Andrew’s Picks: Top 10 Films of 2011
It’s the 7th of January, but we here at Geek Hard have just finished looking back at the “Best of 2011″. What follows are my picks for the 10 Best Geek Films of 2011. I know alot of other Top Ten Lists will try to tell you that “Tree of Bullshit” is the best movie this year. You won’t get any of that here. Check it out.
10. Source Code.
Okay, first off, I agree the film has a stupid name. But once you get past that, it’s a really moving piece of science fiction. directed by Duncan Jones (who people might also remember from Moon, his 2009 Offering), this film takes Time Travel, a concept that has been done to death, and breaths a bit of life into it by changing the way it is perceived. With a fantastic performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, you actually feel for Coulter Stevens, the soldier who’s out of time and out his element. What makes it even stronger are the supporting performances by Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright, who are pretty much stuck in the same room for the entire movie but make you feel like they are as much a part of the action as Gyllenhaal. My only complaint is that the film should’ve ended about 5 minutes before it actually did, as the final scenes are a bit cheesy.
I’m a fan of Matthew Vaughn. When I heard he was involved in this film, I regained hope that the X-Men franchise could be saved. However, I did not honestly expect we were going to get as good a movie as we got. A fantastic character piece where both a young Charles Xavier and Magneto are represented so well on screen. Sure the villains are underwhelming. And yes, the film does sadle both women and minorities with a few cliché story beats. But the performances of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are pitch perfect, as well as the performance of Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. And the final battle scene is extremely entertaining. Hands down, this film was a lot of fun and made up for the last couple of missteps in the X-Men films.
This british film about a group of rough teens that protect their apartment complex from an alien invasion had me on the edge of my seat. It was like the kid adventures from the 80s on steroids. A classic tale of unlikely heroes stepping up and living up to the potential no one knew they had. Also, for a low budget film, it made more convincing aliens than most big Hollywood productions have produced in years. It’s a crime if you haven’t seen this film.
Shown in theatres this year in limited release (and very limited release here in Canada), this documentary probably was missed by most. It is a fantastic window into the life of a performer when he’s most unsure of himself. Following the “Legally Prohibited to be on Television Tour” of Conan O’Brien, we see the event from concept to completion, warts and all. There’s nothing held back in this film. It’s intriguing to watch a man go from “I’m not sure if this is even going to work” to “When is this tour going to be done!” We see O’Brien at his worst and at his best. He at times comes off as a real asshole in this film, but also very human. The end of this film did leave me with the proper inspiration that it’s makers wanted its audience to have. And Andy Richter is still the man.
For the first half of the year, this film was my number one pick for best film. Part folk tale/part coming-of-age story, it’s about a sixteen year old girl raised by her father to be the perfect assassin who is finally sent on the mission she’s been training all her life for – to the kill those responsible for the death of her mother (in a way). The film takes heavily from fairy tales as each of the main characters fulfills a common character from the genre, complete with a wicked witch in the form of an intelligence agent played by Cate Blanchett. The film can be summed up in two words: Beautiful Violence. It’s the action film that you can watch with your Grandmother and you both will get something out of it.
I have been waiting for this film ever since the Grindhouse trailer from 2007. This film is Hard. It plays dirty. It gets it’s hands bloody and holds up the entrails in the light. As we are introduced to the title character, it’s like he’s ripped right out of a 70s Exploitation film. As the film reaches the 10 minute mark, he is dropped in the middle of an 80s Exploitation film and the culture shock brings on a rip-roaring rampage of revenge. Jason Eisner is a smart director who knows how to use both his small budget and his Cast of character actors to their fullest potential. And at the heart of the brutal violence beats a touching story about friendship and secondse chances. Both Rutger Hauer gives a fantastic performance as the Hobo and Molly Dunsworth, who plays Abby (the hooker with a heart of gold) holds her own as well in this picture. Much like the main characters of the story, this film stood up and didn’t take shit from anyone. Bottom Line – This Film Kicked Ass!
I know it probably will not surprise most to find this film on my top ten list. I am a huge Cap fan. I’m also a huge Marvel fan. But I am happy to say that after this film, I am also a huge Chris Evans fan. When Evans was annouced as the actor who would protray Steve Rogers, I was very uneasy about the whole thing. As I saw trailers and footage leading up to the film’s premiere, my fears lessened, but I still had my doubts. Thankfully, when the film came out, all my concerns were relieved as I saw the Captain America film I had always envisioned. And not only did I get the Cap I wanted, I also got a great Red Skull, Dum Dum Dugan and Peggy Carter to boot! I don’t know why I was so worried. Joe Johnson brought us a The Rocketeer. How could he not make a great Captain America?
3. Red State
Another film that many probably may have missed, it is by far the greatest piece of entertainment Kevin Smith has ever produced. I know the Smith naysayers out there will reply, “that isn’t saying much.” But I assure you, this is the best action thriller of the year. With great pacing and a stellar cast and action sequences that put you on the edge of your seat, Kevin really ventures out of his comfort zone and produces a movie no one ever expected he could make. Not only that, but he’s pretty damn good at it. There is one tool that he brings with him from his previous films and that is memorable dialogue. And this dialogue is delivered from the mouth of Michael Parks as he chews the scenery and produces his greatest performance to date. John Goodman also lays down a solid performance in a role he’s not known to play. This film has made me all the more psyched for Hit Somebody, which is scheduled to be his last film. If it’s anything like this one, he’ll be going out with a bang!
2. The Artist
I know at first glance this choice might not be seen as geeky enough to be on this list. But I beg to differ. This film is a must for any film history geek out there. It is a tale of finding fame and losing it set againsts the backdrop of the movie industry’s transition from the silent era into the talkies. And it presents as a silent film. Done in the style that was prevalent at the time, the actors convey moving performances that make you feel for this story more than if it had a voice. It is truly a thing of beauty and reminded me why I love going to the cinema. It’s a film that loses it’s touch when you over-explain it, so all I will say that you must see this film as it is uplifting and heartbreaking all at once. And another great supporting performance from John Goodman.
Speaking of Silent films. This film was a masterpiece. From the performances, to the cinematography, to the story, to the characters, there wasn’t a single flaw. It’s nothing new to see a film about a getaway driver. But this film had that something extra. That movie magic where you felt you were taking the risks with Ryan Gosling’s character. Wherever the driver went, the audience was there with him. Great performances are showcased and done with very little dialogue. I commend director and Ryan Gosling for having the courage to let the scenes play as they did and didn’t try to throw in dialogue that wasn’t necessary. Unlike that stupid woman who tried to sue, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and believe that it was the very best that 2011 had to offer.
So that’s my list. Be sure to comment and let me know if you agree or disagree.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!