Gregg’s Top 10 Cinema Films of 2011 (and some duds too)

I was kind of worried throughout the first half of the year that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant 2011 as far as theater viewings went. There were more than a few flops at the cinema by the time June came to a close with a sparse picking of films that had some ‘wow’ factor. Thankfully, the second half of 2011 made up for it in just about any genre you can think of, and as December winds down,  I waited until seeing War Horse before releasing this list.  However, that potentially epic film fell short and didn’t come close to making the list.  So without any more delay, here are some of the best and worst films we’ve had the opportunity (or displeasure) of experiencing since January…

Top 10

10. The Conspirator – James McAvoy is the man. Actually Daniel Day-Lewis is the man, but he wasn’t in this movie.  Nevertheless, McAvoy gave an award-worthy performance as Civil War vet turned lawyer Frederick Aiken.  Aiken was assigned the daunting task of defending Mary Surratt, who allegedly housed assassin John Wilkes Booth.





9.  Thor – Director Kenneth Brannagh takes a swing at pop culture as he manned directing duties for the Marvel film about the Norse god of thunder.  Chris Hemsworth expertly plays Thor with great chemistry provided from supporting actors Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard and Anthony Hopkins.  This movie could have easily been overly hokey, but instead struck gold.





8.  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – The American ‘Bond’ is back as Tom Cruise leads the cast of Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and the drop-dead gorgeous Paula Patton.  The movie featured an awesome chase, new spy toys, wicked FX and an arsenal of espionage.  I was hooked from start to finish.





7.  Kill the Irishman – A film about the late Cleveland mob boss Danny Greene proved to be a small but strong movie with a great cast.  Headlined by Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer and the great Christopher Walken, this true story combined impressive acting with real life news footage and a relentless circle of vengeance.





6.  Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Michael Bay does it again and brings satisfying closure to the super budget trilogy.  There was a little more nonsense than there needed to be, but the final battle was Braveheart with robots.  Epic.  Absolutely epic.






5.  Drive – Who knew?  This movie didn’t get a whole lot of coverage and I almost let it slip from my 2011 viewing grasp.  Ryan Gosling plays a man of few words who is a stunt driver by day, getaway driver by night.  Walk softly and carry a big stick.  If you can’t find a big stick, drive a black Mustang like the devil’s chasing you.





4.  The Help – Incredible acting and an even more incredible story brought this film from obscurity in my mind to one of the most dramatic and best films of the year, as it focused on the mistreatment of black maids in the south by their white family employers in the 1950’s.  Watch for the small golden statues to grace this title.





3.  J. Edgar – Though some of the historical details were skewed in this film, it was truly fascinating and nothing short of an Oscar-worthy performance by Leonardo DiCaprio.  This bio-pic covered a lot of ground over the course of the late FBI Director’s career and personal life.






2.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes – After an initial viewing in a really bad movie theater, I wasn’t overly impressed.  After reviewing it with some clarity on a better screen and intelligible sound, I was to the moon over this film. James Franco stars in the best Planet of the Apes material from any decade.  The story, writing and directing just rocked, equating to one of the best films the summer had to offer.  Oh yeah, Andy Serkis was pretty freakin’ amazing too.





1.  X-Men: First Class – I’m not a huge X-Men fan but I’ll be damned if this movie didn’t kick some serious tail.  James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were awesome in their roles as was the supporting cast around them.  The flow of the story didn’t waver, and as a result, kept me glued from start to finish.  X-Men had a lot of competition to contend with this year, but it never fell from my top spot after the moment I watched it.  Kudos to a Marvel film that actually took itself seriously.




Honorable Mention

The Muppets – I grew up with these guys.  When I found out the story was about the Muppets fading from the limelight and trying to get back together, I thought, “How apropo.”  It’s been more than a couple years since the last film (which I thoroughly enjoyed), so the timing was right for a new one.  Like Aaron mentioned in his top 10 list, the smile-inducing qualities of this movie were infectious.  The best part?  Hearing their theme song for the first time in years.  For me, it was 1981 in front of the TV all over again.  I loved it.



Crazy, Stupid, Love. – Romance comedies, or rom-coms as they’re annoyingly called, are typically not my thing.  This movie, however, took a couple on the verge of divorce, a player turned faithful and a smart ass kid with raging hormones and combined them for one very clever and fun film.  Sure Steve Carel is usually the same character.  Let’s be honest though.  The guy does one thing and does it extremely well.  Add Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Kevin Bacon and you got yourself a good movie.




