Well 2011 has come to close so now having posted my Top 5 worst films of 2011, it's time to note the 10 best films of the year. Now as my friend Matt Goudreau pointed out, 2011 was kind of a slow year for movies. Don't get me wrong, there were some really good movies this year but 2011 was also plagued by multiple sequels (there were like 28 all together, or something like that) and news of reboots coming pretty much every month. So here's hoping 2012 will be a big year, as films like 'The Dark Knight Rises', 'The Avengers', and 'The Hobbit' are to come out. But for now, here are my Top 10 films of 2011, starting with numbers 10-6.
Before I begin, let me just say that of course I didn't see every movie that came out. To be totally honest, actually, I'm betting that the majority of films that will be nominated for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards will be films that most people have never even seen or heard of. So to any major critic out there, don't be surprised that films like 'The Artist' or 'The Tree of Life' aren't on here because, well, I haven't seen them. Those aren't the movies I see.
Also, if you see a film on here that you don't like (believe me, I know one film on my list will be on most people's 'worst of the year' list), don't go saying 'Oh you suck for picking that film' because A.) comments like that will be deleted and B.) respect other people's opinions, please.
And finally, there may be some spoilers.
So to start things off at Number 10 is one of only three movies in this entire list that isn't a straight up action film. But there's no reason why this film shouldn't be regarded as one of the best films of the year. Not only was it a welcome return for a franchise that hasn't been around in a long time, but it was also a incredibly charming and heartfelt film that will please both newcomers and veterans of this license.
When it comes to past Muppet movies, admittedly I've seen each only once and even so, it had been a couple of years ago. Of course, being that I was born in the 90's, I didn't grow up with the Muppet Show. But one of the first video games I ever owned was this Muppets racing game for the PlayStation and I've seen the 3-D show at Disney World a few couple times so I could argue that, in a way, I did grow up with the Muppets. But easily the main reason why this film got my interest is its marketing campaign, which was without a doubt the cleverest marketing this year with all of these parodies of some of this year's big-name movies like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Paranormal Activity. But all joking aside, this was an outstanding movie that clearly shows how devoted writer/star Jason Segel was to this project.
After 3 years without a film, Steven Spielberg returned to the director's chair this year... twice in the same month. That is where my pick for Number 9 comes in, a drama that is both emotional and heartfelt, arguably Spielberg's best live-action film in a long time.
9. War Horse
Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse can kind of be called the horse version of 'Forrest Gump' because it's the same general premise of the main 'character' traveling around and meeting many different people. Admittedly, at the time I am writing this, I had just seen the film yesterday so I don't really know how to talk about this film but it really is a great film. It's what you would expect from a Spielberg film; a really solid cast, top notch production values and visuals, and John Williams' score (that's all you need to know about that). Admittedly, the one problem I had with this film is that some of the characters that this horse meets along the way are actually killed off in just a few minutes. Like I said, I can't fully explain why it is such a good movie, but this definitely deserves a spot on this list.
My pick for the Number 8 film of the year is one of those rare films this year that wasn't actually based off of anything. Hell, it even has '8' in the title.
8. Super 8
In a year full of sequels, reboots, and remakes it was nice to see a film like this do something different. This prime example of a summer blockbuster is another great film by J.J. Abrams which pretty much is his tribute to the films of his producer, Steven Spielberg. Now one of the more common complaints about this film is that the film pays homage Spielberg's films way too much. I wouldn't say that's a bad thing because halfway through, I actually forgot that Abrams directed this because it feels so much like a Spielberg film.
One of the best parts of this movie is its cast, which actually doesn't really have any major stars attached to it. The biggest names of this cast are Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights and Dakota Fanning's sister Elle Fanning. Most of the cast consists of just kids, some of which are making their film debuts. But even so, they all do a great job, especially the lead Joel Courtney (my pick for the 'Best Male Newcomer' of the year). He really sells it in this movie, making you feel the pain his character goes through having lost his mother and currently being in an estranged relationship with his father. That leads to another good thing about this film is that some parts of it are pretty emotional but none of them are cheap.
If I had to list one complaint about this movie, out of all of the homages to Spielberg, one of them I feel doesn't work today and that was how, like Jaws, you didn't see the monster until a while into the movie. But again, that would be my only real complaint with this film. Maybe the ending was a bit abrupt (another major complaint about this movie), but this was a breath of fresh air in a year filled with sequels.
You want to know why 2011 was such a slow year for movies? Well, really it wasn't until April/May when films actually starting being great. To me, the first real good movie of 2011 was Source Code but it wasn't until after I saw my pick for the 7th best film of 2011 when I finally saw that movie so to put it simply, this film was the first great film I had seen all year.
