It’s the end of another year here at Everything Action and that means that it’s time for each of your Everything Actioncast hosts to give you their picks for the ten best movies of the year. It was kind of a disappointing year but there were a couple of great summer blockbusters and the latter half of 2011 had some great movie as well. Tune in to the Everything Actioncast next week for some elaboration on our lists but, for now, check out the top tens below.
Brian’s Top Ten
Honorable Mention: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
You know it’s been a slow movie year if a fourth sequel happens to make my list. But the thing about Pirates 4 isn’t that it’s a “great movie” per se — far from it — but it happens to shake off the rust from the who-cares doldrums of “At World’s End”. Instead Depp here is more of the main focus with Knightley and Bloom out of the way, this time supported by Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane as excellent secondary characters. Not everything here hits the right note (mermaid romance, anyone?) but it manages to garner some of the charm that make the first one such a thrill ride.
Yet another Marvel movie, and perhaps the one that doesn’t hold up as much. (I’m still pondering Iron Man 2.) Despite a fluky plot and questionable character development, Thor has a bad-ass Anthony Hopkins and amazing special effects. Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings are meh-worthy indeed, but at least Chris Hemsworth does a good job in the title role.
9. Horrible Bosses
I do enjoy me some black comedies. Horrible Bosses is a key example of that, with its twists and turns powered by an all-star-esque cast. Charlie Day, who’s been stealing scenes left and right on FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, finally gets a role to shine unlike the buddy he’s played in a dozen romantic movies. Also, who knew Jennifer Aniston could be play the perfect evil vixen? Funny stuff.
8. The Hangover Part 2
A textbook example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Pretty much the same plot as the first film, except this time the guys are in Bangkok and it’s Ed Helms’ future brother-in-law that’s missing. The first Hangover had a bunch of shock moments and in the sequel they try to top them only to come out as… gross. But the bond between the characters that was in the first movie is still there and Zach Galifianakis still shines as Alan. A fun romp that doesn’t improve over the first movie but still worth your time.
I like to describe this movie as a love letter to geek culture. The fact that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star doesn’t hurt either.
Before you grab those pitchforks, hear me out. This movie is laugh-out-loud funny. And Kristen Wiig, who has been relegated to playing one-note characters on SNL, is fantastic. I think she might give Amy Poehler and Tina Fey a run for their money. Wiig is supported by a great cast, including Melissa McCarthy whose Megan plays off like a female Zach Galifianakis.
5. X-Men: First Class
Let me get this off my chest: I’ve forgiven Brett Ratner. Mostly since 2011 wasn’t such a good year for him. X3 was a pretty terrible movie but I can gladly say that “First Class” has completely removed that bad taste in my mouth. Hiring Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass”) was a great choice. Michael Fassbender is awesome as a young Magneto. And while I wasn’t too keen on their choices of character history, namely the Xavier/Mystique friendship that was never brought up in the previous movies, I did like how they handled some of the lesser-known “first” X-Men. A step back in the right direction for this franchise.
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I’m an unabashed fan of the original Apes movies. So imagine my horror upon seeing Tim Burton’s travesty in 2001. Really? That’s what he came up with? And don’t get me started on that ending, Marky Mark. Luckily this time around they have smart people behind the scenes and the result is a logical reboot. They could’ve easily made James Franco the focus here but the surprise is Andy Serkis as Caesar who is absolutely amazing. What’s more impressive is that this film not only gives the franchise a fresh start after Burton mucked it up, it also improves on 1972’s eye-rolling “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes”. Very excited to see the direction they take now.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
After I finished reading “Deathly Hallows” I knew the movie had to be epic. The Battle of Hogwarts… how could that NOT be a movie masterpiece? While Part 1 contained mostly exposition, Part 2 is mostly a bang with the mighty showdowns that have been hinted at all series long. A thrilling conclusion to one of the most intriguing movie franchises of this young century.
2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Yeah, a late addition but well worth it. It’s hard for me to find a fourth film in a franchise that is still as engaging and entertaining as this one. Cruise returns yet again as venerable agent Ethan Hunt who returns to the field to stop a madman from inciting global nuclear war. Simon Pegg returns as the comic relief/tech guru Benji and Jeremy Renner provides a welcome boost as chief analyst Brandt. There’s twists and turns, both literally and plot wise, with some absolutely jaw-dropping action scenes scattered throughout. A fine blend of what made the first and third films so intriguing.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger
Another Marvel movie, only this time our focus is on the first Avenger, Captain America. Mostly a propagandist, it can easily be seen how a character and a movie like this can be easily screwed up. But leave it to Joe Johnston, who 20 years ago nailed the 1930’s aesthetic with “The Rocketeer”. This time he nails the whiz-bang excitement of war-time America in the 1940’s. All while supported by an awesome cast: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones and Hugo Weaving as the menacing Red Skull. A great lead-in to what’s sure to be one of the best action movies of 2012, “The Avengers”.
