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Movie List : 2011

I've been reading like an insane person this year, and with all the annotations now the movies have to go in their own post. Books are here, in case you should come by this post via search engine or after 2011. Bold indicates movies I loved, italics are movies I really enjoyed but maybe wouldn't watch twice, plain text indicates average to mediocre, and strikethrough indicates one of the worst things I have ever seen.

MOVIES
January
1. Dan In Real Life, 2007, PG-13, 1:38 *** [1/9]
This is probably the best movie Steve Carell's ever likely to make, and I still spent the whole thing depressed that such a plot and amazing supporting cast were wasted on him. So much unrealized potential! At least the daughters were lovely.

2. Hairspray, 2007, PG, 1:56 ***½ [1/9]
Parts of it were so WEIRD (like, why does she have a transvestite dad? Why do people hire Christopher Walken?), and it was real ham-fistedly preachy with unremarkable music, but all things considered it was bright and glitzy enough to cover up its flaws.

3. Election, 1999, R, 1:40  *** [1/16]
OK, did not realize this was an R-rated comedy until I'd already psyched myself up for it. Never watching one of THOSE again if I can help it...but A+ for the Rachel Berry 1.0 character that is Tracy Flick.

4. (500) Days of Summer, 2009, PG-13, 1:35 **** [1/16]
I could not have handled this movie before book #5, but now even though it's "not a love story" or chronological and I still think I should resent it, I found myself quite in love with its quirky charm.

5. Center Stage, 2000, PG-13, 1:55 **** [1/29]
The ballet movie of which I have always dreamed.

6. The Derby Stallion, 2007, PG, 1:38 ** [1/29]
Note to self: slapping a horse on the cover in no way protects you from cheesy dialogue and godawful acting. In fact, it's often just the opposite.

7. The Back-Up Plan, 2010, PG-13, 1:40 **** [1/31]
That had its fair share of awkward unpleasantness, but still, quite delightful. I may have oversold it to myself a bit based on the Alex O'Loughlin factor, but I can't back down from four stars now.

8. Lost Dream, 2007, R, 1:30 **** [1/31]
So trippy and crazy, and with anyone else it probably would have fallen flat and boring, but Shaun Sipos (and Michael Welch, though Perry got upstaged constantly by Gio's mesmerizing spiral of madness) captivated me throughout. Really heavy, though -- I feel like I should be writing a paper analyzing the themes in this film.

February
9. The House Bunny, 2008, PG-13 1:38 **** [2/25]
All you notice on the cover is Anna Faris looking ridiculous, but turns out it's packed full of AWESOME LADIES playing equally awesome characters, and it's so much cuter and tamer than the title implies.

March
10. Virginia's Run, 2002, PG, 1:45 **** [3/4]
But sometimes, a horse on the cover results in satisfying, wholesome family-film times, with few faults beyond bad crying scenes and incomprehensible timelines. This elusive magic is why we keep trying.

11. The Company, 2003, PG-13, 1:52 **** [3/12]
Center Stage with positive reinforcement instead of competition, less dialogue, and more compelling dances. I mean, absolutely stunning dances, and less squicky bedroom stuff despite more incidental nudity. An upgrade in the boyfriend department (James Franco!), but a more boring main female character. Fight it out, films! Fight for my love!

12. Battle in Seattle, 2008, R, 1:35 **** [3/20]
Good lord, protesters suck - but Martin Henderson sure is amazing to watch. Can I have my own rugged, idealistic, peacefully-protesting activist?

13. Peter Pan, 2003, PG, 1:53 ***** [3/21]
I'm declaring instant classic. Hope that's cool.

April
14. The Man in the Iron Mask, 1998, PG-13,  2:12 ** [4/2]
That was...astonishingly bad. Cheesy dialogue, flat/stilted delivery, all-around ludicrous self-importance.

15. Brothers, 2009, R, 1:46 *** [4/10]
Great actors, awfully slow pacing.

16. Julie & Julia, 2009, PG-13, 2:02 **** [4:10]
I love when movies turn out to be exactly what you expect from the trailers with no surprises, unpleasant or otherwise. A blah theme (food/cooking? no) invigorated by insanely high levels of perky charm (Julie) and jaw-dropping acting from Meryl as Julia.

17. Perfect Opposites, 2004, PG-13, 1:28 ****½ [4/11]
I think I'd rather cut out at the 1-hour mark and make up my own ending. And the language was highly borderline, enough to cost it a star. But ultimately, guess what, two of the most attractive people ever in an idealistic young relationship (with a dog) makes my heart sing with joy.

18. Skagerrak, 2003, R,  ****½ [4/17]
Dazzled with everything, despite one uncomfortable scene, and in love with the love story that arose from an unconventional formula. Ian/Marie! ♥ (Actor love may be skewing this evaluation. DON'T CARE. Isn't actor love what movies are all about?)

May
19. Precious, 2009, R, **** [5/8]
That was a fascinating mess of domestic abuse.

