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The Lucky 13: The OTHER…Best Films of 2011

January 7, 2012

My Lucky 13 list of the Best of 2011 was a difficult one to put together, because 2011 really was a great year for movies. That list remains the best of the best, no question, but I thought I’d post another list…The OTHER Best films of 2011.

13. Thor” – As a Marvel geek this exceeded my expectations to the highest extent. I was worried how “Thor” was going to turn out, being that he’s the only character so far that’s not…well, not as realistic as Iron Man. There’s a fantasy element at play here, over all the science fiction mumbo-jumbo. The movie works though thanks to Kenneth Branagh’s brilliant direction. Coming from a background of directing Shakespeare films, Branagh is able to harness similar themes, mainly the relationship debacles of fathers & sons, but more importantly the importance of brotherhood and how it can be tarnished so easily.

12. Attack the Block – Screenwriter Joe Cornish makes his feature directing debut in this alien dark comedy about street kids of South London defending their block from a bunch of large hairy beast-like alien creatures. There’s a great amount of scares and whitty dialogue, but the movie also sneaks in the social commentary about young black youth, and how sterotypes sometimes can get the better of people. My only guff with the movie was that it was too short, I wanted so much more, ’cause it was such a blast of film and smartly written. Cornish also drafted the original screenplay, the movie is executive produced by Edgar Wright and co-stars Nick Frost, both of “Shaun of the Dead” & “Hot Fuzz” fame. If I had to describe this movie in the best possible manner it’s a cross between “The Goonies” & “Aliens”.

11. “War Horse” – The movie may tend to over stay it’s welcome, by the time it’s clocking in at two hours and twenty-five minutes, but it does justice in honoring John Ford films. The story is enthralling, captivating, and all around moving. Expect to be a little misty eyed by the third act, I sure as heck was.

10. “The Trip” – “The Trip” is quite an amusing one, the best parts of the movie are when Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon are eating their meals and having their hilarious banters. One scene that sticks out the most is the 5 minute bit between the two on who can do the better Michael Caine impression. ‘My names MY-CO-CAINE!’

9. “Rango” – A kids movie that in all respect is no kids movie. I saw this in theaters with a friend one weekend, it was a packed house full of children, and barely any of them laughed, some were even terrified of the imagery. The story can be over their heads at times, especially with a story resembling “Chinatown”. The inside jokes of “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”, Sergio Leone westerns, and modern day political corruption are other pieces to the puzzle that form a non-traditional kids film. But, that’s exactly why I freaking loved this film! Writer/Director, Gore Verbinkski has made one for the ages, perhaps the smartest cartoon film in ages, and the one sincerely good one of 2011 that wasn’t in 3D.

8. “Moneyball” – Brad Pitt is the man, plain and simple. His presence on screen is demanding as well as commanding. He can be serious and sometimes scary, but can be truly funny when he needs to be, and he has quite a few laughable moments in this film. His dialogue is snarky yet truthful, which comes hand in hand thanks to co-writer (& Oscar winner) Aaron Sorkin. Plus, this could be the first time where an Apatow-company comic could get his first Oscar nomination, GO JONAH HILL!

7. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – The film is a cautionary tale, scientist today gentically engineer animals constantly, now it may not have the effect that the film percieves, but it’s a cautionary tale none the less. Like it’s original counterparts from the 60′s and 70′s, “Rise”, takes control and shows an image that we try to block out of our minds, could our greatest discoveries lead to our biggest downfall.

6. “Paul” – Simon Pegg & Nick Frost return to full form in their geek-themed sci-fi comedy. The movie heavily relies on it’s devoted fans of “Spaced”, “Shaun of the Dead”, & “Hot Fuzz”, while at the sametime maintaining to branch out to broader audiences. While the movie didn’t succeed financially, it succeeds in it’s concept and it’s one of my favorite comedies of 2011. It speaks to my inner geek and I salute them for doing so.

5. “Captain America: The First Avenger” – The direction of this film is lead by high-concept director Joe Johnston. He’s returned to familiar territories here, what with directing “The Rocketeer” and winning the Oscar for Art Direction for “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, Johnston seems to make these popcorn films memorable while maintaining good story and likeable characters. Being one of the few out there who was worried over the casting of Cap, after seeing him in action I can’t imagine anyone else but him portraying Steve Rogers.

4. “Red State” – The movie itself, it’s not really a horror movie in the aspect of violence & pop out scares, sure it can get pretty violent, actually it comes to a point of being down right disturbing, but the real horror comes from the people, mostly from Cooper, the chilling chants he sings, and the crazy sermons he yells out. The finale of the battle of the church is sure to leave Goosebumps for many viewers. The movie also rules with it’s strong leading performances from Michael Parks & John Goodman, both deserve Oscar nominations, but likely won’t earn them because the Academy is full of morons.

3. “The Artist” – I loved the movie plain & simple. It was a delight, it was a rare treat, and it’s something I don’t see happening again, not for a long long time. Writer/director Michel Hazanavicius has taken a bolder step in the world of filmmaking that most directors dare not to do.

2. “Warrior” – Tom Hardy is gritty and real, you can tell he put a lot into this role, physically & emotionally. He seems like a versatile actor, his 2008 performance in “Bronson” is simply one of the best (overlooked) performances of the decade, and I’m delighted that he’s starting to get recognized as a lead actor. If he doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for this movie, I just don’t know what to think about the Academy in terms of who deserves to be nominated & who doesn’t.

1. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” – “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is one of the very few reasons why I love going to the movies: strong story, strong actors, strong direction, strong…everything! I hope to see more from director Tomas Alfredson in the coming years.

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