Clearly, both Ana and Thea are bananas, and in addition to reading and reviewing obscene amounts of books, we also obsess over multiple television shows, movies, video games, and all other manner of geekery. With that in mind, we needed to create ANOTHER list (we are list makers, yes we are) for our end of the year celebration. We give you our very own BEST OF THE REST (everything that isn’t a book).
Best Movies of 2011
Unlike Ana, I watch a TON of movies. I also watch a ton of TV, but movies will always be my first love. SO! Without further ado, my top 10 movies of 2011!
10. Fright Night
As a rule, I’m a leery of remakes and reboots – so imagine my utter surprise and delight when I started to watch this 1980s horror classic remake (and one of my personal favorites, I might add) and it didn’t suck. In fact, it was amazingly awesome and fun. Where Fright Night succeeds is in balancing true horror and tension against gut-busting humor, paying homage to the original (including a great cameo), whilst also putting a fresh new spin on the film.
Colin Farell is the PERFECT douchey hot vampire – who in terms of looks and ferocity has more in common with a great white shark than with a sparkly Meyer-esque incarnation – and Anton Yelchin is a surprisingly perfect fit as geek-turned-semi-cool high school student. And dudes. DAVID TENNANT.
9. Jane Eyre
2011 should also be deemed the year of Fassbender – because between Jane Eyre, X-Men, and Shame, this guy is blowing up. As he’s such a phenomenal actor, and yes, he’s easy on the eyes, so I’m very excited for more Fassypants in 2012. Jane Eyre is hands down my favorite film or tv iteration of the classic novel, as this movie captures not only the vibrancy and passion of Jane (played by a pitch perfect Mia Wasikowska – who is both vulnerable and strong, plain and beautiful) and the brooding, mercurial Edward Rochester, but also the important sense of place and the gothic isolation and foreboding of Thornfield Hall. This is a truly beautiful film (and I’m not even a big fan of Jane Eyre *ducks rotten tomatoes and other produce*).
8. Apollo 18
At first glance, the entire gimmicky set-up for Apollo 18 is a little boring – the newly released formerly top-secret footage is an increasingly frustrating horror trope (mostly because it seems to be an excuse for directors to use nausea-inducing, choppy handheld camera footage as an alternative to effective, well-framed, atmosphere-setting technique)…and yet, sometimes the trope works wonderfully. Apollo 18 is one of these success stories. A horrific, science fiction yarn about something terrifying lurking in the dark craters of the moon, three American astronauts go up to the moon for a top secret mission…and never return. It’s good, old fashioned horror sci-fi fun.
7. X-Men First Class
Ahh, X-Men First Class. I will admit, I was scared to watch you. I will admit, I wasn’t expecting you to be very good. And, I will admit when I am completely in the wrong because HOLY FREAKIN’ MAGNETO, YOU WERE AMAZING. So unexpectedly fun, and even though I agree with Ana’s criticisms (terrible portrayal of Emma Frost, shocking racial insensitivity and missteps), I loved this movie in spite of its flaws.
Insidious is a crazy movie that should not be nearly as entertaining (or as frightening!) as it is – but somehow, astral-projection ridiculousness in hand, it works. Although there are some tendencies towards cheese (the last 20 minutes of the film look like something out of a really bad, a-smoke-machine-has-gone-rogue 80s music video), this is an undeniably scary film. (And dudes, it’s in the Netflix streaming library now, so there’s really no excuse for you not to watch Insidious. DO IT. I dare you.)
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Trigger Warning: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo contains graphic scenes of murder, abuse, and rape.
Sadistic and hyper-violent, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo could be interpreted as obscene misogynistic fantasy or as a dark flavor of avenging feminism. I prefer the latter – with Mara Rooney’s powerful performance as Lisbeth Salander, spurning accepted views of femininity – and regardless, Fincher’s conception and execution of the internationally renowned bestseller is an unflinchingly crafted and darkly unnerving affair.
4. Attack the Block
Made by the same people that brought audiences Shaun of the Dead, I was expecting a lighthearted alien-horror-com when I waltzed into the theater to watch Attack the Block. And while, yes, there is the requisite amount of (expertly delivered) comedy, I was stunned by the amount of depth and emotion to this movie. Not only is it a story about invading aliens and the hooligan kids that fight back against them, but it’s also a look at social and economic divides in Britain. And I will say this – the kid that plays Moses? He is amazing. And also, the soundtrack is fun.
3. Captain America
OH MY GOD dudes. I remember going into this movie expecting something fun and diverting along the lines of this year’s Thor (which I liked but in my opinion is not *actually* a very good movie). HOLY MOLY. I was not expecting this awesome film. In essence, Captain America is an ode to the little guy, a song of praise for the underdog, with a MAGNIFICENT Chris Evans as the first avenger, a badass Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, and a fittingly menacing/insane Hugo Weaving as Red Skull. HELLS YES. I remember leaving the theater and immediately emailing Ana, telling her to get over her skepticism and WATCH THE MOVIE. And I was right. (I told you so, Banana!)
