THE BEST OF 2011! (Part 1)
2012 we cannot wait for what you’ve got lined up for us. The Avengers will assemble, the Dark Knight will rise and Ridley Scott returns to to LV-426 – and that’s just the movies. Whilst we’re waiting for all that awesomeness to arrive, we take a look back at the year that was…
After wandering around the House of Geekery and nudging the writers out of their media induced lethargy and this are the answers that were knocked loose.
BEST MOVIES 2011
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Somehow straddling that difficult border between crowd pleasing and intelligent with some of the best performance capture characterisations yet. Serkis needs an Oscar.
The Ides Of March
A glimpse behind the curtain of the US Presidential campaign system, this film was a great example of how to make a political thriller. Gosling is outstanding as always and Clooney does a brilliant job of both portraying the duplicitous candidate and directing the film itself.
X-Men: First Class
After the truly awful X:Men 3 and the worse than awful cinematic atrocity that was Origins: Wolverine, Matthew Vaughn managed to step up and deliver a superhero flick that captured the drama of the Cuban Missile Crisis whilst still being pretty fluffy.
Honourable Mentions: Cowboys & Aliens, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, Thor, Captain America, Super 8
3. X-Men: First Class
Drive is to modern action movies what the original Grimm fairy tales are to Disney’s adaptations. After watching all these neutered Disney cartoons, you find out that the source material are these insane, graphically violent tales that take these really odd turns and don’t necessarily end on a happy note.
2. Tree of Life
Tree of Life is like watching a dream. Everything seems to happen in your peripherals, and you don’t really see anyone talk, you just hear them. Even more so like a dream, you may not always remember or know exactly what is happening, but the emotional impact that it has on you is very apparent.
3. Attack the Block
Attack the Block is the ultimate genre mash up. It delivers the chemistry of Stand By Me and The Sandlot bringing an easily likable ragtag group of kids together and pitting them against a small scale alien invasion evoking the awesomely cheesy adventure tales like The Monster Squad, Frighteners, and Army of Darkness.
50/50 was a film I was looking forward to for numerous reasons. Fantastic director in Jonathan Levine, true to life script by comedy writer Will Reiser, great cast starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I had high expectations…and they were exceeded. 50/50 perfectly balances drama and comedy, delivering a touching and personal story that definitely spoke to me as I personally have gone through similar things JGL’s character goes through in the film. 50/50 is not just my #1 of 2011, it’s one of my favorite films ever.
2. Tree of Life
One of the more polarizing films of 2011, Tree of Life comes in at my #2 spot. Beautifully shot and expertly staged, Tree of Life is as engaging to look at it as it is to study. Delving into questions of existence and importance, it offers many interpretations for different viewers. Some can view the film as a metaphor for nature, or perhaps for mankind being more than it’s animal instinct. Or perhaps the viewer could take the route I did and see the film as a metaphor for selfish and self-serving attitude of man’s nature versus forgiving and nurturing way of God’s grace. But that is the beauty of this film. It offers so many ideas and questions and it’s ultimately what you choose to make it. Personally I found the film beautiful to look at, spiritually uplifting and at the end of the day it showed the impact and power a film can have.
Do not be fooled. Moneyball is not about baseball. The film instead is a character study of Billy Beane, the man who changed the way baseball values players back in the early 2000s. The film, which features fantastic performances by Brad Pitt and (gasp) Jonah Hill, is what The Social Network was to Facebook. It’s not about the subject but instead about the person involved. This film needs more love, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better character study than this film.
1. The Muppets
While there were a lot of more deep, introspective movies in 2011, ones better crafted and made for winning award no movie made me feel what The Muppets did. This wasn’t an artsy film where you were left to interpret the protagonist intentions. This was a movie that just wanted to entertain you and it did just that, and not only that, it managed to shed a tear (or two) out of me as well as countless laughs and giggles. In what was a very shitty 2011 The Muppets made me forget all of that. The sweetness, the nostalgia, the metajokes, the laughs and the iconography made this movie my most memorable experience in the theater of last year (and other years before that).
