Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Top 10 Movies of 2011

Now that it is officially 2012, it is time to look back on 2011. In doing this, I want to look back and reflect on my personal favorite movies of 2011. Specifically I want to make a top 10 list of my favorite movies that I watched. Now I didn't watch every movie released in 2011, but I did watch a lot. There certainly is a chance that if its not on here it is because I didn't see it, but I think I saw enough to make a pretty comprehensive list here. Now before I proceed, this top 10 isn't something I just created a few minutes ago. It's something I've been working on the whole year. I started this at the beginning of 2011 and after I see a movie I update my rankings. Yeah, call me a nerd if you want to. But I had fun doing this all year. Nonetheless, this is how it all turned out. I will start at number 10 and count down to number 1. Yes, you will notice that there are no R rated movies on this list. I hope it doesn't take you too long to figure out why.

#10- HANNA- This is a movie that most people will be surprised to see on this list. Not everyone liked this movie, but I personally loved it. And it was one that totally caught me off guard. I didn't hear much about it at all and the advertisements and previews didn't sell me on it or make me overly excited, but for some reason I went and saw it at the dollar theater and it blew me away. Saoirse Ronan does a superb job as the lead role of a girl who is raised by her dad to become an assassin. The action/chase scenes were bone chillingly awesome. The cinematography was beautiful. And last but not least the soundtrack was absolutely brilliant. I downloaded the main song "Hanna's Theme" on my iPod and on multiple occasions have listened to it over and over and over.

#9- 17 MIRACLES- This movie was a limited release into theaters. A Utah release. But it definitely deserves a spot on my list of favorites of the year. Its a story about the Mormon pioneers crossing the plains to Utah so you can guess why it was a Utah release. Specifically it's about the Willy and Martin handcart companies, depicted as if they had traveled together. The true story with these companies is that they made an ill advised choice to make the long journey to Utah late in the season and thus spent much of their journey crossing with limited supplies in the bitter winter. The movie takes you on quite the emotional rollercoaster and you gain a lot of respect for these people because of all they went through. It is written and directed by TC Christensen, whose resume of famous LDS films is quite a long one and he certainly hits a home run here.

#8- RANGO- I had been looking forward to seeing Rango for quite some time. Ever since I saw the very first teaser trailer. I didn't have much of an idea of what it was about at the time, but it looked very clever and very funny. After nearly a year of anticipation I finally saw it with very high expectations and it met and even exceeded my expectations. It was a hilarious movie. I was laughing the whole time. And not only that, but it was a very well written story that had a serious plot to it that made it even that much better. And it had one of the best villains ever, Rattlesnake Jake. Even though it was early, right when I saw it I decided it should win the animated movie of the year. Much disagreements went on throughout the year about this but alas as all is said and done, Rango as animated movie of the year is almost a consensus prediction at the moment.

#7- PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES- This age is certainly one of sequels and it seems that if a movie does really well in the box office, a sequel is almost inevitable. A lot of these sequels end up as inferior to the predecessors and thus many people are skeptic of sequels these days. The first Pirates was epic. The second one was average. The third one was awful. So on paper doing a fourth one seems ridiculous and caused it to take a huge dip in the box office success due to people not wanting to see it. That was in the states anyways. People outside the United States had the right idea and due to the huge international box office success, worldwide it became the 8th highest grossing movie of all time, one of only 10 movies to top a billion dollars. I think it was deserving. While not quite as epic as the original, this one was certainly entertaining and a huge improvement over the last two.

#6- THOR- A lot of comic book movies were released in 2011. Some memorable. Others not. Thor was released as one of the first comic movies of the year and was the first movie to kick off the crowded Summer. Several comic book movies followed it and in my opinion, none were able to top it. Thor was immensely entertaining and was very well done. It was casted well and subsequently the acting was very well. And to my surprise, it was a good comic relief at many points. I especially enjoyed Loki as the villain who was one of the more clever and well done villains I've seen in a movie thus far.

