Saturday, December 31, 2011

Javi's Top Ten Movies of 2011

Javi here. So here are the big movies that I really liked this last year. Much like last year, I have some specific movies that really spoke to me or affected me in a way that a movie should. This year was a little tougher because while there were some expectational movies out there, there were also a lot of movies that were just borderline awesome, but with little things here and there bothered me. The way that I like to do my top tens is I will list all nine movies that were my favorites, but since they're all so vastly different, I cannot rank them. I only have my absolute favorite movie distinguished from the rest.

Are you curious now? Hit the jump to find out all of my favorites in no particular order!

LA PIEL QUE  HABITO was the most twisted movie I have seen all year. It is a tragic drama, a revenge movie, and a horror movie all at the same time. The themes explored are exactly the type that should be explored within horror movies, and it's something that has been missing since the SCREAM generation came up. I have to be vague because a lot of the joy/horror comes from not really knowing exactly what's going on in the movie until the climax. The performances are all very strong especially Elena Anaya, who I have never heard of. Antonio Banderas is a great surprise as well. I haven't thought of him as an actor in quite a long time, and I'm glad to see that he still has acting chops.

Pure love. This movie is the type of movie that greater America should be watching instead of trite bullshit like CHIPWRECKED or any of that noise. I left the movie theater with a smile seeing the genuine passion from director Martin Scorcese come across on the screen. The were once again a big highlight with Asa Butterfield (Hugo) coming out of left field and stealing scenes from everyone but Sir Ben Kingsley. As cheesy as it is, this movie reminds you why movie nerds should love movies.

One of the few reported times I have gotten misty eyed during the movies this year; the only other time was with WAR HORSE and after seeing how awful TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON was. Remembering FUNNY PEOPLE, a movie that tackled similar territory with the protagonist dealing with his own mortality, I remember how cold I felt after watching that movie. There were some character development issues where some of the supporting cast feel like just pawns in Adam's (Gordon-Levitt's) story. This holds specially true to Bryce Dallas Howard and Angelica Huston. Either way, the emotions were freaking real enough to bring a whole theater to tears after the climax. The delicate balance of comedy and drama is a hard one that never seems to be achieved a 100% by any movie, but this one comes really close.

In a year where "geek" has been marginalized and made into a trend, it was refreshing to see a movie like PAUL. This movie doesn't feel like it's pandering to the G4/Attack the Show crowd. It presents a fun relationship between Nick Frost and Simon Pegg who make very believable best friends. Then there is a subplot of what happens to a fundamentally religious person would do when they meet an alien. That was something that's never been touched on a mainstream movie. The humor is great, and the story is interesting enough to keep you guess, plus all of the hardcore nerd references make this movie so great for repeat viewings.

This is another side of Spielberg that showcases what technology can do in the right hands. He worked with motion capture and 3-D, and they both looked fantastic. I gushed about this movie in our review, but it stands side-by-side with HUGO as an example of how to do 3D right and how to do a fun adventure movie.

Guys, I'm honestly a cynical and very sarcastic person. This movie, though, made me feel like the young kid with big dreams that once thought he and his best friend could build a Death Star over the summer (spoiler alert: we failed). It's story of Kevin Clash's rise within the Jim Henson Company to become the puppeteer for one of the most famous kids characters ever. It's sentimental, but so inspiring and gives you so much great insight in the world of being a puppeteer. This is the better puppet movie that's come out this year.

The best Johnny Depp performance of year. In a year where first time live action director Brad Bird gets a pass for having an all action, no plot movie with MISSION IMPOSSIBLE- GHOST PROTOCOL, first-time animation director Gore Verbinski took a novel approach to animation with RANGO and succeeded way more than Bird. RANGO is a visual delight along the line of TIN TIN but on a different scale. Everything looks so strange and almost a little twisted, but the humor was hilarious with references to FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, and a certain man with no name makes a cameo. Fun for the whole family with a few surprises for the adults and the movie nerds.

This is how you make Oscar-bait movies. Going into this movie, I had everything going against it: British actors, set during a World War, and a corny John Williams score with sweeping strings. But damn if this movie didn't showcase an amazing side of Spielberg where he takes material that would be difficult to translate to the screen and made it his own. The cinematography was beautiful, and there was a lot of tension because this honestly feels like a movie where anything could and will happen to our two protagonist Albert, the boy, and Joey, the horse, in their journey to reunite with each other.

A fancy and really pretty Lars Von Trier movie is exactly what was needed after the scandal that was ANTICHRIST. It's interesting to me the director chose to stick with the same theme of depression but present it in such a grand fashion. This movie feels much more focused than ANTICHRIST because in MELANCHOLIA,  each of the main characters portrays a different, but crucial aspect of what it feels like to be depressed. Charlotte Gainsbourg once again steals the show as the more subtly depressed sister, Claire. On the other hand, you have a really good Kirsten Dunst performance, but like I stated before, it pales in comparison to Gainsbourg There is a introduction, which is probably the most CG that Von Trier has used, which used the musical prologue for Tristen and Isolde by Wagner counts as probably one of my favorite sequences this whole year.

My absolute favorite movie of the year. I am so happy that there are filmmakers like Alex De La Iglesia around, who has a sharp visual eye coupled with thought-provoking film making. There was so much to love about this movie, starting off with the crazy imagery that is the credit sequence, it rivals only ENTER THE VOID for being one of the coolest intros in  recent memory. The story, at its core, is a familiar love triangle, but the details, the symbolism, and allegory about the scars that subsequent Spanish generations felt after their own Civil War elevate this movie above just being "that crazy Spanish clown" movie. I've probably watched it 15 times since I got it on Blu-ray, and I've always been able to find something to like. Like I've complained before, as a big movie fan, I really am surprised at the lack of variety of Spanish movies that interested me, but thankfully, this movie went above and beyond.

So there's my list, and below are some of the movies that I didn't include for some reason or the other. Then subsequently, there are ones that have not come out yet theatrically, so it felt both snobby and shitty to include them because most people won't be able to check them out. So keep the festival movies in mind because they will be movies to see in the upcoming year.

Honorable mentions:

Festival movies that technically haven't come out yet:
BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (seriously, watch out for this one, a masterpiece), JUAN OF THE DEAD, HEADHUNTERS.

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