Like everyone else, I too questioned how Marvel would be able to adapt a character like Thor to the big screen, especially considering that he was going to be one of the main members of the Avengers. Well, Marvel did succeed in doing this but it was mainly thanks to two people; director Kenneth Branagh and Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. Without these two, this would've probably been a really cheesy film, but Branagh's previous films show that he was the right man to direct this film and Hemsworth shines as the god of thunder, making it one very entertaining movie.
Branagh has been known more for doing Shakespeare material than action, but that actually fits the movie perfectly. Let's face it, that's the only real way this story could be told, otherwise we would all just laugh at it. As for Hemsworth in his breakout role, he perfectly transitions from an arrogant future king to a dashing and noble superhero as the movie goes along. The rest of the cast is solid too. Anthony Hopkins as Odin is, well, Anthony Hopkins. Really, even if he's been in a bad movie, he is always great. I do admit I had some problems with the other two leads, Natalie Portman as Thor's love interest Jane and Tom Hiddleston as Thor's brother Loki. Don't get me wrong, they both do a good job but I feel like Portman wasn't given that much, especially considering that she just won an Academy Award for Best Actress. As for Hiddleston, he did a great job as Loki (believe me, having seen 'Son of the Mask', I'm happy that they actually got the character of Loki right) but as the main villain, he was more of a 'jealous' brother. Thankfully, from what we've seen in trailers for The Avengers, he will hopefully be a much more badass villain.
But there's also one other major thing about this movie which also shows how good this movie is in that is has some really good humor. I'll be totally honest, 2011 was a really crappy year for comedies, at least for me anyways. Most of the comedies I saw this year were Adam Sandler comedies (and believe me, 2 of them were godawful) or some comedies that honestly weren't that bad but not memorable either. It must show a lot because the best comedy in a film this year happened to be in a film that was not a comedy film, and Thor is that film. It works here because it isn't that cheap humor that is obviously trying to get the audience to laugh. It's the good banter between the characters, again showing that it was a good idea to get Branagh to direct this.
So at this moment, they are working on a sequel (that is coming after The Avengers, of course). Unfortunately, it already seems like it has gone through some trouble already. First of all, Branagh will not be back to direct, but even so they have had trouble finding a director. At first, it was going to be Patty Jenkins (who had directed some TV episodes) but then she left due to some apparent 'creative differences'. Now the guy in charge is Alan Taylor, who directed some episodes of Game of Thrones. I've never seen that show, but that's exactly the kind of show that I think is enough qualification to direct a Thor movie. But right now, this sequel is looking like a mess already. I hope not because Thor was not only one of the best movies of the year, it was the first movie all year where afterwards I thought to myself, 'That was a great movie'.
Number 6 just happens to be another superhero film from Marvel (they really kicked ass this year when it came to movies). Now in many ways, this film is actually a really basic film compared to Thor. But there are some things about it that are the main reason why I thought it was better than Thor. I'll even go out and say that after Iron Man, this was the best pre-Avengers movie that Marvel has done.
6. Captain America: The First Avenger
I guess that one of the reasons why I like this film so much is because when I first saw it, I had just seen the previous film adaptation of the character, the unreleased 1990 Captain America film. To put it simply, that was a really bad film, not because it was a low-budget film but for how it portrayed its main characters. Captain America was pretty much portrayed as a wimp who ran away from everything, and I'm sorry, but you are not a great superhero if you pretend to be sick and then steal someone's car. As for the main villain Red Skull, he was actually developed well as an actual villain, but after Captain America awakens from being frozen for literally decades, he ditches the red skull. Why is he called Red Skull if he doesn't have a friggin red skull?
Anyway, in this movie, there is another problem with the character of Red Skull. You would think that wouldn't be the case because he actually keeps that Red Skull for the duration of the film and is played by Hugo Weaving. But unfortunately he is rather underdeveloped as a villain. He does have presence (you feel that he is a threat throughout the movie) but he didn't really do much. But while it was an underdeveloped character, Weaving was perfectly cast and did a great job. As for Captain America, Chris Evans nailed it as both Steve Rogers and Captain America. As Rogers, his character shines through and we can relate to him. Even when he becomes Captain America, he still maintains that character throughout the film.
Why do I think this is better than Thor? Well, there was one part of the film that I think that outshined all of the superhero films this year. That is the romance and chemistry between Evans and Hayley Atwell, who plays Captain America's love interest Peggy Carter. Let's face it, the romance in Thor was kind of rushed. Here, it's a very different story. It is very believeable, both Evans and Atwell have great chemistry, and it ultimately leads to the one thing that this film did that other superhero films didn't. The ending was actually really emotional, more than any other superhero film ever made and it was because of the romance between the two leads that made it work. So while Captain America may be a rather basic superhero flick, it works exceptionally well because of its main hero, his relationship with the main love interest, and just the sense of adventure that director Joe Johnston brings to this movie.
That's it for numbers 10-6. Check in tomorrow for my Top 5 films of 2011.