Movie Board: My Favorite Movies of 2011
Finally, my thrilling year end aggregation of all of my favorite movies from 2011. Every year, I keep a white board at my desk of all the movies I see that are released in 2011. Hence the name, Movie Board. Here is that board.
This year, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to split the list into two groups. Group 1 will be my 5 favorite movies that were released during 2011. Group 2 will be my 5 other favorite movies I saw in 2011 that weren’t released in that year. Then I’ll give my usual honorable mentions.
So let’s get started with my 5 favorite movies from 2011 in no particular order.
X-Men: First Class – How great was this movie. It was better than every X-Men movie before it. I really hope this cast continues on with more movies. I don’t even care if they try to stick with the established movie timeline. I just want more of this cast and this type of storytelling.
Captain America – We really had a banner year for super hero movies. This movie was amazing and the perfect setup for The Avengers this summer. And Chris Evans. I’ve been a fan of him ever since I saw him in Not Another Teen Movie in 2001 and Cellular in 2004. Not to mention his nearly perfect turn as Johnny Storm in both Fantastic Four movies. I can’t wait for The Avengers and Captain America 2.
Moneyball – I’m not the biggest baseball fan, but I love this movie. It’s only peripherally a baseball movie, it’s more about Billy Beane and his attempt to rethink the evaluation of baseball talent. This movie is written by two of my favorite writers, Steve Zaillian (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, American Gangster) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, A Few Good Men). Just a really good behind the scenes look at baseball. Brad Pitt is great as Billy Beane and so is Jonah Hill as Peter Brand. Definitely check this out.
The Muppets – They really nailed this movie. After watching this my wife and I went back and watched the three original Jim Henson Muppet movies (Muppet Movie, Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take Manhattan) and it just fits right in there. Especially with the last one. I am such a huge Muppet fan that I even enjoy watching the non-Henson movies A Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island. The new movie just works with the songs, the gags, the celebrity cameos. And it’s great to see little used Muppets like Uncle Deadly. Bravo Jason Segel.
True Grit – I am a big western fan so whenever a new western comes out, I get excited. Especially with a cast like this one. Honestly, I’ve seen the original True Grit, and while Wayne is great as Rooster, the movie itself is a little slow. However, this movie goes back to the original source novel to re-adapt the story. And wow, the Coen’s do a great job. Bridges is fantastic, Damon is great and the little girl pretty much steals the show. This is such a great movie and the Coen’s did a great job. This makes me happy because this movie being a success may lead to more movie westerns. I’m really surprised and saddened that the great 3:10 to Yuma remake in 2007 didn’t lead to studios making more westerns. This is how it should be done, Hollywood.
Now, here are 5 more movies I saw and loved in 2011. However, they weren’t released in 2011, but I watched them for the first time in 2011.
The King’s Speech – I didn’t want to see this movie. It was my wife’s choice. We actually went to see it in the theater but our son was just reaching the age where he wouldn’t sleep through the movie and I had to take him outside for the last half of the movie. I finally got to finish it when it came out on DVD. And I loved it. I really like Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. They are amazing. And so is Guy Pearce. Why isn’t he in more movies? Seriously, see this movie. It’s awesome.
Ip Man – I mentioned this movie and it’s sequel in one of my Movie Man-a-thon articles. I. LOVE. THIS. MOVIE. I can’t even begin to describe the bad assness of Donnie Yen as Ip Man in this movie. The fights are awesomely choreographed and the story is good. I really liked it. The sequel is also good. Not as good as the first one, but still entertaining.
The Kennedys – I’m going to cheat a bit on my next two entries. They are both television shows. Well, this one is actually a mini-series. A very controversial one. Originally produced by The History Channel, it was shelved as not being fit for their “brand” and then unceremoniously shown on the Reelz cable network. That’s where Steph and I saw it. And it’s awesome. It’s not a total drama/smear campaign against JFK. It actually sort of glosses over his infidelities. It’s main focus was his presidency, his marriage to Jackie and his relationship with his brother and father. I really enjoyed it. Check it out. Kinnear is great as JFK as is Barry Pepper as RFK and Tom Wilkinson as Joe Kennedy. Very, very good mini-series.
Dexter Season 5 – I enjoyed Season 4, but I didn’t love it. However, I LOVED SEASON 5. This show is just great. And I loved the addition of Julia Stiles to the cast. She was just so cute and damaged and awesome. Such a great story line that I was sad they wrapped it up. Her character is left open to come back, of course, and I hope she does, but I haven’t heard anything about Season 6. If you aren’t watching this show, I say give it a shot. It’s dark, but funny and clever and fun. Well, honestly Season 4 isn’t as fun. It’s really dark. But every other season has a healthy dash of dark fun.
Here are a few of my patented “Honorable Mentions” from last year.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – This American version by David Fincher and written by Steve Zaillian (again!) was really close to getting into my top 5. I have not read any of the books or watched any of the Swedish versions of this film/book series. I went in completely blind. And I loved it. I even saw it with my father-in-law which made the extremely graphic rape scenes have an extra dimension of awkwardness. But the story is really good and so are the characters. Daniel Craig is really good and so is Rooney Mara. I liked it so much that I’ll probably read the second book before they make the sequel.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – I really, really wanted to put this in the top five. I loved this movie, but it’s a little bitter sweet too because I watched every single one of these movies in the theater since they started in 2001 and this is the LAST ONE we’ll get. So it’s sad. Even now. But a great and fitting end to the series.
Thor – This was better than it had any right being. I was not even a Thor fan while growing up as a comic book collector/reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I’m actually looking forward to seeing this character in The Avengers and possibly a Thor 2.
So that’s my list of favorite movies I watched last year. Hope you enjoyed them. Stay tuned, my worst of list is coming.