Chris’ Top Ten
10. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
8. 13 Assassins
6. The Hangover Part 2
5. X-Men: First Class
4. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
2. Captain America: The First Avengers
1. Horrible Bosses
Joe’s Top Ten
10. Cedar Rapids
9. Drive Angry
8. Horrible Bosses
7. The Mechanic
5. Fast Five
3. X-Men: First Class
2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
1. Captain America: The First Avenger
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The Hangover Part II
Paranormal Activity 3
Zach’s Top Ten
10. Thor- Thor kicked off the Summer superhero movies in a great way and, while still fun, feels more like setup for the Avengers than the more standalone, and superior, Captain America. Chris Hemsworth was fantastic choice as the God of Thunder.
9. Drive- It probably got a little over-hyped upon release but Drive is still a great crime movie with a surprisingly menacing Ryan Gosling as the unnamed wheelman “hero”, a great soundtrack and atmosphere and some shockingly over the top violence including the best head explosion since Scanners.
8. Real Steel- Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots: The Movie seems like the stupidest idea ever but with the charm of Hugh Jackman, better CG robot battles than Transformers and a healthy dose of Rocky IV (Ivan Dragobot!) made Real Steel one of the funnest movies of the year.
7. Fast Five- Expectations were low after the incoherent CG mess that was Fast & Furious but fortunately The Rock came in and delivered a much needed burst of energy and his brutal fight with Vin Diesel was one of the best fights of the year. The movie also delivered some of the most awesome, over the top action sequences of the year from the opening train heist to the end chase where Diesel and Paul Walker use a giant safe and their muscle cars as weapons.
6. X-Men: First Class- Much like Fast Five above, expectations for a new X-Men movie probably couldn’t be lower, especially after the disaster that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine but First Class came out of nowhere to be the second best superhero movie of the summer and, hopefully, the start of new X trilogy. The standout of First Class has to be Michael Fassbender as Magneto but James Macavoy was fun as well as a swinging Charles Xavier.
5. Contagion- The scariest movie of the year, by far, Contagion will give germaphobes a heart attack and non-germaphobes into them. An all-star cast led by Matt Damon gives different viewpoints into a global outbreak of a deadly virus and the lingering shots of doorknobs and water fountains are scarier than any slasher in a horror movie.
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes- Washing the bitter taste of Tim Burton’s disasterous reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the biggest surprise of the year, one of the best movies of the summer and featured one of the most impressive pure CG creations yet with Caesar, brilliantly performed by Andy Serkis. Each third of the movie has a distinct feel from the coming of age beginning to the prison break middle to the all out ape rampage of the end, they all work together to create a smart and exciting summer blockbuster.
3. The Muppets- If you didn’t leave The Muppets with a smile on your face, you have no soul. It was so great to see the entire Muppets gang back on the big screen from the big three of Kermit, Fozzie and Miss Piggy to obscure characters like Uncle Deadly and the new additions (80’s Robot!) were great as well. Add tons of catchy songs and awesome celebrity cameos and you have one fantastic, hilarious movie.
2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol- Thankfully I was able to see MI: Ghost Protocol before the year ended because it’s an amazing action movie and the best entry in the Mission Impossible series. Tom Cruise still kicks all kinds of ass as Ethan Hunt and Jeremy Renner seems like a fine choice to possibly take over the franchise. It features some amazing action sequences in exotic locations like Dubai, especially Ethan’s death defying climb of the world’s tallest building. It’s a must see if you like the MI series or just great action in general.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger- The best superhero movie of the year and the best action movie of the year, Captain America was just tons of fun with Joe Johnston going back to his forte; pulp, 40’s era adventure with super heroic bad guys and over the top evil bad guys. Chris Evans was an absolutely fantastic choice to play Steve Rogers and the effects to show him pre-super soldier serum were amazing. Cap had a great supporting cast as well from Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving as Red Skull and Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter. Unlike Thor, Captain America was also a great stand alone movie as well as a great stepping stone to the Avengers.
Hobo With a Shotgun