With 2011 behind us, I sat back to take a look at the films I got a chance to see this past year. Since I couldn't decide between a Best Of and a Worst Of list, I went ahead and combined them to give you my Top 5 of each. Now, these are from the movies I actually saw this past year, and that definitely affected my worst of list. There were movies that were so bad I refused to see them. Had I seen "Buck Larson", "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" or "Jack and Jill", they without a doubt would have made the list.
I never believed I'd see a movie where I'd think, "Wow... Schwarzenegger was a much better actor." Though Arnold only did two films as Conan, one good and one bad, Jason Momoa had big shoes to fill, and he did a terrible job at it. His performance was bland and uninspired, as though he thought his physique would be enough to carry him through the film. The action was decent, but this seemed like an extended pilot episode for a 1990s syndicated television show like "Hercules" or "Xena". There was nothing about this movie that made it a big-screen, worthy successor to the originals. The best part of the film is the opening where (SPOILER) a young Conan is sent on a race by his father against the older boys in the camp to prove who should be a warrior. Each boy must carry a small egg in their mouth and return with it unbroken. Young Conan returns with the egg unbroken and the severed heads of several enemies that tried to ambush the runners. After that, the movie just fails to deliver.
This is a choice that I know many people will argue with me on. This is a film that might actually end up with an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, but I thought it to be the most boring film I'd seen in a long time. To be honest, if given the choice to watch this or any of the "Twilight" films, I'm picking "Twilight". Yes, this movie had its funny points, but there was nothing original to it. This was Judd Apatow's attempt to release his own version of "The Hangover", which was a good film. The only standout part of this movie was Melissa McCarthy. While the other characters were completely unlikable, McCarthy took the unbelievable nature of the film, and her role, and gave a likable performance. But beyond McCarthy, there were no characters I found to be likable, or anyone you really want to get behind and see succeed. Also, the Apatow style of over-the-top, gross out humor has run its course.
First I had a movie on the "Worst" list that might end up being an Oscar nominee. Now I have one that was one of the Top 10 highest grossing films of the year. This was a movie that really hurt to watch. I so enjoyed "The Hangover" and was excited at the idea of a sequel. Unfortunately, there was nothing new to give us. All they did was take the first movie, almost scene for scene, and its best gags, and move it to Bangkok. True, you don't mess with a good formula, but this just felt like watching a worse version of the original. The first film had some gross out humor, but didn't go overboard. This time around, there are things in this movie that you cannot unsee, and it takes away from the enjoyment of the film. At least the performances were all good here, but that doesn't mean I liked everyone in the film. In the original, Zach Galifianakis played an awkward, but lovable, man-child that screws up and kick starts their blackout. This time around, its the same thing all over again, but the character isn't likable. But its not Galifianakis' fault, I blame the writers for this one. The character was so unlikable that if the other characters had just killed him and left his body in a dumpster in Bangkok, I don't think anyone would have blamed them.
This is probably one that people are surprised that I have on my Worst list. When it first came out, I did enjoy it. But now that its on Blu Ray and I've had a chance to really watch it, it really should have been so much better. The basic idea for this film was a great one, but there were so many mistakes in casting and effects that the film suffered immensely. I was happy to hear that Ryan Reynolds was playing Hal Jordan, but I knew he wasn't the best suited. Nathan Fillion from "Castle" and "Firefly" really should have been given the role, but he wasn't a big enough name. Ryan Reynolds did OK with the role, but his sense of humor wasn't right for the part. He really should have just continued with the planned "Deadpool" movie for Marvel, or "The Flash" for DC. He would be terrific with those, but he was just misused here. And Blake Lively had no business being in this movie. It was like seeing Kate Bosworth in "Superman Returns" all over again. Lively, like Bosworth, was at least 10 years too young for the role she was playing. She has neither the physical nor acting maturity to play a character that's supposed to be the same age as Reynolds. As for the effects, when Hal Jordan was on Oa with the other Lanterns, it looked amazing. Every effect on Earth, including his costume, looked like George Lucas was in charge.
