Film's Biggest Losers and Winners of 2011
In many ways, 2011 was a great one for movies. Some really good films came out this year -- some
that broke the mold and swirled genres together in unprecedented ways.
Several icons of the movie world made remarkable contributions that
should be mentioned at the year's close.
On the other hand, you've gotta face it: There are some horrendous movie makers out there these days, along with literally millions of Americans who are willing to pay to see their horrendous movies. But that doesn't mean we can't take a little time out once a year to stare the reality of these terrible directors and films in the face and call them what they are, right?
In that spirit, here's a
way-too-short-to-be-exhaustive roundup of some of the worst and best
things to happen to film in 2011.
Instead of making this movie about a teen who finds his baby picture on a
missing persons site, they should have called the film "Abdominals" and
focused the camera on Taylor Lautner's rock-solid stomach for an hour
and forty-six minutes. That way we'd get the all visual appeal and be
spared the half-hearted acting, cliche-packed dialog, and awkward
editing of the actual flick.
4. The Roommate
what the world needs: another movie about an obsessive stalker types
and all the crazy shit they can do to torment the objects of their
obsessions. This movie about a girl named Sara (Minka Kelly) whose
college roommate Rebecca (Leighton Meester) becomes dangerously obsessed
with her is just more of the same. On top of being painfully hackneyed,
it also deserves credit for its negligent story line, which overlooks
the idea of providing some kind of back story to explain crazy roommate
Rebecca's apparent mental illness.
3. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
feel like just listing the title and leaving the rest to the
imagination is enough explanation for why this movie belongs in the
"worst" category. But here's a little more just in case that seems
unfair: FBI agent Malcolm (Martin Lawrence) and his son Trent (Brandon
T. Jackson) go undercover as Big Momma and Charmaine to solve a murder
mystery in an all-girls performing arts school. Sigh.
2. American Moviegoers
that's not the title of a movie. We're calling out American audiences
for paying money to see lame movies. Every single one of the top five
grossing films in this country was a sequel. Many of them were sequels
to movies that were not very good to begin with. So Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 got rave reviews and critics gave Transformers, Dark of the Moon a few cheers. The same can't be said of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1; The Hangover Part II; and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which were all on the top grossing list, in that order. Next up was Fast Five, starring Vin Diesel, the Rock, and Ludacris, followed by Cars 2. 'Nuff said.
1. Actor and Director Adam Sandler
You probably never heard of Adam Sandler's Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star ,
and for good reason. It was horrible. We like director Sandler and star
Nick Swardson, the comedian who regularly appeared as Terry, the
drug-addicted, rollerskating male prostitute/societal menace on Reno 911.
Still, there was just no reason for this film to ever be made. Bucky
Larson is a kid from the Midwest who moves out to Hollywood to carry on
the family tradition of becoming a porn star. Reviews of the film
include accusations that the screenplay was written by three horny
middle school boys, which seems like an insult to horny middle school
boys from some of the synopsis snippets we've read. Some examples:
Larson's member is literally microscopic, and he orgasms instantly every
time he sees a woman take her shirt off. We're speechless.
And now, for something completely different...
5. J. Edgar
For all its homosexuality, J. Edgar wasn't nearly as racy as we thought it
might be. But we like it anyway, because it did an awesome job of explaining
the rise of the FBI while providing insight into J. Edgar Hoover's
complicated personality. It was also interesting to see Leonardo
DiCaprio in a role that didn't showcase even a sliver of his
handsomeness. Beautifully acted (we found Armie Hammer as Hoover's
second-in-command, Clyde Tolson, especially memorable) and filmed, this
was definitely an understated winner of the 2011 movie world.
4. Director Werner Herzog
This German director, writer, and producer has been in the game for half a century. In 1972, he came out with Aguirre: The Wrath of God, in which a Spanish expedition follows its ruthless and insane leader in search of El Dorado. In 2005, he brought us Grizzly Man, a documentary about a guy who decides to live among beasts. This year, his Cave of Forgotten Dreams
was released - in some cities, it was shown in 3-D - a fascinating
documentary in which Herzog gained exclusive access to perfectly
preserved French caves containing 32,000-year-old cave paintings. The
director shows no signs of slowing down, with two or three new projects
already in the pipeline.
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
people think the new version doesn't stack up to the original, but as
far as this year's blockbusters go, this one was top notch in our book. The
special effects were awesome, and the remake succeeded in adding
something new to the original by making audiences empathize with the
crazy apes instead of the silly humans.
as a symptom of the dismal state of the economy, many of 2011's films
centered on despair. It was a tough year for a lot of Americans, and it
makes sense to us to consider that when picking out the year's most
Not only does Melancholia go
beyond capturing the melancholy mood of the year, but it also leaves an
intriguing world of suggestibility open to the viewer. We haven't been
that impressed with Kirsten Dunst since she played the little vampiress
opposite Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, but she gives such a skilled
performance in Lars von Trier's new flick that rumors of an Oscar
nomination come as no surprise.
1. Woody Allen
76 years old, Allen staged a pretty stellar comeback in 2011 with the
release of Midnight In Paris. Starring Owen Wilson, the story includes
time travel back to the 1920s, where our protagonist Gil gets to meet
all the coolest people of that era - and with Woody Allen at the pen,
the cool people picks are guaranteed to be pretty good ones. F.
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, T. S.
Eliot, Man Ray, and Gertrude Stein are among the greats we rub elbows
with along the way.
After forty years of quirky film making, Allen's Midnight in Paris is his highest grossing ever (although if you adjust for inflation, Annie Hall still
tops the chart). Allen is proof that there's hope for oddball creative
types, and that alone is enough to make our spirits bright for the onset
of the new year.
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