2011 Year End Movie Review: David Medsker

A funny thing happened at the movies this year: absolutely nothing blew me away.

There were things I really liked, but my list of favorite movies is kind of a joke, really. They’re not bad movies (not in my mind, anyway), but there are few, if any, Best Picture candidates in the bunch. Compare that to last year, where six of my top 10 movies were nominated for Best Picture. This time around, that’s just not happening. Just want to lay that out up front.

Worse, there isn’t one movie that stands above the others. I liked my favorite movies equally, more or less. That might sound like a copout, but it’s true. Of the movies I’ve seen so far, this was the year where movies were just sort of…there. Maybe we’ll have better luck next year.

My Favorite Movies of 2011


Margin Call
Selling one’s soul is a popular subject in movies, since no two people are willing to settle for the same amount. “Margin Call” explores the subject on a massive scale, since the ripple effect of the actions of a few will be felt around the world. It’s not a thriller in the traditional sense, but it’s absolutely gripping. Kevin Spacey shines here, as does the ever-reliable Stanley Tucci.


Super 8
It probably helped that I grew up in a small Ohio town not terribly unlike the one in “Super 8” (though no one used the word ‘mint’ the way Riley Griffiths’ character does here), but “Super 8” wasn’t merely an exercise in nostalgia; the movie delivered top-notch thrills, well-drawn characters, and the most spectacular sequence of the year with that jaw-dropping train crash. Elle Fanning, meanwhile, put on an acting clinic, and she’s only 13. Wow.


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This Weekend at the Movies: Still Not a Bummer Summer

Whether you’ve got kids, you still feel like a kid inside, or some combination of the two, this weekend has you covered.

Super 8

Super 8 is undoubtedly the big movie of the weekend, though many have called into question its ability to draw in audiences. With word still going strong on X-Men: First Class, and no classic selling points to attach to Super 8, the mutants may take another weekend at the #1 spot. Word has been pretty strong in Super 8‘s favor, and the fact that it’s already seeing a backlash in critical circles is a good sign that it’ll register with audiences. Plus, awareness is out there, even if it’s not as high as Paramount would like – people camped out for as long as eleven hours to see the film at a sneak peak in Hollywood last night. Will the film’s obvious bid for early 80s nostalgia be enough? Hey, it worked for Transformers

Hit the jump for more.

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Superbowl movie ads

If you happen to be one of those weirdos like me who missed the Superbowl but want to see some of the new glimpses of upcoming big time movies being offered during the big broadcast, you’ve come to the right place. (Admittedly one of many right places all over the ‘net.)

We’ll start with the one that maybe has aroused the most curiosity, if only because the least has been known up to now. J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8.” True to its press, what little there’s been, it appears to be kind of “Close Encounters of the Extra-Terrestrial Kind.”

Now here’s more of “Captain America” than we’ve seen before. We even get a split second of the Red Skull (for some reason my favorite super villain as a kid).

A moment with everyone’s favorite Asgard resident.

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Movies news on a Monday night

Direct from the Starbucks at Pico & Robertson…

Jon Hamm in * Rumors have been circulating for at least a week that Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” and now “The Town” is being considered to play Superman. I’m a huge fan of the guy, but count me among those who think he’s a bit old to play an eternally youthful superguy, if there’s going to be more than one movie anyhow. Kal-El is not Tony Stark. In any case, apparently someone else who it appears did turn down the role of Superman director was Guillermo del Toro. Actually, if they ever make a movie set in the Bizarro world, del Toro would be the guy. Otherwise, I don’t see it at all and, it seems, neither did del Toro.

* In terms of film biz transactions, the Toronto International Film Festival surprised everyone and did rather well with numerous indie films being purchased for release. What doe it mean? Mike Fleming sees a modified return of the indie market, though with a thriftier than ever edge.

* The first casting news has come for the J.J. Abrams’ science fiction Steven Spielberg homage/collaboration, “Super 8.” Naturally, one of the stars is a young person — Elle Fanning. The other is closer to my age and is best known for his TV work. No, it’s not Abe Vigoda, but Kyle Chandler of “Friday Night Lights.”

* Speaking of people in my general age cohort who can’t escape their youth, Keanu Reeves is apparently getting colleauges like Alex Winter ready to do a middle-aged edition of the “Bill & Ted” epic. As actors go, Reeves may not be a Philip Seymour Hoffman-level thespian, but he really excels at certain kinds of comedy and I’m board for this. He does a pretty good Werner Herzog, besides.

* Tim Burton is going back to where he started as a director with a stop-motion version of his career-starting live-action short, “Frankenweenie.” The voice cast has just been announced and it will include Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, and SCTV alums Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short.

* Did anybody out there ask for a “Timecop” reboot? Simon Brew is game.

* Re: l’affaire du Hulk back in July, Edward Norton continues to kill Marvel’s Kevin Feige with perhaps not kindness, but civility. Ouch.

* I beg to differ with Sarah Silverman, her “full frontal” nude scene will be pretty. Very pretty.

sarah_silverman

* I’ve seen movies in some mighty small “shoebox” multiplex theaters and screening rooms, but if you’re wondering how small a movie theater can be, this promotion for “Buried” answers the question.

* As I write this I’m getting ready to watch the multi-director documentary “Freakonomics” for free. You however, may pay as little as a penny and as much as a $100 to see it this Wednesday. It’s your choice. Still, we know there’ s no such thing as a truly free, or almost free, anything and, as with writers like myself, some effort is expected in return. Details here.

  

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“Super 8” trailer

I’m delaying my next news-aggregation type post until tomorrow morning because, not only am I way ready for dinner, I didn’t want to delay the teaser trailer for the already-much ballyhooed collaboration between J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg. There was an earlier version of this that was shot by a video camera. Quite frankly, I just didn’t see the point. Now, we have the real thing and it’s pretty neat-o.

I have to admit that, at least based on the name, and the really nifty explosions, I’m kind of liking this one already. Also, most of you digital generation youngsters might know know about it, but Super 8 was, in its funky way, pretty beautiful. Of course, the connection between the film format and the movie — which presumably will be shot mostly in 35mm — remains unclear. Still, it’s an interesting little trailer for what we understand is science-fiction film with some resemblance to early Spielberg and clearly something to do with alien life forms. I’m definitely picking up a slight “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” vibe.

H/t to the Playlist who also bring us the mystery of the briefly seen face.

  

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