Biggest Disappointment

Cowboys & Aliens – (runners-up include Captain America and War Horse) – The title ‘Biggest Disappointment’ doesn’t necessarily mean the movie was bad.  It just means it seriously fell below expectations.  Green Lantern was one of those films this year, though I didn’t have high hopes for that boring disaster to begin with.  With a tag team of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, however, I did expect Cowboys & Aliens to be a whole lot better than it was (especially with Jon Favreau as director).  The movie was uninspiring and lacked enough punch to be the blockbuster it could have been.



Worst Film of the Year

Arthur – (runners-up include Paul, Season of the Witch, and Priest) – I love Russell Brand.  I hate Arthur…proof that your favorite entertainers do not always have the King Midas touch.  This remake of the 1981 version (which starred Dudley Moore) did nothing to equal, let alone one-up, its predecessor.  The story focused around one very wealthy man-child who had everything done for him in life.  Things change when he finds true love.  Yay.  I had too much of a headache from the crap this movie unloaded to decipher what its downfall was; the directing, the story…it doesn’t matter.  The movie stunk (really badly) from start to finish.  How bad was it?  I’d rather watch Jonah Hex.


15 Responses to “Gregg’s Top 10 Cinema Films of 2011 (and some duds too)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Pretty sweet list Gregg (besides Jedgar)

    you hated Paul?

  2. Gregg

    Thanks! Yeah, unfortunately for me, ‘Paul’ was awful. I’ve come to the realization that with the exception of ‘Fan Boys’, I really can’t stand anything Seth Rogan is in. Seth Rogan is not an actor. The guy is a talented writer and excelled on ‘The Ali G Show’ but other than that, I don’t like his work in front of the camera. I’m still waitng for ‘Paul’ to be funny. I think the movie got two or three laughs out of me which proved to be one or two more than ‘Arthur’. It dragged on in mind-numbing fashion and never really went anywhere. Another round of ooh’s and ah’s at Comic-Con that ended up being dead weight at the theater.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Wow. I hated Fan Boys…

  4. Matt Goodman

    I hated Fanboys and love Seth RogEn.

    Good list.

  5. Brian White

    Wow! I can’t see how you can say Seth wasn’t stellar in Knocked Up or 40-year old Virgin?
    Xmen. Huh? No TF3 love? Thought it would be higher on the list.
    I’m going to check out Crazy Stupid Love this weekend.
    Glad to see Captain America mentioned as a bad film 🙂
    Going to pass on Muppets.
    I still can’t believe you did not dig the Devils Double? 🙁

  6. Sean Ferguson

    Great list Gregg! You’ve got a good mix here! Normally I would defend Harrison Ford but since I still haven’t seen the movie yet, I’ll bite my tongue.

  7. Deb

    I saw alot of those movies. I love the Muppets even if it wasnt the best movie they made. I totally agree with Mission Impossible. Loved it and I never looked at my watch once so that means the movie got my attention! I also thought The Help was a winner this year and hope they get some golden statues as well. Who knew Ron Howard had such a gifted daughter in acting- her performance was great. Great list. Hopefully 2012 has some good beginnings.

  8. Will Santana

    The Conspirator was a great film and very educational. Made wiki and google a little about the trial

  9. Gregg

    I agree, Will. Look for more Abe Lincoln in 2012 when Daniel Day-Lewis plays him.

  10. Aaron Neuwirth

    Between The Help and 50/50 (which also starred Seth Rogen, and he was great in it), Bryce Dallas Howard made me want to punch her in the face – So kudos to her acting.

    It’s not that Harrison Ford is bad in the movie, it just seems like he didn’t care and the movie didn’t either, as it had no idea who he was supposed to be…

  11. Mark

    It’s nice to see Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes in your Top 10. Unexpected, though very credible, choices. Also I thought I was the only one who hated Paul so I feel a kinship with you there as well. But I must take exception with Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I might have liked it if Bay had eliminated the human actors, cut the running time in half and focused on the climatic battle, but as it stands, it was just an affront to my senses. Otherwise, a great best of list. Nice job!

  12. Brian White

    I think I’m the only one who likes the human actors in Transformers. 🙁 If it was just robots, I would be bored out of my mind.
    As for next years Lincoln…YAWN…What I am looking forward is to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Yeah baby!

  13. Aaron Neuwirth

    Yawn was what I felt about The Conspirator and Jedgar.

    I don’t mind the idea of human actors, I just wish they didn’t seem more like cartoons than the damn robots.

  14. Brian White

    I wish there were more of the parents. They crack me up! The job interviewing segment was funny as hell. But I ask…who interviews in jeans? LOL

  15. Nitsuj

    Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, or ROTPOTA (pronounced ‘rot-poetuh’) was by far the best film of the year. Every element dominated any movie this year. Welcome to ‘Team Bring It’ Caesar.