Another year has come and gone. 2011 is drawing to a close and bring, as expected, a new year filled with mystery and adventure. In the meantime, I thought I would join the internet crowd of retrospectives and run a few posts summing up the past twelve months of film in as interesting terms as possible. We’ll start with my personal favorites of the year before, in future articles, running through this year’s box office hits, flops, and interesting tidbits. Hopefully some of this will inspire a little discussion as to what your own favorites/least favorites were, and at the very least it will remind us how much damn money the film industry brings in.
For the fun of it, I recently calculated how many films I have watched between the start of September and the beginning of December. 43 was the number, but that’s because I had three screenings a week for class. In terms of 2011 released films (not including last December but does include this December), I saw eighteen films on the big screen, several in IMAX with a few of those in IMAX 3D (notable Potter and Transformers). I can happily say I don’t regret any of my ticket purchases, though several of them I have little intention of seeing again. Still, this was a busy year for movies, particularly of the superhero variety as Marvel set audiences up for this summer’s The Avengers. 2011 was also the biggest years of sequels and prequels in Hollywood history (like 30 or something), so there’s was plenty to watch.
I dislike being expected to rank films, so I will run through my five favorite films screened in theaters this year, in no particular order. This limits the list somewhat because I tend not to watch smaller more “artsy” dramas in theaters, so usually I only pay to see blockbusters, but still – they can be just as good.
Super 8 (10 June) – I’m a fan of JJ Abrams where some are not, but beyond this Super 8 is just a solid film. It’s not too long or short, it’s not cliche, the visual effects are low key but fantastic. The mystery concerning the alien plays perfectly with homages to old Twilight Zone and monster flicks. It has possibly the greatest train wreck in film history, which was incredible to see in IMAX. Not to mention Abrams directs a child ensemble that brings more emotional depth to the film than their adult counterparts. Seriously, the child actors in Super 8 were superb. They make the film, both comedically and emotionally. You feel for all of them and really believe the group dynamic between the friends. The emotional arc of the story, revolving around Joe Lamb and his deceased mother, could be cheesy but is instead very effective. And finally, the alien looks awesome. All in all, Super 8 isn’t revolutionary, but it’s flawless in all aspects but well worth repeated viewings. While I promised not to rank films, this is arguable my #1.
Hugo (23 November) – Read my review to fully understand what I see so magical (which I know is cliche) about this film and how it portrays the magic of moviemaking. It’s just perfect. It really is. Plus the 3D cinematography is top notch, and I really hope the Academy is progressive enough to honor the film with, at the least, a Best Cinematography nomination, though I would argue it also deserved Direction and Picture nods. I don’t think it deserves to win these awards, but it deserves the nominations. We’ll find out in January, I suppose.[youtube http://youtu.be/hR-kP-olcpM?hd=1]
Thor (6 May) – Again, my review. Some of my friends preferred Captain America to Thor, but I liked Chris Hemsworth better. I think it is mostly to do with how well Branagh portrayed the Asgard scenes and how much of the story was set in the second realm, unlike a crappy Green Lantern movie that came out this year. I like most of the Marvel films, but I really enjoyed Thor and look forward to seeing his character return this May with the rest of the group.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (16 December) – I consider this an example of good directing. Audiences know what to expect from the Mission Impossible series, so there shouldn’t be any major surprises there. Moreover, JJ Abrams’ third film revamped the series with a different tone that Brad Bird (of The Incredibles) continues expertly. The film is just well made and extremely entertaining. It’s got awesome action, awesome suspense sequences, the Dubai tower, comedic relief from Simon Pegg, sweet future tech, so on so forth. These are the things I pay to see in a Mission Impossible film and Bird gave me all of them with a story equally entertaining and fun. All of the characters are enjoyable, the villains are dastardly but not too complex. It’s re-watchable and well deserving of a sequel. Good film. My review.[youtube http://youtu.be/V0LQnQSrC-g?hd=1]
X-Men: First Class (3 June) – I’m both a fan of X-Men and Matthew Vaughn, so this film was pretty looked forward to. Needless to say the midnight showing was very successful. It’s definitely the best X-Men film so far and very much deserving of a sequel. Good story, good special effects, good fight scenes. Most of all, McAvoy and Fassbender make their characters and the relationship between Charles and Erik. That dynamic of friendship/enemies is probably one of the greatest in story-history, at least where it concerns comics and superheroes. It’s fantastic, a really fun, well-made film that will hopefully be continued on. Our review.
So there we have it. My five favorite films of the years. When it came to pick the fifth film I had a bit of trouble, so I’d like to throw in honorable recognition to X-Men: First Class, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What were your favorites? Moreover, what were your least favorites, or biggest disappointments? Let us know! And stay tuned for 2011 Box Office Review.