2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
It’s no secret that I am a Planet of the Apes fan, and this was yet another movie I was going into with fairly low expectations – only to get those expectations blown outta the freaking atmosphere. THIS is how you reboot a series, folks. Though beautiful in its visuals, the real reason why Rise works so well is because it paints the apes in a sympathetic (!!!) light. Andy Serkis’s portrayal of chimp Caesar is pure, unfiltered, oscar-worthy awesome. Someone, please. Give the man an award already. PLEASE.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
How could my number one film of the year be anything other than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? It’s the end of an era – the *official* end of Harry’s childhood (and if I’m going to be cheesy, of my own). Like so many other fans in their twenties, I grew up with Harry, Hermione and Ron. I waited with eager anticipation for each book in the series, braving midnight lines and muggle parties at bookstores and theaters. I cried with the loss of every beloved character; I cheered with every triumph against the incessant evil of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. In this final movie, everything ends – and even though the film series is flawed and misses some of my most favorite parts of the books, this last movie did J.K Rowling and the Harry of the books proud.
I love you Harry Potter. And I miss you more than I can say.
Best TV Shows of 2011
Beloved television. I think I watch more movies than I do tv (and I’m constantly running behind and discovering – then getting addicted to – older series’), but I still watch an unhealthy amount of tv. Here are my favorite DVR-keeper shows of 2011:
10. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
This is a hilarious show about some terrible people doing terrible, insanely idiotic things. And I love it. I really, really want to play CharDeeMacDennis with some friends soon.
9. Parks and Recreation & The Big Bang Theory
These are both shows that I’ve tried to watch before and was underwhelmed, so I stopped trying. But, this year with TBS’s pickup of The Big Bang Theory, and with Parks and Rec on Netflix, I finally decided to give both another try. And wouldn’t you know it? I LOVE BOTH OF THEM SO SO SO MUCH NOW. I’m kind of obsessed. It’s a little ridiculous. But that’s ok, because they are in my life now and I am never ever letting them go.
8. New Girl
I am not a huge fan of Zooey Deschanel, primarily because while she is cute and quirky, she always seems to play the SAME character, who is inevitably indistinguishable from cute and quirky Zooey Deschanel. While at first this seemed to be the case with New Girl, the difference is that Zooey as Jess is so willing to make a complete and utter ass of herself for the sake of comedy, it is actually endearing, not annoying. And I love the side characters, too (particularly the ridiculous Schmidt).
7. Boardwalk Empire
Season 2 may not have been as good as season 1, but I do love this show so much. Steve Buschemi, finally playing a serious character! The awesome costumes, music, and set pieces! The political, sexual, and power struggles that characterized the prohibition-era East Coast! Plus, I can never get over how important a city Atlantic City was in the past (as opposed to what it is today). It’s a cool show, and it makes you want to go to drink a lot of whiskey.
I was immensely disappointed with last season, so was a little wary coming into season 6…but WOW guys. With Edward James Olmos, Mos Def, and Colin Hanks in the picture as special guest stars? How could I refuse? And I loved the twisted, craziness of this season – especially that ending. Holy moly, Dexter. Cannot wait for next season.
This show started off with a heavy serving of cheese, and tends to be a shade beneath the grade of the SyFy movie of the week in terms of special effects. That said, I LOVE the Fables-esque conceit of modern day fairy tales living in our world. And the casting is pretty spot on – I love Jennifer Morrison as our intrepid heroine Emma Swan, Ginnifer Goodwin is a perfect Snow White, and holy toledo, Lana Parrilla is a freaking FANTASTIC evil queen. Though the show is still working out some kinks, the fall season finale was spectacular.
4. Doctor Who
I count it as one of my 2011 victories that I got Ana to finally watch Doctor Who – and this season was pretty freaking amazing. We finally learn the secret truth of River Song, and how her story interlopes with Amy and Rory’s. We finally get some answers, we are introduced to some pretty sweet new villains, and the Doctor shows some much needed vulnerabilities and failings as a character. Matt Smith delivers a wonderful, layered performance this season, as does Karen Gillan as Amy Pond (I love her so so much). I don’t think I’m ready to see Amy and Rory go… but I’ll cross that emotionally devastating hurdle when I get there.
I don’t really watch MTV anymore, but le boyfriend does primarily for Jersey Shore (and yes, I’ve been sucked into that vortex of horrible on occasion). After one episode, we kind of drifted off into doing other things while this new show came on, called Awkward.. Awkward. details the adventures and foibles of teenager Jenna Hamilton, who struggles to find herself and establish her identity after a bizarre accident that is misconstrued as a suicide attempt (see cast above). DUDES. This show completely took me by surprise because it is smart, it is funny, and it is surprisingly touching with a pretty cool message (and believe me, I did NOT think I would ever say that about an MTV show). I really love this show, and I’m guessing most people haven’t seen it (probably because it IS on MTV) – but I promise you, Awkward is pretty damn good. Both le boyfriend and I love it.
2. Game of Thrones
FINALLY!!! A fantasy television show that does the source material incredible justice, that has a large budget and thus has spectacular effects, sets, and casting. A Game of Thrones is the best of the best, and I absolutely LOVED the HBO adaptation. Is it March yet???
1. The Walking Dead
Hands down, my favorite show of the year. Though Season 2 got off to a slow start, it picks up after our caravan of intrepid heroes find Hershel’s farm. Though the overall plot doesn’t get as far as I would have liked (when will they get back on the road again and get to the PRISON already!?!), I do love the intense development of character – particularly of Shane’s character. He is not a nice man, and he’s not just heartbroken over losing Lori and Carl to Rick’s return. Nope, in this season, we see what Shane is really made of – and that shit is scary. With a fantastic mid-season finale, I cannot wait for the return of the show in February. If you haven’t watched this awesome series yet, now is the time to catch up. (Again, Netflix. Get on it.)
SO that’s it! My favorite Movies and TV shows of 2011. Here’s to an equally exciting 2012!