Crystal’s Top 25 Movies of 2011

I accidentally never got around to writing my “Best of 2010” last year (I finally posted a commentary-free version today, just to finally have it out of my hair.) which is a shame because I was much more enthusiastic about that year in film than I was about 2011. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the films in 2011. I did! There were plenty of fine films. And that’s kind of the problem. Most of them were perfectly fine. Some of them were pretty bad. (Looking at you, Sucker Punch.) But for the most part, there was no Scott Pilgrims, Black Swans or Social Networks. Oh, don’t get me wrong: there were a handful of 2011 releases that truly floored me. (One in particular that I found so spectacular, I paid to see it twice IN A ROW.) But for the majority of the year, when I walked out of the theatre, I was more interested in talking about my dinner plans than I was about discussing the film I just spent $12 on.

It’s not that I expect every film I see to blow me away, I just would like to walk out of a movie and have something to say about it. And sadly, in 2011 that was rarely the case. In fact, until the last few weeks of the year, I was having trouble coming up with a Top 10, let alone a Top 25. Then I saw a couple of movies (no list spoilers, I’ll discuss this further below) that reminded me why I love going to the movies, why I love sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers and experiencing a film on a big screen for the first time. So I went back, rewatched (with a new attitude) some 2011 films I had previously been lukewarm on and composed this list. Some of them I loved, some of them I just liked. But of the 69 different 2011 releases I saw, of the 57 trips to the movies I made (51 different movies: 41 new releases, 2 repeat viewings of Drive, 1 encore each of Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris, X-Men First Class and Horrible Bosses, the 10 films screened at AMC’s Best Picture Showcase, special event screenings of Sixteen Candles and Taxi Driver and of course, the American debut of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair at the New Beverly), these are the ones that stuck with me. Are they the best 25 movies in all of 2011? Heck if I know. But they are the 25 films in 2011 that I talked about when I left the theatre, films that made me feel something, movies that reminded me why I love movies.

Oh and fear not, this post is SPOILER-FREE. Unless you consider basic, broad plot details spoilers in which case, I think you’re being a bit silly. But hey, it’s your life.

Best Movies
Disappointing Movies

Crystal’s Top 25 Films of 2011

25. Moneyball (Dir: Bennett Miller)

As I’ve shared many times before, I was raised in a family of baseball fans: I bleed Dodger Blue and two of my favorite movies growing up were A League of Their Own and The Sandlot. However, being an LA fan I didn’t know much about the Oakland A’s and their famed 2002 season but I was interested in this movie because of the talent involved (a revolving door of talent, but talent none the less) and because frankly it’s been too damn long since we had a good baseball movie. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, Moneyball is still an excellent film; Brad Pitt gives yet another impressive performance, Aaron Sorkin’s zippy fingerprints are all over the dialogue and Jonah Hill (Oscar nominee Jonah Hill!) displays a depth and dramatic ability that I don’t think anybody ever expected from the kid who desperately needed those goldfish boots in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

 The Adjustment Bureau (Dir: George Nolfi)
I’m always up for a Matt Damon movie, a love story or a decent sci-fi movie so I was pleased to find The Adjustment Bureau combined all three of those things! Admittedly, the movie is not without its problems (and when you think about it, the overall premise is a bit silly. Magic hats, you guys.) but I like Matt Damon and Emily Blunt together and I think the film ends up working. It delivers some thrills and raises some interesting philosophical questions to boot.

 Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Dir: Rupert Wyatt)

One of the more pleasant surprises of the year: who would’ve thought that a SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER PREQUEL to one of the most iconic sci-fi movies of all time starring JAMES FRANCO would turn out this well? Thrilling, action-packed and surprisingly moving, this is one of the few movies in 2011 that actually gave me chills during some of its pivotal scenes. Remarkable. (Plus “Caesar is home” and “Why cookie Rocket” were stupid/fun memes to troll around with during the dog days of summer.)

 Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Dir: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa)

Another pleasant surprise, Crazy, Stupid, Love. was a genuinely funny, shockingly thoughtful and altogether entertaining romantic dramedy starring a who’s who of charmers I would watch (and have watched) in just about anything: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore. Unfortunately, I almost entirely hate the climax of the film (it’s cheesy, it’s doesn’t make sense, it unnecessarily falls into the horrible cliches that the rest of the film had gracefully sidestepped) but I believe it is still worth a watch.

 Friends With Benefits (Dir: Will Gluck)Slight but fun, Friends With Benefits took a tired concept and made it fun and nearly fresh again, thanks to a clever, self-aware script from Easy A‘s Will Gluck and easy-going, playful performances from its stars. Meta enough to excuse the (possibly intentionally?) cheesy ending and frank enough to avoid schmaltz.

 Contagion (Dir: Steven Soderbergh)

Many people have complained that Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s outbreak drama, failed to connect with them because it’s far too cold and emotionless. But I think that’s actually one of the best attributes of the film. A horrific and fatal virus quickly and almost effortlessly becomes international through various instances of poor judgment, human error or sometimes just unavoidable circumstance; mothers die, children die, even benevolent government workers trying to contain the virus die. The film holds the situation (and thus, the characters) at arm’s length, simply stating the facts and portraying the situation without any editorial comments:  the score doesn’t tell you when to cry, the screen doesn’t fade to black if a famous actor doesn’t make it. If an epidemic like this were to occur in real life, the virus wouldn’t stop to be sad if an Oscar winner died (no spoilers, there’s multiple Oscar winners in the cast!) and those working to stop it wouldn’t pause to chat about their home life or backstory so that their likely death would be more impactful. While this realistic style may not necessarily be for everyone, I found this approach to be particularly smart and thought it made for a captivating and tense moviegoing experience.


 X-Men: First Class (Dir: Matthew Vaughn)

I’ve been known to be a bit… hmm, melodramatic when it comes to my pet franchises and their seemingly inevitable downfall. Spiderman 3 was insulting and infuriating. The Star Wars prequels don’t exist. (What Star Wars prequels?!) And X-Men: The Last Stand was one of the greatest betrayals I have EVER experienced. (And I was wise enough to avoid X-Men Origins: Wolverine but to my understanding, that film didn’t do my precious mutants any favors.) So basically, I had ZERO interest in seeing X-Men: First Class. Prequels are generally a bad idea, reboots are irritating and I didn’t want to waste any more time, money or frustration on a property that had a habit of being mistreated. But alas, this film is on my list so I obviously ending up eating my words and I am a giant hypocrite. First Class is nowhere near perfect (the script could be better, the climax goes on for way too long and the villain is ridiculous) but it gets enough right to make for an exciting movie and to make me a very happy fangirl. Not to mention that the chemistry between Michael Fassbender’s Erik and James McAvoy’s Charles rivals that of any intentionally romantic on-screen couple this year (the Magneto/Professor X love story is practically canon in this film, you guys). I am definitely looking forward to a sequel.

 Like Crazy (Dir: Drake Doremus)

Some people called it “Blue Valentine Jr.”, some people thought it was a little cutesy to be effective but Like Crazy really got under my skin. With Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin’s easy rapport and supposedly improvised dialogue the film feels extremely intimate, almost as if we are a fly on the wall watching this young couple fall in love and then stubbornly try to stay in love. In a Twitter discussion about the film, I compared the film’s emotional impact to “dying slowly from a draining disease.” You get the feeling that the couple would’ve had an uneventful but pleasant “young love” type of relationship that would’ve fizzled out over time but circumstances give their relationship an air of importance and so their fight to stay together eventually becomes more about principle than their actual feelings, which is pretty heartbreaking. The ending is perfect and exactly what it should be. One of the saddest “happy” endings I’ve ever seen.

