Okay, it’s Friday now and I’m changing gears.
Because, it’s that time again. Time for my Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2011.
I know. You’ve been pacing the floors, frantically hitting the ‘refresh’ button, waiting in anxious anticipation for this moment.
Well, the wait is over.
After giving it a LOT of thought, and honestly agonizing over where to put some of these on my countdown, I finally have a Top Ten for you.
Some people go to movies to be entertained or to see something new and innovative. My main purpose of watching movies is to feel something. To connect with a character or a plot or some element that makes me identify with what’s happening on the screen. Sometimes I walk away feeling transformed. Sometimes I find myself in self-reflection. Sometimes I just walk away trying to hide the fact that I’ve just spent the last two hours crying.
And that is the basis for selecting the movies I chose this year. Some made me laugh. Some made me think. But they all made me feel.
(Oh, and my typical disclaimer: Please remember that I saw 26 movies in the theater, but only 22 that were released in 2011. There are still several more I really want to see and if I’d had a chance, I suspect this list would look somewhat different. But until I get one of those magical movie passes they give to critics, I just have to keep making do.)
And with that said…
TEN. Jane Eyre
This understated, stark film was the best adaptation of a Brontë novel I’ve seen. Mia Wasikowska was well-cast as shy Jane Eyre, and Michael Fassbender couldn’t have been a more perfect Mr. Rochester. The bleak, colorless landscape and the isolation of the Rochester Manor and the characters fit the story well. This was a very small but powerful movie that fans of the novel are sure to enjoy.
TEN. Captain America: The First Avenger
I’m not a fan of Chris Evans. In fact, I was pretty mad when I found out he’d won the coveted role of Steve Rogers. The only reason I even saw the movie was in anticipation of The Avengers, which is due in theaters this summer. But I saw Captain America. I loved Captain America. And I don’t even hate Chris Evans anymore.
NINE. The Muppets
Hilarious. Charming. Made me really miss the old Muppet Show. Jason Segal was fantastic, and I loved him even more when I found out he wrote it. It’s pretty much a crime that this wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe. After I left the theater, I drove home, downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes and listened to it non-stop for a week. I loved The Muppets.
EIGHT. Young Adult
This is not a happy movie. Not even a little bit. It’s the dark, pathetic story of ghostwriter, Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), returning to her home town to win back the love of her life, Buddy (Patrick Wilson), from what she has decided is utter dreariness. Buddy, of course, is a happily married new father. Mavis chugs Diet Coke straight from the 2-liter bottle, constantly forgets to take care of her perpetually happy Pomeranian, and mopes around mourning the life she could have had while everyone around her is in awe of the life they think she has. Screenwriter Diablo Cody and Director Jason Reitman (who previously worked together on Academy Award nominated Juno) put together a really good film about a 37-year-old woman who finally learns she needs to grow up.
SEVEN. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
I want Robert Downey, Jr. to live forever and to keep making movies with Jude Law. Those two are magical together. Hilarious. Endearing. And the rivalry between Holmes and Dr. Moriarty is simply brilliant. The two are so perfectly matched, and Guy Ritchie did a fantastic job of bringing that dynamic to life through one of my very favorite scenes in any movie this year.
SIX: Super 8
What kid didn’t want to make a movie with Dad’s borrowed camera? Super 8 was a beautiful throwback to the movies I loved as a kid. The Goonies, Stand By Me, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A fun story. Great performances all around. And I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say again that I will watch every movie JJ Abrams directs until the end of time. Because he is brilliant. Although I really wish he’d cut it out with the screen flares…
FIVE. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
I haven’t loved all of the Harry Potter adaptations, but I did love The Deathly Hallows. Both parts. Splitting the book into two movies turned out to be a pretty brilliant move because it meant that we didn’t lose much of anything in the story. There were little touches I would like to have seen, but overall I was very pleased with the conclusion of one of the biggest movie franchises in history.
FOUR. We Bought a Zoo
Apparently, some people didn’t like this movie, but I loved it. From the adorable little girl to the beautiful animals. A truly special film about a family that has to start over after tragedy. One of my favorite things about this, though, is that it started 6 months after the tragedy, instead of opening on what could have been the most depressing scene ever.
THREE. The Help
It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me horrified to know that my own parents grew up in a generation where they knew people whose grandparents were slaves. Somehow, I never had realized just how recent that was in our history. Brilliant performances. Beautiful writing and cinematography and a great adaptation of a fantastic novel. And I smell Oscars for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.
TWO. Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
One thing you have to know about me is that if Tom Cruise is in a movie, there is about a 99.99999% likelihood that it will end up in my Top Ten list. But this one really, truly, 100% deserves to be here. Because it is AWESOME. Great story. Good humor. Good, realistic emotional depth. Really great action and especially stunts. Definitely worth watching.
ONE. Crazy Stupid Love
It really was so close between my top 3, but only one could be #1. Ultimately, I chose Crazy Stupid Love because it was funny and heartbreaking and sad and happy and anxious and just perfect. And by perfect I am not referring only to Ryan Gosling’s perfectly sculpted torso. There are laughs and surprises and except for one very unrealistic (but perfectly reasonable for the character) scene at the end, the movie was totally believable.
Honorable Mentions: Thor, Horrible Bosses
Worst Movie of 2011: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. Which movies do you think should be off my list? Which ones should be added? And what was YOUR Favorite Movie of 2011??