It’s the last day of the year and finally here is my list of my Top 10 movies for 2011. The year has been filled with pleasant surprises from small movies making it big on the box-office and captured the imagination of viewers. However, we have also seen more blockbuster big-budgeted movies failed to make an impression on its earnings and reviews (yes I’m talking to you Green Lantern!). This is also a year of breakout performances from a handful of actors like Michael Fassbender and Jessica Chastain just to name a few. With a late surged of jam-packed holiday line-up of great movies, overall 2011 is a good year for movie fans, though it’s not the most memorable portfolio we’ve seen in years.
1o. Source Code
To start up the list is the first surprise hit of the year – an original sci-fi thriller that delivers crafty story telling and a charismatic Jake Gyllenhaal. The concept of the ‘source code’ technology is really interesting and sure damn original – a great compliment to last year’s Inception. I love the ending. No doubt one of the best sci-fi flick to come out this year.
9. Attack the Block
The alien invasion genre is a crowded one this year, most of them are backed with multi-million special effecfs, expensive actors and established filmmakers (e.g. Transformers 3, Cowboys and Aliens, Battle: Los Angeles, Super 8). But the one that came out on top is the small British film called ‘Attack the Block’ with unknown teenage actors, modest production, a gorilla-dog-looking aliens with unforgettable ‘glow in the dark’ teeth, but with a phenomenal setting that is an apartment block in London. I love the young characters and their chemistry as if they are real gangsters that wreck chaos on the London riots. The winning factor that stands out ahead of the pack is that it’s not an assuming story but still remain interesting down to the last second.
8. Captain America
Now finally a superhero movie that remembers its main purpose to entertain masses, and entertain alone. This one doesn’t go too ambitious to explain the origins of a legend but rather keep it story glued to the premise of ‘all-out action fun’ that is easy to digest for its viewers that already had its fair share of dark, gritty origin stories. The World War 2 setting and the film’s retro look tone are a real winner. And the big winner is Chris Evans having redeemed himself from that regrettable Fantastic Four outings, and convincing me he is not ‘gay’ at all in the process.
7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Casting another ape as the lead for a movie, making a prequel to an already long-standing, long-suffering chain of ape movies isn’t the best idea for the making of a good film. But surprise surprise, ‘Rise‘ is a soulful spectacle where the apes look a lot more humane than the people. Andy Serkis (the one who portrayed Gollum a decade ago) delivers a fluid motion to breath life into an ape created through 100% CGI. Baked with clever yet compelling story and a solid performance from James Franco, I can already smell some sequels.
The only reason I watched this movie was because I want to see some real performance from Tom Hardy and perhaps catch a glimpse of how his Bane character in The Dark Knight rises will feel like. I was pleasantly surprised not only of his sensational performance for this one but also with the gripping family drama that was so intricately built up in the story. Despite the heavy hitting fight scenes (which is quiet good too!), the story successfully squeezes a tale of forgiveness, healing and letting go of hatred from the past. Simply superb for a drama that also happens to be a film of an unforgiving sport.
I think I invented an expression for this one: “cool-ass” – a combination of cool and bad-ass. This movie punch in the much-needed break-out from the tons of loud, unlimited gunfights and senseless actions films. Nicholas Winding Refn take us into an out-of-the-box peaceful tone of characterizing the main character (played by the suddenly suave Ryan Gosling) who doesn’t talks much but moves around patiently. Most of the time is spent in silence with less dialogues, letting the music take hold of the narrative as the character develops and suddenly there’s the intense violence making the cool characters lose their cool. Gorgeous tone, unlikely hero, haunting score, a phenomenal movie.
4. The Help
It is a story about the African-American help (yaya in Filipino), racial discrimination, courage and fighting for what’s right. A touching story set on the backdrop of the social revolution in America toward the blacks in the 50’s and Martin Luther King is the hero. Add in some solid performances from the characters (the humble help, the pompous bitches, and the people in between). Ok, I admit! I LOVE THIS FILM BECAUSE THE MAIN CHARACTER IS MY CRUSH, ETERNALLY CHARMING, EMMA STONE. And I love the particular lesson that Aibileen character teaches her white little baby ‘You is kind. You is smart. You is important.’
3. X-Men: First Class
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender delivers an electrifying combo performance resurrecting the status of the X-men film franchise in the A-list category. Damn, this movie is so good it completely took me by surprise. The plot is crisp with action, slightly dark build-up of the origins story picking from where the first X-men’s Nazi concentration camp opening a decade ago. Here we are shown back to the days were Charles and Eric are the BFFs, showing their different philosophies as they discovered their true potentials as future pillars of modern mutant society, you can’t help but gasp and wonder ‘Why do they ever have to freakin’ hate each other when they grow old. What if they just stick around? Matthew Vaughn fresh from his Kick-Ass success delivers another big hit with his signature surprise brutality (I love Azazel’s devastating use of his teleporting powers), foreboding sense of humor and action packed climax on the eve of the Cuban missile crisis.
Michael Fassbender is a revelation, I think he is my estrange big brother. hahaha
2. Midnight in Paris
It has always been a mystery to me why people loves to go to Paris because of its legendary romantic atmosphere, I mean what’s with Paris anyway? All that and whole of questions answered after watching this very beautiful film. This is a story that talks about love and finding one’s place in this world (and era) – you know that aching search for a sense of leaving one’s comfort zone for a true place where you belong. The story is charming, clever and downright romantic with Luke Wilson as a hapless writer engaged to a beautiful bitch named Rachel McAdams and found love at the wrong time and the wrong era with the gorgeous Marion Cotillard. But wait, the fun isn’t all about them, not until you see a 2010 man drinking with a wise-ass Ernest Hemmingway, arguing with Pablo Picaso, partying with Fitzgeralds, hitching a ride with T.S. Eliot and sharing midnights in Paris with famous writers, painters and artists the city of Paris have mesmerized. Guys bring your girlfriends to see this movie!
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Finally the Harry Potter saga has finally come to an end, a sad melancholic feeling has engulfed the Potter fans all over the world, but great stories has to end with graceful exits. Harry Potters instead ended its run with a massive spectacular BANG! A flawless movie with groundbreaking performances that were obviously saved for last from the entire cast who came into the series as unknown children and grew into their characters (with millions on their pockets) so closely. The whole film is basically all about the epic Battle of Hogwarts, a classic match between good vs. evil, in flawless and explosive manner. Finally we’ve found a solid example where the film is actually better than the book. Harry’s magic pulled off one of the bestest way to end an enduring series that captured the imagination of millions.
Runners Up: Fast Five, Thor, Real Steel, Adjustment Bureau, Super 8
I Missed To Watch: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Shame, Adventures of Tin Tin, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, Hugo, War Horse, No Other Woman (hahaha)
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!