Your Favorites Films of 2011

Does it involve the words “Attack” and “Block” by any chance?

I haven’t seen too many movies this year, partly because I rarely go to the cinema, and partly because my TV was dead for most of the year, so was stymied from both sides. Since getting my new TV and BluRay, I’ve been catching up on most of them on DVD, but still have a bunch to yet purchase and view.

So far, though, my favourite films have been Attack the Block, Paul, and Rango which proves how few movies I’ve seen yet.

I just saw** The Help** and thought it was wonderful. The acting was superb and I was told it stayed quite true to the book. I haven’t read it so I wouldn’t know.

I also enjoyed 50/50, mostly due to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s smiles. I loved the story too.

Super 8 was fun, but the one movie I didn’t like at all was Contagion. I was told it was a different take on the virus movie. I thought it was the same old story with nothing new added and Matt Damon was a robot.

I saw a lot more movies than usual this year…three. Thor, Captain America, and the latest Harry Potter. Cap and Harry were in 3D. I liked all three, and found the 3D to be worth the extra buck or so for admission. If I had to rank them, I’d go 1-Cap, 2-Harry, 3-Thor.

Hoping to catch X-Men and Green Lantern on HBO sometime…

And I’d probably watch a video of Cowboys & Aliens if one happened to be available.

Both technically from 2010, I suppose, but True Grit and TrollHunter deserve a mention.

It’s true that TrollHunter is listed as a 2010 movie on IMDB, but it opened in Chicago this year so I’m counting it for 2011. In fact I saw Attack The Block and TrollHunter for the first times on the same night. I had to go to two different theaters to do it but what a fun double-feature! After Let the Right One In, the Millennium Trilogy (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo etc.), the creepyfun Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale and TrollHunter (and several others I’m blanking on at the moment) the Scandinavian film industry is high on my radar.

How’d you guess?

I love you.

The Muppets was the only film I actually gave a crap about this year

First and foremost, Limitless. A twisty-turny technothriller that was exhilarating, unpredictable, clever and just a helluva lot of fun. For me, far and away the best of the year.

Moneyball, The Help and Midnight in Paris were each pretty good, in their own ways, but not nearly as good as Limitless IMHO.

After that my enjoyment level dropped off pretty sharply. Ides of March was not nearly as good as it could have been. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 was a letdown; I think I just expected too much of it. Cowboys and Aliens was more dumb than fun. Thor had its moments and was better than Captain America, but just didn’t reach its potential. Green Lantern was a big disappointment - just never quite clicked. Rango, Horrible Bosses, Arthur Christmas and 50/50 had some laughs but missed the comedic mark more often than they hit it.

All in all, a disappointing year for movies so far… but still a few more I want to see (esp. Sherlock Holmes 2, A Dangerous Method and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

Oh wow Attack the Block IS good! I’m not real keen on the genre but this kept me so interested I couldn’t stop watching.

I love you too!

BTW, here is a list of the top grossing films of 2011 in case anyone wants to look them over to remind you what you have seen this year.

I have only seen 41 of them, but hope to see quite a few more in the next few weeks.

I note those are Worldwide numbers/titles rather than a Domestic list which would look a bit different. I only saw 4 of the Top 10 but 9 from 11-20. From 21-363 I saw 107, however some of those haven’t opened in the US yet. For instance The Adventures of Tintin has been playing for several weeks in the UK & Europe and is already #20 but won’t open in the United States for another week. The Artist is only in Oscar contention release in the US (every film must play at least one week in NY and LA to be eligible for Oscar nominations) and it’ll be slowly opened across the country over the next few weeks. I saw lots of other films that were “officially” 2010 releases but didn’t open in Chicago until 2011 (like TrollHunter mentioned earlier) so they’re not on that list.

It’s a depressing list in that so many great (in my opinion) films made very little money. I saw more films from the bottom half than the top half.

I just watched **Insidious **last night (Netflix Instant FTW!). It was pretty good–very creepy and scary at times. Nice to see a horror movie that’s not a gorefest or torture-porn.

Tangent ahead…

Just for fun I looked at the Domestic (to where I live of course) list and was surprised to see that instead of going to 353 titles like the Worldwide, it goes to 579! Think of it. 579 movies opened in the United States in 2011! To be sure, most of them (roughly 101-579) played limited runs in arthouse theaters in bigger cities since they had to have played in a theater to be listed (direct to DVD doesn’t count), but it does go to show just how many movies are made that most people are never exposed to. I saw a hell of a lot of movies in the theater this year (348 so far with 2 weeks and a lot of movies to go) and it seems I barely saw any looking at the list.

