010 as well. I only saw it in 2011 so I’m a bit behind in giving this praise, but seriously this movie is astounding. This movie has nothing in it but talking and the movie is about talking. How could a movie with only talking about talking be so good? You got me, but it is fantastic. If you haven’t seen it yet, go see it!
3. Super 8 – Super 8 is basically a tribute to Steven Spielberg and to 80s movies featuring kids with a surprising lack of parental supervision and an equally surprising sense of adventure. It’s basically Goonies + E.T. + Cloverfield (Abrams!). Everything about this movie just felt good. They sure don’t make them like they used to. I also felt like the young actors were superb and not annoying.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part.2 – I loved every second of this film (minus a few book-snob gripes). It’s not just a good movie but closing of a story that’s been in our lives for over 10 years. It was sad to see it end but such a joy to know that this project and (many of) the people who made it great hung in until the end. If you have yet to step onto the platform of 9 and 3/4 for this final chapter, you owe it to yourself to conclude the story.
5. Moneyball – I don’t like baseball. I don’t really like sports movies. So it stands to reason that I would not care much about this movie. It really was excellent and I really enjoyed seeing Jonah Hill do something that didn’t make my eyes (and brain) hurt. You can enjoy this even if you don’t know anything about baseball.
6. Rise of The Planet of the Apes – The worst part about this movie is the title. The second worse thing is the impression you get from watching the trailer. But do not be fooled, this movie is amazing! It stars James Franco (that’s probably the only name you’ll recognize) but he’s not the main character. The focus of the movie is on Caesar, the chimpanzee. By now the name Andy Serkis should be a household name and the only reason it isn’t is because Hollywood doesn’t go out of its way to recognize the folks behind motion-capture and CGI acting. You’d recognize one of his more notable roles as Gollum/Smeagle in the Lord of the (friggin’) Rings trilogy. I write this without a hint of irony, but the guy deserves an Academy Award for the life that he brings into these characters and one of the reasons that Rise of The Planet of the Apes is one of my favorite movies this year.
7. The Muppets – Song and dance, romance, action, comedy….puppets?! This movie has it all. Sure its a little cheesy and it aimed at a younger (or broader) generation but unless your heart is black and cold (more on that later) then you can’t walk away from this movie without a swing in your step. If you watched the muppets back when they were on TV, you will get a surge of nostalgia that will last a few days minimum. Puppeteering is a lost art in film and I couldn’t have been more happy with how this movie turned out. A must see!
8. Black Swan – Ok so if your heart is black and cold you will really enjoy this movie. To be honest, I wouldn’t even use the word ‘enjoy’ to describe how I felt after seeing it. So how can this be on my top list? Well, I have no problem saying that this movie was amazing. It was quite disturbing, but amazing nonetheless. Natalie Portman delivered a powerful performance, Mila Kunis was spot on, the physical condition the actors had to be in for the film is notable and the dancing was thrilling. Honestly, can a movie about ballerinas be compelling? I wouldn’t think so either, but I was on the edge of my seat and gripping the arm rests with furious anticipation. If you can stomach it, this should be watched.
It’s movies like the eight above that make movie watching such a fun and exciting hobby. You don’t just see moving pictures on a screen. The good ones tell a story. Those stories stick with you and our stories give us such a profound feeling of purpose and meaning in our life. So stop reading, and go watch!