I estimated that I saw 28 movies in the theatre this year. I’ve decided to rank and write a short review for each one from worst to best.
#28 Dinner for Schmucks
This movie was dreadful from the title to the writing to the acting. I actually saw the original French version 11 years ago while living in Spain. It was in French with Spanish subtitles: I didn’t understand a thing, but it was still funnier then this piece of garbage. Shame on you: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Zach Galifianakis.
#27 Robin Hood
This movie was terrible. Read my full review here: Robin Hood blows!
#26 Cop Out
I actually snuck into this movie as part of a double feature. It’s the first time I’ve ever snuck in and then in the middle, snuck out. The movie was more painful then funny. Remember when Kevin Smith created Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Mallrats? Those were the days. The only highlight is that part of it was shot in Bushwick/Brooklyn!
I grew up watching the show and humming the theme song. In retrospect, it may not have been as good as I remembered. The movie version was fairly average—some decent action scenes, a scattered story, and weak character development. I found myself missing Mr. T. This was more like the C-Team.
This was originally titled Speed 3: The Train that Couldn’t Stop. Although it’s based on a true story, the plot is kind of ridiculous. It’s about a train that couldn’t stop. Denzel does his usual I’m-an-ordniary-Joe-but-also-a-hero thing. The action scenes were riveting, but the rest of it was pretty silly. The majority of the movie was narrated by news reporters which got on my nerves. One of my favorite parts was that Denzel’s hot daughters worked at Hooters. That was cool.
Indie film lovers and hipsters will rave over this movie, but it was really just ok. John C. Reilly meets a new woman, but has to deal with her early 20’s son, Jonah Hill. The first 15 minutes was fun with John C Reilly stealing the show. And Jonah Hill got a few laughs being awkward. But there’s a good hour of nothingness, and the same joke over and over again. In the end, it’s above average, but if you watch it when you’re tired, you may fall asleep.
#21/#22 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/The Girl Who Played with Fire
The books swept the nation this summer. I read all three and could not go a day without seeing them read on the subway or in the park. The Swedish movies have all been released, and the Americans get a crack at it next summer.
The Dragon Tattoo was the best book and so was the movie. It was DARK, mysterious and thrilling. The biggest con to reading the book was that I knew all the twists and turns ahead of time. Despite this, it was still exciting. Just as a warning, some scenes were extremely dark and tough to stomach (guaranteed that the American version will dumb it down a bit.)
The second movie was not quite as good with the exception of seeing Miriam Wu naked. It had its moments, but did not have the same excitement as the first one.
*I read the 3rd book, but did not see the movie. I hate to say it, but I didn’t really like it. It was really slow, and there were too many random characters with funny sounding names. Plus, Lisbeth doesn’t really do anything. It should have been re-titled: The Girl Who Sits in her Hospital Room. *
#20 Green Zone
This was a fairly forgettable movie starring Matt Damon. It was decently made, but nothing special. I kept waiting for him to turn into Jason Bourne, but it never happened. I suggest watching this on a rainy Sunday, and you will probably like it.
#19 Date Night
I’m embarrassed to say it, but I saw this with my buddy Barry on a Saturday night, a date night if you will. But he had discounted tickets so that was pretty cool.
This movie was cute, kind of like the girl that’s neither ugly nor attractive. Cute. It had some funny moments, but nothing special. If Carell and Fey were replaced by two less popular actors, say Scott Bakula and Teri Hatcher, it would’ve gone straight to video.
#18 The Other Guys
I wanted to love this movie, but it was only okay. Will Ferrell is, dare I say it, getting a little stale. But The Other Guys did throw in lots of jokes, and there were a lot of laugh out loud moments.
I may have liked it more if I hadn’t watched it at a theatre in Times Square. The guy behind me kept putting his foot on top of my seat, there were babies crying (at a midnight show to boot), a few people were on the phone, and I was petrified of being attacked by bed bugs. If all those things hadn’t happened, I probably would have liked this movie more.
