2011 IN REVIEW: Worst of the Year and Special Awards

I have said it before and I will say it again – 2011 has been one of the best years for movies since at least 2007. However, even with all its greatness it was not free from a few stinkers. Since I am not a paid film critic, I am not forced to see movies that are clearly terrible like Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked or New Year’s Eve, so most movies I saw this year I had some sort of expectations going in. It might be more appropriate to call this a list of most disappointing films rather than worst films, but regardless these are the five movies this year that I will never revisit again.

Worst Films of 2011

5) Footloose

It was confusing when Black Snake Moan/Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer signed on to remake this definitively ’80s musical film. About 20 minutes into the film it became clear that the film was a paycheck project as it seemed much more interested in paying tribute to the original than contributing anything new at all. Making Dennis Quaid seem out of his element is not an easy feat, but it was pulled off in Footloose. [Full Review]

4) Cars 2

There was a collected moan of disbelief among film fanatics this year when the beloved Pixar animation studios released a film that was a rare and extreme miss. Apart from the beautiful animation, there was nothing much to like about the dismally unfunny Cars 2. The fatal flaw was relying on the annoying and ugly Tow-Mater voiced by Larry the Cable Guy to drive the narrative and the comedy. [Podcast Review]

3) Everything Must Go

We have seen in movies like Stranger Than Fiction that Will Ferrell is capable of serio-comic performances, but in Everything Must Go, flawed direction makes him more buffoonish than believable. This film is unnecessarily bleak and Will Ferrell apparently felt that the way to demonstrate alcoholism was simply to be drinking beer in every shot. [Podcast Review]

2) The Conspirator

The most forgettable Civil War movie comes from director Robert Redford who attempts to paint a sympathetic portrait of Mary Surratt who was convicted as a conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Even with James McAvoy and Robin Wright trying their best they couldn’t make their relationship feel any more alive than Robert E. Lee today. [Podcast Review]

1) The Hangover: Part II

This was an easy one for me as I was also one of the few who disliked the original Hangover. The second film is basically a carbon copy of the original with Vegas edited out and Bangkok digitally inserted. This gave them the opportunity to add racially insensitive jokes to their arsenal of sexism and misogyny. The worst news is that a Hangover: Part III has already been greenlit. [Podcast Review]

Most Overrated Film of 2011

Like Crazy

After subjecting myself to this grating romantic drama twice at this year’s Twin Cities Film Festival, I could not wrap my head around how it managed to earn the top prize at the Sundance Film Festival and go on to score a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The two central characters are so annoying and narcissistic that it made this film a painful slog. The narrative carelessly asks us to laugh at the well-meaning but underdeveloped supporting characters and the only intelligent characters (the girls’ parents) disappear when they start making too much sense. This is one of the most dishonest romantic films I have ever seen. Thankfully the film has not been present on many end of the year top ten lists. [Full Review]

Most Underrated Film of 2011

The Beaver

It was obvious that The Beaver was going to get some backlash this year because, let’s face it, Mel Gibson is a terribly person. However, I think many unfairly dismissed Gibson’s performance and the film in general because of the controversy surrounding the fallen star. The Beaver is an impressive and honest study of mental illness with a remarkable central performance from Gibson. It also features Anton Yelchin’s best performance of the year and solid pacing and direction from Jodie Foster. Don’t let any anti-Gibson bias prevent you from seeing this surprisingly smart and sometimes moving film. [Full Review]

Guilty Pleasure

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

Not the most well-made documentary, but a fun portrait of my favorite late night comedian of all-time. I have always enjoyed Conan’s weird and sometimes cruel humor and this behind the scenes concert film shows him at perhaps his cruelest. However, I laughed heartily throughout as I enjoyed some justice for Conan who was unfairly tossed aside by NBC. [Podcast Review]

