2011 Year-End Movie Review: David Medsker

A funny thing happened at the movies this year: absolutely nothing blew me away.

There were things I really liked, but my list of favorite movies is kind of a joke, really. They’re not bad movies (not in my mind, anyway), but there are few, if any, Best Picture candidates in the bunch. Compare that to last year, where six of my top 10 movies were nominated for Best Picture. This time around, that’s just not happening. Just want to lay that out up front.

Worse, there isn’t one movie that stands above the others. I liked my favorite movies equally, more or less. That might sound like a copout, but it’s true. Of the movies I’ve seen so far, this was the year where movies were just sort of…there. Maybe we’ll have better luck next year.

My Favorite Movies of 2011

Margin Call
Selling one’s soul is a popular subject in movies, since no two people are willing to settle for the same amount. “Margin Call” explores the subject on a massive scale, since the ripple effect of the actions of a few will be felt around the world. It’s not a thriller in the traditional sense, but it’s absolutely gripping. Kevin Spacey shines here, as does the ever-reliable Stanley Tucci.

Super 8
It probably helped that I grew up in a small Ohio town not terribly unlike the one in “Super 8” (though no one used the word ‘mint’ the way Riley Griffiths’ character does here), but “Super 8” wasn’t merely an exercise in nostalgia; the movie delivered top-notch thrills, well-drawn characters, and the most spectacular sequence of the year with that jaw-dropping train crash. Elle Fanning, meanwhile, put on an acting clinic, and she’s only 13. Wow.

Read the rest after the jump...

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Horrible Bosses: a lesson in comedic economics

Click here to read our review of “Horrible Bosses”

The thing about people who are naturally good at making people laugh is that they often lose sight of when it’s time to drop the mic and walk away. Now take a movie like “Horrible Bosses,” which is 96 of the funniest minutes you’ll spend this year or any other. For a movie so packed with humor and wit, there is surely something just as awesome that didn’t make the cut, right?

Well, maybe. The truth is, we have yet to watch the extended version of the film (it’s eight minutes longer, and if we knew where those eight minutes were, we’d go straight to them), but if the deleted scenes in the Special Features section on the Blu-ray are any indication, the makers of “Horrible Bosses” left nothing in the bag, as it were. There are a couple of alternate openings, neither of which is as good as the one in the final film, and we get to hear the full recording of Kurt’s tryst with Nick’s boss’ wife (hint: it doesn’t take long). The only other scene worth the film it’s printed on is Colin Farrell at the supermarket, accosting the pharmacist (a snippet of which you can see in the closing credits of the movie). There are featurettes on working for horrible people and how much fun it is to play mean, but the general tone of the featurettes is pretty dry. This is a movie worth owning, no question, but don’t expect the bonus features to serve as the motivation for the purchase. They’re really just a pleasant addition.

Of course, we may change our minds on that once we’ve seen the Totally Inappropriate Edition of the movie, but we’re betting against it. ‘Unrated’ tends to mean ‘overrated’ when it comes to these things.