Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My favorite movies of 2011.

And so, another year has passed. It's always a good feeling walking into a movie theater (which reminds me of a post I've been neglecting for a long time, but that's for another day). These are the movies I enjoyed the most:

10. Contagion - A truly unnerving biological thriller, brought to life by a first-rate ensemble cast.

9. Hugo - One of several love-letters to the art of cinema to be released in 2011; Martin Scorsese's film unfolds like a good book.

8. Super 8 - An engaging snapshot at the late 70s and a neat homage to the Close Encounters/E.T. era of film.

7. The Help - This adaptation of the best-seller ably mixes humor and drama, bolstered by a terrific cast.

6. My Week with Marilyn - A bittersweet look at the friendship between Marilyn Monroe (an enchanting Michelle Williams) and a go-fer on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl.

5. The Muppets - Funny, colorful, tuneful. If there was a more ingratiating film released last year, I haven't seen it.

4. Captain America: the First Avenger - Perhaps the finest of the year's comic book movies. Exciting and well-acted, with a strong feeling for the time period.

3. The Adventures of Tintin - Hugely entertaining and proof that not all motion-capture features are terrible.

2. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas - The best film of the series and the most deliriously funny movie I've seen all year.

1. Rango - My favorite animated feature of the year, distinctively designed and bursting with quirky humor.

Missed it by that much:

The Adjustment Bureau
Arthur Christmas
Fright Night
Kung Fu Panda 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
30 Minutes or Less
Tower Heist
We Bought a Zoo
X-Men: First Class
Young Adult

Underrated: The Big Year, Mars Needs Moms and Super

Overrated: Drive (yes!) and Moneyball

Guilty pleasures: Abduction, Drive Angry and The Three Musketeers

Liked it better than I thought I would: Arthur Christmas

Didn't think this was so bad: Arthur, Cars 2, Green Lantern, Killer Elite and Your Highness

Kind of a letdown: The Change-Up, Colombiana (in spite of the action scenes), Cowboys and Aliens and Limitless

Just plain bad: Sucker Punch

My favorite things in movies - 2011:

Albert Brooks in Drive

Anna B. Shepard's one-scene tribute to Raiders of the Lost Ark in Captain America: the First Avenger

Anton Yelchin in The Beaver and Fright Night

"Breakfast is served." and "You're not the only one who can play this game." - Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows

The chase through the sandstorm in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Colin Farrell in Fright Night and Horrible Bosses

The dance fight in Puss in Boots

Dan Fogler in Mars Needs Moms and Take Me Home Tonight

The hidden camera/panic room scene in Hall Pass

"Hug me." - Young Adult

Idris Elba in Thor

The journey through the doors in The Adjustment Bureau

The Kato fight scenes in The Green Hornet

Kumar's plan to steal the tree from the church in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Mark Strong in Green Lantern and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Michael Giacchino's military theme from his score to Super 8

Octavia Spencer recounts the story of "The Terrible Awful" in The Help

The opening credits of Super, especially the final gag

Ray Stevenson in Thor and The Three Musketeers

Richard Jenkins in Hall Pass and especially The Rum Diary

Robert DeNiro helps Yvonne Strahovski catch a train in Killer Elite

The song "Pretty Bird" in Rio

Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones in Captain America: the First Avenger

Stephen Merchant decides whether or not he'd use one in Hall Pass

The ultimate revelation in Final Destination 5

The video game gag in Kung Fu Panda 2

William Fichtner in Drive Angry 3D

"You know I don't check that shit." - 30 Minutes or Less


Favorite title sequences:
The Adventures of Tintin
Final Destination 5
Your Highness

Holy shit, was that...? (The appearances of these actors aren't necessarily cameos. They were listed in the cast, but I was honestly thrown when I saw them.)
Dan Castellaneta in Super 8
Edward Furlong in The Green Hornet
Ioan Gruffudd in Horrible Bosses
Toby Huss in Cowboys and Aliens
Ashley Johnson in The Help
Phil LaMarr in Real Steel
Alyssa Milano in Hall Pass
David Paymer in Bad Teacher (in fact, with Paul Bates near the end, there was a nice psuedo-Crazy People reunion here)
Pruitt Taylor Vince in Drive Angry 3D

Random thoughts

- There was a lot of complaining about the unbelievability of the Dale storyline of Horrible Bosses; 'Dude, it's Jennifer Aniston! I'd love to have her sexually harassing me!'. You won't find me in that choir, though. Geneva, Switzerland's Jerome Piroue phrased it better than I ever could in response to People naming her Sexiest Woman of All Time (*coughrecountcough*): "Doesn't even rank as sexy on mine. I've got nothing against her, except... she simply doesn't evoke 'sex' in any way for me." If I were Dale and the role were played by someone like Sofia Vergara, not only would I be okay with the harassment, but I would fucking encourage it.

- Speaking of women I will never have, Christina Hendricks went without make-up in Drive. If that's what she looks like without make-up, it pretty much furthers my 'she's a Greek Goddess in hiding' theory I'm cultivating.

- I've learned something very important: if you don't say the title Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star the way Peter Dante did in the ads, you're wasting valuable oxygen.

- The original ending of Rise of the Planet of the Apes had James Franco's character getting killed. As if the theatrical ending wasn't enough of a wrist-slitter...

- I couldn't take my eyes off of Jessica Chastain in The Help. Now for some clarification: while she did give a fine performance, what I'm really saying in the first sentence is 'Holy cow! Did you see how tight her blouses were?'.

- Okay, is it written into Mads Mikklesen's contract that every character he plays in a major studio movie have some kind of eye trauma?

- And speaking of eye trauma, I've sat through every Final Destination movie since the series started. I've witnessed every insane, CGI-generated (in most cases) demise, but the aftermath of Olivia's death in 5 is pretty much the only time I've ever covered my eyes during one of these movies.

- It's weird to consider that Super, a movie where people are gruesomely bludgeoned, stabbed and shot, would have one of the sweeter endings I've seen all year.

- In the trailer for Tower Heist, I was somewhat thrown off by Gabourey Sidibe's flat line readings. In seeing the film, I realized that they had her redub her lines as to mask her character's Jamaican accent. Beats the hell out of me why they did this.

- Rio was a good movie that might've been great if not for the overloading on wacky sidekicks. George Lopez's toucan was funny and the bird duo of Jamie Foxx and had their moments, but they tipped their hand with Tracy Morgan's bulldog...and his constant slobber had me thanking God that I only saw the film in 2-D.

- A weird trend that I've noticed in animated movies of late: far more off-putting than the 'characters dancing to a pop hit ending' trope is the 'villains dancing along' trope. This year's Puss in Boots featured Jack and Jill laid up in traction and still moving to the beat. 2010's Megamind saw the incarcarated Hal dancing in his cell...but, in terms of sheer WTF, I don't think anything will top Despicable Me (also from 2010), which saw Vector boogieing down...while stranded on the moon (!).

- I honestly consider Transformers: Dark of the Moon to be the best of the Transformers movies...which is not unlike calling someone the world's tallest midget.

- The Artist was a sweet, if slight, bit of fluff. There was a bit of rumbling about the movie's use of Bernard Herrmann's "Scene D'Amour" from Vertigo and how it upset that film's leading lady, Kim Novak, to the point where she said she felt raped by it. While you will never convince me that the cue was a perfect fit in the film, this is a silly overreaction, not unlike man-children responding to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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