By Samantha Ofole-Prince
From fascinating franchises to thrilling new installments, film critic Samantha Ofole-Prince reviews the best 11 movies of 2011.
Like any other year, 2011 has had its fair share of turds and treats.
This was a year in which sequels had a huge presence on the big screen with two of the biggest successes at the movie box office being the final installment of the “Harry Potter” franchise and the “Twilight” sequel.
There were also unnecessary sequels to “Mission Impossible,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Sherlock Holmes,” numerous book adaptations, and a grand total of 40 3-D flicks released.
With 300 plus flicks screened in 2011, I had a lot of difficulty narrowing the top 11 in this annual ritual, which involves duly sifting through memorable movie moments of the year, and in no particular order or preference, present the very best of 2011 in genres ranging from action, romance to comedy:
Certainly one of the funniest flicks of 2011, Kristen Wiig leads the cast as a maid of honor whose life unravels as she leads her best friend and a group of colorful bridesmaids on a wild ride down the road to matrimony. It’s a raunchy and hilarious tale of female friendship and wedding planning from hell.
2. Water for Elephants:
The book was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 12 weeks when it was first published in 2006 and it has quickly become a classic story of heroism and love, in which Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson find adventure, danger and romance as part of a ragtag Depression-era circus.
This delightful animated feature about a chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) who gets a chance to save a small Western town and its quirky characters from corruption, is both a witty spoof and loving homage to the genre, and has a visually dazzling look that’s both grotesque and exquisite.
4. Captain America: The First Avenger:
It’s an action-packed flick with an equally great plot, script and cast, which focuses on the early days of the Marvel Universe—later populated with such super heroes as “Iron Man,” “The “Hulk” and “Thor,” and stands out in Marvel’s movie gallery.
5. The Help:
This inspiring story which centers around three courageous women who strike up an unlikely friendship is a charming flick. Well-acted and compelling, the writers have scripted in meaty characters as well with the casting of a lesser known actress, Octavia Spencer as an outspoken maid, who delivers the movie’s most memorable lines.
6. X-Men: First Class:
A superior superhero movie, which unveils the epic beginning of the X-Men saga, it is by far the best, smartest and classiest of the X-Men series.
This family-friendly flick about an orphan who lives in a Parisian train station in the early 1930s is certainly a departure for director Martin Scorsese, but film enthusiasts will love the movie’s exuberant homage to the work of Georges Méliès, a French illusionist and filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema.
Loosely based on the director Qasim Basir’s life, the heart and soul of Mooz-lum, is Evan Ross, who stars as a socially crippled young man conflicted between his strict Muslim religion and the normal social life he’s never had. It’s a mind provoking flick that offers audiences a rare and illuminating depiction of life as a Muslim in America.
9. Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol:
Despite being an unnecessary sequel Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol was by far the best action flick of 2011. Drenched with adrenaline fueled stunts, it’s full of heroic moments, death defying stunts, rich characters, cool gadgets and stunning locations.
This complex but impressive coming-of-age film about a smart but vulnerable black teenager struggling to have a meaningful gay relationship won the Jury’s Best Cinematography Award at the Sundance Festival of 2011. Directed by Dee Rees, it also earned its main star, Adepero Oduye, an African-American Film Critics Association award for Break-Out Performance.
11. The First Grader:
Movies based on the extraordinary accomplishments of actual people usually elicit empathy, and The First Grader is no exception. A dramatic piece, which tells the true story of an illiterate 84-year-old farmer who fights to go to school when his country introduces universal education, it is both tearful and touching and is certainly one of the best documentaries of 2011.
This was printed in the January 15, 2012 - January 28, 2012 Edition