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A Brief Review of the
2011 Movies

by Karen Dale, movie critic extraordinaire


My Favorites

I thought there were very few great movies this year. My favorites span a wide variety of genres and intellectual leanings. I have listed them in order, with my pick for the best movie of the year on top.

1. The Descendants—Great acting, compelling story. Clooney and the actress playing the older daughter were fantastic.

2. Buck—The heartwarming story of the real-life “Horse Whisperer”. Buck has an interesting life and a keen sense of humans, as well as animals. He shares his philosophy on horses and life in a very understated fashion. Highly recommended documentary.

3. Paul—I didn’t trust this one enough to see it in the theater, so I was pleasantly surprised by the DVD. Great cast, clever and witty writing, fun story. I love Simon Pegg (who I was happy to see show up in MI4, as well).

4. Midnight in Paris—So inventive and different. Marion Cotillard was the highlight for me. She and all the cameos by historical figures. Very fun.

5. The Other Woman—I only caught this one on Showtime... it was mostly panned by critics, but I thought the acting was good and the story was rather unusual. Evan Rachel Wood brings something extra to this part.

6. Crazy, Stupid, Love—I’m really only putting this one on the list for Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Or rather, Ryan Gosling’s abs.

7. Footloose—I know I’m one of the few real fans of this movie. But, please hear me out! I love it primarily because it sends great messages to teenage girls—messages that aren’t sent out by the media all too often: sleeping around will make you feel bad about yourself, don’t choose your friends by their looks, and other thoughts about acceptance of yourself and others that made me hope lots of young girls would see the movie. I’m not sure they did, because the 80s vibe dripped pretty heavily off it. Which was another thing I loved about it! The filmmakers were so respectful of its re-make status and honoring of the original—down to replica costumes and reminiscent dance moves. I thought they did a great job of updating the movie and fixing some of the really cheesy parts, while maintaining the innocence, message, and silliness of the original. Gosh, after this long review, maybe it should be my #1 pick for the year.

8. The Muppets—Hillarious songs and very cute muppetry. You might not think this would be a plum role, but Jason Segel has real acting talent.

9. My week with Marilyn—I can’t say this is a very interesting story, and it didn’t go anywhere unexpected or compelling, but Michelle Williams did a fantastic job as Marilyn.

10. Bridesmaids—People thought this was one of the funniest movies of the year. I liked it, but I especially appreciated Melissa McCarthy’s contribution.

Disappointments

The Help—They didn’t do the book justice. The story was told out of sequence and with emphasis on the wrong characters and it fell flat.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy—The second-most disappointing movie of the year. The trailer looked great, it’s based on a well-known book/author, and has a great cast. Seemed like a shoe-in, but wow was it long, dull, hard-to-follow, and altogether uninteresting.

Contagion—There was a lot of hype about this one and it was a real stinker. I really don’t remember much of it, which is a sign to me that it was a loser.

Moneyball—I didn’t see this one, but I wanted to until I heard my friends’ comments about it: long, boring, way too wordy. Bummer, Brad.

50/50—I walked out of this movie. I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but the story was going a direction I just cannot abide, professionally: a therapist and client were about to forge a romantic relationship. Unethical, illegal, and wrong, and I just couldn’t stand to watch it happen.

Our Idiot Brother—Again, a great cast but an absolutely rotten movie. Bad in so many ways.

The Company Men—Not even worth talking about.

Tower Heist—The trailer spoiled this one for me. And I wanted more Eddie Murphy.

Cowboys & Aliens—Lots of hype about this one, too, and then it just... went away. I didn’t see it, but it clearly sucked.

Young Adult—This one looked promising in the trailer, but then I heard that it was really bad. I was disappointed to see it get bad reviews. I’ll catch it on DVD.

Noteable

Biutiful—Too dark for my taste, but reputedly interesting film-making.

The Skin I Live In—I’ve sworn off Almodovar, but this one almost made me turn back. Almost.

Justin Bieber Never Say Never—I mean, we can’t just ignore it entirely, he’s a pop-culture sensation.

Rango—This animated movie got a lot of good press, maybe just for the Johnny Depp-of it.

Unmemorable—Did I see that one?

Horrible bosses—I saw this and I think I liked parts of it, but I just can’t recall.

Larry Crowne—I actually didn’t see this one, but I know that it was another one of those “We’re famous and bored, let’s make a movie” movies, ala The Tourist. Snore.

Ides of March—I originally had this one on my list of favorites, but then I tried to remember the story or what I liked about it and came up with nothing. All I can remember is the cheap turn it took at the crux and how the whole plot crumbled after that. Yay for Gosling, Clooney, and Hoffman, but boo for story.

Adjustment Bureau—Matt Damon & Emily Blunt stuck in a stupid plot.

Rom-Coms that didn’t need to happen

I Don’t Know How She Does It

What’s Your Number?

No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits

The Dilemma

Movies other people liked

The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo

Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Tree of Life

War Horse

The Artist

Super 8

The Adventures of Tintin

Hugo

Small movies I want to see

Dirty Girl—A friend of a friend made this one and it, unfortunately, got very limited release. Sounds like a good story; I’ll be looking for it on DVD.

Beginners—I like the sound of the story.

The Debt—I don’t know if this one qualifies as “small”, starring Helen Mirren and all, but it wasn’t marketed very heavily. It’s in my cue.

Olive—This one was made by Hooman Khalili, an obnoxious radio personality on Alice, KLLC. I’ve heard about it so much from the morning show, I want to check it out at some point.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—I didn’t know this was made into a movie, but the book is a favorite of a friend of mine, so it might be worth seeing.

Movies that just were

We Bought a Zoo—Matt Damon & Scarlett Johansson stuck in an uninteresting plot.

Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty—Didn’t see either but heard they didn’t work. Bummer.

Hangover 2—Why sully the good name of #1?

Bad Teacher—Another one I resisted for professional reasons.

Just Go with it and Jack and Jill—Both Adam Sandler. He hasn’t impressed me since 50 First Dates.


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