Top 10 Favorite Films of 2011

Hello Everybody,

Last year I said "2010 was one of the worst years for movies that I can remember."  I had really high hopes for 2011 because of all the superhero movies, but not all of them were as great as I had hoped.    Also I haven't seen, and in many cases may never see, most of the Oscar nominated films this year because for some reason few of them are of any interest to me.  Anyway, that said, if you haven't seen these movies you can use this as a guide for renting films in 20012!  This year I'm ranking them in order of how much I loved them.  Enjoy the list!

Disclaimer:  I say this all the time but I just want to make sure everybody understands, this is my list of FAVORITE movies for the year.  It in no way represents what I believe were the best films released in 2011.  

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Update:  I found out recently that the box office for this movie has been pretty low, but they are going to go ahead with the sequel.  Thank God for that because I want to see this cast do the whole trilogy!  Unfortunately, I'm almost 100% certain that they will combine the 2nd and 3rd books into a single film for the sequel.  If they're not expecting to make a lot of money, they will probably not get the green light for 2 follow-ups.  My hope is they film it like the Matrix sequels (or book 7 of Potter, or the end of Twilight) and just film a 3.5-4 hour version of books 2 and 3 and then just chop it in half and release it as 2 films.  The worst case will be if they savagely edit the 2 books down to 1 movie.  THAT WOULD BE SAD.

Disclaimer:  I was a fan of this book series and the original movie Millennium Trilogy before I saw this film and already decided many months before seeing it that it would be my favorite movie of the year.  

That being said, this movie was awesome.  I can't wait to see it again, and again.  I love this series.  I LOVE Lisabeth and the girl who played her (Rooney Mara) in this version was even better than the original.  I also loved Daniel Craig (James Bond) as Mikael Blomkvist.  This movie version was more in depth than the edited version I saw of the original film (since then they have released and extended version of the original 3 films, but I haven't seen them yet.)  It was everything I hoped it would be.  Completely met my high expectations.

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

Update:  I have seen this movie about 5 times in the last month.  I have tried to get everyone I know to see it.  If you like horror and comedy, then this is the movie for you!

I am making an exception to review this movie.  Usually I only review movies I see in the theater.  Unfortunately, even though I would have been there opening day, this movie never opened in my area.  So why the special consideration?  Because Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is one of the funniest best movies I've seen in years!  I got the DVD this week and watched it twice the day I got it!  It's super super funny.  I'm bringing a copy to Michigan for Christmas and there WILL be a required screening.  The story is familiar, "Deliverance" meets "Wrong Turn" meets "Evil Dead" etc.  But this time we see it from the hillbilly point of view and they're not at all evil just confused about what is going on.  You get the idea.  Now you need to literally stop what you're doing and go buy/rent/download and watch this movie immediately (Unless you are a Rowland or Fisher, you wait till I get there at Christmas).  I am confident that this movie will be my number 2 pick of the year (right behind The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.)  It was way, way more enjoyable than most of the movies I saw this year.

Super 8

Update:  I just watched this recently on Blu Ray and I loved it just as much as the first time.  It's a really fun movie and the Spielberg / JJ Abrams combo is like a dream come true!  Add Joss Whedon next time and you will have made THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE. 

This movie was amazing!  Easily my favorite movie of the year so far.  It's the ET for the new millennium.  I would not recommend it for little kids, for a PG-13 movie it does have some scary parts.  The story is fantastic and the special effects are outstanding.  The train crash is terrifying and the alien is really scary.  The kids in the movie all do a great job.  make sure you stay through the end credits to watch the zombie movie that the kids are making throughout the film.  I LOVED this movie.  I almost never go see movies a second time anymore but if someone asked me to go, I would go watch this movie again today!

X-Men: First Class

Update:  This was far and away my favorite super hero movie of the year.  I also think as far as reboots go, this was the most exciting one since the new Batman series. 

This was the first "Daddy movie" that I took Sasha to.  So now I have a movie buddy for my stupid super hero movies!  Not that X-Men: First Class was stupid, it was actually really really cool.  I hope they continue with these actors in the roles.  James McAvoy is great as Professor. X.  There's a running joke through the whole movie about how protective he is of his hair.  That was fun.  And Michael Fassbender from Inglourious Basterds is absolutely outstanding as Magneto.  The cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is super funny too.  Not that the movie is a comedy.  It's a really neat retelling of the Cuban missile crisis - The story we didn't learn about in history.  So anyway this is a great reboot for X-Men.  I can't wait to see the next one.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Update:  I'm not sure why I scored this one so high.  I haven't re-watched it yet, so maybe it is as good as I thought, but probably not.  I'll stick with my first opinion below though.