 The Adventures of Tintin 3D (Dir: Steven Spielberg)

I have long been (reasonably) dubious on the subjects of both 3D and motion capture, but any lingering doubts I had were (mostly) squared away upon experiencing Tintin. I had no “uncanny valley” problems with the characters and I thought the 3D was used effectively and respectfully. (I prefer when the effects complement the film, for example in showing depth. If I wanted unnecessary things thrown at my face, I’d hang out with my little cousins.) The adventure story is a bit convoluted at times and the film drags a bit toward the middle but the climactic chase sequence makes everything worth it. And have I actually gone this far into the review without mentioning that the film was scripted by Steven Moffat (genius and current mastermind behind the BBC’s mindboggling brilliant Doctor Who and Sherlock series), Joe Cornish (who also helmed a film in 2011 you may be reading about a little later) and Edgar Wright (if you don’t know who this is, you really have no business reading this)?

 Thor (Dir: Kenneth Branagh)
As I said in my “Most Anticipated of 2011” post, this year’s crop of Marvel movies had a lot riding on them given that their main reason for existence was to set the table for the impending arrival of The Avengers, arguably the most anticipated superhero movie of all time. I wasn’t particularly excited for either of Marvel’s big releases as I’d considered Iron Man 2 a let-down but I let out a huge sigh of relief walking out of Thor. While the movie largely works as a fittingly epic (using the correct definition of the word, kids) and grandiose blockbuster, the real thrills of the film come from the unexpectedly hilarious fish-out-of-water treatment that Chris Hemsworth’s Thor receives upon landing on Earth and the dramatic familial conflict between Thor and his brother, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. As is (sadly) par for the course in a lot of Marvel films, the movie craps out a bit toward the end, with the final climatic battle seeming almost like an afterthought but the first 100 minutes are so much fun, it almost doesn’t matter.

 The Ides of March (Dir: George Clooney)

One of my all-time favorite TV shows is The West Wing and it has been a LONG while since there was a good political drama so perhaps nobody is more thankful that The Ides of March turned out as well as it did. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or extraordinary about the story or the film itself but it is a sharply written script acted out by an impressive cast of extremely talented actors. The film features one of my favorite scenes of the year: Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ryan Gosling have a heated argument backstage about the dirty side of politics while on the other side of the American flag, their candidate George Clooney is making promises of hope and nobility. This scene also includes one of my favorite SHOTS of the year (yes, we get that nerdy here) – pictured above, a tortured and worn-down Gosling is silhouetted against the vivid beauty (and at this point of the film, almost sarcastic hopefulness) of the American flag.

 The Descendants (Dir: Alexander Payne)

I have yet to see an Alexander Payne film that I didn’t love and The Descendants is arguably his best. The film is so excellent, I don’t really have much to say about it, it kind of speaks for itself. The script is a satisfying blend of humor, sadness, hopefulness and catharsis while the actors serve every emotion and beat of the script beautifully.

 Captain America: The First Avenger (Dir: Joe Johnston)

As happy as I was with Thor, I was practically bouncing off the walls when I came out of Captain America. One of the things I love about the current Marvel-verse is that so far every solo hero flick has encompassed a different genre: the Iron Mans were your manly, macho action flicks, Thor was a Shakespearean epic and I was pleased to discover that Captain America was a good old-fashioned adventure film in the vein of Indiana Jones. Boasting an uncredited script polish by Joss Whedon, the dialogue zips and zings with welcome unexpected laughs that offer relief from the refreshingly suspenseful action. There’s even an Irving Berlin-esque original song by Alan Menken, you guys. As if the film itself wasn’t enough of a joy, the post-credits scenes that Marvel has taught us to wait and salivate over? THE FIRST LOOK AT THE AVENGERS. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. I almost went nuts waiting for those credits to be over, I was legitimately causing a scene: flailing, giggling, full-on fangirl hysteria. And when the credits finished rolling and the screen read “Captain America Will Return in The Avengers” – the audience at my local theatre cheered, screamed and applauded. One of the most electric, heart-poundingly exciting movie moments I have had the pleasure of experiencing.

