I am going to come out and say it. 2011 was THE worst single year for movies in recent memory - possibly ever. This was a year in which the mediocre rose to the top because there was no longer any room at the bottom. This was a year where films just blatantly missed expectations - badly. The collective wisdom in Hollywood that year was "no wisdom." As you review the list of films released that year, it is almost impressive how consistently bad the films are on the whole.
Now, there were a few bright spots, to be sure. This was the year that brought us Moneyball and Hugo. It saw Bridesmaids and The Town. It brought the Harry Potter saga to a satisfying end in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2. But for every Moneyball, there was an Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. For every Hugo, there were two helpings of We Bought a Zoo. For every Harry Potter, there was a Green Lantern.
My trip down this rotten memory lane was prompted by our attempt, via The Spoiler Alert Podcast, to watch and discuss every Best Picture Oscar winner ever. For our most recent trip to the podium, found HERE, we reviewed the 2011 Best Picture winner The Artist. For reasons which I recount in the episode, I had heretofore not seen that film. And now, just a few days after watching and discussing the film in minute detail, I am hard pressed to remember almost anything about it. I do, however, remember the awards circuit media campaign featuring red carpet walks by the dog (insert dramatic, painful, nauseating eye roll here).
I am an avid Academy Award fan and this blatant miss, even by a body as flawed as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. I wanted to look back at the year and see what else was out there and who got snubbed for this picture to win the top prize. And I found...not much. The Artist won several awards in 2011. The Best Animated Film of the year was Rango. RANGO!! Remember Rango? (no) Did you actually see Rango? (no) Did you enjoy Rango? (Probably not) It was, at best, an average film - on its best day. And yet, it was still better than the other animated films of the year. That is really saying something.
To make my point about how bad this year was, I will break down, by genre, several of the more than 220 films released upon the Earth in 2011. I welcome your comments, arguments, or vain defenses in the comments section below. As mentioned earlier, there were a few good movies released in 2011 (thank goodness), so it was not a total blackout for 12 months.
Action & Adventure
2011 was a crap year for action or adventure movies. There was a handful of good films here like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (arguably more of a drama/thriller), Headhunters (terrific but it is a foreign film which means NO ONE saw it), The Grey, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and I have a soft spot for Super 8 (admittedly, also a bad movie). There were decent ones like Source Code, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Hannah and a few that shone for a particular reason such as Haywire (the one good fight sequence), or The Raid: Redemption (for the ungodly violence). Other than those we were treated to such poor fare as: In Time, The Adjustment Bureau (starring Movie Star Emily Blunt), Real Steel, Battle: Los Angeles, and Killer Elite. Nicolas Cage released TWO films in 2011 - Season of the Witch and Drive Angry. He has yet to apologize.
Comic Book Movies
For better or worse, 2011 was a year which stepped up the number of comic book movies we are subjected to each year. In a not-too-distant future, should this trend continue, the only films released in a given year will be comic book movies, with two awards-bait dramas and a terrible family film. Following the incredible success of the Dark Knight in 2009 and Iron Man the year before, in 2011 we got both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Neither is truly great, but they are both fun and did their job setting up things for The Avengers. Unfortunately, we also received The Green Hornet, The Green Lantern, Priest, Dreamhouse, Cowboys and Aliens, and Sucker Punch (I am aware some of those are not comic book movies but they are aimed at the same audience - so back off. Also, they all also sucked).
Remakes and Sequels
What we did get a whole hell of a lot of in 2011 was remakes and sequels - whether we wanted them or not. In addition to the aforementioned Harry Potter conclusion, and a pretty stellar remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, we were encouraged to try to swallow and pass the following: Fast Five (sequel), Conan The Barbarian (remake), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (terrible sequel), X-Men: First Class (terrible prequel), Fright Night (remake), Scream 4 (sequel), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (sequel), Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (sequel), Arthur (remake), Footloose (remake), The Thing (remake), and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (sequel). Ooh, we also saw the theatrical release of Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) and then The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - just putting that out there.
Remember Rango? No, of course not. You've already forgotten it from the beginning of this post. Well, it probably still deserves to be put above the crop of crap we got for family films in 2011. Warning, some of these were also sequels. Hop, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, The Smurfs, Mars Needs Moms, Happy Feet Two, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, The Zookeeper, and Cars 2. I am one of the several dozen people who tried to admire The Adventures of Tin Tin. I also failed.
Surely, after trudging to the movie theater to turn over our hard-earned money in exchange for a little entertainment and being so consistently disappointed, we all deserved a good laugh. Well, in 2011, the joke was on us when we saw these pictures dumped on our doorsteps: Hall Pass, The Hangover Part 2, Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, Big Year, Friends with Benefits, No Strings Attached (basically the same movie as Friends with Benefits), Larry Crowne (written, directed by, and starring Tom Hanks!), Your Highness, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, Bucky Larson: Born to be a Porn Star, Johnny English: Reborn, Tower Heist, and two separate Adam Sandler movies - Just Go With It and Jack & Jill. To apologize to all of us, the studios did agree to release Bridesmaids, and Paul which may have been the only funny movies released that year.
There were several films that set out to be great dramas in 2011. Some of them succeeded. Of the Oscar-nominated films for Best Picture, there best were: Moneyball, Hugo, The Descendents, and Midnight in Paris. War Horse, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Tree of Life, and The Help are all fairly weak for Best Picture nominees. Other dramas released in 2011 which missed expectations were: Water for Elephants, Jane Eyre, We Bought a Zoo, and J. Edgar. Drive was OK and 50/50 was better than I expected. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, despite having one of the worst titles of all time, also flopped - and it starred Movie Star Emily Blunt!!
New Year's Eve
I did not know what category to put the movie New Year's Eve into. I don't feel embarrassed by this since the movie studios also did not know what to do this movie. We got this movie because in 2010 people paid good money to watch Valentine's Day (also directed by Garry Marshall). Everyone is to blame for this movie. I will list the main cast here. Just know that they each got PAID to be involved with the film. MIchelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro (!!!), Halle Berry, Cary Elwes, Alyssa Milano, Common, Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Abigail Breslin, Sarah Paulson, Carla Cugino, Katherine Heigl, Jon Bon Jovi, Sofia Vergara, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Jim Belushi (sorry, JAMES Belushi), Josh Duhamel, Larry Miller, Cherry Jones, Hilary Swank, Penny Marshall, Ludacris, Hector Elizondo, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
PS - that movie also had uncredited cameos from: Michael Bloomberg, Ryan Seacrest, Matthew Broderick, and John Lithgow.
Also - New Year's Eve made more than $140 million worldwide. Valentine's Day made more than $215 million. Think about that tonight whilst crying yourself to sleep.
So..... have I made my point? Have I effectively proven my point? What say you, Internet? Do you dare disagree and wish to defend any of the titles dropped above?