Worst Movie Year Ever !!!!

Little good came to a theater near you. And yet, you still paid for popcorn—poor, flaccid, crumpled popcorn.

How bad was this movie year? In 2010, I gave 10 movies my highest rating, The Mighty Happy Orgasmic Popcorn Carton.

This year … I gave that rating to three films. Three!

That’s bad, folks, the lowest tally of any year I’ve been reviewing movies. While I reserve the Mighty Happy Orgasmic Popcorn Carton for the most special of films, I give it to 9-to-10 movies per year. This year, it just wasn’t happening. The best movie of the year came out in May, and nothing came close to toppling it.

As for the Poor Flaccid Crumpled Popcorn Carton—the one that denotes the shittiest of the shit—I gave that one out more than 30 times, and I didn’t even see New Year’s Eve! And I took it easy on stuff like The Hangover Part II, The Adjustment Bureau and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Jesus, there was something in the neighborhood of 40 movies worse than Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I this year!

Maybe the diminishing excellent reviews are due to me growing more cynical in my passing years. I have undeniably mean impulses. Heck, at this very instant, I want to pour paint on my neighbor’s porch and throw cough drops at scampering baby raccoons. On top of all that, I want to punch Emilio Estevez in the face, if only because I hate St. Elmo’s Fire. That’s just wrong on my part, and maybe I’ve got something askew in the brain.

Or maybe Big Hollywood has fallen into some sort of major funk, the likes of which it hasn’t experienced in many years. Come to think of it, the year St. Elmo’s Fire came out was 1985, not a banner year for film. Out of Africa, one of the most supremely boring movies ever made, got Best Picture. Maybe my wanting to punch Emilio Estevez was some sort of latent hatred for that movie year kicking back up while recapping 2011.

There you go … 2011, worst movie year since 1985, birthplace of St. Elmo’s Fire!

And speaking of Emilio Estevez, his 2011 directorial effort The Way SUCKED! That gives me another reason to punch him in the face. Wait … he’s an actor and has had fight training and stuff. Scratch the whole punching him in the face thing. If I ever see him in public, I will mock him verbally from afar.

So, yes, I am getting a little jaded and perhaps a touch insane as I journey through my 40s. That doesn’t take away from the fact that 2011 blew ass for movies.

1. The Tree of Life: Terrence Malick makes films that are just poetry; movies where every second means something. Now that this, a film that is basically about everything, is out on video, I have friends trying to watch it, but they pause the film to go fix a snack or hit the bathroom. DON’T DO THAT! This movie must be experienced from start to finish, uninterrupted—as most movies should—or you will cheapen its impact.

Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain are marvelous as two parents dealing with the loss of their son in the Vietnam War. Sean Penn is excellent in a present-day story as the brother who has grown up grieving that same loss. There’s also the creation of the universe and dinosaurs. It’s ambitious, it succeeds in its ambitions, and it is beyond beautiful. This is an amazing cinematic achievement.

2. Drive: This was the year of the Gosling. This, Crazy, Stupid Love, and The Ides of March all featured strong performances from Ryan Gosling, but I think this one contains the best performance of his career so far. Director Nicolas Winding Refn established himself as a name to be reckoned with—even though it’s near impossible to remember iwith this moody, shocking film about a stunt driver who gets in all sorts of trouble. That trouble involves Albert Brooks with a knife, and you’ll be surprised how scary that is.

3. Rango: Johnny Depp did wonderful voiceover work as a wayward pet lizard accidentally dumped in the desert that becomes a hero to a water-starved town. I loved how trippy this animated gem was, especially when Clint Eastwood showed up in the end driving a golf cart.

4. Take Shelter: Michael Shannon delivers what I will call the year’s best performance as a man haunted by apocalyptic visions. Jessica Chastain delivers powerful work—she did that a lot in 2011—as his justifiably frightened wife.

5. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil: My favorite comedy of the year is also the year’s best horror film. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk are hilarious as a couple of rednecks heading to their vacation home on a secluded lake, where college kids just happen to be camping. What happens is a very funny play on horror clichés, with Labine and Tudyk constantly bringing the funny.