 Kung Fu Panda 2 (Dir: Jennifer Yuh Nelson)

Like most, I found the original Kung Fu Panda to be a pleasant and sneakily profound surprise. That film’s 2008 release suggested that DreamWorks Animation was capable of producing a film that was on the level of Disney, or even Pixar – a suggestion that gained even more traction with 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon. With Kung Fu Panda 2, I believe we can finally count that suggestion as fact. (The fact that Pixar’s release this year was the blatant cash grab Cars 2 certainly doesn’t hurt). This film did exactly what a sequel is supposed do: it expands the story and universe of the first film without just rehashing it and it highlights the elements you loved from the original film while introducing new elements to make the sequel stand on its own (says the girl who will actively defend The Hangover Part Two if provoked). The film is hilarious, action-packed, beautifully animated and packs a wallop of emotional punch. The final moment of the film is honestly one of the most shocking and exciting that I experienced last year – I audibly gasped. I am waiting on pins and needles for another sequel.

 50/50 (Dir: Jonathan Levine)

I’m hoping that this movie will gain a bigger audience on DVD and cable because it really deserves to be seen. The public at large likely didn’t know what to do with a movie that put the words “cancer” and “comedy” in the same sentence and were probably even more confused when they saw Seth Rogen, Prince of Raunch on the poster. As confusing as those factors are, the film is anything but confused. 50/50 is smartly, confidently written (and as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s actual experience with cancer) and expertly performed by some of the best talent that Young Hollywood has to offer. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt is always amazing, as is Anna Kendrick. And as I’ve been saying for such a long time, you wouldn’t expect Seth Rogen to have dramatic chops and that’s exactly why his emotional scenes work so well. He’s so good at being sneakily moving.) The film certainly doesn’t make light of its difficult subject matter but it isn’t afraid to explore the droll situations that come up during tough times. It strikes such a good balance between the humorous and the serious that when things get fairly heavy during the third act, the raw emotion that overtakes you is almost shocking.

 Horrible Bosses (Dir: Seth Gordon)

In my “Most Anticipated” post last year, I wrote that Horrible Bosses could really go either way. The cast was uniformly solid but it also boasted unproven screenwriters and a director whose credits are as confusing as they are impressive (Seth Gordon is responsible for The King of Kong, one of the most entertaining documentaries in recent memory and a handful of impressive sitcom episodes but he also brought forth Four Christmases – which absolutely makes the short list for the worst movie I have ever seen). Thankfully, things worked out for the best and audiences were treated to a surprisingly clever, charming and hilarious crowd-pleaser that was perfect for the mid-summer “wow, these supposed blockbusters are actually really disappointing” blues. The film is reminiscent of The Hangover in that it employs a trio of men (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) who are usually relegated to the “best friend” or “co-worker” role and finally gives them their own vehicle to do what they do best. Each actor’s comedic persona is used to great effect (Bateman is exasperated and sarcastic, Sudeikis is smug and sleazy, Day is hysterical and scream-y ) and their chemistry (and partially improvised banter) is what elevates the movie beyond its material.

 Beginners (Dir: Mike Mills)

Christopher Plummer has taken home countless awards for his role in this film (including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) and that’s awesome not just because he’s Christopher Plummer but also because it will hopefully lead more people to seek this movie out. I was on board with Beginners early on but by the film’s end, I felt like it had kind of burrowed its way into my psyche. This is the second film on my list that was accused of being too “twee” to take seriously but I honestly can’t figure out the criticism here: there are definitely some cutesy moments (yes, a dog’s thoughts do get subtitled onto the screen) but nearly every moment in this film aches with underlying sadness and longing. I thought about this movie for days after I saw it, I pondered it. I recommend you do the same.