This one could have been so good. The original "Scream" trilogy ended on a weak note, so it would have been great to see a new movie make up for it, and it was obvious that they really tried with this one. Unfortunately, the horror genre has changed so much that Scream is a joke within itself, with the opening of the film being unique, but one of the most self-deprecating, meta references I've seen. Seeing Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette come back was great, but it begs the question, "How many times can this happen to one set of people?!" I also had the question, "How much plastic surgery has Courtney Cox had?" The once beautiful Ms. Cox just looked horrible in this. When it came to the reveal of the (SPOILERS) killers, I felt it was a good twist, but they didn't give us anything new. The idea of Sydney's cousin Jill killing everyone so she could be the sole survivor and get the attention Sydney had is interesting, but they dropped the ball by killing her anyway. Wes Craven could have changed the formula and had Jill survive, only to be publicly revealed as the killer in front of the news cameras. By killing the killer, we had another cookie cutter ending.
Yes, a comic book movie is on my Top 5. Try not to be too shocked. This was a terrific comic book movie, but it was also a terrific movie. The acting, action, and visual effects were all great. The movie isn't perfect, but any weak point was so minor that it didn't affect the overall film. This was the last movie before Marvel's big one, "The Avengers", and as a lead in, this movie did everything it was supposed to. I know people that had no knowledge of Captain America going into the movie that enjoyed it just as much as the die hard fans.
A movie that most people probably haven't heard of. A British film from the writer of "Shaun of the Dead", "Attack the Block" was a surprise hit. I've always been a fan of British films, but wasn't sure how a sci-fi film with a cast of unknown teens would hold up. Amazingly, very well. The film is about a group of teenage hoodlums who encounter an alien in their neighborhood. When others of its kind show up and start an attack, the teens decide it is up to them to take down the aliens and defend their apartment block. This film succeeded in so many ways, including giving us aliens we haven't seen before, and making the audience get behind the kids and look at them as the heroes though they start off as completely unlikable juvenile delinquents. The thing that might turn people off to this movie is the VERY thick accents of the stars, but just turn on the subtitles and enjoy this amazing film.
I reviewed this movie not too long ago, so I won't recap that review. All I will say is that this movie is on the Best list because it had no illusions of itself. The film makers knew what kind of a movie it was going to be, and that's what they made. Given the history of Harold and Kumar, there's only so many ways you can take the series three films in, and they didn't try to take it anywhere else. This movie was everything it should have been, funny, shocking, and a little heartwarming. And its the best 3D film I've ever seen.
Its easy to call this "The New 'Rocky'". Yes, that would describe the tone of the story, but this is so much more. Its still an underdog story, but its two underdogs on a course to face each other. When you bring in the family dynamic in the brothers' separate lives and their dynamic together, this is a movie that really makes you care what happens. But that's only half of what draws you in. The other half is the most brutal, but interesting, fights ever seen in a movie. While one brother is a wrecking machine that takes out some opponents with a single punch, the other is a tactician looking for that opening to put his opponent into a submission hold. You really like the two brothers through the entire film, and when they face each other at the end in the finals, you might find yourself torn as to which one you want to see win.
In this case, the highest grossing film of the year should be a shoe in for some high level Academy Award nominations. Unfortunately, it looks like "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2" is going to have to settle for a nomination in visual effects again. That's really a shame too because this movie had some of the best performances of the year. Alan Rickman has been an under appreciated actor for years, and his evolving performance as Professor Snape is more than deserving of a Best Supporting Actor nomination. After 10 years and 8 films, this was a beautiful way to end the Harry Potter series. So many complained about part 1 being too slow, but once you see these two parts as a completed story, all complaints should be out the window. Once part two starts, it doesn't stop for two full hours. It is by far the best film of the year.