From #501-#579 I only saw 8 of those films, either at film festivals or during runs at the Gene Siskel Film Center. That’s a lot of movies missed, many of which I might have loved. Lest anyone think movies so low-ranked have to be stinkers, I’ll attest that of those 8, I thought 7 were very very good. Of those 8 two of them are among my favorites of the year and since this is the thread for favorites, I’ll go ahead and name them. Numbers are where they ranked on the yearly chart.

#520 Korkoro (link is to trailer) - an exciting, intense and moving film about a band of gypsies targeted by the Vichy during WWII and a few townspeople who try to help them. It’s full of striking performances and the most wonderful gypsy music.

#571 Little Girl (La Pivellina, link is to trailer), a delightful film of wintering circus performers who suddenly have to care for an abandoned child, featuring the most adorable toddler I’ve ever seen in movies. It’s sweet, moving and in no way sappy or cloying.

If anyone’s interested, the others I saw, in order of regard:

#571 Illégal (link to trailer) - Devastating film about an illegal immigrant Russian mother in Belgium desperately trying to hold off deportation so as not to leave her son. Emotionally draining, infuriating, heart-rending, it shows that we’re not the only country to treat immigrants like shit. Anne Coesens deserves an Oscar nomination.

#553 Protektor (link to trailer) - Very good film about a rising film star and her rising radio star husband who find their lives turned upside down when the Nazis occupy Czechoslovakia. Jana Plodková is stunning!

#514 Special Treatment (link to trailer) - Good French film with Isabelle Huppert as an aging high-end prostitute who knows she has to change professions soon.

#531 Rage (Rabia, link to trailer) - Thriller about a murderer who hides in the huge rambling house where his girlfriend is a housekeeper. Looked interesting, well-acted, had its moments.

#513 The Woman With The 5 Elephants (link to trailer) - Documentary about a Russian woman who survived the German concentration camps and has devoted her life to translating Dostoevsky into German. It was interesting but I was tired and zoned so I can’t say I saw the whole thing.

#515 How I Ended This Summer - I saw this at the 2010 Chicago International Film Festival and hated it, absolutely HATED it. So of course it won the main prize for Best Film there. Obviously the problem was with me, not the movie, but I still hated it.

I haven’t seen all that many of this years movies , but for me the outstanding one is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy just opened here on Friday and we’ll be seeing it over the holidays. I’m excited!

I just found a much longer trailer with far more scenes of the little girl. It’s in this Italian movie show, starting around 1:46 (the host talks about Avatar 2 and some other things first) and goes almost to the end. The trailer starts out the same but then shows more scenes of the cutie pie. She’s so adorable you see why they fall in love with her and it makes you fall in love with all of them and the movie.

Thanks for that list. Looking over it, I see I’d forgotten that I’d seen:

Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Source Code
Hangover 2
Cars 2

The first three were good; the last two were meh. But none were in the same league as Limitless, Moneyball, The Help or Midnight in Paris, as noted above.

Cool! Interestingly, Bellflower only played for 2 nights here as well, but they weren’t midnight shows. It was very very good. I remember liking Miral, but can’t remember much about it, (I keep getting it confused with Incendies in my mind, for some reason) except that Freida Pinto (who I’m really digging right now) is awesome in it and they kept playing an Ennio Morricone cue throughout (I think it’s from Battle of Algiers, which would make sense), both of which are enough to put it on the list for me.

Of the other four, Puppet and Vigilante… are both documentaries, which I usually don’t like, but these two transcended the genre for me (Puppet especially in that I’m considering quitting my job and just being a puppeteer for a living after seeing it). Flood Streets is the Downtown 81 of post-Katrina New Orleans, and Circumstance is an Iranian film that I’m actually surprised you hadn’t heard of (though I think we see more Middle Eastern films than normal here, for some reason, so maybe I’m skewed).

OH, forgot Source Code - I found that really fascinating.

The Good Life…hands down, my favorite.
Hesher…been there, done that, still have friends who do.
Another Year…wish this was a PBS series…
Our Idiot Brother…thought it would be a silly/fun movie but it Had a Good Storyline!

I saw some duds but the absolute worst was Beginnings.

I liked Bridesmaids. How often do you get to see a woman sink to her knees and shit in the middle of the boulevard in a wedding dress?

See, I thought the same thing but felt it fell short. I did love the hippie/new age “fight” they had in that one scene. “Ok, I ACKNOWLEDGE your anger”…etc. That was epic.

I think the pertinent question here is: why would you want to?