“Movies entertain us, and often they are nothing more than grab bags of gimmicks, gags, and gab. But those that continue to appeal to audiences over time and to lodge in our individual and collective memories do so because they reveal patterns of how we live our lives. Our hopes and fears, our aspirations and our failures, our longings and our frustrations, our loves and our hates are all embodied in the memorable popular films.”
I’m a big quote guy. And so as I sit here in my CTU Bauer shirt, pondering how to kick off “The Imaginarium” portion of this blog, I found this quote ever so relevant. I am admittedly one of those occasionally obnoxious people who views films as more than just a fun entertainment medium. Like Joseph said in his profile, “I’m not one of those guys that gets all jacked up to see Transformers 3 at midnight.”
I think of my boy Jack Bauer and his dedication to preserving all that is good. I like to think that I am dedicated to the same, just in a far less badass way. For me, a well-made film is a very powerful thing. Well-made films embody something in each of us that either forces us to confront something or stirs up an emotional inner response. I’m not implying that every movie made has to be some deep, cerebral melodrama. One of my all-time favorite movies is Sullivan’s Travels, which argues that there is the most power in comedies. (And yes the entire movie is on YouTube). I just think too many people tend to see movies that were made for a very specific purpose and they view them with a different agenda and are disappointed. A lot of the movies on my list have to be viewed with an open mind and with the understanding that they weren’t necessarily made for your enjoyment. But alas I will step down from my soapbox and save that post for another day.
So before we get too far into things here on The Imaginarium, I thought we should first recap what I considered to be my top movies of 2011. There is no specific set of criteria for ranking these. It’s basically just a combination of equal parts what I consider quality, combined with how much I enjoyed it. Also I have to admit I’ve only seen one movie nominated for Best Foreign Film and none of the Best Documentary nominees. Those are usually viewed the week leading up to the Oscars. I would love your feedback and we’ll go through 1-10 next week leading up to my Oscar picks.
So without further adieu, let’s do this thing!
Here are my Top 25 movies of 2011:
25. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close- Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock united in a movie that would have been the exact same without either of them. Or maybe I’m just still hostile for Bullock winning her Oscar for The Blind Side. Anyway this movie has a good story that suffered from poor direction. It was a little too August Rush for me.
24. Rango- I really liked Rango. I found it clever and fun. And Johnny Depp did a great job as the voice for the title character. I think there were little things that could have made it better but overall it was highly enjoyable.
23. War Horse- Spielberg blah blah blah. In my opinion Spielberg is about to M. Night Shyamalalalalan himself, either consciously or subconsciously. Ok, maybe it hasn’t gotten that far, but can we agree he’s at least Jerry Bruckheimer-ing himself? You have to admit he’s getting his name tacked onto many projects these days that someone with his credibility shouldn’t want their name tacked onto.
21. Shame- This movie made it’s big splash due to it’s controversial NC-17 rating, which it earned. It’s sensual and dark and twisted but engrossing to the point it’s hard to look away. Which is a common theme for this and the next few films.
20. Martha Marcy May Marlene- I would call this your typical “don’t drink the Kool-aid” movie but I don’t think there is a precedent established for that yet. The previously unknown Olsen-twin’s-other-sister, Elizabeth, gives a great performance in this hauntingly strange film. However I almost feel like her making her debut from out of the shadows will be like when Blanket finally joins us on planet Earth.
19. We Need to Talk About Kevin- Calling this movie haunting doesn’t even begin to capture the effect it’s bound to have on you. It’s so dark and chilling but impossible to look away from.
18. A Separation- I found this movie to be very smart and very moving. I think it embodies the complexity of life well.
17. 50/50- This was a movie that many viewers thought had an identity problem. Such as Judd Apatow‘s Funny People. But I think it was just a poor job by the promotional team for this movie, although they probably thought the comedy selling approach would sell the most tickets. I enjoyed this movie a lot more than anticipated.
16. Attack the Block- Writer/Director Joe Cornish said that he got the inspiration for the film from watching Signs and imagining what it would look like if it took place in south London. I think he one-upped Signs with his unreal special effects making this the best sci-fi movie I’ve seen in a while. And also added Nick Frost with his long hair from Paul.
15. Project Nim- As some of you know, I am fascinated by monkeys. As some of you nerds know, chimpanzees aren’t monkeys. So we’ll settle on primates. For those of you that saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which I surprisingly loved, this film is basically the real life version of that. Minus the uprising.
13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II- Those of you that know me will find this positioning a surprise. I’m not a big Harry Potter guy typically. My inner 12 year old is more drawn to movies like Hugo. But this movie summed up the biggest franchise in movie history with major style and stellar performances.
12. Margin Call- Easily one of the best scripts of the year. This movie was a great look inside the recent economic collapse.
11. Beginners- I found this film to be rather underrated. I give it this spot due to it’s performances mostly, but also thanks to solid direction by Mike Mills. Christopher Plummer was nominated for his role in this and should win it. Ewan McGregor was terrific. And Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) was absolutely beautiful and charming.
Thank you for reading my rankings of the top 11-25 movies of 2011. I hope that you’ll join me next week to break down 1-10 as well. And feel free to comment! I would love to have a discussion about these rankings!