2011 Year In Review

Ron Perlman has been a force in television and film for three decades. He’s no stranger to fans, especially those he won as Hellboy and as Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy, and he’s appeared in a handful of movies every year since 1993 (with 1996 and 1999 being the only years he appeared in only one). You know him. You love him. Now, we’re ready to pronounce 2011 The Year of The Perlman because while he’s worked steadily in movies small and big alike for a long time, this was the year that he really ate his spinach and showed his face in an almost absurd amount of flicks. What’s more, his performances spanned the quality spectrum enough to earn him the Shyamalan Award For Bizarrely Up and Down Work. It’s important to note that his acting was rock steady throughout, but even with (and with the addition of his talents), he was in some terrible (and some amazing) movies. From prestige films, to independent action, to summer epics, to that one thing with Nic Cage, Ron Perlman was everywhere doing everything.

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The Best Movie Posters of 2011

Movie posters can rise to level of works of art, can be tame or daring. They are of course advertising. A good poster makes you want to know more about the movie and the more you want to know the more you’ll want to spend your money to see the film. With that in mind, we’ve assembled our favorites of 2011, broken down into fancy categories for your reading and viewing pleasure.

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Hundreds of movies are released each year in theaters or straight to DVD, and a large percentage of them suck. A much smaller group though are fantastic slices of cinema that thrill, excite, invigorate and entertain, and while some of them are recognized at the box office many more are left to die a quick and undeserved death. And it’s essentially your fault. Of course I don’t mean you specifically, but instead I’m referring to the average American movie-goer who chose not to see these movies in the theater. They ignored the critical acclaim, reviews and recommendations from sites like ours and instead bought multiple tickets for the latest Twilight or Transformers movie. So while it’s too late to affect their box office returns (most of them anyway), Jack Giroux and Rob Hunter have put together a list of eleven movies that deserved far better treatment in 2011.

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I bet you didn’t think we could get any more meta than we did with last year’s Our List of the Best Lists of 2010, but boom, we have – by making that exact list feature a recurring Year In Review feature. It’s here to stay. It will never go away. Unless we think of something better. We’ve been lucky enough to have some talented and truly inventive Cinematic Listologists on staff this year – from former writers Matt Patches and Ashe Cantrell (hi, dudes!), to our latest list-o-maker, David Bell. Along the way, some of us other Rejects have even piped in with our own works of list art (I won’t deny that it’s no coincidence that my one list for the year shows up on the list). Our lists for the year ran the gamut, from special peeks inside how movies get made, to more specific takes on genres and styles, to the traditional “here is a list of films that go together for some specific reason that we refer to in the title,” we’ve got them all. To end the year on a high note, to check off the last piece of list-making (well, relatively, let’s be honest here), to carefully enumerate just one of our favorite features, here are 11 of our best lists from 2011. Best for the creativity, their relatability, their personality, and their ability to spark debate and discussion among our readership. Enjoy.

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The Best Movie Trailers of 2011

They say it’s hard to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to world of cinema and movie marketing (and the plethora of films that hit theaters each weekend), it’s hard not to use a film’s three-minute long trailer to judge whether or not it will be something you’ll be interested in seeing (and with movie prices on the up and up, it’s hard to go in blind these days). The illustrious Jack Giroux and Allison Loring rounded up the top 11 trailers released over the past year. They’re both for films that came out in 2011 and either lived up to or fell short of their promise and for films due to be released next year that have begun teasing us early. Plus a few honorable mentions because Jack and I aren’t super great at math (we’re writers, and I’m pretty sure you can only be good at one or the other). From horror to action to comedy (and much discussion about the merits of underwear – you’ll see), our picks spanned the genres proving that it does not matter what type of film you are promoting, just whether or not you are able to grab people’s attention. Listed in no particular order, let us know in the comments if you agree, disagree or if there was a trailer you loved that we missed on our list.

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Drive Elevator Scene: The Scene of 2011

In our final 2011 edition of Scenes We Love, a column you’ll be seeing a lot more of in the coming year, we’d like to celebrate the scene that, in our humble opinion, was the definitive and most memorable scene of the entire year. A great deal of care and collaboration went into the choosing of this winner, with every FSR staff writer first submitting nominations then a fierce round of voting. In my final thoughts, I’ll reveal the runners up. But for now, lets just enjoy the majesty of a moment that is all at once romantic and violent, sweet and salty, quiet and louder than a bomb.

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The 11 Best TV Shows of 2011

Because it’s Saturday, we’re talking television. That’s when Amber Humphrey publishes her weekly entry of Channel Guide, our twice-weekly column on all things television. But there’s something else at work this week. It might be Saturday, but it’s also the final day of the year. And what better way to send off our coverage of television in the year 2011 than with a list of the shows that we loved most dearly. In order to do so, Channel Guiders Amber Humphrey and Mikela Floyd each contributed their picks for the five best shows of the year, in no particular order. In keeping with our ’11 Best’ theme for the Year in Review, FSR Publisher and closet television fanatic (don’t tell movies, we don’t want them to be jealous) Neil Miller throws in one final pick with his own best show of the year. All powers combined, they have unleashed our list of the 11 Best TV Shows of 2011.

