I Swear I’m Not Dead (My Favorite Films of 2011, Part One)

Let’s call this post “The Honorable Mention” list.

I try to not use the word BEST because this stuff is so subjective already and that way I can leave out your favorite movie without finding a horse head in my bed the next morning.

So let’s take a look at the movies I thought were good, but just fell short of my Top Ten.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

I know certain people will hate me for not making this the No. 1 movie of all time, but I can live with that.  I was a late bloomer on this series, as I hadn’t seen any of the movies until last year and I still haven’t read a page of the J.K. Rowling books. That being said, I enjoyed this movie more than any of the others in the series and it felt that director David Yates and the entire production team put out a fitting end for the series that coincided with many people’s childhood.

A Better Life

This one flew under the radar for many in mainstream audiences since it didn’t have any big names attached and came out this past summer when most people were thinking about “Transformers” or “Super 8.” I believe one of the most powerful dramatic elements of film is the family. We all identify with family one way or the other and there are a lot of different angles to take. This film focuses on the relationship between a father and son and really hits home at its emotional core. Some people are angry about Michael Fassbender not getting nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Shame” (and they should be) but I’m really glad the Academy remembered Demian Bichir at the time of casting ballots.

X-Men: First Class

This was not a perfect movie. There are questions about continuity with the Hugh Jackman franchise, a horrible performance by January Jones and confusing character motivations to say the least. However, the film was able to somewhat revitalize a franchise that I myself wanted to bury in a dark, unmarked hole after the mistakes of “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender also nailed there parts in my opinion. The latter finally gaining the mainstream attention he deserved was icing on the cake.

Rango

I have always hated how quickly the Western was thrown under the bus after the Clint Eastwood years in America. “Rango” was a great introduction to Westerns for the younger generation as well as a good animated movie. It may not have been Pixar-ian in its ability to connect with everyone on the same level but it was certainly better than that studio’s release, “Cars 2,” this year.

Mission Impossible 4

Action movies tend to be overlooked during the awards season with the exception of technical categories. While I’m perfectly fine with that 90% of the time, I do feel that its worth at least mentioning when a blockbuster does everything right and delivers a film better than the average cannon fodder.

Super 8

Despite his constant upstaging of my name on Google search results, I really like JJ Abrams. His work here did seem to unravel a bit as the film progressed, but it was a great homage to both monster movies and the kind of early start filmmakers had back in the day. In a different era and with a completely different tone, seeing the kids work with cameras and make-up reminds me of other movies this year that were about the filmmaking process.

The Ides of March

I don’t want to say this film is a disappointment (it is, after all, on my list), but given the cast it had (George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, etc.), “The Ides of March” could have been a grand slam. Instead it was a nice home run.

Well, that’s all for this post. Check back later this week when I’ll have the final list of my ten favorite films of 2011. Feel free to agree/disagree with my choices in the comments below.

Happy viewing.

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