I love the Transformers movies.  Even without Megan Fox, this was an awesome movie and it was the 2nd movie this year that I took Sasha with me when I went to see it, so that was fun too.  It had a good story that included the Transformers being responsible for the moon landings and Chernobyl.  So that was cool.  I'm enjoying all the historical revisionism in Sci-Fi and other movies lately.  

Cars 2

Update:  This is the lowest rated biggest flop in the history of Pixar.  That sounds harsh but they've had straight A's for everything prior and this was like their first B+.  The horror!  I'm not sure why people didn't like it.  I think I like it better than the first one!  But I'm often criticized for favoring sequels. 

Cars 2 was probably the funniest movie I saw this year so far.  I loved the spy stuff.  I loved that at the beginning of the movie Finn is being taken to a secret location in the middle of the ocean by Sig Hansen in The Northwestern from Deadliest Catch.  There were so many fun things packed in this movie I can't wait to see it again to catch all the stuff I'm sure I missed.

Battle: Los Angeles

Update:  This will be my most controversial selection on the list.  Holly will be horrified to see I put it on here, she literally walked out after about 30 minutes.  I enjoyed the movie.  For an alien invasion film, I think it was top notch!  They spent all the money on big effects and action sequences and that was what I wanted to see. 

Allow me to use some of the bad things I read about it to illustrate why it was so great.

"It's like watching someone else play a video game." said more than one reviewer.  True:  It is EXACTLY like watching the best Alien Vs. Military video game ever made, played by the best person who ever played the game.  Why is this a bad thing?  Video games these days are amazing, and I'm amazingly terrible at playing them.  The only way I will ever get to see this movie/game is if someone plays it for me, and that seems a perfect fit for how lazy and unskilled at video games I am.  Also, isn't watching someone who is awesome play a game that you love just called "watching sports"?  So what's the difference?

"Battle: Los Angeles is just a hybrid of Black Hawk Down and War of the Worlds." said the Chicago Tribune.  Are you kidding me?  If I see a movie poster that uses that as it's tagline, I drop whatever I'm doing at that moment and go see that amazing movie immediately!  So what you're basically saying Chicago Tribune is it's like two awesome movies for the price of one?  It's twice as cool?  It's two times as exciting?  What's your point?

"It has no ending!  There's no character development!  There's no story!"  paraphrased from various reviews.  The movie is called "Battle: Los Angeles".  It was not called "The Epic and Complete Account of the Alien Invasion of Earth and Everything that had Anything to Do With It".  What you see in the movie is the Battle for Los Angeles.  If you need more, then this isn't the movie you want to see.

I think I made my point here.  I can keep raging and defending what was basically the first GREAT movie of 2011, or I can stop and move on to what I hope will be the next great movie of 2011.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Update:  I've read some Avengers comics so I know Cap and his story.  I thought this was a great introduction film for him and I look forward to seeing him in The Avengers this summer.  The film had a lot of Raiders of the Lost Ark elements to it.  I think that's what I really liked about it. 

I really liked Captain America.  I thought it was a great origin story.  I especially liked that it took place in the past (during WW II, one of my favorite movie and documentary subjects) and that it included more of that historical revisionism that I spoke about in the Transformers and X-Men: First Class reviews below.  Great action sequences.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Update:  I watched this one again a few weeks ago.  It's a fun film and now that everyone has been talking about the motion capture performance by Andy Sirkis being skipped for award nominations, I paid more attention to it this time.  This probably should have been the performance that broke that barrier and at least got a nomination.  I'm sure it won't be too long though.  Virtual characters will just be more and more common in the years to come.

I've never been a huge fan of Planet of the Apes.  It just never appealed to me.  Of course I saw all the movies and the TV series when I was a kid.  So even though this movie got great reviews and the guys at my comic store told me it was awesome, my expectations were kind of low going in.  So I'm happy to say that I LOVED this movie.  It was way, WAY better than I ever could have hoped.  It had a great story and it really did a fantastic job of explaining the whole origin of The Planet of the Apes.   You find out how and why they got so smart, what happened to the humans.  You see the Mars mission that leaves Earth and then get lost.  It was fantastic!  Plus you really feel for the characters and get really excited when the apes start to break free.  Definitely go see it.  It's probably the last of the great summer movies of 2011.


Update:  I saw this movie twice in the theaters.  That's rare for me now.  But it was so good and so unnerving that I insisted that Holly go see it with me.  It's really disturbing to see how unprepared we are.  Read this article I saw in the news today, it won't make you feel any more comfortable:

This was a great epidemic movie.  It's like a zombie movie where the zombies all die soon after they are infected.  The scary part of this movie is the collapse of society and the fact, that I now believe to be true, that our government and the authorities we assume will protect us are completely unprepared.  After 9/11, Katrina, the tsunami and earthquakes in the last few years, I've never been more certain that we are literally living each day as if it's our last.  Nobody is prepared for anything and we're all doomed.