Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hannah's Top 10 Mainstream Movies of 2011

This year was filled with terrible movies — "Transformers", ANOTHER "Twilight", almost every secondary superhero from Marvel possible and cliche filled romantic comedies (the worst offender being "New Year's Eve"). However, amongst the disappointments, there were a few entertaining movies.

So — because I am a semi-professional critic (and also have nothing better to do until the Dayquil quicks in) — I have compiled the top 10 movies of the year that were easily accessible to Mississippi cinema lovers (I'm not a professional enough to get to go to the film festivals. I wish).

Without further ado, here is my list:

10. Bridesmaids:"Bridesmaids" divided critics on whether it was a feminist response to the hangover, but it cannot be denied that the comedy was one of the funniest of the year. Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy created three-dimensional roles that, amongst the chaotic hilarity, were cheered on by the audience. Funnier and more honest than original "Hangover," this Judd Apatow film was more than an edgy comedy — it has already left behind a creative and monetary legacy that has convinced the suits in Hollywood to green light more original women-driven films.

9. Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol:I'll be honest, there was one reason I was interested in "Ghost Protocol" — "Lost." The fourth installment in the franchise that many, including myself, had written off as aging cast Josh Holloway (James "Sawyer" Ford) in one of his first post-"Lost" roles. And that was enough to make me buy a ticket. Despite being a sequel to a sequel's sequel, "Ghost Protocol" manages to be thrilling and surprising and even manages to develop the characters. Director Brad Bird has reinvigorated a franchise — I'm not saying I want a fifth "Mission Impossible," but if each subsequent sequel was this good, I would willingly pay admission.

8. Crazy, Stupid, Love:There are three problems with most recent romantic comedies: They aren't romantic, they aren't comedic and many of them are all varying degrees of the same plot (they vary on how painful they are to watch). "Crazy, Stupid, Love" is funny, romantic and has an original enough plot. The clever script is helped by the cast, which includes Steve Carell and Emma Stone. A movie that can fall into one of the greatest cliches of the romantic comedy and reinvent it to make it an emotional, rather than awkward, moment deserves some credit, after all.

7. The Help:Movies are never as good as their book counterparts, mostly. "The Help," based on the best-selling novel, opened and became a movie of controversy and has since garnered Oscar buzz. On the surface, the film is a story of three women in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement who inspire others to challenge injustice. Whether the film deserves the critiques it deserves for the portrayal of black women is up in the air. However, the deeper issues in the movie are being discussed. Movies like "The Help" are important not only because they provide roles of depth for women — they provide the viewer with a starting point for a discussion.

6. Horrible Bosses:I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw "Horrible Bosses," except that Jennifer Aniston would be playing a character that would be a departure her usual girl next-door role. The movie is one of the funniest comedies to be made in a long time and was smartly written (despite being outrageous). The cast, especially Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, Aniston and Kevin Spacey, is hilarious and commit to their roles.

5. Moneyball:"Moneyball" the film and "Moneyball" the book have two different focuses — the film focuses on the Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), whereas the book focuses on the system Beane created. The film was a pleasant surprise (especially since I considered the book unfilmable after reading it and have an irrational dislike for Pitt). Pitt and Jonah Hill both give great performances and bring life to the material. It's also cool to recognize lines lifted directly from the pages of the book.

4. War Horse:"War Horse" is one of the few "serious" movies on this list. Set in World War I, "War Horse" follows the war through the eyes of Joey (the titular horse) and his boy Albert (Jeremy Irvine). Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie boasts beautiful cinematography and horses who act just as well as their human counterparts (no, that's not a knock against the actors in the movie). It's one of those profound movies that make you think of how there is no glory in war or the ties of brotherhood. "War Horse" is one of those movies that can mean different things to different people — which is what makes it great. Prediction: It will probably be a front-runner for Best Picture at the Oscars.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two:This is first, and sadly, the last time a "Harry Potter" film will make it onto my favorite movies of the year list. As a megafan of the books, I have always found something missing from the adaptations' portrayals of the characters. However, in the final "Deathly Hallows" film, each character has been captured and honored properly by the film makers. The final movie gave the fans of the series a satisfying conclusion — one we have been waiting a decade for. That is an achievement worthy of every honor it receives.

2. Super 8:No, this film will not win any major acting, directing, writing, or overall awards. And it's not because it doesn't deserve it — it's because it's a science fiction film. Director J.J. Abrams's nostalgic and semi-autobiographical (emphasis the word semi, there) movie stars Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) so it had to be good. On one level, it's a solid popcorn flick. On another, it's an allegory about growing up and letting go. And on another, it's a tribute to Steven Spielberg. The chemistry between the children actors makes wonderful — as opposed to just good — and it has the ability to bring tears and excite. What more could you want?

1. The Muppets:I love The Muppets. I visited Kermit's birthplace as kid. I know extremely random facts about each character. My one regret about my trip from New York City was not making a muppet at F.A.O. Schrawz (Yeah, it's a real thing). I've made it my duty to convert my friends to the greatness that is The Muppets (ask my roommate, my sister or my best friend). I even watched Fox News that one time Kermit and Fozzie made an appearance. The point is, I love these characters. And I was extremely nervous when they announced at new Muppets movie — but I shouldn't have worried. For one thing, this is the highest reviewed movie of the year (See Rotten Tomatoes score).
It has a genuine earnestness that will convert new fans (ask my best friend and sister) and allow old fans to appreciate the newest theatrical installment. I laughed, I cried and laughed so hard I cried. "The Muppets" is one of the best Muppets movies made, and — in some ways — is just as poignant as "War Horse" or "Super 8." Of course, I said in some ways. It's the most hilarious movie of the year and has the same brand of Muppet silliness as the previous films and "The Muppet Show" did.
If you still can, you should see "The Muppets." If not, you should just go ahead and purchase it when it is available in the spring. It's the kind of movie that remains in your movie after the more serious indie films fade into the background and you can share with other people. It's the kind of movie that will have a legacy in 20 years, and that's the best kind of movie of them all.