2011 Movie Yearbook

 

The highs and lows of the movies of 2011 - and everything in between.

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By Rene Rodriguez rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

Here’s one last, highly irreverent look back at the year in movies:

Most convincing evidence you can stick dinosaurs into any movie: The Tree of Life.

Best opening credits: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Karen O cover Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song while David Fincher provides some appropriately sinister imagery. Bang your head.

Best end credits: Super 8. The short film nestled inside the credits was better than the preceding movie.

Funniest comedy: Bridesmaids.

Funniest comedy about a subject no one would normally think funny: 50/50, the true story of a young man’s battle with cancer.

Funniest comedy that had a terrible trailer: Bad Teacher.

Funniest comedy most likely to please your AP English teacher: Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

Least funny comedy that had a promising trailer: Horrible Bosses.

Worst comedy: Jack and Jill.

Best comic-book movie: X-Men: First Class.

Worst comic-book movie: Green Lantern.

Squarest comic-book movie: Captain America: The First Avenger.

Most surprisingly entertaining yet still ridiculous comic-book movie: Thor.

Best sequel: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.

Worst sequel: Cars 2. No, The Hangover Part II. No, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. No, wait, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. No, wait …

Most superfluous sequel: Scream 4. If you’re not going to kill off any of the returning major characters, then why bother?

Best comeback: The Muppets.

Worst comeback: The Smurfs.

Best remake: Straw Dogs.

Most tolerable remake: Footloose.

Most passable remake that sounded like a decent idea but turned out to be pointless: Fright Night.

Worst remake: Arthur.

Worst remake disguised as a prequel: The Thing.

Most disappointing execution of an intriguing premise: Mel Gibson as a man who speaks only through a hand puppet in The Beaver.

Most convincing argument never to shake other people’s hands again, ever: Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion.

Best sports movie: Moneyball.

Best sports movie for people who couldn’t care less about sports: Moneyball.

Best shameless Rocky rip-off: Warrior.

Best entrance: In Margin Call, the CEO (Jeremy Irons) of an investment firm on the brink of disaster arrives via helicopter in the middle of the night — a vampire who feeds by chewing the scenery.

Best performance by an animal (tie): Uggie from The Artist and Cosmo from Beginners, both proving Jack Russells may be the smartest dogs of all.

Most wildly overlong scene we’re really glad they didn’t trim down: The airplane ride in Bridesmaids.

Best plot twist conveyed by a single word of dialogue: The Skin I Live In. Wait, he said WHAT?

Best birth scene: The baby arrives in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I. Vampire fangs come in pretty handy when you can’t find any surgical scissors.

Best opening scene: The astonishing eight-minute prologue to Melancholia — postcards from the apocalypse.

Best closing scene: Martha Marcy May Marlene. Terror, interrupted.

Best closing dialogue: A husband and wife in Take Shelter. “See?” “OK.”

Best children’s movie: Kung Fu Panda 2.

Worst children’s movie: Arthur Christmas.

Best children’s movie that was too long and slow for kids: Hugo.

Best big budget use of a formula that never gets old: Aliens invade in Battle: Los Angeles.

Best low budget use of a formula that never gets old: Aliens invade in Attack the Block.

Worst use of a formula that never gets old: Aliens invade in The Darkest Hour.

Dullest history lesson: Robert Redford’s The Conspirator managed to make the Lincoln assassination boring.

Dumbest conspiracy theory: Roland Emmerich’s preposterous Shakespeare-bashing in Anonymous.

Best reason to dread the holidays: New Year’s Eve.

Best car chase played out as a game of chess: Drive.

Best car chase played out at 800 miles per hour: Fast Five.

Strongest evidence the French can make action movies just as good as Hollywood: Point Blank.

Strongest evidence the French should not make action movies: The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch.

Best reason to demand a moratorium on romantic comedies: Something Borrowed.

Best reason to demand more romantic comedies: Crazy Stupid Love

Best boy-girl couple: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Best boy-boy couple: Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.

Best girl-girl couple: Nikohl Boosheri and Sarah Kazemy in Circumstance, the Iranian drama about two teenage girls in love.

Best kickass septuagenarian: Maggie Smith throwing down on the Dark Lord in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Biggest sell-out: Former indie-film darling David Gordon Green, who directed two of the year’s worst comedies (Your Highness and The Sitter).

Best example of Hollywood creativity: The near-identical plots of No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits.