#17 The Expendables
The Expendables was exactly what I expected. The action scenes were ridiculously good, and the dialogue was unintentionally funny. It was a throwback to the old school 80’s action movies. If you thought this looked stupid, then don’t see it. If you got excited when you heard about this, it will be good nostalgic fun.
#16 Knight and Day
This spy movie was unexpectedly fun. It’s not perfect, but it’s far better then it’s getting credit for. (Extra props because many of the scenes took place in Boston.) Check out my friend Matt’s review at Double O Section.
#15 Hot Tub Time Machine
This movie didn’t take itself seriously, and as a result, was very funny. It was vulgar, over the top, and silly, but I love that stuff. And if you like 80’s references, you will definitely dig this too. For a full review, click on: I love the 80's!
#14 Get Him to The Greek
There were three scenes in this movie that will have you on the floor. The rest of the movie was uneven, and even a little slow, but overall it was a fun time. I had a special spot for Get Him to the Greek because it was in the unofficial sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, one of my favorites of the last ten years. This was not nearly as good, but will still have you laughing out loud a bunch of times.
#13 Shutter Island
This was a creepy thriller with some good twists and turns. It’s not Scorcese’s best, but still a lot of fun. Some loved the ending, some didn’t. I thought it was well worth the price of admission. (It also takes places in the Boston area.)
#12 Easy A
This lighthearted comedy starring Emma Stone flew under the radar. It was funny, clever, and well written. Stone stole the show as a sassy, nerdy, hot high school girl who spreads rumors about herself to form an identity. This movie was like a poor man’s Clueless or Mean Girls—not a classic, but still very fun and entertaining.
#11 Kick Ass
This was another underrated movie. Many shied away from it because it was yet another comic book movie and it starred Nicolas Cage. But I was shocked how fun it was, and how good the action scenes were. Hit Girl, a 10 year old, definitely kicked the most ass. For a full review, check out the link: This movie kicked ass!
#9/#10 Waiting for Superman/Race to Nowhere
I would be remiss if I didn’t put these movies somewhere near the top ten. Waiting for Superman was a documentary about our state of education in the USA. It was made by the same people who created An Inconvenient Truth. It was well made, and should get more people talking about education. Although I didn’t agree with all of it, hopefully it will get some dialogue started about how to improve education and help more kids.
Race to Nowhere is another documentary about education. It focuses on students who feel the pressures of acing every exam and paper. And it examines the idea of students burning out in order to achieve academic success. The creator is not distributing the film through the theatres. Instead, it’s being featured at schools across the country. Educators and families can watch together and then have a discussion about its impact on them. I had the pleasure of doing this and it was profoundly memorable.
#8 Grown Ups
You might think I put this in by accident, but it’s not a mistake. I really liked this movie. It received hideous reviews, and I admit, it was stupid, but for some reason I really liked it. It reminded me of camp: boys being boys, going to water parks, playing basketball, ragging on each other, staring at hot girls. In essence, this is what Grown Ups and growing up was all about. My friend hated this movie and couldn’t believe I recommended it. But I didn’t recommend it for her. It was for her husband, and one of my best friends, who also went to camp. Most would rank this movie as one of the worst of the year, but to me it surprisingly cracked the top ten.
#7 127 Hours
Danny Boyle brings this story to life with some amazing directing, and James Franco carries the rest of it all by himself. It’s about the hiker who gets his arm stuck under a rock for 127 hours. I’m not going to tell you if he escapes, but you might need to cover your eyes towards the end.
#6 The Town
Ben Affleck has been in Matt Damon’s shadow long enough. This guy can act (sometimes), and he can also direct. The Town may not have the best title, but it is an excellent thriller/action movie. It’s intense, funny, and smart. And it boasts one of the best scenes of the year that takes place at Fenway Park. Great movie! (Another Boston one for you!)
