These are the top ten movies I saw in 2011:
10) MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL
This is one of the few movies that deserves to be seen on the IMAX screen. Big, loud, tense. The Mission Impossible series is still fresh and cool. Great stunts and a decent story. And for what it’s worth, actually a little unpredictable.
9) HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS (PART II)
They pulled off a decent closure to this gargantuan money-making series. It had just the right balance of fun and darkness. Considering they could have just thrown it all together and still raked in the money, the acting and writing was surprisingly first-rate.
8) CAPTAIN AMERICA
A great dark horse story set in the 1940s. Just as a period piece, it’s a great film. As a superhero film, it’s top-notch. Whereas Hollywood could have easily squandered the super-hero craze with hack-writers and hokey directors, this is an example of a light touch, despite the massive presence of the story.
7) RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
I wouldn’t have bothered to see this if it hadn’t been for the unexpected good reviews. And it didn’t disappoint. For a concept that had apparently been drained dry in the Seventies, this film is smart and human.
6) SEVEN DAYS IN MAY
Made in 1964, written by Rod Serling (Twilight Zone), this film stars Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. This is primarily dialogue, but the suspense is there. This is the story of the attempt for a military coup against the United States government. The plot is great and dialogue is sharp.
5) TRUE GRIT
Only the Cohen Brothers could pull off a remake of a classic. The casting was spot-on and the plot was comfortingly close to the original, but with an added flair that brought a new tone to the story.
4) MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON
Made in 1939, this was written and directed by Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life) and stars Jimmy Stewart. A naïve politician is elected as senator. Filled with patriotism, he takes on the cruel and crooked players in D.C. One of the best.
3) SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
Third-rate special effects, made in 1983, moments of bad acting, but who cares? This is a wonderful story based on the book by Ray Bradbury. Two young boys Will and Jim are growing up together in a small town in the early 1900s. In the middle of the night, a dark carnival arrives and the eerie fun beings. Mr. Dark is unexplainably creepy and the scene in the library alone gives this film an impact that outshines many films made today with all the bells and whistles.
2) ANOTHER EARTH
Suddenly, without explanation, another Earth appears in the night sky. On the same night, a young girl about to pursue a promising college opportunity is involved in a tragic automobile accident. Four years later, we learn that the other Earth has drawn much closer and the girl is a broken has-been, working as a janitor. She tracks down the man whose life she ruined and a strange and precarious situation develops. Meanwhile, the presence of the other Earth raises very important questions. This is an odd movie, but certainly nothing like you’ve ever seen before. One reviewer complained about the ending being cryptic, so I braced myself to be disappointed. But I loved the ending.
1) MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Classic Woody Allen. A young writer, engaged to a flighty and shallow girl, is on vacation in Paris. At the stroke of midnight, he finds himself in the 1930s, hanging out with the likes of Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Salvidor Dali. This is not only a fun film, but it was a great message.