Monday, January 23rd, 2012

While one major perk of working at CinemaSalem is getting to screen several movies, I still don’t get to see nearly as many as I would like. Many of these movies I watched several months ago (because, I, unlike the Academy, believe that good movies can be released all year long, and not just in the last two months of the year), so while compiling this list, I thought mainly about how these movies made me feel afterwards. Did I want to tell everyone I’ve ever met to see it? Was I angry that I wasted 2 hours of my life? Did I find myself thinking about it for days, weeks, or even months later? With these questions in mind, I am pretty happy with my list. Hope you enjoy it!

Top 5 films of 2011:

1. Beginners–I had settled down with only 1 other person in the tiniest theatre of a megaplex to catch this movie, and I distinctly remember being upset that more people weren’t watching it. It has a lovely and simple storyline (for those who haven’t heard of it: a young man comes to terms with his father’s cancer diagnosis and his decision to live his final days in an openly gay lifestyle), amazing performances by Christopher Plummer, Evan McGregor, and Melanie Laurent, and a unique and refreshing cinematic style. Plus, did you ever get to check out the film’s poster? So great!

2. Jane Eyre–I have been a fan of this book since I was very young (yeah, I had weird tastes as a child…don’t judge), so I was extremely nervous to watch a film variation. This beautifully shot, wonderfully acted film remains completely faithful to the novel while somehow feeling fresh and new. And Michael Fassbender as Rochester?! Yes, please!

3. Crazy, Stupid Love–This movie was such as sweet surprise to me. I loved all of the tender moments between Steve Carrell and Julianne Moore as they played a married couple struggling to cope with an affair. The twist within the movie was hilarious and unexpected, but not unbelievable or contrived.

4. Louder Than A Bomb–As a grad student beginning my student teaching this semester, this movie found a very special place in my heart. About a poetry slam competition and the high school students who have found comfort, hope, inspiration, and their voices as a result, Louder Than a Bomb speaks to the power we all have in us to achieve something great. This film was included in last year’s Salem Film Fest, so we all got the opportunity to meet the subjects of the film: how lovely to see the young adults they have become, and what bright futures lie before them! The film currently plays on Oprah Winfrey’s network, OWN, so be sure to check it out!

5. The Muppets–This film made me happy. Period. The songs stayed in my head for days, the characters were exactly how they should have been, the story lent itself to the Muppets classic roots, and Jason Segal and Amy Adams were spectacular. So much love.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Bridesmaids–I am not one for potty humor. At all. I mean, look at the other films on my list. I think it’s lame and most of the time only appeals to the lowest common denominator. So imagine my surprise when I found myself in hysterics watching this film! I don’t feel like I need to go into that much detail, since I’m pretty sure most people have seen this one—and if you haven’t, what on Earth are you waiting for? Wilson Philips is waiting for you!!

2. Super 8—Love me some Spielberg, and this film fell right in stride with all of his classic 80’s films. While the first two acts had excellent characterization and buildup, the third act tell flat for me, which is what kept it off my top 5 list, ultimately.

3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes–One of those movies that I wouldn’t have watched if I didn’t have to for work. Never having seen the original, I thought that this movie would have nothing to offer me: How wrong I was! This film stood independently of the original while still honoring it. And seriously, Andy Serkis gives an amazing performance as Caesar, the ape who forms a human bond with James Franco’ character; his performance is reason alone to check out the film.

4. In Time–I feel like this film deserved more credit and attention than it received. I am willing to check out any film made by Andrew Niccol and while In Time wasn’t nearly as good as 1997’s Gattaca, I still found it thought provoking, emotional, and entertaining. Yes, Amanda Seyfried’s wig was BAD, but hey, I’m willing to forgive that misstep.

5. Sarah’s Key–As you’d imagine any film about a little girl left to fend for herself during WWII, this film was depressing as all getout. I left with a migraine; I was so unnerved and upset the entire time. But I think that speaks to the strength of the film: it had a pretty strong hold over me and made an emotional impact (which, trust me, is hard to do)

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2–Let me say this right out the gate: I’ve only seen half of the Harry Potter movies, and I found ‘Deathly Hallows: Part 1’ infinitely better than this one. However, I enjoyed seeing the mature actors these young stars have become, fantastic performances by Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman, and experiencing the end of Harry Potter’s tale again onscreen.

7. The Adventures of Tintin–I think what hurt this film is that many American’s were not familiar with the character of Tintin, and therefore not really willing to fork out the cash to see it in 3D. But this film did very well overseas, and with good reason: it is entertaining, exciting, and willing to challenge its young audiences. Not to mention the excellent animation!

8. Real Steel–This movie did a very good job balancing the rough and tough battling robots with a surprisingly sweet and tender storyline about a strained father-and-son relationship. Plus, I will literally watch shampoo commercials just because Evangeline Lilly is in them.

9. Adjustment Bureau–I love me a classy hat. Many blame John F. Kennedy for them going out of style: I’m not one to point fingers, but however they fell out of fashion, I want them to come back. So my thanks to this film for putting handsome men in classy hats. Oh yeah, and the story is halfway decent, too.

5 Worst films of 2011:

1. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop–I’m sure what I was expecting from a documentary about a man at the lowest point of his professional life, but I certainly didn’t expect to go from loving the man to hating him in two hours flat. O’Brien comes across as pompous, self-aggrandizing, and cranky while his team waits on him on pins and needles, each one of them trying to chuckle at the bitter and hurtful jokes made at their expense. I used to stay up late just to watch his opening monologues: now, I don’t feel that man deserves my time. I’d rather be sleeping. Conan O’Brien can’t stop—but maybe he should.

2. Dilemma–Oh, this movie angered me. It was so bad that I am having a difficult time even inventing an intelligent way of conveying it to you. Let me put it this way: Vince Vaughn, the eternal bachelor of Hollywood, has no business writing movies about marriages. It came across as insincere and contrived, with a weak and unrealistic resolution. I keep confusing it with ‘Couples Retreat’ when I look back on it, probably because it was essentially the same film.

3. Captiain America–Left me under whelmed. While I did appreciate the 1950’s hairstyles and costumes enough to carry me through, the story did nothing for me. I’m not a comic book reader, so I can’t speak to it has a film rendition of the books, but I can say I left the theater and never thought about it again.

4. Hangover 2–If you’ve seen the first Hanover, then you’ve seen Hangover 2. Same characters, same storyline, same antics, same resolution. This movie was the result of a studio wanting to capitalize on a cash cow, nothing more.

5. Thor–Again, I’m not a comic book reader. But this film felt as if it was sloppily thrown together in a desperate attempt to get all of the proper setup in place for The Avengers. Probably because it was.