#5- FAST FIVE- When talk of this movie started up and I heard great initial reviews, I quickly caught myself up to speed in the Fast and Furious series. The main point of the movies was to display pretty girls and car races while doing so on a fairly thin story line at best. I wasn't overly impressed with those first four because of that. I enjoy movies that have a good story line along with the action. I don't quite know what took the makers of this series to realize that, but sometime between the fourth and the fifth movies, they decided that it was a good idea to make a movie that had depth and character to go along with the showmanship that they wanted and thus made a great movie when they did this fifth installment. The girls and the car races/chases were certainly there as a main focus, but in this movie there was an intense story line to go with it that made this movie a much deeper movie than the others in the series. And the action that that they included was even improved on the other ones and thus made for a way good film. And towards the end it had one of the greatest police chases I've ever seen in a movie.

#4- HUGO- Hugo was just an all around beautiful movie in so many ways. It is based on the book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" and is the story of a boy named Hugo who lives by himself in a train station and the drama and adventures that happen to him. On the cover that sounds a bit odd, but it is brilliant. Asa Butterfield did an amazing job as the boy Hugo and made me really excited for Ender's Game the movie when I heard he got cast as Ender. All the other actors did great. The visuals were stunning. The music was beautiful. The message was very profound. And its a clean family film that everyone will enjoy. You should hear this movie's name at least once or twice during the Academy Awards and there is good reason for that.

#3- THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES- Now this is a summer movie that caught just about everyone by surprise. The original Planet of the Apes movie is a classic but after that every Planet of the Apes movie has received mixed reviews with the majority of people expressing their distaste, especially towards the Tim Burton remake a few years back, so no one expected much difference from this movie. Boy were any any skeptics dead wrong. This movie was amazing. Very intense and very emotional. James Franco and Andy Serkis take center stage in making this movie a success. And all the apes were CGI? That's incredible. Although I wasn't sure if I should cheer for the Apes dominated or the be sad about the humans being wiped out, but I still was amazed. No spoilers there. No more than the title gives anyways. No one would've predicted this to be the best movie of the Summer, but the argument can easily be made.

#2- HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2-  Ok, you got me. I will openly admit that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. And if I were to tell you that had no influence on this being so high, I would be lying to you. I enjoyed all the books and enjoyed all the movies. I thought that this last installment, together with part 1, was easily the best movie in the series. In turning the 7th and final book into a movie, I don't think they could've done a better job. It was very true to the book, more so than any other Potter movie and yet it was true to itself at the same time. It was an epic conclusion to an epic series and after seeing it I definitely had some feelings of nostalgia as Potter books and Potter movies were definitely a big part of my childhood. I don't think this movie could've made me any happier.

#1- WARRIOR- And the number one movie of 2011 goes to Warrior. A movie that for some odd reason has been very much overlooked. It got almost nothing in the box office and has not even hardly been mentioned in Academy Award talks. Maybe that is because of the marketing and its release timing, but its certainly not due to the movie quality. Perhaps it will get mentioned when they do the ESPYs next because it was a sports drama. MMA to be exact and easily the best fighting movie since Rocky. If you like the Rocky movies, I highly suggest you see this. It is very emotional and very powerful. And the fighting scenes are way awesome and intense. Tom Hardy is certainly a beast and will make a superb villain in the Dark Knight Rises as Bane, so if you are looking forward to that movie, seeing Tom Hardy's performance in this will certainly get you pumped up. It's PG-13 for some strong language, so if that bothers you than beware, but I highly recommend it. If me claiming its the best movie of 2011 isn't enough to get you to go see it, I don't know what will. Because it is. At least in my opinion out off all the many movies I have seen thus far.

HONORABLE MENTIONS- We Bought a Zoo, Arthur Christmas, Kung Fu Panda 2, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Muppets

NOTEABLE MOVIES NOT YET SEEN- Midnight in Paris, The Help, Moneyball, Real Steel, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol 

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