2011 Movies Year in Review

HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody!! What a year it’s been at the movies… sequels definitely ruled Hollywood in 2011 and no doubt this trend is likely to continue. According to this site, the movie industry churned out 28 sequels, the most ever released in a single year! And this Box Office Mojo list shows that 7 out of the top 10 biggest-grossing movies this year have all been sequels (and one remake), topped by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, raking in over $1.3 billion worldwide. That’s just ONE freakin’ movie of the already very profitable franchise!

I’d say it’s been a relatively good year at the movies… despite the slew of sequels and remakes, there have been some inventive and wonderfully creative films like The Artist, Midnight in Paris, Source Code, Tree of Life, just to name a few. Of course I wish there were more arty films released this year to balance all the sequels!!… 

For me personally, I saw almost 40 films released in 2011 (well 60 if you count all the Gregory Peck films I saw in the past two months) with more than half of those seen at the theater. Thanks to the 2011 Twin Cities Film Fest, I got  to see some films that barely made it to our local theaters, such as Machine Gun Preacher and a few good documentaries like Where Soldiers Come From and the Stan Lee’s With Great Power. Not bad at all, though I hope to see more movies in 2012… but with the fantastic lineup like Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, etc. on top of the other non-franchise movies I’m anticipating, next year sure is shaping up to be another awesome year at the movies!

Well, it’s customary for bloggers to sum up the end of the year with their picks of favorite films. So here’s my top ten favorite movies of 2011:… 

10. Thor
Branagh infused witty dialog and draw compelling performances from his actors, whilst still delivering satisfying special effects for fans of the superhero genre. The ending is so satisfying and naturally set up for a sequel. It doesn’t seem forced at all, in fact, Branagh gives us much to look forward to, too bad he didn’t sign up to helm the sequel.
As I’ve mentioned in my noteworthy performances post, one of the main highlights of this film is the character Rachel Singer, played by both Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain. But John Madden crafted an intriguing WWII thriller with unflinching action and sharp dialog. I don’t even mind renting this one again when it’s out on DVD. It’s not every day I come across a solid espionage piece that’s as taut and well-acted as this one.
Biggest surprise of the year for me as I wasn’t initially interested in seeing this film! It’s an impressive movie that it kept me engaged from start to finish, there’s no slow or ho-hum second act, or unnecessary ‘fillers’… I feel that every single scene in this film is worthy to be included. I commend UK director Rupert Wyatt—a relative newcomer with only two previous feature films under his belt—for creating such a satisfying film with a ‘whoa’ kind of ending.
I never would’ve thought that this sequel to a Mission movie would end up in my top 10, but if you’ve read my review, you’ll know why. Brad Bird’s confident direction and the inventive actions scenes makes this movie work, and Tom Cruise’s definitely in his elements as the super agent Ethan Hunt. Easily the most electrifying action movie I’ve seen in a while!
I made a snafu in including Tangled on this list as it’s actually released in 2010. In its place, I’m including the final film of the mega-successful Harry Potter franchise. Though I had said in my ‘review’ that it wasn’t as epic as I had expected it to be, in hindsight I think it truly was a great finish to a well-crafted franchise. It’s quite something to see how much Harry, Hermione and Ron have grown over the years. These three friends have been through a lot and the finale captures a lot of their emotional moments, as well as other beloved characters, especially Professor Snape! Not many franchises THIS big could’ve ended in such a high note.
5. Hugo
Martin Scorsese’s foray into family movies is an enchanting one. It’s another film on my list that takes place in the city of lights, captured in a brilliant cinematography by Robert Richardson. This film looks beautiful in 3D that’s used expertly to enhance the story instead of hindering it. I especially love the homage to history of filmmaking, intertwined with the story of a lonely boy trying to find his place in the world.
I don’t make a top 40 list like this to just any film, so naturally I LOVE this film. I’m naturally fond of the X-Men story, but Matthew Vaughn took this up a notch and delivered on his promise of putting together a Cold War setting + a Bond flick + Frankenheimer political thriller all in one heck of an entertaining movie. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy’s great performance is also major factor this movie works so well. Even after seeing over a dozen 2011 movies since, I still rank this pretty high on my list.
3. The Help
This is the last 2011 film I saw this year and what a way to end the year! I never read the book but I’ve heard that it’s one of the few adaptations that lives up to it, and I can see why. The story alone is inspiring and thought-provoking, and the acting is top notch. As I mentioned in my previous post, I sure hope Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis will continue to get recognition during award season. I laughed and cried throughout the film, it’s one of those films that’ll stay with me long after the end credits roll.
This is the kind of movie to get lost into, to be swept off your feet and be magically transported into the charming Parisian world that Woody Allen’s dreamt up. Right from the opening sequence with the jazzy music Si tu vois ma mère all the way to the rainy setting of the finale, this movie is just so irresistibly beguiling. I’m not even an Owen Wilson fan by a long shot, nor am I a longtime admirer of Woody Allen’s work, but Allen’s got a real winner with this one.

Beautiful. Enchanting. Inventive. I’m running out of adjectives to describe this film. I’m so glad I got to see it this year. Even though I’ve been waiting for this for a while and had a high expectation for it, this film still delivers! Major kudos to director Michel Hazanavicius for creating a film that’s not only delightful to watch but also so refreshingly different from the sequel/remake-laden pack of Hollywood offerings. As I said in my review, there really isn’t a single darn thing wrong with this film and even my husband who isn’t keen on black & white films, let alone a silent one, loves every minuted of it! A truly a magical time at the movies, hands down The Artist is my favorite I’ve seen all year!


As for worst films of the year, well I’m quite fortunate that I’ve been avoiding a lot of duds this year like Cowboys & Aliens, Green Lantern or Battle L.A. But if I were to name one disappointing film I saw this year, it’d be Somewhere by Sofia Coppola. Fortunately I didn’t waste my money seeing that at the cinema!

Another major disappointment is how Relativity Studio mishandled the distribution of Machine Gun Preacher, as my friend Sherry articulated in this article. It’s hard for any film, let alone a small indie like this one, to have a chance at success when most people I talked to didn’t even know it existed! I hope more people see it when it’s out on dvd.

Before I sign off, I just want to say have a HAPPY NEW YEAR and THANK YOU for your continued support and readership. It’s been a fun blogging year for me and ‘meeting’ new people who love movies as much as I do.

I hope to chat more about movies in the years to come… why don’t you start now by sharing your favorite movies of 2011.