(the links in the post lead either to film reviews of said movies, most of them by yours truly, or to my Manly Monday column where I spend time admiring the most delightful qualities of certain male actors in genre films - in case you feel like clicking through :) Also, minor spoilers ahead. )
So the year has come to a close, and as usual it was filled with . . . my opinions. What better way, then, to wrap up 2011 than by having me share my favourite genre things from the year. Why did I choose the things I did? Because I felt like it.
Favourite Genre Movies:
The Muppets – arguably my favourite movie of the year. It was laugh out loud funny, the songs for the most part were sincerely catchy, and the pathos hit me right in the emotions, you know? Sure there’s some nostalgia here, and likely some bias – am a fan of both Kermit and Jason Segel – but it also meant that this could have turned out to be one of the most disappointing movies of the year for me. In the end, it not only met my expectations it exceeded them. Most importantly Segel kept true to the essence of what makes The Muppets so special: heart. And I think I needed to see a movie about people/frogs/bears/pigs/ etc being nice to each other this year. A little dose of dreams coming true never goes amiss either. Also, I give brownie points to any film that makes jokes I haven’t heard before. And has an 80s Robot.
XMen: First Class – the movie no one wanted aside from the major studios is up there with my favourite films of the year. Sure there are some frustrating sexist tropes (why oh why must all the female characters at some point be half naked?) but the 60s setting and the two leads, James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender, combined with some truly creative storytelling and action sequences (hello, best change of perspective ever at the beginning there) elevated the film and brought back our excitement about this franchise. Then word of a Wolverine sequel brought us back down to earth.
Thor – poorly advertised it is a miracle this film did as well as it did. First of all Thor? Not exactly the most popular or empathetic of superhero characters. Second of all, man did those trailers make the movie look cheesy and everything Kat Dennings said, dumb. But the movie itself is awash in charm, from Chris Hemsworth’s amazing ability to make us like the cheeky fellow at the beginning, and believe his not really well written reformation at the end, to Tom Hiddleston’s surprisingly moving performance as a lunatic god, to Kat Dennings not actually being dumb at all but a perfectly timed comedienne, to Kenneth Branagh not afraid to give us pomp and circumstance, this movie really was fun. Sure the storyline on Earth was slight and the emotional resolution seemed to come far too easily and quickly, but did you see Hemsworth without his shirt on? Also: “I need a horse!”
Super 8 – this movie, like all movies this summer, had some serious flaws, but what holds it up above the other movies are the kids. While the monster might have disappointed some, I think the kids and their home made zombie film more than make up for it. Besides, the point of the movie wasn’t the monster, it was how a boy was affected by the death of his mother and how he comes to terms with letting go. Great performances all round from the kids, especially Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning. And some great action sequences too. In a summer where planets are being blown up and world wars were waged, nothing came close to being as terrifyingly terrifying as that train crash. Also that single shot following the kids as they run through the neighbourhood while the army’s equipment goes haywire? Awesome.
Honourable mention goes to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Hugo and Mission Impossible IV. I enjoyed them, a lot, and I’m not really sure why they aren’t quite up there on the favs list, all I know is they weren’t the first films I thought of when I started making that list and I gotta trust my gut instinct.
Biggest Surprise Movie of the Year:
Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It wasn’t a work of art. But I actually had good time watching it (even more impressive considering how I absolutely loathed the second film). Even surprising-er? That the 3D actually worked and added to the fun-ness.
Favourite Newcomers (male):
Michael Fassbender – okay, come on, it’s so been this guy’s year. He’s been in every film and I think only Ryan Gosling beats him out as far as visibility goes. And why not, he’s sexy, he’s talented, and he makes amazing choices. He’s one of the reasons XMEN: FIRST CLASS is as good as it is.