2. Dale & Tucker Vs Evil
Grab a little Buster Keaton, mix it with bit of a mistaken identity film from the 50s then cover everything with a gory backwoods hillbilly horror flick and you get Dale & Tucker Vs Evil, but it doesn’t stop in the genius of its execution. The two leads are some of the most endearing and funny characters I have seen on film. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk just do a wonderful job at shaping Dale and Tucker respectable and then there’s the lovely Katrina Bowden who usually plays the dumb blond that’s not as dumb once you get to know her. Everything came together to give us one of the most fun horror movies in recent years.
3. Super 8
I don’t care if the phrase has been overused but Super 8 was just SUPER. It gets you going with a gut punch of nostalgia where little kids get into out of this world adventures within a suburban setting, all packaged with a more modern flavor of awesome special effects and digital lens flares, some of the best performances of the year came from those adorable kids. To top it all of with a cherry, the movie the kids ended up making (within the movie) was worth the ticket price alone.
1. X-Men: First Class
Byran Singer’s ‘X-Men’ movie did more than entertain – it proved that comic book movies could be done well. It opened the floodgates for every character to have their own movie. A decade later and the trend has fizzled out – but the mutant franchise sure had. After a stellar first two entries things went downhill fast. Then Matthew Vaughn stepped up to the plate and knocked the ball out of the park. The story is better, the characters are fresher, the action more imaginative – in a year that saw multiple big name comic heroes hit the screens it was a reboot that took the crown. Needless to say – Michael Fassbender IS Magneto.
2. Anything Starring Ryan Gosling
Gosling became stamp of quality in 2011. Whether he was bringing the suave and falling in love in Crazy Stupid Love, selling his soul in The Ides of March or scary the crap out of everyone in Drive he was the common factor between some of the years first movies. Any one of them could’ve taken this spot – but I’m going to cheat and put them all in.
3. The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
I only read Tintin books as a youngster when the Asterix had run out. Still, it produced some fond memories of clever little adventures that were always fun. This movie, created by the awesome collaboration of Spielberg, Jackson, Moffat and Wright kept everything that made the stories fun and cranked them up to eleven. This was the movie that they should’ve delivered with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Bonus! Randy’s Worst 3 Movies for 2011!
It’s a movie about a grown ass dude that wants to be the Easter Bunny. If you thought Christmas movies are usually pieces of garbage, Hop is such a stinker that not even hobos would go near it, but seriously, it’s a movie about a dude (poor James Marsden) that wants to be the fucking Easter Bunny!
2. Breaking Dawn
I’m not really a Twilight hater, it’s not hating for the sake of hate but this time around things just got a little too absurd and while I usually would recommend that people see this films like you would see something like The Room and Troll 2, you see those films because they’re so craptastic watching them is an event. Well Twilight has reached in my honest opinion those levels of awful absurdness and in the end it’s just an anti abortion Lifetime movie with vampires and werewolves. I’m laughing already.
3. The Green Hornet
I have already shared my distaste for The Green Hornet.. err… more like I enlisted the help of one Quentin Tarantino to trash the film in HIS words (not mine, honest!) Just check it out right here and I basically agree with everything HE said.
More Bonus! Hedgie’s Worst Movie
You can actually see Neil Patrick Harris’ eyes become duller and deader as this film progresses. The nonsensical plot, even by kids movie standards, brings the Smurfs into our world for no reason other than ‘updating’ the franchise for todays ‘modern’ audience. Look. When your target demographic is under the age of seven, you don’t need to update shit. Just copy and paste a few episodes of the 80’s series virtually nobody going to see this film has ever seen and voila, you have a film. One better than this clusterfuck of fart jokes and forced exposition.