6. We Need to Talk About Kevin: A nasty, nasty movie about a bad, bad kid and a mother (Tilda Swinton) who got dealt a really terrible hand. Swinton is phenomenal here, as is Ezra Miller as a kid who just doesn’t get along with others. If you don’t have kids yet, you probably won’t want to after seeing this.

7. Like Crazy: Felicity Jones shines as a British exchange student who falls in love with a furniture designer (Anton Yelchin) and starts having all kinds of visa problems. I just made it sound lame—it’s not. Jones and Yelchin will break your heart for sure.

8. Moneyball: One of the best movies ever made about baseball, and you hardly ever see the sport getting played. Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the man who put together a championship Oakland A’s team with something like 50 bucks and a box of crackers.

9. The Artist: An homage to silent films that is actually a silent film. This is a funny, touching, and innovative piece of work with a fun performance from Jean Dujardin.

10. Warrior: This one has drawn comparisons to the almighty, original Rocky, and those comparisons are deserved. Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy are brilliant and rousing as two brothers who take separate paths to a steel cage match tournament, while Nick Nolte just burns the house down in an amazing performance as their father.

So that’s the Top 10. The following 10 are the next-best ones up to 20. You probably would’ve figured that out without me telling you.

11. Source Code: Duncan Jones, son of Bowie, delivered a great follow-up to his already classic Moon with this sophisticated piece of sci-fi starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who “mind travels” into the body of a bombing victim. Jones is becoming a master of sci-fi with big brains.

12. The Iron Lady: I started thinking the best of Meryl Streep may’ve been behind us, and then I saw this. She’s incredible as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Incredible.

13. The Descendants: George Clooney and director Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways) prove a decent combination in this offbeat family drama/comedy about a man trying to relate to his daughters while his wife is in a coma.

14. Young Adult: Three cheers for Charlize Theron, who commits to playing one of the lousiest, most repugnant people to hit the screen in decades. As Mavis, the former prom queen returning home and causing some major trouble with her ex (Patrick Wilson) she is just horrible, and it’s perfect.

15. Melancholia: Kirsten Dunst is quite good in this apocalyptic meditation from crazy-as-all-heck director Lars von Trier. This is an interesting examination of how different people react to the end of the world. One of the year’s more beautifully shot films.

16. A Dangerous Method: Keira Knightley is just brilliant as a temporarily insane woman who has an affair with her psychiatrist, and that psychiatrist just happens to be Carl Jung (masterfully played by Michael Fassbender). Viggo Mortensen does an impressive turn as Sigmund Freud in this spellbinder from director David Cronenberg.

17. Super: I love Ellen Page in this wacky film about a depressed husband (Rainn Wilson) who decides to become a superhero and do battle with an evil drug dealer (Kevin Bacon kicking mortal ass). Page is perfect as Wilson’s sidekick, Boltie.

18. Red State: Writer-director Kevin Smith took a big detour with this “horror” film about religious fanaticism and obtrusive governments. It’s a detour well worth taking.

19. 13 Assassins: Takashi Miike’s samurai movie, where a small band of assassins faces off against an entire army, is totally bananas … and totally great.

20. Hugo: Well it was between Martin Scorsese’s first family film and Bridesmaids for the final slot. While Kristen Wiig and company got me laughing often, I have to go with Scorsese’s quite beautiful train station story. It’s a stellar 3D achievement, with its rather slow start being the only reason it isn’t ranked higher on this list.

I seriously considered flipping the format this year, and doing the Top 20 lousy films, followed by the 10 best. I had a much tougher time picking the 10 worst this year because there were so many turds to choose from.

What was bad this year? Hmmm … let’s start with Madea’s Big Happy Family, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, Sucker Punch, Larry Crowne, Paranormal Activity 3, In Time, Battle Los Angeles, Season of the Witch, Bad Teacher, The Way, Red Riding Hood, No Strings Attached, Dream House, The Smurfs, Restless, Spy Kids: All the Time In the World, The Roommate, Just Go With It, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2, Shark Nite 3D … all bloody awful.

And yet, there were at least 10 movies worse than the garbage listed above. And now I shall share those with you. But, please, before you read, put on some protective eye gear and keep some hand sanitizer nearby, because these films are toxic, and the mere reading of their names and touching those names in print could cause dysentery.

