I’m a huge movie buff, but ever since I stopped working at a movie theater those many years ago, I don’t get to see nearly as many movies as I’d like. That’s why this is a Top 5 list instead of Top 10. Even at that, there were some movies that were incredibly difficult to leave off. In order from 5 to my number one pick…
I’m a sucker for the Muppets, but I’m shocked to find this movie in my Top 5. If you’ve seen it, you’re not shocked at all. Consistently inventive, funny, and joyful, The Muppets was made by true Muppet fans, including star and co-writer Jason Segel. Sometimes when the fans take over a beloved property, things go haywire. Being a fan of something and knowing WHY the thing works on you the way it does are two different things. Here, they got it right. Kermit and friends get back together for another show and I’m smiling from ear-to-ear the whole time. Can’t ask for much more than that.
This is a movie that I don’t think gets nearly as much love as it should. For my money, it’s the most successful movie Marvel has made thus far. Director Kenneth Branagh showed a real understanding of how to bring the elevated speech of Thor and his world down to a level that’s relatable to the rest of us. It’s a fun, clever and imminently rewatchable movie with great scene after great scene. And the two lead performances by Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki leave me very, very excited for what comes next for them in this year’s The Avengers.
This is the sad case of an action movie that flew way, way under the radar–probably because its star is a 16-year-old girl. WHO. WILL. KNOCK. YOU. FLAT. Director Joe Wright is a guy who, like Steven Spielberg, always knows where to put the camera. His compositions tell as much of the story as any dialogue. Go back and watch his Pride & Prejudice if you don’t believe me. But what really grabs me with Hanna is the way he edited the film and the kinetic energy he put into the action scenes. Wow. You’ve never seen anything like it. Plus: soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers!
I have a hard time respecting any Top 10 list of 2011 movies that doesn’t put this movie in there somewhere. Yeah, it’s the 8th film in the series. But, this is where Harry Potter fully grows up and he takes the filmmaking right along with him. This is the whole package, from design to costuming to cinematography to acting to directing. Only one other film in 2011 thrilled me and moved me as much as this one. That’s the only reason this is number 2.
It’s criminal that this movie is so underseen. You’d think a sports movie with action this great and with a heart this big would be a MONSTER hit. It deserves to be. I don’t even like sports. I have no use for UFC or MMA or any of that. My wife even less so. And we both loved this movie. That you know the climax of the film within the first 10 minutes doesn’t matter one bit. It’s the character revelations and performances along the way that keep you hooked. This story of two brothers and their recovering alcoholic father devastated me in the best possible way. See this. See this now.
For the sake of information, here’s a list of all the other movies released in 2011 that I saw (some that are not on this list I still intend to see, like Moneyball and War Horse). Also, please note that some of these were seen under duress:
Green Hornet, The Company Men*, The Way Back, Just Go With It, Adjustment Bureau, Rango, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer*, Source Code, Arthur, Soul Surfer, Rio, Fast Five, Something Borrowed, The Beaver**, Bridesmaids*, Midnight in Paris**, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Tree of Life, X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Green Lantern, Bad Teacher*, Cars 2, Prom, Of Gods and Men, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Pearl Jam Twenty, Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, Winnie the Pooh, Captain America: The First Avenger, Cowboys & Aliens, Crazy Stupid Love**, Rise of the Planet of the Apes**, The Help, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
* = I saw an edited version of the movie.
** = Movies that just missed my Top 5.
What’s your Top 5?