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The Junkies: The Awards to End All Awards

When we at Junkfood Cinema heard that we had somehow again avoided outright cancellation, clearly an oversight on the part of hectically busy and woefully unobservant management, we decided to celebrate with another installment of the Junkfood Cinema Awards, affectionately known (read “irresponsibly abbreviated”) as The Junkies. Since this was our sophomore effort, we really wanted to flaunt our year-long incompetence with plenty of pomp and circumstance. We therefore hired a big time Hollywood director, one who had similarly proven his commitment to terrible films, to produce a garish, way-too-expensive, online awards ceremony. But then we had to fire him over some incredibly unsavory comments he made; something about rehearsals being for fatties. So instead, we’re just going to do the exact same crap we did last year. Enjoy.

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As we all sit here at Reject HQ, gathered around an absurdly long, but incredibly imposing, table discussing what to do with the nuclear missiles we just “creatively appropriated” from a breakaway Russian republic, it occurs to us that 2011 was a great year to be bad. For every boring, dopey, goody-good hero that popped up on the silver screen, there was a brilliant, super cool, woefully misunderstood villain doing everything he/she/it could to thwart the zero hero at every turn. So when Supreme Commander #1, better known to the world (and those pesky Avengers so they’ll stop blasting our lair) as Neil Miller, issued an official order (delivered by a specially-trained, fire-breathing, gun-toting alligator who lives in the moat) to construct a supersonic death ray…that assignment went to Kate “Femme Fatale” Erbland. But then I got asked to do this list of the 20 Best Villains of 2011, a decided promotion from my usual position as sinister cocktail-fetcher and cleaner of the diabolical gutters.

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The title of this post is pretty self explanatory, so no introduction is really needed here. But… I do feel compelled to point out the same thing I point out every year. Nailing foreign releases down to a particular year isn’t an exact science. Obviously every film has an actual date of initial release, but most foreign titles don’t hit our shores until the following year, if at all. I try to go by original release date whenever possible though which means some of my choices have yet to be screened in the US outside of film festivals and import DVDs. That said, here’s a list of my eleven favorite foreign films for 2011 in alphabetical order. (Be sure to check out my lists from 2010, 2009 and 2008 too.) And because I know someone will ask, yes, I did see Certified Copy.

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The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks

As you may have noticed, this final week of 2011 has been almost completely taken over by our third annual Year in Review. It was born in 2009 out of our love for lists and your thirst for reading, discussing and ultimately hating them. And each year the entire project gets a little bigger, a little bolder and slightly more absurd. With that in mind, I’m once again proud to present you with The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks. Each of our 14 regular staff writers, contributors and columnists, almost all of whom have been with us the entire year, were asked to present their top 5 films, in no particular order (although many of them placed their top film at the top, as logical people tend to do), each with an explanation. Some even included curse words as a bonus to you, the reader. Read: The Best Films of 2010: The Staff Picks | The Best Films of 2009: The Staff Picks Once again, the Staff Picks are a testament to the diversity we have here at Film School Rejects, with picks ranging from the likely suspects (Take Shelter, Hugo, Shame) to the slightly more nerdy (Attack the Block, Super 8, The Muppets) to several movies that may not yet be on your radar (see Landon Palmer’s list for those). And once again, it’s with a deep sense of pride that I publish such a list, the best of 2011 as seen through the eyes of the movie […]

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Over the course of the year, curating the Short Film of the Day feature has given me a deep and affecting appreciation of the art form. Before, I hadn’t given much thought to the little bastards, but the truth is that they are incredibly versatile and representative of the boundaries that film can break. They can be jokes told well or human dramas driven home. They can be a perfect bite or demand to be expanded into a full meal. They can feel classic or break out into the long, strange realm of experimentation. They are so much more than movies with short runtimes. There’s one difficulty in judging them, though. With such variation, pinpointing how one can be better than another gets to be tricky. So, no matter the order, the one constant is that all the movies listed here are outstanding at what they do. The other (small) problem is that sometimes short films spend a long time touring festivals and otherwise being unavailable online. Thus, eligibility here is based solely on when a movie hit the web for us to digest. In that way, it’s the best short films from 2010-2011, but I have a feeling that that trivia won’t matter once you sit glued to the screen at the talent on display here.

