1111 in '11

Earlier today I watched my 1111th movie ever. My goal at the beginning of 2011 was to reach number 1000, so I’ve watched quite a lot of movies this year, 223 to be exactly. Of those, 67 movies were released in 2011, which I’ll focus on in more detail further down. The numbers in this first part are about all the movies I’ve watched this year, not just those released this year.

Back in autumn I was on a mission to catch up with IMDb’s (in)famous Top 250 list, so I watched quite a lot of older movies in 2011, the oldest one being Metropolis from 1927. As of today I’ve watched 130 movies from that list, marginally more than 50%. Plan for 2012: watch at least another 20; actually I’ve already collected more than that and am just waiting for the right time to watch one of them.
Despite my own opinion sometimes differing (strongly) from IMDb ratings, the Top 250 doesn’t disappoint often. Funny enough, when it did disappoint me it was mostly movies I had expected to be good when in return I enjoyed almost every movie I had doubts about beforehand.

Adding up the runtime of my 223 watched movies results in an impressive 24456 minutes, that are 2 weeks, 2 days, 23 hours and 36 minutes. My average rating was 5.81 (using IMDb’s rating system: 1/10 to 10/10, only integers).
Compared to 2010: 108 movies, 12317 minutes (1 week, 1 day, ~13 hours), average rating: 6.03. Seems like watching more means watching more junk means rating more critically, I wonder what my average this year would have been without the Top 250 marathon. (Keep in mind that when going from 1 to 10 the mid-point is 5.5, not 5.0 - so I’m getting pretty close to that value.)

Maybe I’ve simply become an elitist snob. Which brings me to the interesting part…

My top ten least favorite movies of 2011

Obviously from here on it’s only about those movies that were actually released in 2011. It’s not easy bringing any order to the mess at the bottom. There were a few other movies that are just so pointless I won’t even mention them here - nobody expected anything from them in the first place, so why bother. In this spirit - here are the Honorable Mentions that didn’t fit in the top ten but still were quite the let-down: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: The First Avenger, Green Lantern, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2.

10. Bad Teacher

Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake in a raunchy comedy? What could possibly go wrong? Well, the worst script ever. What a shame - Timberlake can be so much fun and I don’t need to explain my love for Segel any further, but this movie was a disaster. Simply showing dumb people saying dumb things and make them do dumb stuff is not funny, there’s a lot more to it and with every movie like this my respect for Jim Carrey’s older movies grows.

09. Catch .44

Not even the few minutes of screen time that Bruce Willis had could save this mess. There is no plot, you keep waiting and hoping for some kind of conclusion or twist, but there is none. In a horribly failed attempt to copy Pulp Fiction someone thought throwing a few cute girls, overly stylish cinematography and guns into a blender would suffice to make a decent movie. It doesn’t.

08. Cowboys & Aliens

This one really hurt - Jon Favreau, you stepped away from the effing Iron Man franchise to do this? Quick recap: loved the premise, love Craig, love Ford. Don’t mind Olivia Wilde either. Trailer looked like fun… boy was I looking forward to this one. It began entertaining but after the first half it went downhill faster than the UFO that James Bond shot down midway through the movie.

07. Season of the Witch

This might be this years best example of how well a trailer can mislead you. This was even a bad movie by B-movie standards. I wonder whether Nicolas Cage will stop making this kind of movie at some point, his presence used to be reason enough for me to watch something. Not anymore, sadly. Also, what a waste of Ron Perlman.

06. The Smurfs

Stop molesting my childhood. I did never expect much from this movie, despite both NPH and Hank Azaria. The freaking CGI smurfs alone completely killed it for me. (I really don’t get the whole CGI hype anyway. I hated Mr. Poppers Penguins that everyone seemed to praise for its brilliantly animated penguins for the same reason and I find the Oscar campaign for Serkins’ ape absolutely ridiculous - he is a terrific actor, but that CGI sucked big time. 2001, that’s how you do apes.)

05. Horrible Bosses

Casting Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey as evil jerks seemed like a fantastic idea, but sadly it just did not work for me, it just was not believable enough. It was too overdone, just like with almost any other comedy nowadays everything had to be at 110% so that people really get it. Probably we’ll have a laugh track in comedies any time soon. And one thing that really surprised me: Charlie Day must be the unfunniest person in the universe, at least that’s what this movie managed to convince me of. I really hope that was the movie’s fault as I was planning to give It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia a try.