Tom Hiddleston – fans of HcN won’t be surprised by this choice, I’ve developed a wee bit of a fan-girl crush on this lad. But for good reason, his performance as Loki totally blew me away. He really didn’t need to make the character as three dimensional as he did, but we as an audience were grateful. Further, we were also grateful that he didn’t go too artsy fartsy and still had fun just being bad. I am most excited to see him be badder still in THE AVENGERS, which I think will elevate his popularity even more so. On a personal note, the fact that he will be playing Hal (one of my favourite Shakespearean characters aside from maybe his nemesis, Hotspur) in a televised version of the two Henry IVs – well just makes me love him all the more.
Favourite Newcomers (female):
Jessica Chastain- the TREE OF LIFE star made some extremely wise choices this year, starring in one of the more artsy and odd films of the year (guys, there were dinosaurs . . .DINOSAURS), one of the most acclaimed yet unheard of films of the year, TAKE SHELTER, and one of the more popular films based on a massively successful bestseller films of the year, THE HELP. Not only did these films get her seen by everyone, it showed her incredible range. And of course how gorgeous she is.
I need to mention Elizabeth Olson also, simply because she’s been EVERYWHERE this year and I like to jump on bandwagons and make sure everywhere includes HcN.
Favourite ONCE UPON A TIME (yeah, it’s got me hooked) moment:
When Rumplestiltskin blew up Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother? That was awesome.
Favourite GOOD WIFE (yeah, I know it’s not genre, I don’t care) moment:
That part of the show when it starts and then keeps going until the end.
Funniest Line in a Superhero movie:
From THOR: “Good.”
Funniest moment that doubles as “omg omg omg is he going to do it omg omg omg” moment:
Jeremy Renner (swoon) getting ready to jump down that computer shaft thing with a gigantic fan at the bottom with razor sharp blades and a pointy thing at the top to be impaled on in Mission Impossible The Fourth.
Thing I don’t have that I wish I did:
A computer shaft thing with a gigantic fan at the bottom with razor sharp blades and a pointy thing at the top to be impaled on.
Person I don’t have that I wish I did:
Best Fake Action Sequence:
The motorcycle chase in TINTIN.
Best Real Action Sequence:
The briefcase on the constantly moving up and down garage thing with the cars in Mission Impossible The Fourth.
A tie between Mission Impossible’s Dubai tallest tower skyscraper walk, and Transformer’s base jump off of a skyscraper. Whichever, they both work because of skyscrapers.
Performance that elevated an entire movie:
This is a tricky one because I feel most performances this year were what elevated otherwise okay films into the great category, but this one’s got to go to Andy Serkis in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Without his Caesar there wouldn’t have been a movie. Okay granted, yes, the movie is about Caesar so that’s kind of obvious, what I mean is, without an empathetic Caesar, a creature we cared about, worried about, sided with, this movie would have been pretty pointless.
Favourite Saddest Moment:
The end of a beloved series. I must admit that unlike many Harry Potterphiles, part deux this year did not impress me the way it did others. I didn’t hate it. But I didn’t adore it, not like I did Part Un in 2010. Still, I’ve been with this series a long time. First with the books, then with the movies. It’s been a decade. An incredible feat. 8 movies. No re-casting (aside from one actor who died). They stayed very true to the source material. Had some really genuinely funny, touching, impressive moments. And while the last movie wasn’t my favourite, it still was quite well done. Bravo, Harry Potter – and thank you again J.K.
Favourite Trailer that not only totally misrepresented the movie it was promoting, but managed to actually be the total opposite of said movie:
SUCKER PUNCH – okay, so technically this trailer is from 2010, but we didn’t know the truth until 2011.
Trailer: Empowered women kicking butt with awesome action and a sense of humour.
Movie: Dull, cliché ridden, derivative and if it had made any lasting impression whatsoever would have set back the women’s movement decades.
Seth Macfarlane: “Unfortunately at no point during my workday does anyone ever have cause to shout my name and then toss me a sword.”
Favourite Moment for Adrienne with HcN:
Being complimented on my shirt by Kermit the Frog.
Favourite Moment for Adrienne in General:
That I continued to be totally fabulous for another year.