Coming to a Close

2011 is coming to a close and it's been a fairly weird year in movies. Personally, it's been an awfully crazy year for myself. Not only am I a new car owner and new homeowner, I am a first-time uncle. Life seems to barreling forward and although I've enjoyed 2011 (with its ups and downs) I cannot wait to see what 2012 has in store for us.

With that, I'd like to take a breather here before I get to my Most Anticipated 2012 list and look back on what 2011 has brought us with movies.

The Predictably Good:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
If you just can't stand this series, you can probably skip this one. Otherwise, we'll just say this has been the penultimate wrap up to one of the greatest stories ever told. I think Part 2 was perfect - it's the culmination of 7 previous movies and the build up to this one was astounding and the execution was simply breathtaking. It's as epic as epic can get, but the movie didn't forget the more quiet moments in between all that wand flinging. The Harry Potter universe is my generation's Star Wars. I would love for J.K. Rowling to come back and visit it again or bestow others to do the same, but we all know too well what can happen when someone doesn't know when to stop (coughGeorgeLucascough).

No doubt I had this high on my list for most anticipated last year and it did not disappoint. It is probably the funniest movie I've seen all year and it goes to show that sometimes the ladies can bring more funny than the men.

Battle: Los Angeles
One of the best sci-fi movies this year, the hype surrounding this movie didn't hurt it one bit. They did this movie right - instead of a mishmash of civilians like Independence Day, the movie strictly stays in the viewpoint from one military unit's perspective. It has all the drama like any decent war story but mixed in with the horror of battling an alien race.

Lincoln Lawyer
One of the best dramas this year, this movie did not disappoint. There's some really good acting and a clever story behind all those chiseled good looks. I'd love to see them do another one soon, here's to hoping!

Source Code
My number two anticipated movie is one of the year's finest! It's not gonna blow you away, but the performances and the tight script make for a rewarding watch, even multiple times. If you don't fancy sci-fi that much, this is still worth watching - the characters are really the set piece as the sci-fi setting is really the backdrop to some great Groundhog Day-esque material.

The Seriously Disappointing:

Cowboys & Aliens
Uggh. Who knew this one could crash this bad? You had a lot of great people working on this movie and it had a great concept. But somehow it manages to not only be dull and boring, but quite messy with all its theatrics. The characters were so blah and uninteresting it was hard to care at all when the aliens came to steal their gold (seriously, this is what they did in the movie!)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
I called this one out last year. If Johnny Depp was going to be the main attraction of the movie, then it's going to be bad. And it was. Too much Jack Sparrow does not make a good movie. He's more of a side character and to shove him in the spotlight only makes him annoying. I was not amused and unfortunately the rest of the world was because it made over a billion dollars worldwide. So get ready for a fifth Pirates movie in which Johnny Depp plunders the comedy stylings of Eddie Murphy to play Jack Sparrow and his long lost twin brother!

The Hangover, Part II
Don't get me wrong, Part 2 was hilarious, but it was also more of the same - it lost a little bit of its magic that made the first one special. Some of the jokes fell flat and forced and at times it seemed to move slowly. But all is forgiven because of the monkey. Seriously, that monkey needs it's own show.

The Wonderfully Surprising:

Super 8
There was a lot of speculation about this movie and there was ton of hype, but maybe not in a good way. To put it bluntly, this is the best movie I've seen this year. J.J. Abrams sprinkled Speilbergian magic dust all over this movie. It's an enchanting movie and by gosh, if Kyle Chandler isn't the best underrated actor out there (he did win an Emmy THANK GOD). So, so good - this is the reason why I go see movies.

I knew this movie was going to be special. As a cancer survivor myself, everything rings true in this movie. It's heartwarming, funny and sincere. It's one of the best movies this year. Everything is done right and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood right now. There's a scene where his character finally breaks down and lets all his emotions out. It's a very raw and wonderfully tragic moment in this film, it's simply one of the best scenes I've seen all year.

Moneyball is something special. Some may know the story of the Oakland A's (although I didn't, so I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!), but Aaron Sorkin's script is so riveting and entertaining, you find yourself rooting for Brad Pitt's Billy Beane even if you know the ending. There's a triumphant feeling in the film that few others have touched this year. And such good acting - it's really just a one-man show and I'd be surprised if he didn't get nominated for an Oscar.

X-Men: First Class
Expectations were high for this movie, but I didn't expect this one to top all the other superhero movies this year. In fact, it's by far the best X-Men movie. The acting is top notch and the plot isn't watered down with zingy one-liners and ludicrous set pieces. The 60s setting works perfectly for this film and I can't wait to see what they do for a sequel.

Sucker Punch
I am probably the only person in the world who loved this movie enough to put it in my top ten. It's a visually stunning movie that I think will be remembered long after this year. Call me crazy, but this movie has everything a geek could want - so where was the love? It's a fun movie and there's a really great story as well. It's well worth repeat viewings just to catch everything!

Great Movies Not on My Anticipated List:

Ewan McGregor plays Oliver, a lonely man who finds out his father is gay after his mother passes away. This seems to complicate his life, but only makes him come to terms with his own relationship problems. This is one of the best movies this year - it's a comedy that treads the fine line of hilariousness with somber, meaningful moments. I absolutely fell in love with every moment in this movie.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.
The only wrong thing about this movie is its title. Talk about melodramatic. But the movie is often funny more than you would think. There are a few rough edges, but it's a great date movie where you won't be rolling your eyes or vomiting in your mouth at all the cliches. Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling work great together and there's just too many good moments/jokes that it's hard to pass up.

Bad Teacher
This was the year for R-rated comedies and they were all pretty good, but I wasn't prepared to laugh this hard. Cameron Diaz is perfect in this role and there's a great supporting cast involved. It has some weird moments (mainly from Timberlake's character), but overall, it's a blast to watch.

A tight, character-driven thrill ride with an awesome soundtrack. It's a lot like the Bourne movies, so if you dug those, you'd definitely enjoy this movie. There's some great editing and cinematography in this movie and I was totally engrossed in this cat and mouse man hunt for a girl who can kick some serious ass.

Everything Must Go
Will Ferrell needs to do more roles like this. He is a wonderful actor and he shows it in this story about a volatile alcoholic who has possibly the worst day anyone can have (he gets fired and his wife leaves him and locks him out of the house with all his stuff in the yard). What happens after that bad day is really something amazing. It's a great story and there's some real charming moments along with absolutely devastating consequences.

There you have it! I still believe there's going to be some great movies this holiday - Sherlock Holmes 2, The Muppets, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and on and on. I'm excited for the end of the year, but there's going to be some doozies next year as well!

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