 Attack the Block (Dir: Joe Cornish)

Sadly overshadowed during a crowded summer blockbuster season, this film has already begun to take on cult status as it is nearly impossible to keep your enthusiasm for it to yourself once you have had the pleasure of seeing it. Sharp, fun, funny and -gasp- a thriller that actually thrills, Attack the Block was arguably the most exciting movie of the summer; it moves at a break-neck pace and seems to throw a half-dozen different gags, one-liners and surprises at you in any given moment, you are required to give the movie your rapt attention so that you don’t miss a beat. (And speaking of beats, the film boasts an awesome score by Basement Jaxx.) Super 8 was supposed to be not only the sci-fi event of the summer but the film that reminded you of why you loved to go to the movies, that made you feel like a kid again. As you may have noticed, Super 8 is not on this list. Attack the Block is. Joe Cornish (writer/director) and Edgar Wright (producer) did what Abrams (writer/director) and Spielberg (producer) could not: by paying homage to a genre, they nearly reinvented it.

 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Dir: Brad Bird)

Believe it or not, before Ghost Protocol, I was a Mission Impossible newbie. I’d meant to see the other 3 films but it just hadn’t happened yet. However, with Jeremy Renner joining the fold and Pixar’s own Brad Bird making his live-action debut with this film, I was eagerly anticipating this movie. And wow. WOW. I hadn’t walked out of a movie theatre this WOW-ed in a long time. For most of the film, I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat with my jaw in my lap. The action sequences are simply amazing and somehow manage to be nonstop and yet tireless. The spy elements are complex but not needlessly showy and I appreciate that the film respects its audience enough to not overexplain things. The performances across the board are almost excessively excellent. I could watch this movie 1000 times.

 Bridesmaids (Dir: Paul Feig)

A turning point for women screenwriters, women in comedy, SNL performers, TV performers in general… I could go on and on about how this movie’s success is one of the most exciting and important developments in modern movie history. But all that is beside the point. It is my #6 movie of the year because it is an excellent film. Sure it’s a roaringly funny comedy, with one foot firmly planted in the screwball era and the other determined to push modern comedy’s boundaries, introducing ambitious sex positions and the now-infamous bridal shop bathroom scene into producer Judd Apatow’s canon of raunch. (The first time I saw it, the movie’s final gag, which begins less than 30 seconds into the credits, put my audience into such a hysterical state, there was still screams of laughter when the credits were done rolling.)

But the best part about it for me is what happens in between the gags, the real driving force of the film: the frank exploration of friendship, particularly female friendship. Having just come off my stint as a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding, I found Kristen Wiig’s Annie to be embarrassingly relatable at times. The more Annie tries not to go to pieces over her failed career, her failed love life and now potentially losing the only consistently good part in her life, her best friend, the more of a mess she inevitably becomes. And that’s another thing to the script’s credit: it gets pretty melancholy. The movie’s honesty not only makes the jokes funnier and the emotional scenes hit harder but it further highlights what a talented cast of comediennes Hollywood has largely been overlooking. Love her or hate her on SNL but can you believe it took this long for Kristen Wiig to break out?! Good God, Maya Rudolph is finally getting her due! And Rose Byrne continues to deliver after (at least to me) her comedic breakout in last year’s Get Him to the Greek. And of course, it is primarily a comedy so I think it’s wonderful that the undeniable break-out star of the film is Stars Hollow’s own Melissa McCarthy, who delivered an instantly classic comedic performance and has since been rewarded with multiple accolades, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, a rare honor for comedies.

 The Muppets (Dir: James Bobin)

