Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Super-Hasty Best Of Movie Party List

I always want to do a best-of movie list at the end of each year and then cop-out because I also always want to wait until I've seen more, and then it's April by the time I've seen more, and more reviews loom, and such a list seems worn out. Enough of that! These are the 18 movies I saw in a theater in 2011, in order of greatness:

1. We Bought a Zoo

At one point, I had a tear tracking down my right cheek in the precise place that Matt Damon had a tear tracking down his right cheek. He is my favorite non-Pullman movie star. And this movie is so charming (Elle Fanning) and happy-sad (there's a devastating setting, but there are cute animals, kids, and Johanssons). My concerns that it's cheesy are overcome for now. And there is no Crowe-ish manic-pixie-dream-girl even though there easily could have been three.

No one really teaches anyone any lessons. Also, Lowell Mather.

1a. Midnight in Paris

I'm somewhat worried that I put a tear-jerker first and that, in the coming weeks, the immediate power will diminish (I saw WBaZ on New Year's Eve), so Midnight in Paris comes in at 1a. Its humor and its cleverness about nostalgia (and Salvador Dali) won't diminish. The only marks against it is that Rachel McAdams is too one-notedly mean, and, as in some Woody Allen movies, the characters don't necessarily have real human feelings. What's French for Human feelings are sometimes over-rated?

2. The Tree of Life


A see-by-yourself movie.

3. The Muppets

I'm a very manly muppet!

4. Moneyball

Constantly entertaining and funny. Brad Pitt is a great non-Pullman/Damon movie star. We have solid movie stars these days. They'll be looked on fondly, I think.

5. Captain America

Speaking of nostalgia, this is a movie set in the 40s which, like The Rocketeer, knows it's being schmaltzy about said-40s. Exciting and funny.

6. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I enjoy it when I love movies that graduate-school-me has pre-decided he won't like. Ergo, I may go see Contraband with Mark Wahlberg. James Franco is a fabulous movie star. We have great movie stars these days.

7. Winnie the Pooh

Saw this at the drive-in and it was 56-minutes, catchy, and sweet as honey. Fantastic evening with Megan (despite the bottom of this list).

8. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I was 80 percent confused by this movie because whenever the phrase "double-agent" is uttered, I start to turn off a little bit. But every British-y detail made me envious of (and scared for) anyone who was in London in 1971. I dream of owning a giant red phone booth in which I can store my various cell-phone chargers.

Also, a dude duels an owl.

9. Bridesmaids

Funny, but I don't really understand what was so groundbreaking. Many of the jokes seemed to come from the same 14-year old boy's mind that's imagined most buddy comedies of the last decade. I'm cool with that brain.

10. Water for Elephants

Classy. Solid. Saw it in Nelsonville.

11. The Adjustment Bureau

Sharp. Semi-solid. Saw it in Nelsonville.

12. Rango

Imaginative. Draggy: I might think that because a little girl's light-up shoes and a little boy's terrible, sopping cough had me feeling a skosh uneasy. Saw it in Nelsonville.

13. Margin Call

A movie about stockbrokers making shady decisions. Not much else.

14. Super 8

This is so low because it was my biggest disappointment. The first half was so perfect and Elle Fanning is a great pre-Winnie Cooper, with all of the attendant middle-school charm. Then there are aliens and the people become much less important. Why? Why must there be unsustainable twists, J.J. Abrams?

15. Submarine

I thought I was liking this while I saw it, but I don't remember much. Maudlin standing in for edgy?

16. Buck

Good enough documentary about a horse-whisperer, but not a lot of conflict or purpose.

17. Cowboys and Aliens

This was the second half of the drive-in, Winnie-the-Pooh-begun double-feature. I thought it would be the perfect idiocy for such a setting, but it was a little more idiotic still, and I fell asleep.

Meanwhile, today I read the following in Elaine Pagels' Adam, Eve, and the Serpent:

"In Greek, the term 'Idiot' literally referred to a person concerned solely with personal or private matters instead of the public and social life of the larger community."

Cowboys and Aliens was not concerned with the larger community of the folks at the Skyview Drive-in in Lancaster, Ohio. On a scale of zero to five, I give it zero extraordinarily large milkshakes.


UPDATE on my complete movie list: I finished the wikipedia scan and have found that I've seen approximately 1,011 movies that were released between the years 1896 and 2011, including the very enjoyable Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1896) and the very enjoyable Adventures of Tin Tin (2011), which I took in yesterday. I've seen no movies released in 1930, and I intend to remedy that swiftly in 2012.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Aw, you really hit Super 8 that low for the ending? :(

Have you seen this? It's on my list after reading this review: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/movie-review-beautifully-written-a-separation-nudges-notions-of-truth-with-subtle-tension/2012/01/03/gIQAzMF8YP_story.html