Movie Revolt’s Hidden Gems of 2011
With the Oscars coming up Hollywood is about to honor the biggest and best stars of 2011. With that in mind I thought I would highlight some films that have been relatively overlooked. These are films that didn’t get any love during awards season, and also weren’t huge at the box office. Not all the films are for everyone, but there’s enough there for anyone to find something to enjoy. It may just take a little digging.
I think Hanna got a bad rap because people thought they were about to see a straight up action flick, but it’s not that at all. It’s a mixture of a coming of age tale, fish out of water story, and a little mix of a modern day fairy tale. Really enjoyed the film’s imagery and completely loved the unique score.
Take Shelter was one of the most unquie and intriguing films of 2011. Michael Shannon shows that great acting is more than just dialogue. In the film his character begins to see this apocalyptic visions of a horrific storm. While the visuals are well done, what really sells the visions is Shannon. It is easily one of the best performances of the year.
If you’re a fan a samurai films or anything by Akira Kurosawa you need to check out 13 Assassins. It has what is perhaps the best action set piece of the year. The film contains a nearly 45 minute straight battle sequence. I know that may seem a little gregarious, but it is extremely well handled. The film also sets up the sequence with one of the t vicious villains in recent memory. That setup is what really allows the action to work.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Morgan Spurlock made huge headlines with his documentary Super Size Me. He attempted to do the same here, but didn’t quite get the same amount of attention. If you are movie fan The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is worth a watch. While there are defiantly better docs out there it does give you insight to how much product placement plays a part in the movie industry.
I’m not sure how many of you played the classic PC game Oregon Trail, but it was a huge part of my childhood. Meek’s Cutoff is kind of the movie version of that game. It’s a very minimalist film that attempts to recreate the life of pioneers who took the incredible journey out west. While the pace was slow the stakes were huge. The slow pace and limited dialogue will turn some heads, but dedication to realism was certainly captivating enough to create some intense moments.
I Saw the Devil
A Korean revenge film? Seems a tad bit redundant I know. I Saw the Devil takes the idea of revenge and amps it beyond anything of recent memory. The movie is basically a cat and mouse story between a serial killer and a cop seeking revenge for his murdered wife. While the movie doesn’t tell us anything new it has a number of incredible moments that will both horrify and enchant you as you watch.
Brendan Gleeson is one of the most underappreciated actors working today. His range as an actor is impeccable with his ability to morph into any role. In The Guard Gleeson shows his ability to handle comedy. He plays an unhinged Irish policeman who must work with an American FBI agent played by Don Cheadle. Cheadle plays the straight man to Gleeson’s whacked out unPC character. If you’re a fan of the classic buddy cop movies of the 80’s you’ll appreciate this for sure.
Attack the Block
While I didn’t put any type of number order to this list to me Attack the Block best defines the idea of a hidden gem. It feels like a film you may flip on a late Saturday night just on a whim. Slowly but surely you get engulfed into this awesome tale. We had a number of films that attempted to capture that adventurous nature of classic 80’s films, and none have done it better then Attack the Block. While it had 1/10th the budget of a film like Super 8, it made up for the lack funds with imagination and clever film making.
It is strange that a year would have two films that cover the event of school shootings, but that happen this year. We Need to Talk About Kevin covered the same topic this year and ended up getting the majority of attention. That is kind of a shame because Beautiful Boy is quite the quality film in its own right. It tells the story of parents who have to deal with the fact that their son was responsible for a massive school shooting. Watching them come to grips with this was quite the intriguing watch.
The idea of finding another Earth in our solar system seems like a movie made for geeks. I mean that storyline has been done in comics multiple times before. Though Another Earth resembles an Indie drama rather than an actual Science Fiction film. It does deal with a lot of common themes found in Sci Fi like fate and destiny, while the other Earth concept it kept to the backround. I am enjoying where Science Fiction has been going in the last few years. Special Effects that would once take an entire studio can now be done on a quality laptop. A genre that was once closed off to the independent crowd is now wide open to everyone.
