MOVIES! 2011

Another week, another theme column.  This week – OSCARS.  As I’m sure you’re aware by now, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave their awards out to the best movies of the year.  The big winner was The Artist, a movie that I was not terribly fond of.  To be fair though, it was not a great year at the cinema.  There were a lot of good movies but not many great ones.  Out of those good movies, the Academy nominated nine for best picture.  But, since there were so many movies of similar quality I’ve decided to give my alternate nine nominations for the year.  I’m only going to list movies I’ve seen, so if your favorite didn’t make this list it’s either because I didn’t see it or it sucks.  Oh, also they’re in alphabetical order.

1.)    Attack The Block – A really fun movie about an alien invasion that hits a London low-income housing complex.  Teenage punks and drug dealers have to save the day, in this incredibly original little movie.  The most original part is the aliens themselves.  They’re pitch black except for their glow in the dark teeth.  They’re unique, which is especially welcome after the sort of generic and unmemorable monsters in Super 8 and Cloverfield. 2.)    Beginners – Another movie highlighted by its originality.  It jumps back and forth through time showing a man helping his recently out of the closet father deal with cancer, and then coping with his death. He also inherits his dog, and meets a pretty girl.  It’s probably the most personal and real feeling movie on this list and is filled with excellent acting.  Christopher Plummer as the father is especially great. 3.)    Captain America – In a year where there were quite a few super hero movies, this is the only one that really stood out for me.  A lot of that is due to the surprisingly good Chris Evans performance as the Captain.  He makes what could have been a total boy scout character interesting.  You can’t help but root for him.  Hugo Weaving is also nicely evil as the Red Skull.  The movie is a bit hampered by a bit of an anti-climactic ending that seems to serve a potential sequel more than this movie.  But, before that minor disappointment can take root, there’s an amazing preview for this year’s Avenger movie that totally makes up for it. 4.)    The Descendants – The movie that makes George Clooney seem mortal.  Instead of his usual full bore charm and handsome, he seems like a weathered, middle aged man who’s been through some stuff. His wife is in a coma and he has to deal with raising their two daughters on his own for the first time.  Of the actual Oscar nominees, it’s the one that’s going to stick with me most.  I’m reluctant to say more simply ‘cause it brings up a lot of interesting personal questions for the audience that are better discussed just after having seen it.  So go see it!5.)    Drive – This is what Roger Corman’s movies would be if they had a budget.  And, I guess, a European director.  A stuntman/getaway driver with a heart of gold tries his best to help a pixie woman and her impossibly cute son.  The villains chew scenery with the best of them, and the violence is delightfully over the top.  Backing it up is one of the best soundtracks of the year.6.)    50/50 – Also known as “That Seth Rogen Cancer Movie.”  It’s equal parts funny and touching.  Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a guy who gets diagnosed with cancer and Rogen plays his best bud.  While it didn’t make me cry, it has made pretty much everyone else I know cry, so there’s that too.  It’s one of those few movies that I genuinely think has something for everyone. 7.)    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed this movie more if I hadn’t read the book first.  That being said, it is a David Fincher movie which means I was pretty much guaranteed to like it.  In typical Fincher fashion, it is beautiful to look at.  His perfectionism in the appearance of a film does not usually lead to great performances, but that’s not the case this time.  Rooney Mara is absolutely amazing, to the point where I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to accept her in another role.  It’s a good movie and deserved far more recognition than it got.8.)    Midnight In Paris – Woody Allen, a director who has almost as many misses as he’s had hits, puts out a very serviceable film.  It’s not one of his masterpieces like Manhattan or Match Point, but it’s a fine lark that gets the job done. Owen Wilson, playing California Woody Allen, falls in love with Paris while visiting it with his fiancée.  The fiancée in question is played by Rachel McAdams as a grown up version of her Mean Girls character, and Michael Sheen does a fantastic job as a complete arrogant dick.  When Wilson goes back in time, he meets every famous artistic person who lived in Paris in the 1920s and who are played by an all-star cast. The plot is about a man coming to grips that the life he is living probably isn’t the right life for him.  Like a lot of the nominees this year, it almost certainly wouldn’t have been nominated in a better year.9.)    Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol – Easily the best movie of the year.  It’s one action set piece after another, and each is more exciting than the last!  I have no memory of the story, but everything else is incredibly memorable.  The climb up the side of the tallest building in the world, the fight in the weird car park, the chase through the dust storm.  All of it is fantastic!  I was even able to get passed Tom Cruise’s general weirdness.  And finally, Simon Pegg was delightful. So, that’s it.  I think all of these movies are the equal or better of any of the actual nominees, and most would have garnered more fan support.  Here’s to a better 2012, everyone!

Graham Becksted just wrote the longest blog post of his short career!  He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles.  If you would like to be his 58th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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3 Responses to MOVIES! 2011

  1. Matt Jones Matt Jones says:

    Lose Attack the Block from that list and I agree with you completely.

  2. GrahamB GrahamB says:

    Oh Matt, we all know you just hate all things British.