For films, this year has been eventful. The traditional system has been filled with risks for 2011. Brave gambits have been taken by both performer and director’s alike. Iconoclastic directors tested their crafts in unfamiliar genres like Martin Scorsese’s family friendly Hugo while veterans like Terrence Malik return to the fold to deliver divisive stories. Beloved franchises (Harry Potter) went out with a bang capturing their audience’s imagination forever while old ones (The Muppets) were revived gaining a special place in our hearts. Certain members of the illustrious A-list like the Twilight crew strived to establish themselves in other films apart from their franchises. Filmmakers made bets on what would make their films standout such as Michael Hazanavicius’s silent opus to old Hollywood.
The world of film has had a tumultuous year. However the quality and quantity of films have still been excellent. These are my top eleven movies for 2011.
11). Contagion- This stellar film gave the most realistic portrayal of an epidemic. As an unnamed virus is unleashed across the world, viewers are left thinking what if this did happen. The scariest aspect of this scenario: this could happen. Soderbergh utilizes his ensemble for great dramatic effect as we witness our society crumble. From Matt Damon’s over protective dad to Marion Cottillard’s kidnapped virologist, we see how a virus can ravage us on a physical and personal scale through their eyes. Soderbergh’s disaster epic is the most vivid horror movie I have seen and I give kudos to any film that can make me uneasy after hearing someone cough.
10). The Muppets-This ranks as one of 2011’s best films for one simple reason: Everyone’s favorite “felty” friends made a triumphant return to the silver screen. For a franchise that had more pull in the 70’s and 80’s, the return of Kermit and gang provided happiness and joy for audiences of all ages. It was amazing to hear beloved songs like The Rainbow connection again and these guys have truly cemented their places in our hearts.
9). Warrior-One of the best sports movies this year. Set against the gritty backdrop of Pittsburgh, the film uses MMA to display some fantastic performances. Of course Nick Nolte stands out as the father struggling to redeem himself, but Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton give noteworthy pieces as well. Who knew MMA could be such a tearjerker?
8). Moneyball-The best sports movie released this year. Brad Pitt’s likable Billy Beane and the excellent writing trio of Chervin/Sorkin/Zaillian elevate this movie beyond the traditional sports film. The sharp writing and subtle acting made it a blessing that Moneyball finally made it to the silver screen.
7). Fright Night- Yes, its Fright Night. For a horror remake, this one takes the cake. It is well made and highly enjoyable. Usually these films are just spewed out by the studio and made with no heart our soul. But this one obviously displays considerable effort in its development. Colin Farrell hamming up and enjoying each scene he is in definitely is one of the highlights. I chose this as one as one of the best ‘011 had to offer since I feel it is the best horror movie remake done thus far.
6). 50/50-Who knew cancer could be so funny? As poor taste as this comment may be, 50/50 is really funny. It also does well what some movies can’t: balance. Joseph-Gordon Levitt delivers on the drama while Seth Rogen gives a genuinely funny turn. I find Rogen pretty annoying in some movies but he is perfectly believable as the struggling protagonist’s best friend. With a personal script, 50/50 is not only one of the best movies but most relatable.
5). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-The marketing campaign promised one thing would be true: this was the feel-bad film of the holidays. That is not a bad thing though. Fincher creates another beautifully dark world from Stiegg Larson’s source material. Fincher deserves any awards he gets for making this homage instead of a remake. Ms. Rooney Mara’s startling transformation into the titular heroine is impressive and this film leaves you unsettled. For a book adaption, this has to be one of the most faithful which makes this a testament to the talent of Fincher and Mara. See this if you have not already.
4). Super 8-This classic piece of sci-fi fun harkens back to good old days of class Spielberg. The kids are great and the scares are exciting. The effects are great and J.J. Abrams should be applauded for making a movie this simple and fun. Super 8 was one of the top this summer since it had the latter effects while performing well in a season traditionally known for high tension and explosions. The kids and traditional lingo of the time really made this film enjoyable.
3). The Help-Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer give the best female performances of this year. These women embody a piece of history and sell every emotion and thought women working in this time had. Unfortunately, the gorgeous Emma Stone does not play a huge role in this film but she serves her purpose. If Viola and Octavia do not win any awards for their respective parts, something heavy will go flying through the screen of my TV on any of the awards nights.
2). Drive-Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks are the men of the year. Both seasoned performers took great risks in this dark indy. Brooks should be the most notable since the traditional comedian turned into a vile villain. Although it’s violent, it is a different type of film and I enjoyed watching it again and again.
1). Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2-No franchise has ever been as loved as this one. No characters will ever be loved as these are. The finale of this story spanning a decade was truly sad and epic. It captured all the best moments from the book and it was sad to see this film end. At the closing scenes, many people must have felt their childhoods closing as well. If this entry into this franchise does not receive any recognition, I know quite a few people who will be upset. I would be one of them.