Biggest Surprise

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Who would have thought that the umpteenth Planet of the Apes sequel by a mostly unknown director released in the wasteland of August would be any good? Somehow Rise of the Planet of the Apes managed to be not only visually enthralling, but also containing a decent story. It was not without its flaws, but it certainly surpassed my low expectations. [Podcast Review]

Best Year for an Actor/Actress

Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Take Shelter, Coriolanus

There were a lot of actors and actresses this year who were in a lot of films (Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling) and several who gave career-best performances (Fassbender, Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Brad Pitt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt). However, this award has to go to Jessica Chastain mainly because she was this year’s best discover. Last year few people knew who she was besides the girl who was cast in the next Terence Malick movie. Now she is the new A-list it girl with offers coming in from all over. Not only was she in a lot, but she was great in a lot. She was memorable in The Tree of Life, she was the best part of The Help, she stood out in The Debt, she gave my favorite performance of hers in Take Shelter. Chastain is here to stay and we are all better off because of it.

Worst Year for an Actor/Actress

Bradley Cooper – Limitless, The Hangover: Part II

This award is certainly not to be confused for a Worst Actor award. On the contrary, Bradley Cooper is actually pretty good, but was given terrible material to work with this year. From the silly Limitless to the deplorable Hangover: Part II, Cooper needs to get himself a better agent. To make things worse he was also greeted with a slew of protests for being named People Magazines Sexiest Man Alive over Ryan Gosling.

What are your least favorite films of 2011 and who do you think deserves the special awards listed above?

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  • i couldn’t agree with you more on The Beaver, severely underrated.

    My Top 5 Worst:

    5. Cars 2
    4. Priest
    3. The Hangover Part II
    2. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
    1. Season Of The Witch

  • My top 5 Worst (that I saw):
    5. “Cars 2”
    4. “Bad Teacher”
    3. “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
    2. “Red Riding Hood”
    1. “X-Men: First Class”

    Most Overrated Film: “The Tree of Life”
    Guilty Pleasure: “Scre4m”
    Biggest Surprise: “Rango”
    Biggest Disappointment: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”
    Best Year for an Actor/Actress: Ryan Gosling (“Drive”, “Ides of March”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love”)
    Worst Year for an Actor/Actress: Cameron Diaz (“Green Hornet”, “Bad Teacher”)

  • Worst Movies: Larry Crowne and The Adjustment Bureau
    Most Overrated: The Tree Of Life
    Most Underrated: The Lincoln Lawyer, Jane Eyre, Red State
    Guilty Pleasure: Rio
    Biggest Surprises: Red State, Life In A Day, The Muppets, Certified Copy

  • Dylan Cuellar

    In My Opinion:
    My Top Five Worst:
    5. Season of the Witch
    4. Red Riding Hood
    3. Zookeeper
    2. Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
    1. Adam Sandler in general (Jack and Jill/Just Go With It.)

    Most Overrated: Young Adult
    Most Underrated: J. Edgar
    Guilty Pleasure: Limitless
    Biggest Surprise: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
    Best Year For Actor/Actress: Jessica Chastain/Michael Fassbender/Brad Pitt
    Worst Year For Actor Actress: Taylor Lautner

  • Heather Smith

    Completely disagree about Like Crazy. I thought it was a great little piece and was quite honest. Most of the script was improved by the 2 main actors and thought it was well done and real.

    Most Overrated: Hugo (3D was overrated. It’s not how I like seeing 3D)
    Most Underrated: Like Crazy and Moneyball
    Guilty Pleasure: One Day and Rio
    Biggest Surprise: Harry Potter. we all knew it’d be good, but scoring a 96% on RT was a shock
    Best Year for Actor/Actress: Jessica Chastain and Michael Fassbender
    Worst Year for Actor/Actress: Ryan Reynolds and Adam Sandler

    Worst Films
    1. Breaking Dawn
    2. New Years Eve
    3. X-Men: First Class (Biggest Let Down. Acting was brilliant, story was lacking for the 1st half, 2nd half was good)
    4. Cars 2
    5. Transformers

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