Monday, January 9, 2012

Dan's Top Films from 2011

Here is my (Dan) top 10 list of movies that came out in 2011. Let me know what you think in the replies.

10 . I saw Drive shortly after it came out. I am a big fan of Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl is in my top 5 all-time films) and will pretty much see whatever he is in. Drive is an odd cross between an 80’s John Hughes film and a slasher movie. Ok, slasher may be a bit hyperbolic but there is a ton of blood. The movie makes my list do to its unique character development (or lack there of) and the overall tone of the film. Also, Bryan Cranston (the brilliant actor from Breaking Bad-my favorite show on TV right now) is in it. That helped too.

9. This spot was a toss up for me. I really liked 50-50 and Win Win, but I felt like I could only put 1 of them on the list since they had a similar feel (in my opinion). I opted to go with 50-50. Joseph Gordon-Levitt played the leading role rather well and Seth Rogen was a nice addition to the cast as well. The film was written by Rogen as sort of an auto-biographical take on a similar situation he had been in with a friend in Canada. The authenticity of their friendship and the bittersweet take on an emotional topic (cancer) impacted me. I liked this movie a lot.

8. I recently watched The Help and I loved it. Emma Stone, whom I have only seen in a couple films, was a very strong lead actress and played off her co-stars very well. Stone’s co-star, Viola Davis, was even more impressive as she handled the emotional nature of her role impeccably. The film’s subject matter (Southern racism in the 60’s) was portrayed honestly (and uncomfortably). This is the type of film that makes you angry, but leaves you hopeful. My wife read the book and the said it was even better.

7. I talked about this film before so I won’t go in to it too much. I’ll just say that in an era of reboots, remakes and sequels, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol felt fresh and original. I look forward to the next film especially if Brad Bird and Jeremy Renner are back.

6. This spot was another tough one for me as there are 2 films that I felt similarly about (Source Code and Limitless) and rented around the same time. However, Source Code gets the distinction of being my #6 pick. The movie was like Groundhog Day mixed with Minority Report. There was a certain level of suspension of disbelief required of the viewer, but it was well worth it. I am even ok with the open-ended conclusion to the film. You should see it.

5. Being the huge A’s fan that I am, you would think that Moneyball would have been my #1 film of the year by default. Although I did enjoy it quite a bit, it sits comfortable at #5. For me this film had a documentary feel to it, as I worked for the A’s during the time period that the film depicts and was rather close to some of the people portrayed in the film. This was sort of the gift and the curse of the film. I was unable to fully engross myself in the film since I was constantly cross-referencing it with my perception of what happened during that era. It was a great movie, don’t get me wrong. It just was a little too close to home.
4. The Descendants’ placement on this likely can likely be attributed to the fact that Mel and I went to The Vine to see it. That’s right-a real date. I ordered beer and pizza (from my seat mind you) and watched Alexander Payne’s take on family, love and Hawaii. The film had a great feel to it and is the closest thing to an indie film as there is on this list.

3. When I initially saw the trailer for Hugo I didn’t necessarily want to see the film. It looked like a kid’s movie that I would eventually see at home when Tate and Lyla (my offspring) got around to seeing it. However, after talking to some people who saw it and reading the countless positive reviews, I decided to give it a go. I was not disappointed. The film is referred to as Martin Scorcese’s love letter to film itself and it definitely felt that way. The film is based off a children’s book and even references historical figures. Much of the film is non-fiction. If you get a chance to see it in 3D, you should. It was well worth the extra money.

2. I posted my review for The Artist so I won’t write about it too much. In short, I loved its throwback Hollywood feel, the acting, and the whole aesthetic.
1. I had a tough time picking my favorite movie of the year. I still am not sure that I even agree with this pick, but I will do my best to justify it. I chose Super 8 because, among other things, I could really identify with aspects of the film (aside from the deadbeat dad and aliens). As a middle schooler, I constantly borrowed my dad’s video camera to make videos with friends. This trend continued in to high school and let’s be honest, today as well. The film was well acted and fairly original, but it was the fact that I saw glimpses of my childhood in it that made me love it all the more. The film felt like something from the 80’s and it depicted kids that were a lot like me. I loved it.

Honorable Mention
I enjoyed these films as well but they didn’t make the cut:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Crazy, Stupid, Love
The Adjustment Bureau
Tree of Life
Win Win

Films I didn’t see and therefore cannot rate...
War Horse
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Midnight in Paris

Least favorite movie of the year...
Country Strong (words cannot describe the awful, putrid, absurdity of this film. Knowing that most of their songs are likely about Gwyneth Paltrow kills Coldplay for me).


  1. I like your list overall. I'm going to post mine soon! Still need to see Moneyball to determine where it places on my list (it's kind of an assumption that it will be on there somewhere). Thankfully, it just came out at Redbox so I will be watching it this week!

    The only movie on your list that I simply can't agree with is "The Descendants." I had such high expectations and in my opinion it was the most over-hyped, overrated film of the year. And that's saying a lot from me, because I really like Alexander Payne's other films (although I haven't seen his directorial debut "Citizen Ruth"). "Sideways" was one of my favorites of 2004 and "About Schmidt" made my list for 2002. "Election" is one of the great political satires out there.

    But his latest just didn't do it for me. I felt absolutely no emotional connection to the characters, and while this was likely his intent as the director, it made for a less enjoyable film experience for me. George Clooney's character was an irresponsible father who tries to claim that Hawaii isn't paradise. I just didn't buy it, especially when all his problems were his own fault.

    I thought the acting overall was impressive, from Clooney and Woodley to Judy Greer and Robert Forster (even Matthew Lillard was good in a small role). But overall, I expected much more and the film failed to stir my emotions or produce the laughs this type of a film ought to induce. I respect your choice (clearly, many critics liked the film even more than you did as it has made many critics' top ten lists) and see how the date made it more enjoyable. I just had to give my two cents on the film.

    That being said, I liked all the other films on your list and many of them will end up on my Top Ten List (coming soon). Good picks.

  2. Hey Luke,

    Super insightful feedback. I can totally see where you are coming from with "The Descendants." I honestly think the setting had a lot to do with my enjoyment of the film (I think a lot of films can be that way). There are certain films that I enjoy more because of the company I'm with. It's the same reason I loved Zoolander the first time I saw it. Ok, that was a bad example. I think.

  3. Zoolander is an excellent example. I love Joe Dirt, which is the one of the most ridiculous piece of crap movies I've ever seen. As we discussed when coming up with ideas for the blog, ranking movies (or whatever) is inherently subjective. No movie will strike any two people in exactly the same way, which is what makes discussing them so interesting.

  4. Dan,

    You worked for the A's?? What did you do for them?

    Also, I agree with both you and Matt. Good call.

  5. I babysat the player's kids during home games and houses at during road trips for 5 seasons.