2011 was a strange movie year for me. In past years, I've always had a clear cut favorite movie that I would put on top of my list without hesitation. Most of these were Pixar movies, of course, but this year, Cars 2 just did not grip me as much as Up, WALL-E or Toy Story 3 did in the past couple of years. All the same, I've plumped for quite a number of animated features in the list, because I'm still a kid at heart, so sue me. Animation somehow captures my imagination more than live action movies. And as usual, I still prefer mainstream movies to the heavier, Oscar worthy stuff, so if you're looking for serious movies on this list, go away.
Anyway, in a year with no clear cut favorites, I've decided to go for the movie that I enjoyed the most, from start to finish, and which funnily enough, does have a Pixar connection to it as well. Yup, I'm going for THIS movie as my top movie of the year:
1) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
The plot may have been flimsy, but the action was superb, the pacing was relentless, the thrills were actually thrilling, and it was actually quite funny too. For once, Tom Cruise let the team help out more, and he even got his fair share of knocks. The main reason I put this on top however, is because I actually enjoyed the entire movie from start to finish, and left the movie wanting to watch it again immediately after that, which was probably the only time I felt that way this year (oh wait, I did for Transformers as well...)
Favorite scene: THAT vertigo-inducing scene outside the Burj Khalifa. It had thrills, action, comedy, great one-liners, and Tom Cruise whacking his head on a window. WIN!
And now, here are the rest of my top ten favorite movies of the year (as usual, the links lead to the Movie Not Reviews I did on the movies):
2) Kungfu Panda 2
After I watched this, I predicted that this would be the year that Dreamworks beats Pixar not just in the box office, but critically as well. I was right. Cars 2 was entertaining enough, but it sputtered somewhat by focusing too much on Mater. This sequel however, saw an already well-liked, established character being let loose to do what he does best. The action was brilliant, the 3D was superb, and there's just something about animals fighting kungfu that just... WORKS.
Favorite scene: almost all the kungfu fighting sequences, actually.
3) X-Men: First Class
After the dreadful X-Men: Last Stand, this was a welcome return to the X-Men franchise, rebooting the whole thing with Professor X and Magneto as young men. Michael Fassbender was an EXCELLENT Magneto, while James McAvoy actually made the usually goody goody noble Prof X cool and roguish. Too bad Kevin Bacon's Sebastian Shaw and January Jones' Emma Frost were so forgettable though (though the latter had other er... assets to flaunt hur hur). Bonus brownie points for Wolverine's cameo too!
Favorite scene: Magneto pushes a coin SLOWLY through Shaw's brain. What a horrible, horrible way to die.
4) Captain America:
Of the two pre-Avengers movies this year, this one felt more complete and less comic book-like to me. Thor was always going to be a hard sell, but here, Joe Johnston actually made a great decision sticking to Captain America's origin story and basing the entire movie in World War II.
Favorite scene: "I'm not kissing you!"
A cowboy movie with a chameleon in the lead, and awesome ensemble of characters, and some darn good animation. Way better than Cowboys and Aliens (the other big-budget 'Western" this year) One of the most fun movies of the year, animated or otherwise. The Pirates franchise should have kept Gore Verbinski on.
Favorite scene: The bonkers chase scene between the moles and Rango's posse.
6) Cars 2
It may not have been my favorite of the year, but Pixar has always been consistently good for me, and I have a great deal of sentimentality for the Cars franchise. This sequel may have been made out of a desire to sell more toys, but I loved it for the fact that it was so different from the first movie.
Favorite scene: The opening scene introducing Finn McMissile. It's like James Bond's car decided to eject 007 and take over the mission instead.
7) Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
Yes yes, I'm a sucker for Transformers movies. This one may not have been the awesome fest that the first one was, but it is the movie that SHOULD have followed up the first one, not that insipid metal-ball banging Revenge Of the Fallen. Also deserves mention for some great 3D action. Minus points for casting Rosie Hungtinton-Whitely, who may be hot but was just plain annoying, and is an even worse actor than Megan Fox.
Favorite scene: Almost every scene with Optimus Prime in it, of course.
8) Nasi Lemak 2.0
It's not without its flaws, but this was the most hilariously MALAYSIAN movie I've seen in years. MALAYSIAN, mind you, not Malay, Chinese or 1Malaysia - this is a MALAYSIAN movie that probably only Malaysians would understand, and not just if you're from one race. Why can't more Malaysian movies be like this?
Favorite scene: "Who care you no money yo / Please don’t judge me wrongly / We no need eat baoyu yo / We can eat wan tan mee..."
9) Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
When I finally watched this on the TV, I immediately regretted not watching it in the cinema. The visual effects were stunning, the story was compelling, and Andy Serkis' deserves an Oscar for his motion capture role as Caesar.
Favorite Scene: Caesar standing defiantly on top of a San Francisco tram car with his three lieutenants - an alpha male chimpanzee, a gorilla and an orang-utan. Never mind the Avengers, here come the Apevengers!
10) Puss In Boots
Between Kungfu Panda 2 and this, this was truly Dreamworks' year. This spin-off blew the last two Shrek movies out of Never-Never Land into Never Again Land, and underlined Puss In Boots as THE best character in the ENTIRE Shrek franchise. Also helped that the story was decent, and did not rely too much on cheap and lame pop culture spoofs.
Favorite Scene: The dance-off between Puss and Kitty Soft Paws
- Attack The Block - Aliens + British gangster wannabe kids = Believe!
- Bridesmaids - A bride in a wedding dress taking a shit by the road. Best "romantic comedy" EVER.
- Cowboys And Aliens - The execution wasn't as great as the idea, but David Craig is a GREAT cowboy.
- Drive - Bravo, Ryan Gosling. Bravo.
- Fast Five - Completely nutso, but props for reinventing itself into a heist movie.
- Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part 2: WHAT A WAY TO GO, Harry Potter.
- Paul - It's probing time!
- Real Steel - Probably the best and most heart-warming robot story of the year.
- Senna - Poignant, emotional, and utterly compelling. Brilliant documentary about a brilliant driver.
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows - RDJ's Sherlock is still the coolest, ass-kicking incarnation ever.
- Source Code - WHOA, MINDFUCK!
- Super 8 - The American kids vs aliens movie. Really really good too.
- The Adventures of Tintin - THUNDERING TYPHOONS! THIS IS TIP-TOP!
- The Muppets - It's the MUPPETS! THE MUPPETS!
- Thor - Great prelude to Avengers, but a little TOO cheesy at times.
Biggest Wastes Of Time Of The Year
- Conan The Barbarian - GRRRRRRRRR SMASH STUPID MOVIE!
- Green Lantern - Even The Muppet's parody trailer was more entertaining than this entire movie
- Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - What a mess, what a waste.
- Priest - Paul Bettany, get a new director to work with.
- Sucker Punch - I felt like a sucker after watching this
- The Sorcerer And The White Snake. 白蛇傳說之法海 - Don't even bother downloading this piece of shit.
Cleavage Rating Chart:
- January Jones (X-Men: First Class) - Complete waste of a great character, but at least her costume stayed true to er... form. Hur hur
- Gal Gadot (Fast Five) - Didn't do much, but we got to see her in a bikini whee!
- Rosie Huntington-Whitely (Transformers: Dark Of the Moon) - Can't act for nuts, but hey, she wasn't hired to ACT, was she?
- Hayley Atwell (Captain America) - Not so much of a Cleavage Rating than an "Awesome Boobage in Uniform" rating.
- Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch) - The only good thing about this stupid movie was the eye candy.