Dishonourable Mention: Green Lantern. Seriously. What the crap.
BEST TELEVISION SHOWS 2011
1. Doctor Who
2. Breaking Bad
3. Friday Night Lights
1. Breaking Bad
Believe the hype. Breaking Bad breaks all the rules and keeps you guessing from episode to episode. Its stars, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Giancarlo Esposito, give powerhouse performances not to be missed. Each season has successfully upped the ante. This year saw the fourth season come to pass setting up what should be an explosive and emotional fifth and final season.
Justified mixes much needed subtlety with old school cowboy morals reinvigorating the cop serial. Timothy Olyphant gives a career defining performance as lead protagonist Raylan Givens, and he is constantly surrounded by some of the best supporting casts working today. The underused Walton Goggins and Margo Matindale are among those most notable. It is a must-see for any law and order fanatic simply because it never exploits anything without first building some kind of tension or emotional attachment.
Louie CK’s own show about nothing transcends the sitcom format bringing in a loose continuity and a cinema arthouse influence. Louie is the star, writer, director, and editor. His one man show has made simplicity look good again, especially in a marketplace filled with bloated budgets and exponential production values.
1. Friday Night Lights
To those who know me, this is no surprise. Friday Night Lights (much like the film Moneyball) is not about football. Instead the show is and always has been about the characters of Dillon, Texas. The show struggled with viewership for years (despite always being critically loved) but went out on it’s own terms this season and did so with style. So many shows disappoint in their final seasons and series finales but not FNL. The show demonstrated why it will go down as one of the best dramas of all time: it told honest and true to life stories that relate to all of us and does so in a gritty and realistic way. The show bowed out without compromising itself or its characters and ended exactly as it should have. I’ll miss you Friday Night Lights.
2. Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad has always been good. To me personally it has had moments where it dipped a tad, but otherwise it has always been top-notch. In season 4 however, the show fired on all cylinders. Breaking Bad beautifully set up for it’s final season and did so by having the stones to go full force with it’s story-telling and character development. Just a fantastic season overall.
3. Happy Endings
Is this really my #3 show of the year? Not really, but it’s in my Top 10 I’d say. I’m including it though because it needs love. Produced by Community and Arrested Development directors/producers Joe and Anthony Russo, the show had both its first 13 episode season and first half of season 2 in 2011. The show has a simple premise of a broken engagement and the friendships that surround it and makes comedy gold out of it. So watch it, it needs more love!
1. Breaking Bad
2001 was an extremely good year of TV, it even made me miss so many movies mainly because the quality of many shows surpassed what they were showing us in the big screen and no other show provided us with the best of a cinematic feeling with writing, acting, drama, tension all at the top of it’s game such as Breaking Bad. Season 4 gave us the further descent of Walter White and the corruption of his wife Skylar
2. Game of Thrones
2011 saw the rise of the fantasy drama that should not be taken lightly, with twist, turns, shocks, deaths and nudity that rivals the best television that HBO and any other network has to offer, it’s usually said but rarely dos a TV show really delivers on the promise that ANYTHING can happen.
3. Parks and Recreations
I had to include a comedy in my Top 3 and the way I judge comedies is by how much they make me laugh and no show made me laugh as loud as Parks and Recreations did. Rarely does a show give you numerous amounts of characters where each and everyone of them make you laugh with their quirks and interactions and while the show is all a bout the laughs, they upped the ante on the emotional part in their last episodes as well. Full of sweetness and poignancy.
1. Doctor Who
My list is going to be cut short because I only started following the Doctor’s adventures this year meaning that I haven’t been watching much else. Check out my Top 10 10th Doctor Episodes here.
The best sitcom on television right now, bar none. It’s smart without being pretentious, it celebrates pop-culture without using Family Guy style cheap references and it’s damn funny. Hurry and bring it back NBC, starting with the rumoured Law & Order episode.
We shall return with more Best Of 2011 soon!