MediaStinger’s Movie of the Year 2011

January 21, 2012 by

  • The Debt
  • The Descendants
  • Drive
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Horrible Bosses
  • The Ides of March
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
  • The Muppets
  • Rango
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Sucker Punch
  • Super 8

Don’t let the long list of nominations fool you. While 2011 had its share of good and great movies, unlike the case in gaming there wasn’t a standout masterpiece among the few excellent ones. Our staff‘s tastes often overlap, but each member’s personal choices for the best films of the year covered a range wide enough that there was no clear, much less unanimous, winner without discussion. We gave you a baker’s dozen for Worst Movie, but we’re cutting the fat slightly with 12 nominees here for MediaStinger’s Movie of the Year 2011.

The Debt cashed in with a thrilling drama revolving around an Israeli covert ops mission to bring a Nazi war criminal to justice. Indie darling The Descendants continued director Alexander Payne’s winning streak of satirical dramas and just last week scored a Best Motion Picture Golden Globe for Payne and a Best Actor Golden Globe for George Clooney. The Ides of March, written and directed by Clooney and starring himself and Ryan Gosling, was an absorbing political piece spun around lies and loyalty. Another Gosling vehicle, Drive, also turned heads with its character-fueled car caper, throwback soundtrack, and shocking ultraviolence.

Naturally, some of the nominees have already been honored in our Best of the Year 2011 series. Polarizing action paradise Sucker Punch was a staff favorite and #1 pick, but it lost Best Action/Adventure Movie to crowdpleasing blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, a breathtaking spy game. With amazing special effects that captured Andy Serkis’ facial expressions and thus our empathy for Caesar, franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes nearly escaped with Best Sci-Fi Movie, but the stupid monkeys lost to genre master J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, a mystery reminiscent of Spielberg’s E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Beautifully detailed animation and pitch-perfect voice acting spurred Nickelodeon’s weird western Rango to ride into the sunset with a Best Animated Movie title. The ensemble cast’s hilarious chemistry helped make Horrible Bosses work overtime and just enough to beat a crowded pool for Best Comedy.

Another comedy, Disney’s revival of The Muppets, was a late holiday surprise that showcased Jason Segal’s superb writing and the broad appeal of the Jim Henson’s titular friends. It spoofed my favorite teaser trailer of 2011, but the victim of its parody would have the last laugh here. Last year we were saved the best for last as David Fincher’s take on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was released a few nights before Christmas. Excellent acting all around, including a second can’t-miss portrayal of pariah/hacker Lisbeth Salander courtesy of Rooney Mara, and another electric music collaboration from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (they won the Oscar for Best Original Score last year for The Social Network) aided Fincher in keeping the remake fresh despite the original film being released in the states only the year before. Which is why we thought 2011 was the Year of the Dragon. Winner: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Honorable Mentions: Attack of the Block, Captain America: The First Avenger, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Moneyball, The Thing, Undefeated