There are always going to be movies we don’t see in any given year. It could be from no chance or just not wanting to do so. Here, however, are 11 movies you need to play catch up with from 2011.
1. The Adjustment Bureau
This film actually did fairly decent numbers, but considering how that stacks up to the rest of 2011’s grosses, I imagine most haven’t seen it. It’s not even that it’s a truly excellent film, but there’s something about this film that deserves to be seen. It’s a well done romance that just so happens to have a tint of fate vs. free will. There’s a chemistry between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt that fleshes out the relationship between the two, even if the script slightly falters. Plus, hats. Hats everywhere.
I know for a fact lots of people didn’t pick this one up in theatres, and lucky for you (and the whole human race), this film comes out later this month on DVD/Blu-ray. It’s something that’s stuck with me since I saw it last September. It’s a film that is the epitome of cool from the first frame to the last. Everything in the film just works to a tee. The violence is jarring, the romance is heartfelt, and the villainy is downright evil.
Another one I know lots of people haven’t seen yet, and that’s quite a shame. I’m not even really sure what turned people away. I suppose it was probably the cancer plot, but let it be known that a film revolving around cancer can be saddening, enlightening and also extremely funny. Seriously, when people talk about the funniest films of 2011, I rarely see 50/50 on that list. Need a laugh? Need a cry? Need a reminder to love life? Here’s your movie.
4. The Adventures of Tintin
I’m not really sure why this failed. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson making a film together? Sounds like this should have been a real blockbuster, and it is, just not in the States. As of this writing, the film’s only made $69.9 million here. That’s a shame because TINTIN is the Indiana Jones film we should have gotten with KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. The film is fun from start to finish. It’s also got one of the greatest one-shot scenes in cinematic history. Regardless of it “cheated” by being motion-captured, the Morocco scene at the end of the film leaves jaws dropped. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4 was released on Dec. 17 and it’s funny that just five days later, the Dubai scene in MI4 would be upstaged.
5. I Saw the Devil
Forewarning, this film is not, at all, for everyone. It’s almost always brutal, and at a specific moment involving an Achilles tendon made me squirm and turn away. However, if you can sit through it, the film is incredibly rewarding. It’s a South Korean film doing what South Korean filmmakers seem to do best: A revenge film. Much like the Korean revenge films before it, it blends a morality line between good and evil, and if there’s even a protagonist in the film.
6. The Innkeepers
This one made the cut of 2011 by just a couple of days, but more power to it. Do you like ghost stories? Do you like ghost stories with characters you actually like and care about? That’s what this film does so well; it sets the stakes high by focusing on the character development as well as the scares. This way when everything turns horribly wrong in the 20-minute finale, we actually want the people to survive.
This one surprised me the most out of anything on this list as being really good. It seems really cliché with two brothers going head-to-head in a MMA tournament, and it is cliché, but it’s cliché done extremely well. Much like last year’s THE FIGHTER, WARRIOR manages to mix a sports film with a family drama, and also like THE FIGHTER, it completely works. The film is grounded by three very good performances from Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy, and Joel Edgerton, in fact, it’s possible that Nolte’s never been better. It elicits real emotions out of a standard film.
8. Young Adult
Similar to I SAW THE DEVIL, this one isn’t for everyone. It’s a challenging film in that the main character is an antihero in every sense of the word. I’d actually take the word “hero” out of that and just leave “anti.” As mean as the film can be, it’s also very darkly funny. I actually think it’s funnier than JUNO, the last Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody pairing, but in a different way. While I didn’t laugh out loud as much, the humor had me laughing hysterically on the inside.
9. The Tree of Life
Perhaps the most personal film on the list, and yet another challenging film. I think this is something that you have to work with. As a film, I don’t know if it succeeds. As something greater, it’s an experience like no other. It raises questions of life, such as our purpose in life or nature vs. grace, and it doesn’t give answers; it gives moments in life to let you figure out the archaic nature of yourself. The last 20-30 minutes almost kill the movie, but even then the film is an experience that you’re not going to forget anytime soon.
10. Attack the Block
After seeing this film, I liked SUPER 8 quite a bit less. Where SUPER 8 directly aped Spielberg, ATTACK THE BLOCK is influenced by Carpenter, Dante, and Donner. The film, about South London kids caught up in an alien invasion, is the best mashup of sci-fi and action (with a little horror) in a long time, and not just because it’s seemingly the only one. Every character has his/her unique voice to them, the alien design is simple and incredibly smart, the soundtrack will be in your head for days, and the hero’s journey is one anyone can get behind. Believe it, bruv.
11. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Fun, smart, insanely likable. Yeah, that pretty much sums up this movie. See, what if those hillbillies living out in that cabin in the woods were actually just two nice guys trying to go on vacation? That’s what kicks off this film from newcomer Eli Craig. It’s a smart blend of comedy and horror that takes a one-note premise and keeps it afloat. There’s a real likability to Tucker and Dale as the college kids they “should” be trying to kill are trying to kill them. They’re two normal guys caught up in an extraordinary situation. The kills are imaginative and the jokes keep flowing till the very end.