There have been a number of “real world” superhero movies in the last few years. Kick-Ass for example took on the idea of placing a superhero in a real world like society. Super isn’t Kick-Ass however. The tone of the film is a lot darker. Rain Wilson, who most people know as Dwight from “The Office’, plays a deranged man whose nervous breakdown has inspired him to become a superhero. Super is unique in a lot of ways. At times it is a serious drama, while at others it enters into dark comedy territory. It is proof that there are still new ways to tell a superhero story.
I debated on placing this on the list since it was a relatively hit at the box office, but chose to put it on based on the fact that I think it was rather forgotten and underrated. Source Code is directed by Duncan Jones who made a name for himself in 2009 when he directed Moon. While Source Code isn’t to the level of Moon it is a rather fun and thrilling Science Fiction adventure. At first glance the plot of the movie may seem like a gimmick, but through good pacing and solid directing by Jones it ended up keeping my interest throughout.
Our Idiot Brother
I am a fan of Paul Rudd and feel his performance in Our Idiot Brother could easily be his best yet. It helps his character is so likeable with his extremely optimistic attitude. Also shinning in this is T.J. Miller in a smaller role, but what he lacks in screen time he makes up for with laugh out loud moments. This summer was the summer of comedies while this didn’t get the attention of films like Hangover 2 or Horrible Bosses I thought it was superior.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil attempted to do for slasher films what Sean of the Dead did for zombie movies, and it mostly succeeds at this goal. While I wouldn’t say it is at the level of Sean of the Dead it does work well as a spoof of the genre. It basically takes the idea of the crazy redneck in the woods story and twist it on its head. It plays on the idea that our expectations of people can cause us to misinterpret people’s actions.
There were more ‘R’ rated comedies out this year than any other year in recent memory. While a lot of them were disappointments Cedar Rapids was a rather unexpected achievement. It has what’s needed ot make a good raunchy comedy. That is a great cast of characters that play off of one other, a sense of heart to balance to raunchiness, and a strong leading performer in Ed Helms.
I know the idea of a found footage film will turn some heads immediately. However, at times the film style can be useful. The biggest reason it works in TrollHunter is the movie never takes itself too seriously. It was a good mixture of comedy, fantasy, and a little horror. Also the art design of the trolls was quite impressive. The special effects were quite well done for a low budget movie like this.
Terri tells the story of a 15 year old boy trying to find his place in the world while at the same time live a rather difficult life. It is a heavily relatable film for anyone who felt out of place or misunderstood. The relationships formed in the movie were charming with a sense of innocence. That characters slowly but surely begin to celebrate their weirdness, which is a skill in its own right. It is the kind of movie I wished I watched when I was in high school.
Card Subject to Change
Growing up I was a big fan of professional wrestling. There was just something about it that continued to grab my attention. Card Subject to Change is a documentary that focuses on the side of wrestling you don’t see on Monday nights. It covers the lives of wrestlers in the independent circles. These wrestling are a combination of former superstars and up and comers. If you watch wrestling at all during the 80’s and 90’s there will be a number of wrestlers you will quickly recognize. I was interested to see how dedicated/addicted these people are to their craft. It was part impressive, part depressing to see this world.
I’m a sucker for a solid road trip movie and The Trip is one of the best in recent memory. It stars Steve Coogan Brydon as hyper versions of themselves as they travel throughout England to write an article about the country’s finest restaurants. This also gave us perhaps what was the funniest scence of the year with Coogan and Brydon’s dueling impersonations of Michael Caine. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/HFIQIpC5_wY
Perhaps the biggest Oscar snub this year was the fact Interrupters wasn’t even on the short list for Best Documentary. It is directed by Hoop Dreams director Steve James who is making a career out of getting snub by the Oscars. More importantly then the Oscars however is the story told in this doc. The docs is about the group CeaseFire attempts to stop the violence before it breaks out in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. The group is made up of Violence Interrporters who are typically ex-gang members who can reach kids other groups can’t. While other movies on this list are films that you should or may enjoy, this is a movie you need to see. Allows you to peak into a world so many don’t and can’t understand.