As I said earlier today, there were so many awesome and enjoyable films in 2011 that I had to make four Top Ten lists as opposed to my usual three. Except in this case, that’s not exactly true.
The movies in this list aren’t ranked, because they didn’t get a rank in any of my other lists. Also, the only reason why this list is ten entries long is because it would spiral out of control very quickly if I didn’t impose some kind of limit on myself. These are the movies of 2011 that I didn’t have room for anywhere else, but I can’t let the year end without giving them a few parting comments. For lack of a better way to describe them, these are my Honorable Mentions.
It completely broke my heart to drop this one from my Masterpieces list. Though Seth Rogen can be a touch annoying, this is still a movie loaded with extraordinary actors playing wonderful characters. More importantly, the film deserves no end of praise for the heartfelt and brilliant way that it balanced comedy and drama regarding cancer. Even if the huge amount of amazing competition kicked this one out of the running, it’s still a moving and funny film that I deeply love.
Between The Hangover Part 2, Bad Teacher, The Sitter, The Change-Up, and a ton of other better examples (we’ll be getting to a few of them later), 2011 proved to be an outstanding year for adult comedies. Yet no one really took notice of the fact until this film came out in May.
Bridesmaids didn’t make the cut because I honestly thought the comedy wasn’t quite good enough. That said, it’s patently obvious that this wasn’t just any lowest-common-denominator film cobbled together to make a quick buck. There’s a great amount of sincerity in this film that can clearly be seen in Kristen Wiig’s performance and in her writing. Ultimately, this is a chick flick that both sexes can find value and entertainment in, and that’s something we need more of.
2011 had a ton of movies with far more quality than they had any right to, and these are both excellent cases in point.
Nobody asked for these movies and everyone thought that they were going to suck (no pun intended), but they turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable surprises. These are films that take recognizable parts from their forebears, putting modern spins on them without completely ruining them beyond recognition. More importantly, these movies very elegantly establish their own identities, entertaining and unique enough to stand apart from their namesakes. Flawed though they may be, these are two examples of how a remake should be done.
Well, this is a little embarrassing. When I reviewed this film, I said that it was one of the best movies of the year. And I meant it. But then the rest of the year happened.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still a really good movie. The script is phenomenal, Brad Pitt’s work is wonderful, Jonah Hill turns in a surprisingly good performance, and I maintain that Bennett Miller is a director to look out for. Still, a lot of great movies came out in the last three months of 2011, and there was no way to make an honest list without pushing Moneyball further and further out of the top ten.
I’m extremely thankful that this movie got made. This is a movie made by geeks, of geeks, for geeks, and we needed one that was lovingly devoted to such a degree. Alas, the exclusive nature of this film is very much a double-edged sword, since so much of this movie’s humor is comprised of inside jokes. Those moviegoers who have lives may be able to appreciate how Seth Rogen and the VFX team did a masterful job bringing Paul to life, but there’s otherwise nothing here for anyone who doesn’t know what carbonite is. Even though I’m in this film’s target audience and I’m very thankful to have seen it, I can be objective enough to know that this film has no place in any top ten for the year.
When I first saw this film, I was entirely set to put it on my Disappointments list. But then I saw the extended cut and my views on the film softened. Though the second viewing did solve quite a few of my problems with this movie, I’m still not entirely sure if I completely get this movie or even if there’s anything to get. I remain tremendously disappointed that Zack Snyder didn’t prove to be the storyteller that I thought he was, but I’m thrilled to know that he was even more of a visual genius than I initially thought.
There’s absolutely no way I’m putting this movie on either of my top ten lists, yet I’d feel guilty about putting this down as a top disappointment, especially when there are so many other films this year that I could disparage without any guilt at all. As such, Sucker Punch gets a reprieve.
There’s no denying that this is a wonderfully constructed movie. The child performances in this film are superlative, the pacing is extremely tight, and Michael Giacchino turns in another great score. However, there are two things that keep this film from the upper echelon. First, I found the alien in this film to be extremely boring. Sure, he was great as an unseen monster, but then we learned about his mishandled motivation and his uncanny resemblance to the Cloverfield monster. Second, as jaw-dropping as the visuals are, J.J. Abrams really needs to knock it off with those goddamn lens flares.
On the one hand, I love how impartial this movie is. The actors all do a phenomenal job at playing po-faced expert spies, and the monochrome visuals add a lot to the bleak atmosphere. On the other hand, the monochrome visuals have the side effect of making all the international settings look exactly the same, which really does a lot of harm to the movie’s scope. The characters also act incredibly calm in the face of World War III, which pretty much killed the stakes and the tension for me.
I expect that like Sucker Punch, this is a movie I’ll probably have to see again on DVD before I can make up my mind about it. In the meantime, I’m putting it here.
It absolutely killed me to learn that this movie first came out in 2010 (in Kazakhstan, of all places!). That technically disqualifies it from any mention in my Year in Review, but I just couldn’t bear to let that happen. I have to make this one minor exception to my own rule, just to give this film the honorable mention it deserves.
I don’t think I ever laughed harder all year than I did while watching this movie. Even if the third act does take a dip in quality, this is still an expertly and lovingly crafted parody of the slasher genre. Not only is this movie incredibly bloody and wickedly funny, but it’s also far smarter than you might expect from a horror film about dumb teens and dumber killers. If you enjoy screwball comedy that ends with idiots getting killed, this is the film for you. If you’re a horror fan, then you have no excuse for not seeking this film out ASAP.
It seems like a lifetime ago when I thought that this film was transparent Oscar-bait, slapped together on short notice to ride on the coat-tails of The Fighter. Imagine how surprised I was to find that I actually enjoyed this film more than last year’s Christian Bale vehicle.
The story was more than a little cliched, which is ultimately the reason why I didn’t keep it in the top ten. Still, this movie featured some outstanding performances from Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, and Joel Edgerton. Plus, it featured what were probably the best fight scenes I witnessed all year. Still not one of the year’s best, but a strong contender nonetheless.
And now, just because I can, here are a few other 2011 movies that were great enough for consideration, though sadly not quite great enough to make the cut for various reasons.
Remember, folks: These are the honorable mentions. Several films in this article are more than awards-worthy, and they still weren’t good enough to make my list of the year’s ten greatest masterpieces. Want to know what made the cut? Tune in tomorrow and find out.