Top 5/Bottom 5 of 2011

It’s the New Year, which means all of the movie sites are slapping together “Best of” lists and starting their Oscar predictions. I don’t bother with Oscar predictions (that would require caring about the Oscars) but I do like to put together a Top 5/Bottom 5 just in case you missed something good or want to revisit a terrible movie and make fun of it some more. Only movies that I’ve seen count, so there are about 65 movies in contention out of the six million or so that were released in 2011. My criteria for winners and losers are rather nebulous – it all boils down to how I feel about it rather than acting or the directing or the effects or whatever.

Wondering if I picked what you’d pick? Click below to find out!



Officials and ordinary people struggle to cope as a new strain of influenza shuts down the world.

Virus movies scare the crap out of me, except when they’re ensemble dramas overburdened with bland characters and plotlines that don’t go anywhere. What really killed this movie for me, though, is the fact that is has almost no conflict or tension. Obstacles to what nebulous goals the characters do have magically melt away and tension is carefully skirted around like it has, well, a disease! The famous people in this movie must have had syphilis in their brains when they signed on. To read more about why I’d rather contract the Ebola virus than watch this movie again, check out my review.

Buy Contagion on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… because you want to catch a bad case of boredom.


A test pilot finds a green ring that initiates him into a force of glowing superheroes who fight fear with their imaginations.

There were a lot of great superhero movies this year. Green Lantern was not one of them. Everything about this movie is ridiculous, from the superpower (create anything you can imagine out of glowing green energy!) to the villain (a giant yellow cloud) to the characters (one dickhead and one token female in a tight blouse). It’s packaged as a grown-up superhero sci-fi/fantasy, but the oldest person it will appeal to is an eight year old boy. To read more about how in brightest day and blackest night, Green Lantern‘s creator cannot write, check out my review.

Buy Green Lantern on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… because your Silly Superheros collection is one title down.


A young boy struggling in school befriends a crippled dolphin.

Movies in which people and animals bond over their commonalities are inspirational. Movies that are trying inexpertly to cash on on the success of the former are lame and annoying. Guess which kind or movie Dolphin Tale is? It’s difficult to beat the meaningfulness out of a true story about a dolphin getting a prosthetic tail, but with its syrupy dialogue, cliched characters, lame title pun, and tangle of irrelevant plotlines, Dolphin Tale is an inspiring success. To read more about how crappyness really is possible if you try hard enough, check out my review.

Buy Dolphin Tale on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… by accident, because you got it mixed up with Flipper.


A teenage boy discovers he is an alien with superpowers and someone wants him dead.

Children’s movies, especially the ones meant exclusively for boys, are held to lower standards than just about anything else in the world. Even by these standards, I am Number Four is stupid. Every element is copied from somewhere else, the love subplot is sappy enough to fit in at a Twilight convention, and coincidence is used to explain everything from why his powers are manifesting now to how he knows his number in the first place. To read more about how I am Number Four requires you to push your disbelief off a bridge with its feet encased in cement, check out my review.

Buy I am Number Four on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… because you have no standards.


A girl in a mental institution creates multiple layers of superhero fantasy to escape from abuse.

There are very few movies I actively hate, and this is one of them. Not only is it ridiculous, confusing, unbelievable, boring, and pointless, but it hides the fact that it is degrading to women on a level that defies belief by pretending to be a girl power movie. I grind my teeth in rage when I think about the fact that I paid money to see this, thereby giving Zack Snyder the only approval he really needs to keep on making terrible movies. To read more about how in MY fantasy land, Zack Snyder is forced to live in a broom closet full of rats and other misogynists, read my review.

Buy Sucker Punch on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… because you want me to drive over to your house and sucker punch you right in the face.



A team of spies is disavowed after they are framed for the terrorist bombing of the Kremlin.

No doubt there are many of you who are shocked and appalled that a Mission Impossible movie made it onto my top five, especially when you hear that it beat out The Adventures of Tintin to get there, but you can go make your own list, because I enjoyed Ghost Protocol tremendously. The terrorists-getting-nuclear-weapons plot isn’t the most original thing out there, but the gadgets they use (including an enormous wall-replicating screen and electronic climbing gloves) totally are. Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg are hilarious and I almost had a heart attack when Ethan fell off a Dubai high rise, so this movie left a lasting impression of awesomeness. Go see it. It’s still in theaters.


A soldier is sent back to relive the last eight minutes of another man’s life to stop a train bombing.

This movie came out early in the year to a general atmosphere of apathy among critics, so I can understand if you’ve never heard of it, but I will be very disappointed in you if you don’t watch it after I tell you it’s the 4th best movie I saw all year. Good sci-fi is rare these days, which is why I was so bowled over by it. It reminds me of that awesome X-Files episode where they had to relive the same day until they got it right. Plus there are undercurrents of tragedy and romance and a thriller plot (where is the bomb? who is the bomber?) which make Source Code ideal for everyone. Read my review to go back in time and find out how great it was to see this movie.

Buy Source Code on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… which doubles as a time machine back to last April.


A young country singer goes on a comeback tour with his idol, a recovering alcoholic.

I hate country music and stories about drug/alcohol addiction, but Country Strong is the third best movie I saw all year, so that should tell you something about how awesome it is. The original country tunes (which the actors really sing) are pretty catchy, but the real strength of the movie lies with the characters, whom we really get to know and care about. And because you care about them, the ending will either be depressing or hopeful, depending on which one you bonded with the most (just warning you). To read more about why me liking this movie is evidence of an approaching apocalypse, check out my review.

Buy Country Strong on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… even if you hate country music. Seriously.


A group of political prisoners escape a Siberian Gulag and walk 4,000 miles to India and freedom.

Some of you were probably bored by this film and many of you have probably never heard of it, but I flat out loved The Way Back. Because it’s based on a true story, Peter Weir, an Australian director famous for his historical epics, painstakingly recreated everything from the Gulag to the prisoners’ ragged, lice-riddled clothing, and the actors all lost dozens of pounds and walked almost halfway to India during the shoot just to get it right. And it shows. It really does. So even though IMBD thinks this movie came out in 2010 (we don’t count festivals here), I’m including it on this year’s list.

Buy The Way Back on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… even if you have to walk 4,000 miles to get to the store.


A group of mutants works with the American government to stop another mutant group who want to cause a nuclear war with Russia.

X-Men: First Class deserves the top spot on this list because it embodies the most awesome attributes of the other movies on this list all in one. It has fantastic action scenes, cool technology, a complex and tragic story, a cast of fully rounded characters to fall in love with, and a true historical connection amplified by science fiction and fantasy. Friendships are made and broken and personal demons are faced, all in the middle of huge battles. It’s everything the entire Star Wars prequel trilogy didn’t quite manage to be, and that’s a huge achievement. Check out my review to read more about how much I loved it.

Buy X-Men: First Class on DVD or on Blu-Ray
… because you want to put this movie onto a pedestal and admire it all day.

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