04. Sucker Punch

I’ve already said it all (in German). If Catch .44 was “style over substance” I don’t even know what this should be called. The blasphemous use of good music still enrages me.

03. Just Go with It

Not often do I stop a film prematurely. It has happened less than five times ever, twice this year. I managed to endure this latest shoddy piece of Adam Sandler up to the point where once again he completely left reality with that grotesque nose. What’s the point in a comedy outside the confines of an at least somewhat realistic world? (Unless it’s a Sci-Fi comedy, wise guy…)

02. The Change-Up

The silver medal of this ranking goes to the current record holder in the category I just introduced. It was within its very first minute that this movie decided to literally put more crap on my screen than 2Girls1Cup ever did. As I don’t like being crapped upon, I promptly turned the movie off. I do not mind poo for comedic purposes in general. One of the American Pie movies, I think even the rather mediocre third one, showed an example of how to do it. I might be too old for this shit, but I never got why any sane person would laugh about obscene amounts of poo or puke.

01. Bridesmaids

You might wonder why a movie I did not stop watching before it was finished could be rated worse than the previous two. Well, that’s the price for me having to endure it. How this rotten piece of shit could become a successful surprise hit is completely beyond me. I should have known better. Kristen Wiig, consistently horrible on SNL, in a leading role. But I was fooled by a decent trailer showing Jon Hamm making fun of himself. This movie has it all… the desperate “showing dumb people saying dumb things and make them do dumb stuff”-problem, disgusting poo- and puke-scenes, horrible dialog, an unfunnily absurd story. If the movie could, it would push you down the stairs (into a enormous lake of shit, obviously), point a finger at you and madly scream “HAHAHA, I’M SO FUNNY! I PUSHED YOU DOWN THE STAIRS! HAHA!!”.
It has been said that this movie proves that women can lead a comedy - I’m terribly sorry, but if this is the case I understand why that fact had to be proven in the first place. The Hangover with women? Are you kidding me? Even the pointless sequel to that movie was ten leagues above this.

Moving on…

My top ten most favorite movies of 2011

Guess what, this was even harder to sort. At least the bottom three places, where I had to pick out of about 10 to 15 contenders… it took me a while until I decided to keep the two documentaries in this list, but both were emotionally touching me more than so many other movies this year that I couldn’t justify not giving them proper credit. Here are the Honorable Mentions: Margin Call, Moneyball, The Ides of March, Super 8, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, X-Men: First Class, Thor, Limitless, Paul, Red State. Considering I rated it higher than even some movies on the top ten, I think the brilliant short movie Portal: No Escape is worth mentioning again.
I also want to mention that thanks to not having a proper cinema in my vicinity there are quite a few movies left that I could not see but think could have made this list - 50/50, The Descendants, Like Crazy, Take Shelter and even Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol to name a few.

10. Melancholia

I really didn’t know what to expect here, and probably still don’t know what I actually got from viewing it. But I thoroughly enjoyed watching the beautifully shot and constructed weirdness that this movie is. Von Trier managed to capture my favorite performance of Kiefer Sutherland ever, and I can’t even begin to praise Kirsten Dunst’s acting. Not a flawless movie, but very captivating due to its terrific imagery and fantastic cast.

09. The Adjustment Bureau

How much I liked this one really surprised me, even until after the credits. One of the best Phillip K. Dick adaptions I’ve seen in a long time, Damon and Blunt had great chemistry and seeing John Slattery as a slightly more powerful version of his Mad Men character in a villainy role was very entertaining. Thanks to a very engaging introduction it was easy to get interested in the imaginative reality of Dick’s story and despite it being a bit thin the movie managed to keep my attention with its almost artistic way of portraying and revealing how this sci-fi reality works.

08. Win Win

I have yet to come across a performance from Paul Giamatti that was not great, and I can’t remember seeing a bad movie with him either. Win Win is no exception - a charming but honest little movie about the struggles of everyday life, in the typical mood of feel-good independent flick. The rest of the cast was just as good as Giamatti which made it very easy to connect with the characters and enjoy the movie while hating the sport it focuses on.