1. Human Centipede 2: I didn’t think my No. 2 film on this list was going to lose its place as the year’s worst movie … until I saw this number one movie about number-two. What started as an almost funny sick joke in the first installment becomes an absolute abomination by the second.

2. The Beaver: We all know that Mel Gibson is a nutbag, so this stupid film where he plays a depressed man acting out through a beaver puppet comes off as more documentary-like than fictional narrative. And I hated the stupid accent he used for the puppet. I wanted to burn that puppet in a fire and revoke Gibson’s SAG card. Asshole.

3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: The latest 9/11 movie is the worst one yet, focusing on an obnoxious kid (Thomas Horn) on a quest to find the lock for a key his father (Tom Hanks) left behind after dying on 9/11. Horn is just impossible to watch, and the plotting of this thing is deplorable. It wastes decent performances from Hanks and Sandra Bullock.

4. Jack and Jill: You wouldn’t know it from my reviews for his movies in the last eight years or so, but I used to be a big Adam Sandler fan. Even though I have written this simple fact here, I will deny it in person. Ask me if I was a fan in person, and I shall deny Sandler’s name three times before the rooster crows twice.

5. Immortals: A cheap-looking costume pageant starring a very uninteresting actor named Henry Cavill. Let’s look at the Internet Movie Database, www.imdb.com, and see what this dull bastard is doing in the future so we can avoid it.

Oh shit … he’s the next Superman.

6. Mr. Popper’s Penguins: Jim Carrey playing second fiddle to penguin crap. No film this year better represented the decline of a mega-career.

7. Dolphin Tale: A dolphin loses its tail and is nursed back to health by Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman in a funny hat, Ashley Judd wearing her clothes, and yet another obnoxious child actor.

8. J. Edgar: When Clint Eastwood makes a bad movie, he makes a BAD MOVIE. The usually reliable Leonardo DiCaprio is miscast as the title character, who turns out to be a whiny bitch buried in pounds of horrible latex and a bad dress.

9. Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Like those that preceded it, this is a painful mess with Michael Bay at his very worst. Let’s put Michael Bay in a space capsule, send him for a nice trip around the dark side of the moon, and mysteriously lose contact with him.

10. Cars 2: The mighty Pixar finally made a total stinker with this follow up to the only mildly amusing original about talking autos. When Larry the Cable Guy has your film’s best lines, you are in severe trouble.

As for 2012, there doesn’t seem any way for things to get worse. On the horizon are the first Hobbit film, Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman trilogy, a reboot of Spider-Man that looks promising, and no Transformers movies.

Also, we get the blessed end to the Twilight movie franchise. Can you believe it? No more Bella bitching after 2012! It’s like Jesus looked down from his heavenly perch and said “Oh man … Grimm … you have had enough! Take a Bella break, and here’s a quart of your favorite soda!”

So, I will finish this somewhat somber film report on a happy note: Terrence Malick has not one, but two films in post-production for 2012. He also has two other films going into production for the following year. The man is back, and as long as he’s making movies, things aren’t all that bad.

Best Actors:

Michael Shannon (Take Shelter), Ryan Gosling (Drive), George Clooney (The Descendants), Brad Pitt (Moneyball), Jean Dujardin (The Artist)

Best Actresses:

Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter), Felicity Jones (Like Crazy), Charlize Theron (Young Adult)

Best Supporting Actors:

Nick Nolte (Warrior), Albert Brooks (Drive), Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life), Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method)

Best Supporting Actresses:

Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method), Ellen Page (Super), Jessica Chastain (The Help), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Berenice Bejo (The Artist)

Best Performance in a Movie By a Person Who Was Dead By the Time We Saw It:

Jill Clayburgh (Bridesmaids)

Worst Actor:

Mel Gibson (The Beaver)

Worst Actress: Deborah Kara Unger (The Way)

Best Actor in a Bad Movie:

Tom Hanks (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Best Actress in a Bad Movie:

Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Worst Actor in a Good Movie:

Jude Law (Contagion)

Worst Actress in a Good Movie:

Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help)

Best Director:

Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)

Most Flagrant Flaunter of the Glorious Rachel McAdams Ass:

Woody Allen’s lingering butt shots in Midnight in Paris.

Best Documentary:

Project Nim


Midnight In Paris, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Super 8

Totally Shocked That I Liked Them: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Zookeeper