Sunday, August 5, 2012

Best of 2011 - Best (and Worst) Picture

     And this is it.  We have finally come down to the top (and bottom) prizes in the Froggy Awards.  Of course, we will still have the Post-Script edition next weekend covering the genres:  Animated Feature, Foreign Language Film, and Documentary Feature as well as a few other bits and pieces.  If you've missed any of the other posts in the series:  Techs, Performances Part 1, Performances Part 2, or Writers and Directors you can check them out by clicking on the appropriate links.  As always, any film titles that appear as a link will take you to my review of that movie.
     In my hurry to get the writers and directors post up last Saturday, I again left off a couple of Tin Toadstool Awards.  For worst original screenplay and for Worst Director we will go with Madonna for W./E.

The Tin Toadstool For Worst Picture
     I feel like my Best Picture list to follow is a much more qualified opinion as I have tried to see as many of the year's best movies as possible.  Many of the year's worst films I have avoided on purpose as I can't watch everything.  However, these are the twenty worst movies that some friend (or the AMPAS) forced me to watch this year.
  20.  I Am Number Four
     Some fairly juvenile performances and dialogue kept this fairly good concept from quite being a good movie.
  19. The Beaver
     This wasn't a horrible movie, and I almost feel bad including it on this list but with the talent involved, it could have been a LOT better.
  18. Rio
     Again, not terrible, but fairly insipid.  Rio had very little in it that would appeal to anyone over the age of 10, but maybe that was the point.
  17. Immortals
     This film has about as much to do with Greek mythology as early Disney has to do with Grimm's fairy tales but it functions okay as somewhat twisted soft gay porn.
  16. Green Lantern
      I grew up reading D.C. comics and Green Lantern was one of the characters whose adventures I always followed, so nobody wanted this thing to be good more than I did.  If wishes were fishes we'd all have a feast.  This was a famine.
  15. Dream House
     Plot holes and a poorly realized script kept this flick, which actually had a much more potentially impressive cast than most horror movies, from really realizing any of said potential.
  14. Transformers;  Dark of the Moon
     The visual effects were impressive but would have overshadowed the story and performances had there been enough substance in them to overshadow.
  13. The Eagle
     Let's just say that Channing Tatum is having a much better year in 2012.  Utterly forgettable.
  12. Texas Killing Fields
     Jessica Chastain is the only reason that I watched this film at all.  It was the worst of her six appearances last year by a light year (maybe two).
  11. Killer Elite
     Every predictable choice you could have made in this film was made.  It also bears the curse of having perhaps the greatest under utilization of talent of the year in its use of Robert DeNiro.
  10. The Strange Case of Angelica
     I really don't understand Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira's movies, but he is a national treasure of his homeland and I don't want to insult the Portuguese people, but....
   9. Insidious
     Oh, let's see.  What did I find unoriginal about Insidious?  Was it the kid drawing pictures of the bad man that no one took seriously?  Was it the much less interesting version of Tangina from Poltergeist?  Maybe it was her assistants who were basically the Frog Brothers from Lost Boys dressed as Mormons.  Let's go with:  D. All of the above.
   8. There Be Dragons
      Perhaps director Roland Joffe should have just been content with The Killing Fields and quit while he was way ahead.
   7. The Hangover Part 2
     I quickly lose interest in comedy sequels that fall into the trap of using all the same gags over and over again in slightly different ways.  After a hangover, one always promises oneself that they will never do it again.  We always live to regret not keeping that promise.  Loved the original.
   6. Red Riding Hood
     I love Amanda Seyfried; I just wish she would get some projects in film that allow her to shine half as much as much as she did on the HBO series Big Love.  I'm still waiting.
   5. Sleeping Beauty
     More like a sleeping aid.
   4. To Die Like A Man
     Can you imagine how lame Rodger Waters (Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, Pecker) films would be if they didn't know how to laugh at themselves.  After watching this movie, I have a pretty vivid idea.
   3. 13
     This was the least suspenseful suspense flick I've seen in some time.  Imagine Russian Roulette as an hour and a half long spectator sport played by an unevenly capable group of actors and you have some idea.  I kept wanting the main guys to lose so the film would end (plus that would have been an unexpected twist, something the film could have greatly benefited from).
   2. Season of the Witch
     Leaving Las Vegas was great, but range does not seem to be one of Nicolas Cage's most valuable assets as an actor and when he's in a big period role like this it always comes across like Costner as Robin Hood.  Mr. Cage, please read more of scripts than the synopses before agreeing to projects.  Please!  Some of these lemons could not get made without your name attached!
   1. W./E.
      Oh, Madge....Edited like a slow onset of DT's and faaaar too much on every level.  I said all of the other clever mean things I could think of in my original review.

The Froggies For Best Picture of the Year
     Yes, I'm doing fifty.  I actually had this many films this year that I wholeheartedly recommend seeing.  I'll be as brief as possible.
  50.  Young Adult
     This film is a really harsh, dark, and bitter pill even for this Movie Frog, but it is still much more clever and witty than most comedies I saw this year.  Theron is just as good as you expect her to be by now.
  49. Captain America:  The First Avenger
     In a year replete with super hero movies, this was easily the best of the bunch.  It was fun, and touching, and Chris Evans actually did a more than respectable job of bringing humanity to a character that had never inspired that much interest in even this old comic geek.
  48. The Help
     The fantastic ensemble cast here elevates this film into something really special.
 47. Another Earth
     This was one of the most creative concepts for a science fiction movie that I've seen in quite a while.
  46. Bridesmaids
     Another fantastic female ensemble, complemented here by an excellent screenplay.
  45. 50/50
     This dramedy is darkly comic and touchingly poignant.  Gordon-Levitt gives an impressive star turn.
  44. In The Land of Blood and Honey
     Angelina Jolie proves her potential as a director in this largely captivating, at times shocking historical drama.
  43. Footnote
     I have just very recently watched this Israeli Best Foreign Film nominee and my opinion may shift a little one way or the other with a little more time to reflect on it, but I can say that it is original, funny, and very well acted.
  42. Moneyball
     This film was very well acted and much more interesting than I ever expected a film about finance, statistics, and baseball (sort of in that order) to ever be.  Jonah Hill showed new depth and range.
  41. Cave of Forgotten Dreams
     Werner Herzog's documentary about perhaps the oldest surviving human art is mostly fascinating and at times truly mesmerizing.
  40. The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn
      Visually both stunning and unsettling, this motion capture animated film from The Spielberg reminded us that he was indeed the man that made Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  39. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
      A little difficult for the uninitiated to follow, this was still a spectacular finish to a deservedly beloved franchise.
  38. Poetry
      A very unique little drama, with a heartbreaking central performance.
  37. Senna
     Biographical documentary about the famous Formula One driver plays at times like a great suspense flick with a captivating central player.
  36. Pariah
     The rare sort of gritty coming of age tale that is both realistic and hopeful.
  35. Midnight in Paris
     The best Woody Allen film in some time, this film was as thoughtful, witty, and clever as we all know Mr. Allen to be capable of being.
  34. Arthur Christmas
     Yes, it was really cute and family Christmasy, but in this totally original, funny, and entertaining way.  I totally bought in. 
  33. Sons of Perdition
     Completely engaging documentary about children trying to flee a culture that seems utterly alien to how most of us were raised.
  32. Miss Bala
     One of the best action thrillers of the year with a pair of great performances.
  31. A Better Life
     Poignant immigration drama that netted Demian Bechir much deserved awards attention.
I hate to do this, but time is be continued tomorrow...

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