my 2011 at the movies

my year in movies 2011I saw 194 movies in 2011. 146 of those were movies I hadn't ever seen before, but only 21 of those were new releases that I saw at the movies.

Of the new releases, only #1 got a 5 out of 5. Looking at the list, it also appears to have been a very animation/drama heavy year last year.

1. Kung Fu Panda 2

prepare for the return of awesomenessThe other thing that's really great about the Kung Fu Panda movies is that they don't hit you over the head with the message... it's definitely in there, but it's subtly woven into the whole story and hidden between the laughs and some rollicking action sequences.

2. Arthur Christmas

ever wondered how two billion presents get delivered in one night?But it's told with so much heart and an equal amount of wit that it ends up being a very moving story. Not entirely unpredictable, but I can forgive it it's obviousness because I really cared about the characters.

3. Beginners

this is what love feels likeAll the performance are masterful... simple, emotional and masterful. Plummer captures the pathos of an older gay man who is making the best of an imperfect relationship with a much younger man without resorting to a stereotype.

4. Love and Other Drugs

love and other drugsHathaway is really amazing... she's powerful and frail and vulnerable and feisty and very much a woman in command of her own sexual identity and who knows what she wants and what she doesn't want.

5. The King's Speech

when god couldn't save the king, the queen turned to someone who couldWhile I know that it's based on a true story, it also felt very real... there's no real miraculous transformation, no ugly duckling becoming a swan... it's a transition that feels very real and very honest.

6. The Three Musketeers

every legend has a new beginningIt's campy, it's historically irresponsible, it's full of explosions and modern action movie staples, it's so very over the top... but I had a thoroughly good time with it... quite probably because I was expecting it to be completely over the top.

7. One Day

twenty years, two peopleAnd it does an amazing job capturing each time period, both with the fashions of the day, as well as the use of particular "tent pole" songs that give an instant nostalgia hit.

8. Cars 2

cars 2It is a gorgeous movie though... and they've taken the idea from the original movie about landscape and architecture inspired by the shapes of cars and car parts and given Japan, France, Italy and England a car themed makeover. It's definitely one of those movies that you'd have to watch more than once just to get all of the little details.

9. Source Code

make every second countI was somewhere disengaged (not because it was bad, just because the movie seemed to be set up that way) from this movie for a lot of the 93 minute running time, but the final loop through the train journey and the end of the movie pretty much won me over.

10. Albert Nobbs

a man with a secret, a woman with a dreamI don't know that I can really describe how great Glenn Close's performance is... it's subtle, completely believable, full of undercurrents and a full and vivid life going on behind the character's eyes which we only get to see in very tiny slices.

Honourable mentions: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Thor.

Dishonourable mentions: Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Sucker Punch for squandering their potential. And Rango for not knowing what the hell it was or who it was for.

Other great movies that were only new to me: Like I said at the start of this post, I saw a hell of a lot of movies that were new to me during 2011 (god bless the internet). While there are too many to do a full review on or rank them, but the following list were amongst the best movies I saw.
  • The Thin Man (1934): In fact, I loved the whole Thin Man series (six in all between 1934 and 1947), even if they got a little repetitive after the third one. But they have amazing writing and great chemistry between Powell and Loy.
  • Youth In Revolt (2009): Michael Cera only seems to be able to play one kind of character, and until Scott Pilgrim I wasn't sure it was the kind of character I would enjoy, but this proved me spectacularly wrong.
  • Winchester '73 (1950): This is one of the few movies I think could be awesome as a remake... it's a cowboy movie, but it's actually more about the titular rifle. Although it would be very hard to replace Jimmy Stewart as the lead.
  • Kung Fu Hustle (2004): It's so tongue in cheek and over the top that it almost feels like animation, but that's exactly what makes it so damn good.
  • Attack The Block (2011): Any movie that can make you completely reverse your opinion of the main characters by the end is definitely doing something right. Plus it's a great take on the alien motivations.
  • Memento (2000): I know, I must be the last person in the Western world to actually see this, but it's really, really good and really disorientating all at the same time.
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