This was the year that was supposed to just be the summer to get through in order to get to summer 2012 which was supposed to be the real big deal. Well, summer 2011 turned out to be pretty great in the big time pictures department while 2012 wound up severely lacking. The awful Green Lantern aside, Summer 2011 had some great superhero pictures to boot. This was an Academy Awards year that disappointed plenty of people and many didn't care for the "cute" movie winning Best Picture. Still a more impressive movie than King's Speech (ok, ok, I'm done harping on that haha). I had an absolutely horrible time trying to cut this damn thing to 6. I had a hard enough time getting it to 10 prior to that. When I had it to 8, every movie was passing my relevancy to myself test that I've been using when decision making. What makes it equally hard is that we're not that far removed from this particular year and have a passage of time that may make these cuts harder.
Since we're not that far out from 2011...I'm gonna break my own rules. For these last 2 years, I'm doing 8 movies. Sorry, if you're mad...but guess what...my blog, my game, my rules wah wah wah haha. Oh look, the Academy did 9 in 2011, so i'll do one shy...here they are
WINNER - The Artist
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Midnight In Paris
The Tree Of Life
And now mine
Captain America: The First Avenger
Introducing Cap in a period piece superhero film relishing in vintage serial-type storytelling was brilliant and quickly won me over. Chris Evans was quite incredible and totally Steve Rogers if there ever was one. Its kind of a shame this is the lowest grossing of all the Avenger lead up movies as its actually likely the very best of them. My only qualm with the film is it feels like it kneecaps itself in the end by forcing it to get right to The Avengers. We could have left him back in the WWII era and milked a little more out of that aesthetic. But alas it was not to be...or is it? If the Peggy Carter one-shot actually gets fully realized as a GOOD series (not this Agents of SHIELD thing), it could be what I'm looking for. But, I'm not really bothered by not having any more vintage Cap adventures as Winter Soldier looks incredible. Plus, I hear there may be some flashbacks within that movie to the era as well.
Love this movie. Have written about this movie. HERE. I feel bad for those who cannot appreciate or enjoy this franchise. It features some incredible stuntwork, great characters, FUN and rewards its fans with its storylines and twists.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
And another great action movie that got away from trends and just delivered in having well choreographed sequences and breathtaking stunts. The climb up the glass building might be my favorite moment at an IMAX film of all time. This film was just absolutely great in terms of an action movie. There was word that they were trying to pass the torch of this franchise to another actor (claiming Cruise wasn't as good box office anymore) and Cruise just said no thank you and owned this damn movie. He was absolutely fantastic and in better form than he'd been in years. Mission: Impossible is actually a really good franchise. The 2nd one is kinda dumb, but still works if you like really over the top goofy action. I really think the 3rd film is an under-appreciated one and likely has the series best villain and its most personal stakes. The best thing about the franchise is they always go to a new director who gets to make their kinda film with it. I'm look forward to the 5th one and am hoping no director ever returns to helm one. Its too much fun watching it go style to style.
Chinatown as an animated western with lizards? Yeah, I'm easy. But really this is a pretty fantastic little tale and if you're familiar with Chinatown (and its one of your all-time best movies like me-that's 1, Jake), its really fun to see how they do it justice. Its got some great voice acting as Depp has a fun time and you even get Timothy Olyphant doing a Clint Eastwood impersonation. The animation on this one is pretty jaw-dropping as well. I was quite astonished the first time I saw it with the level of detail and realism with all the sets, creatures and effects.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Planet Of The Apes has always been one of my favorite film franchises (oddly enough, thanks to my mother). And my favorite sequel was Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes. So, when word came that there was a hot script floating around Hollywood called "Caesar" that was pretty much a retelling of Conquest I got pretty excited. I followed it as much as snooping through news would allow. That the film turned out this incredible and has totally started a franchise for itself is really awesome. While I defend that the Apes movies are very good (well, some aren't, but that's for another day), they are dated, but there is possibilities to do some really cool things with those older ideas. And this one did just that. It took the general concept of Conquest, but really was its own modern film. Cannot wait for Dawn this summer, it looks like they are going to do the same thing to Battle For The Planet Of The Apes.
The Tree Of Life
So here's one of my pretentious douchebag picks. But damnit, I love them. They nominated Brad Pitt in this particular for Moneyball where he's just basically Brad Pitt being Brad Pitt in a biopic. Here, he gives his absolute career best performance and he didn't even get nominated. Granted it would have been for Best Supporting Actor, but he's really frickin' good in this movie. No, this film isn't going to be for everyone, and they had to post signs at ticket booths claiming this was a very cerebral arthouse film because people went to see "the new Brad Pitt movie". If you're not on board with Terrence Malick, then I doubt this will turn you. For me, this film is greatness, a stunning achievement and what I think is Malick's ultimate masterpiece. You could watch this movie a thousand times and could possible have seen something different with each view. Its also a very Kubrickian film and gave me very 2001: A Space Odyssey vibes when I watched it the first time. If you're not into arthouse or films that aren't spoonfed to you, aren't linear, aren't very clear with their resolutions...ones that have your mind wandering and making decisions on its own...this probably isn't for you. I just don't want someone to go and watch this and come back like "What...the fuck, dude?"
X-Men: First Class
Many are doubting Days Of Future Past right now. I laugh...go on...go ahead. Many doubted this film as well. Me? Not one of them. When they decided to set this thing in the 60s and sit and bath in all its times and stylistic glory I was sure we were in for a hit. That it wound up being the greatest X-Men film of them all? Wow...crazy! After The Last Stand, there was a X-Men: Origins: Magento project going around that wound up getting melded into this movie. And I was always like..."Magneto movie? Sounds boring." Holy shit I was wrong. Michael Fassbender as him and also the hunt he goes on in the beginning of this movie very James Bond-like was incredible. I can't sing this film high enough praises and once again praise Matthew Vaughn even more as really dude...when you make a film and don't quit it, you do pretty awesome. I can only ask of DOFP not to stray from having fun with the styles of the era and being as cool as this film wound up being.
Prior to this film I was pretty tired of the whole Diablo Cody thing. But, this film wound up being her best work. This is one of the many films that got the ultimate shaft for the Academy Awards in 2011. In an ideal world this would have been nominated AT LEAST for Best Actress (Charlize Theron), Supporting Actor (Patton Oswalt) and Screenplay (Cody). But nope. This darkly comedic film is really terrific and totally satirizes silly romantic comedies and plays them out as one might imagine they would in the real world. I've heard some really really asinine and silly complaints from people about this one that makes me scratch my head and wonder "do they realize what the hell they're saying here". This one is terrific as both a comedy and a drama and features great work from everyone involved.