Jacob's "Yet Another Year-End Movie List!" - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Jacob’s “Yet Another Year-End Movie List!”

By this point you've read through at least three other “Best of 2011” lists and I'm sure you're probably sick of reading about how awesome Warrior, The Trip and Drive are. I'll try to keep things fresh.

I don't watch nearly as many films as my fellow contributors, but since moving back in with Danny, my film intake has increased considerably. My main goal in 2012 is to watch more films and continue to improve as both a writer and a critic until the inevitable destruction of the universe on Dec. 21st. It's sad it all has to end this year, but I can only hope that this last year on Earth is filled with great films. Then again, depending on how many Oscars Hugo wins, I may welcome the coming Armageddon.

My Favorite Films:

Incidentally, all my picks for best film this year are comedies that are very somber, personal looks at how we deal with adulthood, how we measure success and how we learn to accept others.

Submarine : Hands down my favorite film of the year. A coming of age story that also explores our desire for control and the way film shapes and influences our lives. It perfectly captures the mixture of wonder, confusion and horror that is adolescence.

Young Adult : As much a cynical look at small-town America and romantic comedies as it is a condemnation at those who think they're better than the “simple life.” A far more complex film than I think a lot of people are giving it credit for. I really hate calling films “challenging” because I fear it makes me sound like and elitist douche-bag, but “Young Adult” is a film that asks a lot of questions and makes you find the answers yourself.

The Trip : Pitched as a story of two men on a road trip, it's really the story of one man struggling with his fears of living in obscurity or, maybe worse, mediocrity. The film deals with heavy topics, such as death, legacy, and the importance of success vs. happiness, all while trying to settle the age-old question: Who has the better Michael Caine impression?

The Good:

Contagion : A very detached look at how America might react to a World-spanning epidemic. As a personal note I would like to add: Dear Steven Soderbergh: Thank you for not making this film about zombies.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes : I went into the theater questioning why Hollywood needed yet another remake of “Apes,” and left clamoring for a sequel. “Apes” is science-fiction done right.

13 Assassins : Takashi Miike tones it down a bit (okay, a lot) in this film about vengeance and honor in feudal Japan. It's always interesting to see what style Miike will try out next and this film is definitely a “hit”. If his past work has scared you off, this one is a lot more “Seven Samurai” than “Ichi the Killer.”

Fast Five : It was pretty much this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4rtXYgqaPQ , but with more of an “Ocean's Eleven” vibe and set in Rio de Janeiro.

Hobo with a Shotgun : I think Andrew and I are just going to have to disagree on this one. “Hobo” was a pretty good homage/send-up of the grindhouse genre that reveled in it's own stupidity and over-the-top-ness. That said, I kind of shudder to think of anyone who took it "seriously" and still enjoyed it.

Captain America : Felt less like your standard comic book movie and more like a hero's journey mixed up with some war film homages. Like Danny, I'm really sad that we'll never see a proper sequel.

Fright Night : Another remake I expected to be awful and wound up really enjoying. Colin Farrell makes a great vampire, really capturing that attractive/repellant feeling of predatory sexuality. Also, David Tennant is no Roddy McDowell, but he brings his own charm to the character.

Insidious : James Wan and Leigh Whannel turned their backs on torture porn and body horror and brought us with actual subtlety. And it's actually pretty creepy to boot!

Warrior : What could have been nothing but a crass marketing ploy for MMA turned out to be a very solid drama about family. I was also impress at how the film attempted to avoid cliche's a pretty much every turn. And while I don't share quite the enthusiasm of some of my fellow writers, I have to agree that Nick Nolte gave an incredible, Oscar-worthy performance.

The Bad:

Colombiana : Kind of like a retelling of “Leon,” only this time Leon gets naked and dances a bunch for no reason. Unlike “Leon,” it's complete shit.

Super 8 : Had some amazing performances, especially from the kids, but couldn't decide if it wanted to be a horror film, a coming of age tale or a rehash of “Close Encounters” with more explosions. Abrams should have done his own thing and not tried to make it an homage to Spielberg. Also, you can't spend most of the film building up E.T. as blood-thirsty monster and then expect people to by sympathetic to him in the last ten minutes.