20. Furry Vengeance , 2010, PG, 1:32 ** [5/8]
Not that I didn't giggle at a few parts or love the live animals and ending clip, but...some dignity was lost here today. (it helps if you watch all the special features, though. At least they shamelessly own the stupid humor)

21. Let's Scare Jessica to Death, 1971, PG-13, 1:29 *** [5/8]
That was fairly creepy, despite its age, but a completely unsatisfying ending.
 
22. Scream 3, 2000, R, 1:56 ***** [5/21]
I can't believe I haven't previously seen this, but since I remember nothing it goes on the list. LOVE IT.

23. Sex and the City 2, 2010, R, 2:27 *** [5/22]
Aside from the typical instances of eyeball scarring, I actually liked that more than the first one! More focus on the women and less cheating. I mean, some cheating, just less.
 
June
24. Dear John, 2010, PG-13, 1:47 ***½ [6/5]
Hard to appreciate a film where you don't like either lead and are sick of Nicholas Sparks, but bless its little heart for overcoming its handicaps and making me enjoy Channing Tatum. Until the first major relationship spork, and then it becomes unclear why this is even a story, the rest is so pointless.

25. Journey to the Center of the Earth, 2008, PG, 1:33, ***½ [6/11]
You have to be in just the right mood for it, but those were some cracky fun times. I mind science fiction less when it tries its hardest to seem real, and not all futuristic or alien.

26. The Lovely Bones, 2009, PG-13, 2:15 **** [6/11]
I forgot how stupid that ending was. Otherwise, though the scenes in the in-between dragged, this actress is AMAZING, the story was wonderfully done, and I liked that the graphic nature was way toned down.

27. Evelyn, 2002, PG,  1:35, ***½ [6/18]
That was a nice if slow little film, although I'm not sure I believed Julianna Margulies' Irish accent AT ALL. Good for your attractive pairing and awesome father/daughter stuff, though. And Granda!
 
28. Obsessed, 2009, PG-13, 1:48, *** [6/20]
Very secondhand embarrassing and hard to watch, and the catfight went on way too long, but in between it was fun to watch Idris Elba's life transform into Crazytown.

29. Shutter Island, 2010, R, 2:18 **** [6/26]
The flashbacks were weird, but the rest was spectacular. Thrillers: people can still make 'em like they used to!

30. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, 2008, PG-13, 1:52 * [6/26]
Turns out recasting Evelyn was the least of their problems. Why are they in China? Where are the actual mummies? Why is their son taking over all the action? Who thought this boring mess was even slightly a good idea?

July
31.  Marley & Me, 2008, PG-13, 1:55 ****½ [7/4]
Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, and an adorable dog, all wrapped up in a story that was definitely better than the book. It was not nearly as goofy & slapstick as it could have been, but instead had a ton of heart and held out for realism. Respect.

32. Congo, 1995, PG-13, 1:49 **** [7/7]
I think that with slightly better production values, that could have been a classic on par with Jurassic Park. You know what? Still pretty exciting.

33. Grace is Gone, 2007, PG-13,  1:25 *** [7/9]
That would have been a better movie if John Cusack's character wasn't so bipolar for most of it. No one indicated he was supposed to actually be bipolar, so it was really disturbing when his mood changed every 15 seconds and he kept flipping out at the girls for no apparent reason.

34. Away from Her, 2006, PG-13, 1:50 *** [7/9]
I was hoping to be more moved, but "Future Derek/Meredith" was the main thing keeping me trudging forward.

35. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, 2009, PG-13, 2:02 ****½ [7/10]
Wonderfully magical. Too dazzled to be coherent yet.

36. The Blind Side, 2009, PG-13, 2:17 **** [7/16]
The absolute counterpoint to Precious, and decidedly better for it (even with the same star rating).

August
37. Lakeview Terrace, 2008, PG-13, 1:50 *** [8/6]
And that is why you should never have sex in your outdoor pool (there may have been other reasons, but I'm going with the pool sex as the real foundation of Samuel L. Jackson's neighbor-hatin' rage. Which I enjoyed. Patrick Wilson consistently dumbstruck-looking face annoys me).

38. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2), 2011, PG-13, 2:10 ***** [8/8]
Blown away.

39. Blood Diamond, 2006, R, 2:23 *** [8/10]
What I learned: Africa is crazy, Leo DiCaprio absolutely must stop affecting accents, and everyone might as well stop buying diamonds altogether since rings in the 2-digit range sparkle in exactly the same way. All the violence was interesting, though, even if I couldn't shake the feeling I was watching this for class and would have to write a paper about it.

40. Did You Hear About the Morgans?, 2009, PG-13, 1:43 **** [8/25]
As expected, those were some cutesy fun rom-com times -- and high five to the assistants for stealing the show out from under the stars! I rather wanted a double feature to see their complete story too.

September
41. The Good Student, 2008, R, 1:20 **** [9/6]
The entire movie is basically an excuse for me to gaze at Tim Daly for an hour. As a lonely but dedicated history teacher. With hair that is supposed to be sad-sack but which I find perfect. Oh, and at one point Hayden Panettiere kisses him. Yet the movie is about as tame as R can get without being downgraded. YOU'RE IN MY HEAD, FILM, AND I LIKE IT A LOT.

