2011 had a bunch of good films. I thought I would double the fun of a top ten and give you my top 20. Just remember that this is no "best of" list. No matter how many movies I get to the theater for there will always be a few that got away. So, my self-imposed rules state that the only movies eligible for the list are those released in 2011 and seen on the big screen by yours truly. Without further ado, let's take a look at the back 10, aka 11-20 in the suitable order.
20. Rammbock. This has to be one of the better zombie films of recent vintage. It is barely an hour long yet it successfully sets up the zombie/infected threat, gives us a group of survivors, gives them personalities, and places a variety of obstacles in their way. It is well written, well acted, and well executed. If you are a fan of horror or zombie movies, you need to see this.
19. X-Men: First Class. Comic book movies are always a tricky proposition, no matter how sure a thing looks, we could end up with a disappointing mess like Green Lantern or a day-glo nightmare like Batman & Robin. However, once in a while we get something that gets it right, X-Men: First Class is one of them. It is an intelligent blend of mythology, character, and action anchored by the performance of Michael Fassender as Magneto.
18. Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This movie was a curious project. I cannot say that I thought it was a good idea, and those trailers were just atrocious. However, the movie proved to be thoughtful, touching, intelligent, and just really entertaining. It has a logical build and characters to care about, also Any Serkis turns in another great motion capture job as Caesar.
17. Drive. Here is an interesting movie, part noir, part spaghetti western. It is a movie I am unsure comments on anything, but it does paint a picture of a quietly charismatic lead and a slow, steady film with punctuations of violence, not unlike a Lucio Fulci horror movie. It is movie that is unstuck in time, a blend of 80's and the present day. It may not be remembered as a classic, but it does deserve some attention now.
16. The Adjustment Bureau. This is a pretty interesting film, it has some big ideas and presents them in an interesting fashion that gives you time to digest them. Free will, spirituality, fate, everything just has a nice flow to it. It is held together by the easy chemistry of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. The movie seems to have been quietly forgotten, if you haven't seen it, go dig it up.
15. Beginners. Sweet and heartbreaking, this movie is sadness with a side of hope. It is a character piece that draws you in and holds your attention. It is told in an unconventional fashion, rather than being a straight narrative, it is accessed like a memory, things are not in order and facts are not always remembered perfectly. Very good movie.
14. Young Adult. Here is a fascinating look into a character who is in a perpetual state of arrested development. Charlize Theron plays a divorced writer of young adult fiction who decides she wants to rekindle her relationship with her now happily married high school boyfriend. It is fascinating to watch her and her self-destructive ways, not to mention the insight from a former classmate played by Patton Oswalt. This is quite possibly Diablo Cody's most mature work, helped by Jason Reitman's direction.
13. Rango. An animated movie that plays like a live action movie is nothing particularly new, but here it feels fresh and unique due to the solid writing, voice acting, and fantastic design. It is like an animated Tarantino film, taking all manner of inspirations and molding them into something new. It is funny and plays perfectly for adults as well as kids.
12. The Muppets. This movie had me smiling from start to finish. It is a clever, funny movie that knows exactly what it is and what it is trying to do. It brings those great Muppet characters back from the fringe and places them front and center. The movie plays on nostalgia for the fans from way back and serves as a great introduction for a new generation. Seriously, I just can't not like this movie.
11. Midnight in Paris. The latest Woody Allen is something special. It is romantic and magical and subtly funny and I suspect if I knew more about literature I'd likely get more out of it, but that doesn't change how much I enjoyed it this time. Owen Wilson gives a great performance full of wonder and Marion Cotillard is deliciously enigmatic. Very good movie, another one that plays on nostalgia to its benefit.
Stay tuned for my top ten!