#5 Toy Story 3
Pixar wins again! Toy Story 3 is not just an ordinary animated movie. The animation is gorgeous, and it feels like you’re watching real life. The characters are toys, but they feel like real people too. The story is powerful, witty, and at times very dark. In fact, for some scenes I was genuinely scared. By the end, you’ll probably have tears in your eyes. I recommend wearing 3-D glasses, that way nobody will see you crying by the end.
#4 The Fighter
This is one of the best films of the year. The Fighter is not a simple underdog story. The movie is not just about fighting or boxing. But it’s really about fighting to be somebody, fighting against drug addiction, fighting amongst a family, and finally fighting to be a champion. The boxing scenes are amazing and the performance by Christian Bale and others are award winning. I actually stood up and cheered during some of the scenes. The Pride of Lowell brings it home! (And gives us yet another Boston movie in the mix.)
#3 Black Swan
I knew nothing about Black Swan before I saw it. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time…it was amazing! In order to be a responsible reviewer, I must add the following. It’s an amazing movie, but it’s also really disturbing and uncomfortable to sit through. Darren Aronofsky, who directed Requiem for a Dream (one of the most disturbing movies ever made) has a way of making audiences feel uncomfortable. It’s almost like the movie is really happening, you’re in it, and you’re losing your mind too.
Black Swan is about a ballerina who goes mad striving for perfection. It sounds simple, and that’s why the movie is so great. It’s impossible to decipher reality from fantasy/nightmare, and as a viewer you have no idea what will happen next. Black Swan reminded me of Rosemary’s Baby, Fight Club and Misery all rolled into one.
The acting in Black Swan is also incredible. Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman (hottest Jewish lesbian scene of all time!) will definitely win the MTV award for best kiss (and more.) It’s the first time I almost drooled on myself, not figuratively, literally. During “the love scene”, I almost stood up and cheered, but I was so drawn in that I could barely move.
This movie is sexy, intense, scary, and utterly chaotic. I loved it!
Inception is another marvelous feat for Christopher Nolan. He wrote it himself, and brought beauty and brilliance onto the big screen. The movie features four climaxes simultaneously, something I’ve never seen on the big screen or even heard of (except in maybe adult film.)
As someone who studied psychology, I found the idea of invading someone’s sub-conscious fascinating. Because when you think about it, it happens in life every single day. As politicians, educators, advertisers, etc. we try to get people to think a certain way. But you can’t just tell them. You almost have to convince them that it was their idea. This is what Inception is all about. It’s a beautiful movie deserving of many awards on Oscar night.
#1 The Social Network
I watched the Social Network twice in the theatres, and I couldn’t get enough. My only criticism would be to drop the “the” in The Social Network. The writing, acting, and directing make it a nearly flawless movie. Jesse Eisenberg, who I’ve loved since he was in Roger Dodger a decade ago, was excellent and his supporting cast (including JT) were sharp as well. (And it’s yet another movie that takes place primarily in the Boston area.)
Some have ranted that it’s not entirely true, but Hoosiers isn’t entirely accurate, and it’s still one of the best ever made. I’m not rating this #1 for the year based on accuracy. I’m rating it the best because it’s an incredibly well told and thought provoking film.
It’s funny, smart, creative, fast-paced, and entertaining. It’s based on the book, The Accidental Billionaires written by Ben Mezrich. I bring this up because he also wrote one of my favorite books of all time, Bringing Down the House. The blackjack book was later turned into the movie 21. It was Hollywoodized with a bogus script and terrible directing. But I wondered what if got in the hands of talented filmmakers?
This is what happened with The Social Network. The writer (Sorkin), and the director (Fincher) make nearly every scene fun, funny, or fascinating. The dialogue is fast paced, clever, and witty. My favorite two scenes are at the AEPi party where they discuss why Jewish guys like Asian girls, and the rowing scene which is just beautiful to watch.
A million dollars isn't cool anymore. You know what's cool?
Winning the Oscar for best movie of the year. Go post that on your facebook status!