Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jonesy's Top Ten Movies of 2011

Jonesy here. This year I saw about 180 movies (including movies seen before, new to me, and 2011 releases) between the theatre and TV. There were some fabulous trends I noticed from the releases from this year such as character films making a big impact and smart family-friendly films not made my Pixar. All of my films on this list are from my gut. Some of them have many problems, but I still enjoyed them. These are the movies I either have recommended multiple times to people, or I couldn't stop discussing it.

So for better or worse, here are my favorites (in no particular order):

This is the type of movie I just eat up; a psychological drama that you can pick apart for hours and still not find a solid solution.  A brilliant character study of readjustment after escaping a cult and rejoining the "real world". I was sucked into the disjointed story from the beginning, and I could not get it out of my mind. A stellar debut for first time director and writer Sean Durkin.

This story proved that the topic of cancer doesn't have to be a drag-through-the-mud-super tearjerker. It can be sweet, funny, and of course sad. The characters are portrayed with such truth and emotion. Not only were there stand out performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, but the screenplay by Will Reiser is the most honest and powerful scripts I've seen this year.

There was one scene in this film that solidified its spot on this list. Our child heroes, Hugo and Isabella, are talking, and he finds out she's never been to the cinema. The kids leave the station and sneak into a movie. As they watch the film, the pure wide-eyed wonder and joy that comes across their faces made me all giddy inside. I know that feeling. The feeling that what you're seeing is so special that you swear it was made just for you. I don't get that feeling too often nowadays, but this movie made me have that feeling again. Pure joy.

Theatre will always have my heart. I have spent such a significant time during high school and college in rehearsal, and unless you've been a part of the process, it's difficult to understand how tough it is to be in a show. This documentary follows three high schools as they put on their annual musicals, and the local Tony-type awards show the kids are nominated for. They work just as hard as any athlete, and yet get next to zero accolades in comparison. It's a sweet look at the time and effort these students put into just one show. A must-see of all theatre nerds out there.

A non-stop, fun action movie about a group of boys defending their block from an alien invasion. Unfortunately for this film, many online outlets over saturated the blogs and twitter with heaps and heaps of praise, and in turn, the movie became overhyped for many. Even as I think back, I still don't let that aspect bother me because I enjoyed the movie so much. The characters are somewhat one note, but each have enough little quarks about them to keep your interest. Probably the most fun I had at the movies this year.

I actually saw this last year at The Dallas International Film Festival, but since it didn't have a distributor, I didn't feel justified putting it on my 2010 list. However, this film made its way to a limited release. What if the rednecks really weren't trying to kill the college kids on vacation, and it was all a misunderstanding? This horror-comedy (my new favorite fake sub-genre) turns the crazy-muderous-cabin-in-the-woods horror story on its head. I don't want to say too much more because it would spoil the fun of the film, but thankfully it is now on Netflix Instant for all to enjoy.

Before watching this movie, I actually thought Tin Tin was the dog. Clearly I was misinformed, and TIN TIN is the type of family movie trend I hope continues. The adventure aspect of the film harkens back to Speilberg's INDIANA JONES days, and it felt like an old friend had returned. The visuals are spectacular, and there was one continuous shot that is just astounding. Just like HUGO, TIN TIN made me a believer of the practical use of 3D in movies to enhance the experience.

Prequels have a the problem of the audience already knowing the ending of the story. However, if characters are dynamic and the story solid, then a prequel can shed more light and make a character that more intriguing. Even though the story shows the recruitment of the first set of X-men, FIRST CLASS was Magneto's story. And we would eventually know him as wanting to destroy all humans and have mutants be the superior beings, Fassbender made him vulnerable and sympathetic. The story also mixed modern history with comic elements which is one of my favorite devices in movies.

It's simple, powerful, and the quiet action movie I never knew I wanted until I saw it. What drew me to enjoy this movie so much was Ryan Gosling's performance. He's subdued, yet you know every emotion he's feeling because of the volumes he speaks with his eyes. The script doesn't rush into anything, but allows us to patiently follow along until it's ready to bombard us with action. It's cool, stylish, and truly unique.

I've been a fan of the Planet of the Apes series for a long time. I've seen all the old movies, so I was very excited about the this one, even if it had a lot to live up to in my mind. Thankfully, we were given a great story of how the apes became smart and the beginnings of the eventual demise of mankind. The real strength of the story was Andy Serkis's performance as Caesar. It's a feat for an actor to develop a character with next to no dialogue, but to do that as an animal using motion capture technology is astounding. And now I cannot wait for the next one!

I was very fortunate to go to three different festivals this year: The Dallas International Film Festival, Asian Film Festival of Dallas, and Fantastic Fest. There are a few movies that I saw that I would love to have included on my top ten list; however, since they were not released to the public, it's not exactly fair to sit there and write about the awesomeness of the movie with no logical way for you to see it. So, instead I'll just mention the few movies here with a link back to the original review.

Festival Mentions: 
Enemy at the Dead End Elite Squad 2, New Kids Turbo, Invasion of Alien Bikini

No comments:

Post a Comment