07. The Guard

Not your average buddy cop routine at all. In this very refreshing and mostly hilarious, character-driven black comedy I was blown away by Don Cheadle. Don’t get me wrong, Brendan Gleeson was brilliant as well, but I expected him to be so. I had never expected for Don Cheadle to be able to make me burst into laughter by a mere expression in his face. When actors are able to do so, credit always also needs to go to the writing and directing. Finally, the movie get’s another point simply for starting with a N.E.R.D. song.
The only downside was that thanks to Cheadle’s brilliance it now hurts even more that they replaced him in Iron Man 2. Why? WHY?!

06. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

As I said, I was not sure if this should be included on the list at all - if you can’t enjoy Conan’s humor I doubt this movie will give you anything. However, if at least some of his quirky routines make you smile and/or you found the whole NBC/Tonight Show drama somewhat interesting, this movie is pure gold. I doubt we’ll get a more intense, more personal, more intimate and more honest view behind the scenes any time soon.

05. Hanna

Finally, some real action. Not a good year for action movies, luckily Joe Wright managed to make a good one - probably in large part due to Ronan’s stunning portrayal of Hanna. I’m starting to like Eric Bana a lot, first Funny People and now this, both very good performances. Cate Blanchett gave a great mysterious antagonist, keeping you engaged and eager to finally learn what it’s all about. Throughout the whole movie the camera work is focused and helps giving the movie the perfect pace from the opening shot to the very final shot. All that supported by a score from The Chemical Brothers makes for a great ride.

04. Friends with Benefits

Thanks to No Strings Attached featuring pretty much the same story this one seemed like a very standard comedy, something you could watch once without paying much attention, get a few laughs out of and then forget about. Well, I still haven’t forgotten about how much this movie amazed me - as usual also thanks to a great soundtrack that in large parts now found its way into my iTunes library. Off the top if my head I’m having a hard time thinking of a recent couple with better chemistry than Timberlake and Kunis, who both performed great. There is so much to like about this movie, I don’t know where to begin… Shaun White as himself, gay Woody Harrelson, Bryan Greenberg, Cameos by Jason Segel, Emma Stone and Andy Samberg. A great script that after entertaining and letting you laugh and have fun with them makes you fall in love with the main characters just as they fall in love with each other. And in the end a satisfying conclusion to a movie that never took itself too serious while actually having more right to do so than a lot of other movies. Well, and this… <3

03. Foo Fighters: Back and Forth

All my life I’ve been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I’m getting close

This utterly amazing documentary actually does get pretty close to what I’ve been searching for all my life. Every single second of this masterpiece is so intensely packed with music history it’s hard to keep seated instead of just starting to jump around out of pure joy. Even if you don’t know a single song from either Nirvana or the fantastic Foo Fighters (Wasting Light is by far the best new album of 2011, by the way) you need to watch this.

02. Crazy, Stupid, Love.

After watching The Ides of March my initial thought was: “Seems to be the year of Ryan Gosling”. While he was great in it I had higher hopes for that particular movie, so I’m very happy that two of his other marvelous performances this year have been in movies I also genuinely enjoyed. But he’s not even the best actor in this movie. Just like Will Ferrel did in his 2010’s Everything Must Go, Steve Carrel took on to a more serious role and he absolutely nailed it. With Carell supported by rising star Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, the aforementioned Ryan Gosling, Kevin Bacon (who is becoming quite self-ironic these days) and many other great performances the duo behind Bad Santa and the very underrated I Love You Philipp Morris created one of this year’s most beautiful and love- and life-stories. This movie can make you laugh, but it will also make you wonder, make you sad, make you think about yourself - it will surprise you with it’s depth and writing.

01. Drive

I won’t go into much detail here. Just like the movie does so often, it’s more fitting to just let the ranking speak for itself. I want to advise you not to watch a trailer or read anything about the movie before watching it - there’s no gigantic twist, but this movie deserves to be relished unspoiled. The best original score of this year together with awesomely touching soundtrack choices make for a kick-ass album to the undoubtedly best movie of the year.

I had planned to close this posting with another top ten, but seeing how long it has gotten I’ll save my most anticipated movies of 2012 for next week. I need to go party hard now, despite realizing that 2011 has not been the best year in movies upon compiling those lists.