All this week, Biff Bam Pop’s various writers will drop by with their thoughts on the best of the year when it comes to tv, music, movies, comics and more. Monday, we looked at what topped our tv list, Tuesday featured our musical faves, Wednesday was all about comics while Thursday looked at the best in video games. Today, Biff Bam Pop’s writers offer up the movies that moved them most in 2011.
And so comes the end of the most lucrative movie franchise in history. Yes, even more than Star Wars, James Bond and Twilight. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final chapter of the series was not a let down. The action-packed finale flew by, feeling much shorter than it’s two hours. All the loose ends were tied up and you really get a sense of how much the series has grown with the audience. Images of Harry’s once-safe haven, Hogwarts, as a crumbling and smoking battleground feel impossibly dark when compared with the shiny-goodness of the first installment.
As much as I enjoyed my Marvel superhero flicks, Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor, and as great as the final Harry Potter film was, the film that legitametly impressed me most this past year was Rise of the Planet of The Apes. I, like so many others, really didn’t have very high expectations for the film. Sure, the trailers all looked intriguing, but haven’t we all been burned by trailers before. However, the film managed to live up to its premise and more. All the performances were strong, including lead James Franco and the always reliable John Lithgow as his father. Of course, much has been made of Andy Sirkis’ performance as the ape Caeser – it has to be seen to be believed. With any luck and fairness, Sirkis will receive at least some sort of Oscar nomination for work. It’s safe to say that the series was successfully rebooted, with more Apes on the way.
Sports genre related films rarely get the nod of universal approval come awards season that the drama films get. Warrior is a film that deserves to buck that trend. Set in the world of mixed martial arts, something I personally have some trepidation with, Warrior uses the sport as a backdrop to tell an important story of the relationships between estranged and hurting family members – in this case, two brothers and a father. Written and directed by Gavin O-Connor and starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy in emotionally riveting performances alongside an incredible supporting role by Nick Nolte that should garner the actor an Oscar nomination, Warrior is a compelling film that never once feels fake, pre-determined or insincere. It’s truth lies in the fact that against adversity, family is stronger than the individual, that compassion and redemption can be had by those who seek it.
Telling the story of a flag-clad superhero isn’t easy to do without seeming cheesy as hell, but director Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer) and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely pulled it off with a story that acknowledge the ridiculousness of the concept and had fun with it, while still telling a heartfelt superhero origin during World War II.
Chris Evans dialed it down perfectly as Steve Rogers, the weakling turned super-soldier just trying to do his part, while Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving stole every scene they were in as Colonel Chester Phillips and the villainous Red Skull, respectively.
What really nailed Captain America out of the park? The musical number and the ending. The former was hilariously perfect way to deal with the silly costume, while the latter showed an emotional depth that was a pleasant surprise on Marvel’s last stop towards 2012’s The Avengers.
Worst – Anything starring Ryan Reynolds – Before Green Lantern made it into theatres, many fans worried that Warner Brothers’ pick of Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan was the worst possible call they could make. Turns out, it wasn’t the worst, but it was damn close. Green Lantern’s story was actually the worst part, doing a decent job of pulling together a lot of divergent ideas but succumbing to simplicity for the sake of a PG-13 rating.
Stupidity continued to reign in August’s The Change-Up, where Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman played friends struggling with their lives – Reynolds was a failed actor living the single life while Bateman was a workaholic father wondering what he missed out on in life. Things suddenly go Freaky Friday and they find themselves living each other’s lives. If anyone was a standout, it was Jason Bateman, but the film was so insipid that audiences psychically knew to stay away.
Add to that the fact that Reynolds’ divorce from Scarlett Johansson was finalized on July 1st and you get a sense that it wasn’t a good year for the former sexiest man alive. Ryan, here’s to 2012 being better for you, and your future movies being better to us.
Now go do the Deadpool movie you should have done in the first place.
– Hanna: The Chemical Brothers made this movie with an incredibly original soundtrack, and Cate Blanchette gives an aggressive yet haunting performance. It was also fun to watch little girls kick ass in a movie doesn’t suck balls (cough Sucker Punch)
– Hobo with a Shot Gun: Two Words: Rutger Hauer… (also it’s Canadian, cool!)