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It seems like every year I find myself disappointed in the horror offerings of the preceding twelve months. Especially if you think of widely released theatrical flicks, few of which ever make the lists. If it weren’t for DVDs and VODs, I don’t even know if I could in good conscience pretend that 10 (or 11) horror films were good. That said, I did manage to find some enjoyment in theaters and at home this year, but it wasn’t the easiest task in the world. In a good year, it’ll be hard to eliminate films from the list, but when it comes to horror most years, its scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with a full list. Quickly, in terms of eligibility, I write my lists a little differently than many others – for me, a film has to be widely available in this year, either in theaters or DVD or VOD. So films that only show at festivals generally aren’t eligible for my lists until they’re released on DVD. For example, Ti West’s The Innkeepers has made several lists, but it’s not widely available until 12/30 so most people won’t see it until 2012, so that’s that.

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Year in Review: The Best Scores and Soundtracks of 2011

It has been quite the year in film, but even more so when it came to the music in those films. We got scores that pushed the envelope, soundtracks that were full of nostalgia and orchestration that could easily fit in to the 1930s. It was an eclectic year that introduced us to new talent while also reestablishing the music from existing ones. Normally when the year comes to close, I look back on the various soundtracks and scores from the films that came out and I can easily hone in on a handful that most stood out to me. 2011 was not that kind of year. With even more artists becoming composers (The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx), impressive composers coming to the forefront (Cliff Martinez with his scores for The Lincoln Lawyer, Contagion and Drive, two of which made this list) and childhood favorites back on the big screen (The Muppets and Winnie the Pooh), there was a huge pool of talent and good music to choose from. And although it makes my task of rounding up the top picks more difficult, it also means films are getting filled with more and more good music – a trend I hope (and expect) will continue in 2012. But on to this year’s picks!

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The Year in Review: Box Office

Here’s how the Christmas weekend broke down: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – $29.5m (+130.7%) $61.9m total Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – $20.2m (-48.9%) $79m total The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – $12.7m NEW $21.1m since Tuesday release Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – $12.5m (-45.9%) $49.5m total The Adventures of Tintin – $9.7m NEW $17.7m since Wednesday release We Bought a Zoo – $9.3m NEW War Horse – $7.5m NEW released Christmas Day New Year’s Eve – $3.3m (-54.7%) $32.6m total The Darkest Hour – $3m NEW released Christmas Day The Muppets – $2.1m (-39.1%) $75.7m total Yes, we usually save this chart for the end of the recapping Reject Report, but this week is about the year, not the weekend.

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The Best Films of 2011

It has come time once again to move from celebrating the worst, most annoying and most discussed films of the year — something we do at the front of our Year in Review for a reason — and start celebrating those films that have earned places in our hearts, celebrating all the best of 2011, a year that, on the whole, wasn’t such a bad year at the movies. And once again I’m honored to present my top picks of the year, as the Publisher of Film School Rejects. It’s not a vanity thing, but more of a tradition. Since the site’s inception, I’ve always presented my best of the year as The Editor’s Picks. And while I’m honored by this opportunity and enjoy it immensely, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably waiting with bated breath for what will come later in the week when we release The Staff Picks. Because they are the ones who are really interesting. But until then, you get me and my odd gathering of best films from the year that was.

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This started out as a list of overrated movies, but we (“we” being Rob Hunter and Kevin Carr, rabblerousers) decided fairly quickly that “overrated” is an overused and abused term. Who are we, or anyone, to tell you that you like a movie too much? It’s a rude thing to say regardless of whether or not we’re right. But thanks to the internet sometimes one person’s exuberance can find a virtual megaphone in all the tubes and anonymous users online, and that misguided praise can become deafening. And yes, we’re just as guilty as the rest of you…especially in regard to our first pick below. To be clear, most of these are not bad movies. The majority of them are actually good. But none of them deserved the near-constant accolades that seemed to echo from one corner of the web to another ad nauseum. So without further ado, pomp, or circumstance, here are 11 12 movies (in alphabetical order) you people wouldn’t shut up about in 2011. (**Note, there may be a few minor spoilers below.**)

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This was a hell of a year in The Criterion Collection. Between films about phantom carriages, angry jurors, beasts and beauties, stranded astronauts, international revolutionaries, and great dictators, Adam Charles and Landon Palmer found their wallets empty and their cinephilic obsessions sated. Here are their eleven favorite releases and upgrades of the year…

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

I’m not generally a fan of the phrase “jumped the shark.” I think it’s presumptuous; as if I personally decided the standards with which a show should continue, and how it should be evaluated. I know what you’re saying “but… that’s exactly what you do.” Yes, yes it is. But that doesn’t mean I don’t oftentimes feel bad about it. So when it came time to think of what aspect of 2011’s television offerings I would break down for your perusal, a nagging feeling piqued in the back of my mind – a lot of what’s on television should no longer be on television. And I’m not just talking about shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, or any other number of programs that have worn out their proverbial welcome in the Neilsen households of America. No, I’m referring specifically to the handful of TV shows that chose 2011 as the year to hammer that final nail in the coffin of television irrelevancy. Just what, pray tell, are these shows that I’ve deemed no longer worthy of filling my DVR? Read on, and when preparing the hate mail, remember that Mikela has one A, not two.

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