42. Remember Me, 2010, PG-13, 2:00 ***½ [9/11]
I was spoiled for the end long ago, but it was still the kind of normal role I've always wanted Rob Pattinson to play, and I bought Emilie de Ravin as younger than him, so that was good. They didn't have as much chemistry as hoped (I preferred Tyler's scenes with his sister, in a non-creepy way), and it was relatively slow, but points for effort and a powerful ending, spoilers or not.

43. Are We Done Yet?, 2007, PG, 1:32 *** [9/12]
This movie would have been indescribably terrible if not for John C. McGinley. Fortunately, he's in almost every scene, and he is hysterical. Totally worth watching for him.

44. The Roommate, 2011, PG-13, 1:33 ***½ [9/22]
Yep. I can see myself being Rebecca, minus the pet-killing and lesbian kissing. Probably also minus the homicidal mania, but I can't be sure.

45. Contagion, 2011, PG-13, 1:45 **** [9/25]
This is a fascinating scenario.

October
46. Premonition, 2007, PG-13, 1:35 ****½ [10/14]
I've somehow lost all memory of ever seeing a preview for this or hearing about it, but it was AMAZING. Thrills! Suspense! Adorable girls! Tragedy! Sandra Bullock with fantastic natural-wave hair! Attractive married people! Why...does Wikipedia say its reviews were horrible?

47. Bee Season, 2005, PG-13, 1:44 ***½ [10/26]
Richard Gere as a professor & father & apparently loving husband? Those scenes were golden! Unfortunately, everything else was torturously slow and felt like mere filler.

48. Charlie St. Cloud, 2009, PG-13, 1:40 **** [10/30]
Zac Efron, when did you get so adorable? This movie made me cry buckets; it was wonderful. Like Nicholas Sparks but without that sickly-sweet aftertaste that comes from saying his name. [side note: slightly longer post about this and the next three movies available here]

49. Ondine, 2010, PG-13,1:50 ****½ [10/30]
Colin Farrell. Single father to a little girl with kidney failure. Mysterious woman who may or may not be a Selkie. Beautiful location. It is very much like the darker, more grown-up version of "Enchanted" in Ireland.

50. Flyboys, 2005, PG-13, 2:20 **** [10/31]
Quite good for a war movie. I would not have watched this at all if not for Martin Henderson and James Franco, but they made it worth it. Took a long time to get going, but the last hour or so was interesting enough to make a favorable lasting impression.

51. Bride Wars, 2009, PG-13, 1:30 ****½ [10/31]
Nyah nyah nyah, I LOVED IT. Funny and entertaining with sweet and heartfelt friendship bookends.

November
52. Love Happens, 2009, PG-13, 1:48 *** [11/4]
I wanted to love it just for the perfect screen pairing, but it was SO cheesy and/or cloyingly emotionally manipulative that even I was turned off. Show up for the cherry-picker date and the end kissing, leave out all the rest.

53. Easy A, 2010, PG-13, 1:32 ****½ [11/5]
Not loving the language, but otherwise GREAT! Pretty much what I look for in a funny teen comedy.

54. The Ugly Dachshund, 1966, G, 1:33 ***** [11/9]
What's this? An old movie I not only enjoyed, but LOVED? Well, when it is an adorable family film full of cute dogs and raucous antics (Marley's got nothin' on these destructive pets), the answer is a resounding YES. Gotta find the book now while I'm at it.

55.West Side Story, 1961, PG-13, 2:25 *** [11/17]
Nope, 6th-Grade Me had it right the first time: I just don't get why this is so iconic. It's fine, but not memorable.

56. Gremlins, 1984, PG-13, 1:46 ****½ [11/26]
Now I understand both where Furbies came from, and why people are scared of them. I don't know what else to say about this one. It was ridiculous and yet awesome?

57. A Holiday Heist, 2011, G, 1:30 ** [11/28]
Hahaha, what even was that crackfest of cheese and deliberately bad over-acting? XD I'm cracking up because I don't understand how anyone conceived of this as a movie that was actually filmed and paid for with real money.

December
58. No Greater Love, 2010, PG, 1:49 *½[12/1]
So this is what a Christian movie looks like. It was...not good, in the way that soap operas are not good. Great soundtrack, though.

59. The Break-Up, 2006, PG-13, 1:47 * [12/1]
Another one of many Jennifer Aniston movies where she is the only good thing about it. (SO DULL, and what an awful co-star).

60. Dark Water, 2005, PG-13, 1:45 [12/12]
Super chilling and not the kind of thing you should watch alone at 2 AM and/or when moving to a new apartment building.

61. Alice in Wonderland, 2010, PG, 1:48 [12/22]
WONDERFUL. Oh, I wish I had seen that in theaters like I wanted to. Endlessly fascinating characters, and such an interesting twist on the storyline (I've never been a big Alice fan. This gave me a whole new respect for it).

62. The 12 Dogs of Christmas, 2005, G, 1:38 [12/25]
Aside from the confusing way that all of the homeless dogs were purebreds, and they still had trouble identifying what a Cocker Spaniel was, THAT WAS SO GREAT. Dogs! Adorable girl! Tons of recognizable actors for an obscure low-budget film! Family appropriateness without also being of terrible quality!

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