The Thing : “The Thing” isn't so much a “bad” remake as much as it is unnecessary. Danny thought he could see a linger subtext about date rape buried somewhere in the film, and I agree that would have made it somewhat more interesting. Instead, it feels like a series of cutscenes from a video game that never got made.

Immortals : How do you fuck up Greek myths, anyway? You've got a gaggle of gods who are complete assholes and fuck with humans (sometimes literally) because they're bored, as well as a Dungeons and Dragon's manual worth of man-goats and she-spiders to have people fight. It should write itself. Instead if feels less like a Greek epic and more like the bleary recollections of someone who slept through junior high English.

Green Lantern : Another comic film that can't decide if it want's to be light-hearted or grim-dark. Actually works better as a sedative.

Harold and Kumar 3 : “Hey, let's ignore any sort of character development set up by the first two films and then run this shit into the ground!” The film picks up right around the time they dump the new characters and pick up Neil Patrick Harris, but unfortunately by that point there's only about 20 minutes left.

The Worst of the Year

Jack and Jill : I wonder if both titular roles had instead been played by Rob Schneider if this would have reached some sort of quantum singularity of terribleness.

Hugo : Also see: Oscar-baiting. Imagine two hours of Martin Scorsese talking down his nose at you for not being able to appreciate the beauty and magic of film. Actually, that probably would have been a lot more enjoyable.

"Hugo" was actually going to be my choice for worst film of the year, but then I remembered....

Transformers 3 : Transformers 3 taught me three things: 1) There is such a thing as too many explosions. 2) Women are only as worthy as characters as they are attractive. 3) Michael Bay's films pander to creepy desires of the absolute lowest man-children. Oh wait, I already knew that last one.

The Incomprehensible:

Dream House : It is entirely without hyperbole when I say that this film gives off heavy “Manos: The Hands of Fate” vibes. It blows it's twist at the halfway point and spends the remained of the film trying to figure out how to fill the time. On the plus side, you do get to see Daniel Craig fight a car. No, that doesn't make any more sense in the context of the film.

The Three Musketeers : Paul W.S. Anderson writes a crossover fan-fiction about Zelda, Assassin's Creed and Final Fantasy, adds some flying ships and then tosses HIS WIFE, a half-naked Mila Jovovich, in for good measure. The only person who seems to “get it” is Orlando Bloom, who's doing his best/worst impression of Johnny Depp/Mick Jagger. I hope Master Chief shows up in the sequel. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he did, either.

And was played by Mila Jovovoich.

Twilight 4 : Jacob, the weredog, saves everyone by realizing that he wants to fuck Edward's magic vampire baby. Let that sink in.

And, finally:

My Biggest Surprise of the Year:

Courageous : I went into “Courageous” expecting to laugh at it. A Christian morality piece with the same writer/director/star? These are not the signs of quality. Turns out I was dead-ass wrong. I might not agree with some of the finer points of the morality, I might have rolled my eyes when one character goes from atheist to Christian in a single scene, but I can look past those bits because the film is legitimately entertaining. It's funny, it's touching and, aside from the aforementioned scenes, the writing feels incredibly natural. “Courageous” is more than just another Christian morality flick. If you've avoid it on purely religious grounds, you've really missed out. Snake Kings for life!

Posted by Jacob

Filed under: 2011, Best of Leave a comment
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  1. I’m glad to see Submarine as one of your favorites. It missed my list, but I still really enjoyed its style and characters. I also really liked 13 Assassins, and I think that Captain America was solid. I enjoyed Super 8 and didn’t mind that it was a mash-up of the sci-fi and horror genres. I do feel like the ending wasn’t so great, but that was a minor flaw in an entertaining movie. It was just outside my top 10, though. Interesting list.

    • Yeah, Super 8 is a film that I’ll probably give another shot someday. I really liked the kids’ story, it’s just that every “twist” in the alien plot felt so cliched. I think it would have been a much stronger film if they would have just eliminated the alien all together and make it about bored kids imagining the whole thing. Thanks for the feedback!

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