This was my Most Anticipated Film of 2011 so I went in knowing I was either going to be head over heels in love with it or I was going to be horribly disappointed because I had ridiculous expectations. Thankfully, The Muppets specialized in the ridiculous (god, I just referenced The A-Team didn’t I?) and I was a giggly, singing, smiling, nostalgic lunatic when I walked out of the theatre. As I had hoped, the movie played like some weird, fan-fiction fever dream I would have: from Jason Segel and Amy Adams starring (and singing! And dancing!) to the endless string of star cameos (Donald Glover, Zach Galifiankias, Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Blunt, Ken Jeong, etc.) to the ultra-weird, ultra-meta (even for The Muppets) tone. Written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, both of whom have yet to disappoint on the big screen (hey, I liked Gulliver’s Travels!), it is obvious that The Muppets was made with a lot of love and reverence for the gang and that spirit is absolutely reflected throughout the film. And it wouldn’t be a Muppet movie without some tunes and Flight of the Conchords‘ own Bret McKenzie has supplied the gang with a little something for everybody: fun songs (“Life’s a Happy Song”), hilarious songs (the OSCAR WINNING “Man or Muppet”) and heartbreaking songs (“Pictures in My Head”). Whether this is the start of a new Muppets era or a fitting final chapter, I am so very glad this movie exists.

. Young Adult (Dir: Jason Reitman)

Young Adult is one of those movies where if you see it, it’s either on your “Best of” list or your “Worst of” list.  Obviously, it’s made my “Best of” list, as I found it to be a slyly scathing and brilliant indictment/reflection of the omnipresent “it’s all about me” syndrome. Charlize Theron gives a fearless performance as an emotionally numb, broken down curmudgeon who does what she wants to get what she wants, simply because she wants it. Mavis Gary is one of the most deluded, selfish, uncaring film characters in recent history and it is to the film’s credit that she is unflinchingly showcased in all her ugly glory. Most movies would be afraid to have you hate your protagonist but Jason Reitman knows how to manage Diablo Cody’s (Oscar-snubbed, I say!) difficult script in just the right way that we both hate Mavis and all that she does but still hope for her to learn something. And depending on what you make of the ending, it’s arguable whether or not she does. Which I think is pretty awesome.

 Midnight in Paris (Dir: Woody Allen)

When I walked out of this movie, the first thing I did was tweet out “Midnight in Paris is like a gigantic hug from the universe.” Although I’m sure the plot of the movie is no longer considered a spoiler (I went in knowing nothing!), I will still choose not to go into specifics here. What I will say is that the writing is witty and delightful, the large ensemble cast is uniformly excellent and the direction and cinematography is glorious. There is nothing about this movie that isn’t lovely, clever and charming. If you are a fan of Woody Allen, Paris, literature, nostalgia or ever feel like an old-soul who can’t take these modern times, you need to see this movie. It will feel like a gigantic hug from the universe to you too.

 Hugo 3D (Dir: Martin Scorsese)

Hugo was probably the surprise of the year for me. I had zero desire to see it and really only ended up going because my brother is a big Scorsese fan and we’d both been told it was better than it looked. UNDERSTATEMENT. I’m not even sure I can put into words what Hugo meant to me. I went in with no interest and I came out with a tears streaming down my face, a full heart and a new appreciation for 3D and film in general. Like Midnight in Paris, I went in to Hugo blind and I feel like it hit me even harder because of that fact, so no plot details here. But I can tell you that as a family movie, it is smart and full of adventure and doesn’t talk down to its audience, which is a problem I have with a lot of kid-oriented features. As a 3D movie, this is the best argument for the medium that I have seen yet; the effects are positively stunning. And speaking as a film lover, if film is important to you, if it means something to you, you need to see this film. It’s powerful stuff.

 Drive (Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn)

If you’ve talked to me at ALL since September, it’s quite possible that this is the least surprising development of the year. Drive is a movie that is almost impossible to describe: it has action but is decidedly not an action movie, it’s not exactly a romance, it’s not entirely a gangster movie and in the end, it isn’t really a story of good vs. evil. It’s kind of a fairy tale, I suppose… but instead of shining armor, the knight wears a white satin jacket with a scorpion on it and instead of slaying dragons for the princess he stomps gangsters’ heads in. Like I said, it’s hard to describe but that’s part of its charm.