Best gross-out gag: An emergency in a bridal shop in Bridesmaids.

Best reason never to eat chocolate pie again: Octavia Spencer’s special dessert in The Help.

Most irredeemable bitch: Charlize Theron’s bitter prom queen, now grown-up and miserable, in Young Adult.

Biggest jump-scare: A man sets a glass on a table in The Artist.

Most unfairly reviled movie: Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch.

Best perfectly adequate TV movie that somehow made it into theaters: The Lincoln Lawyer.

Most ingenious premise: The Skin I Live In.

Most ridiculous premise: The Adjustment Bureau.

Most squandered premise: Source Code. Because Groundhog Day did it a lot better.

Best example of a really bad idea that probably sounded good on paper: Cowboys & Aliens.

Best reason to root for the wolf: Red Riding Hood.

Most ridiculously overpraised movie: David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.

Most convincing proof the clock is ticking down on Taylor Lautner’s 15 minutes of fame: Abduction.

Biggest whore: Nicolas Cage (Season of the Witch, Drive Angry, Trespass).

Biggest whore who at least seemed to be having fun while collecting his paycheck: Jack and Jill’s Al Pacino.

Best homage to 1980s-era Spielberg movies: Super 8.

Worst homage to 1980s-era Spielberg movies: Paul.

Best movie Spielberg directed this year: War Horse.

Best premise in search of a worthy plot: The sci-fi thriller In Time.

Best special effect: Making Eddie Murphy again in Tower Heist.

Worst special effect: The telepathic wolves in Breaking Dawn: Part 1.

Coolest special effect: The repeated point-of-view shots of a camera hurtling through the streets of New York in Limitless.

Most impressive special effect where you couldn’t spot the CGI: Tom Cruise dangling from the side of the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Most impressive special effect that didn’t rely on any CGI whatsoever: Michael Fassbender in Shame.

Best action sequence in a good movie: The chase through Morocco, done in one take with no cuts, in The Adventures of Tintin.

Best action sequence in a bad movie: A skyscraper breaks in half, sending people sliding down the side of the building while giant robots attack, in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Best 10-minute action sequence disguised as a movie: The battle atop the Golden Gate Bridge at the end of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Best ridiculously prolonged action sequence: The last 40 minutes of 13 Assassins, a bloody ballet of outrageous mayhem.

Most enjoyably preposterous action sequence: In The Green Hornet, Seth Rogen and Jay Chou drive their 1965 Chrysler into an elevator and through the offices of a newspaper, even after the car has been cut in half.

Best fight scene: Three men try to murder each other inside a speeding taxicab in I Saw the Devil.

Most compelling movie where almost nothing happened: Meek’s Cutoff.

Best example of showing the youngsters how it’s done: Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams), Martin Scorsese (Hugo) and Steven Spielberg (The Adventures of Tintin) made their first 3D movies. More, please.

Best noble intention that backfired: Kevin Smith made a big stink about releasing his horror movie Red State to theaters without relying on the media or studio distribution. The film wound up being seen primarily on pay-per-view and DVD.

Best Miami homegirl made good: Bestselling young adult author Alexandra Flinn had one of her novels, Beastly, adapted into a Hollywood film.

Best Miami homeboy made bad: Former 2012 Oscar telecast producer Brett Ratner, torpedoing what promised to be an entertaining Academy Awards show with a blitz of idiotic behavior.

Freshest film festival: The Borscht Film Festival, comprised of movies made by Miamians in collaboration with visiting artists, is one of the wildest, most imaginative cultural events of the year.

Best local trend: The continuing success of the Coral Gables Art Cinema, the Miami Beach Cinematheque, the O Cinema, the Bill Cosford Cinema and the Tower Theatre put Miami back on the national art-film map in a big way.

Actor of the year: Brad Pitt (Moneyball, The Tree of Life).

Actress of the year: Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter, The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Coriolanus).

Best 2011 movie no one saw: Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, an extraordinary portrait of an adolescent girl (played by Anna Paquin) whose life is changed by a bus accident. The movie sat on a shelf for six years, then was dumped into a handful of theaters by distributor Fox Searchlight. For shame.

Best 2011 movie that won’t open here until 2012: The Iranian drama A Separation (opens Jan. 27).

Worst 2011 movie that won’t open here until 2012: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

2012 movie I’m anticipating the most: Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

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