Its unusual nature apparently made it hard for critics and advertisements to spoil beforehand so I walked into the theatre without a clue of what I was about to see. The twists and turns and downright crazy and it is basically impossible to take your eyes off the screen, even though there are scenes where very little happens.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay the film is that I honestly don’t know what to say about it. This film left me speechless which is A) ironic if you’ve seen the movie as it has been lovingly razzed for its sparse dialogue and B) not something that is easy to do. Drive is the film I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the film that blew me away to such a degree that when it was over, my movie-going companion and I just looked at each other and wordlessly walked back up to the box office to buy tickets to the next showing. It’s THAT good.


Honorable Mentions:

– Martha Marcy May Marlene

An extremely effective independent thriller, the film was a bit too showy and self-conscious for it to make my main list but Martha is worth watching solely for Elizabeth Olsen’s star turn.

– Super

Dark, ugly and a bit crazy, I found James Gunn’s take on the superhero genre difficult to digest but the spectacular performances from Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page and the occasional moment of profundity made it a task worth undertaking.

– Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Intriguing, well-executed and boasting a fabulous cast comprised of basically every British actor I’ve ever loved, Tinker Tailor is a stylish if slightly confusing spy thriller worth seeing.



Crystal’s Top 5 Disappointing Movies of 2011

5. In Time

14-year-old Crystal would NOT have believed it if you’d told her 25-year-old Crystal wouldn’t care for a movie that basically consists of Justin Timberlake running around with a gun and a hot lady. I didn’t expect much from this movie so it was surprising that I found it as disappointing as I did. Watching In Time is incredibly frustrating because it has an interesting concept and a lot of good ideas are tossed about but it doesn’t commit to any of those ideas for long enough to do anything impactful. The whole film feels like a wasted opportunity. And there’s so many hammy puns about time, you guys. “He’s got time on his hands” – BECAUSE HE LITERALLY HAS TIME ON HIS HANDS OMG NO.

 Bad Teacher

Can you believe we live in a world where I didn’t like a movie starring Justin Timberlake AND Jason Segel?! Bad Teacher was serviceable, with a handful of laughs but largely forgettable. It also thinks it’s far more edgy, outrageous and clever than it actually is, which made it one of the most obnoxious movies I endured last year.

 30 Minutes or Less

Perhaps I expected too much from this film but I was pretty disappointed with 30 Minutes or Less. It’s fun, it knows what kind of movie it is and it doesn’t try to do anything more than that, which is probably the problem. Despite the awesome cast (Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Michael Pena), a script that was at one time considered one of the industry’s best unproduced screenplays and director Ruben Fleischer fresh off of Zombieland (arguably one of the best comedies in recent years), the individual elements never really come together and what should’ve been a great movie ends up being kind of an OK one.

 Sucker Punch

From day one, everyone pretty much knew Sucker Punch would either end up being phenomenal or phenomenally bad and unfortunately it veered closer to the latter. My feelings on Zack Snyder’s other films have been fairly mixed but I’ve no ambiguity when it comes to this, his first foray into original storytelling. Sucker Punch is so bad, I don’t even want to make fun of it – I just feel bad for it and everyone involved. Snyder’s script plays like it was written by an adolescent boy, trying to pass off cliches as wisdom, nonlinear structure as complexity and upskirt shots and sexual violence as feminism. The film tries so hard to seem profound and intelligent it’s almost embarrassing to watch.

 Super 8

One year ago, I never could’ve imagined that Super 8 would’ve ended up anywhere but in my Top 10 for the year. Most Disappointing? How about Most Heartbreaking? It’s not that Super 8 was a bad film – it was far from that. I enjoyed the film, I found it sweet and nostalgic and occasionally thrilling. It was just what I needed it to be. And that’s what was so disappointing coming out of the theatre. It was what it was. I just wish it had been more.

2 thoughts on “Crystal’s Top 25 Movies of 2011

  1. I think your Top 25 had maybe 2 films that didn't make my list, and only because I didn't see them. I can't wait to take the time and digest it all. Now I have to compose MY list.

  2. Pingback: Crystal’s Most Anticipated Summer Movies of 2013 – Talented With Reason

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