The ‘Bitch Awards’ – Best/Worst Film of 2011 (#1)

This is it: the day you’ve been waiting for all week. It’s time to reveal our picks for the best and worst films of 2011.

WORST

TVangie:

#5: Source Code (Jones, 2011)

#4: The Adjustment Bureau (Nolfi, 2011)

#3: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Condon, 2011)

#2: Your Highness (Green, 2011)

#1: Red Riding Hood (Hardwicke, 2011)

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Red Riding Hood is just a terrible film. My top three picks for worst film this year are on par with one another, but this one takes the top spot for one reason only – Gary Oldman. I love Gary Oldman. I think he’s an amazing actor with such range that I will likely watch anything that he’s in because I know he’s going to deliver. And deliver he did not. Yes, much of the blame is on the dull and uninspired, cliché-ridden script – but Oldman is phoning it in on this one. I suppose I can’t blame him, but the rest of the film is such garbage that the one saving grace I looked to couldn’t even redeem it.

There’s not much to say about this film that you probably don’t already know- it’s the re-imagining (sigh) of the Little Red Riding Hood story. I hope this isn’t an indicator of how Snow White and the Huntsmen (Sanders, 2012) will turn out.

The leading “men” (and I use that term very loosely) are as stiff and unnatural as the boys in the Twilight films, the story is preposterous, and the characters are universally one-dimensional. There’s also a plethora of allusions to awakening sexuality but instead of being subtle and thought provoking, they’re blatant and uncomfortable. Catherine Hardwicke, director of the first Twilight film, is at the helm of this atrocity, which is pretty much the Twilight saga with different characters and more of an emphasis on werewolves instead of vampires. The originality is just rampant in this one!

The reason why this is my number one, as opposed to the Twilight saga, or the mean-spirited Your Highness, is because this film is actually full of potential. Its look and feel is gothic yet contemporary. Amanda Seyfried, who plays the title role, is more than capable of being interesting and compelling. But the whole time I was watching this film, the slow disengagement of the almost all the actors was painfully clear. It’s like the moment when they realized they’ve made a horrible mistake by agreeing to do this film was materializing before me.

And don’t get me started on the film’s ending.

Easily my worst of 2011.

Cinephilactic

#5: Super 8 (Abrams, 2011)

#4: Horrible Bosses (Gordon, 2011)

#3: Green Lantern (Campbell, 2011)

#2: Sucker Punch (Synder, 2011)

#1: Shark Night 3D  (Ellis, 2011)

Courtesy of Incentive Filmed Entertainment

This is my worst film of the year.

That means it doesn’t even deserve full paragraphs. There are no spoiler warnings because the only spoiler is that this is an ass-tacular movie that I actually paid for and am trying to save you from. Let me count the ways:

  1. Lead actress = Sara Paxton. Main character’s name = Sara. Couldn’t remember to respond to your character’s name, there, Sara?
  2. Lead actor is from 90210 (new one, not old one) and is the “smart guy.” We know this because he wears glasses in the first scene and then never wears them again
  3. Everyone is wearing a bathing suit or is topless (men) all the time, but no one has sex, gets a sunburn (when the sun is up), or gets hypothermia (after the sun goes down)
  4. Our introduction to the locals is at the convenience store where the employee uses his camera to spy on the girls in the bathroom while his friends confront the black guy for dating the hot hispanic girl
  5. “Fat slutty girl” (Katherine McPhee – not fat, not slutty) is a fat slut because she slept with a guy. Way to slut shame there, Shark Night 3D – heaven forbid a woman actually have a sex drive and use it
  6.  “Fat slutty girl” is dumped in a shark tank so tiny sharks can eat her while the camera objectifies her bikini clad body…because she’s fat and slutty. The 80s called and they want their conservative movie rhetoric back
  7. The minorities go first. It’s fucking 2011 and the blacks and hispanics go first
  8. Hilarious deaths: Not hilarious enough to be good, but hilarious enough that you think maybe director Ellis is laughing at the fact that he got paid for this. Example: Guy on ski-do gets eaten by a shark that jumps out of the water in front of a full moon. A literal jump-the-shark moment!
  9. The sharks live in a fresh water lake in the Florida Keys. Think about that for a moment
  10. I know, it’s impossible. WTF?
  11. The bad guy is out for revenge because Sara cut his face after he tried to drown her. Umm…seems to me if anyone is going to be on the warpath for REVENGE it should be the girl you tried to kill. Boo hoo about your “pity-me surface wound”
  12. The bad guys’ real motivation? Film the shark kills so that they can get a reality TV show because Shark Week gets such good ratings. Seriously…because of Shark Week. Reach for the skies there guys
  13. Oh, and they control the sharks with some kind of electronic sonar device attached to their bellies (not explained). Because these are apparently marine biologists with advanced robotics degrees, not Florida Keys hicks who are missing teeth and think foreplay is poking the “fat slutty girl” with a stick (not a euphemism)

The only redeeming factor: Donal Logue. He may be the only person who knows how awful this movie is (aside from the director). But really, if you want good Donal Logue, download Terriers (no, seriously, do it) or watch Blade. Because he’s way better in those and he’s not in every scene of this travesty, so you’re stuck with real name/character name Sara and hot bod/geek glasses most of the time.

Trust me: stay. away. from. this. piece. of. shit. at. all. costs

BEST

TVangie

#5: Margin Call (Chandor, 2011)

#4: Bridesmaids (Feig, 2011)

#3: Win/Win (McCarthy, 2011)

#2: Biutiful (Iñárritu, 2010)

#1: The Skin I Live In (Almodóvar, 2011)

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classic

I’ve been a long-standing fan of Pedro Almodóvar’s films, but I think I can safely say that The Skin I Live In is my favourite by far. This film is at once thrilling, grotesque, hilarious and tragic (the list of adjectives could go on and on). But the reason it gets my coveted number one spot is that I was utterly absorbed and engaged during this film. I couldn’t look away. This film is an experience - a cinematic thrill ride and what a ride it was.

Many critics have said that the less you know about this film, the better, as much of its appeal comes from its ballooning narrative of one shocking plot point after another. Antonio Banderas plays obsessive plastic surgeon, Robert Ledgard, who is attempting to create a new kind of “skin”. The absolutely flawless Vera (Elena Anaya) serves as his human test subject. That’s about all I can reveal, as Vera’s true identity and the nature of her relationship with Robert is so shocking, it’s probably best that you find out for yourself.

Oddly enough, I actually knew the plot going into the film, and I still was as astonished and mesmerized as anyone else in the theatre. This is where Almodóvar’s artistry as a filmmaker becomes the key component to why this film works as well as it does. Yes, the narrative of this film is, well – crazy, but Almodóvar unfolds it with such tact that it never feels overindulgent or uninviting. In fact, it’s just the opposite. This is great filmmaking, pure and simple.

Crafted with his signature opulent and lush cinematography, perfectly timed comedic beats and fully engaging performances, this film is guaranteed to leave you with a powerful reaction long after the credits roll. This film transcended its inanimate boundaries and made me feel something that was tangible and resonant. The Skin I Live In is the perfect example of film as art. It proudly earns my number one spot this year.

Honourable mentions:

Midnight in Paris (Allen 2011): A beautiful film that literary majors like myself can’t help but enjoy.
Incendies
(Villeneuve, 2010): Heart-wrenching and intensely compelling.
The Trip
(Winterbottom, 2010): Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon – need I say more? Absolutely hilarious.
The Artist
(Hazanavicius, 2011): The use of sound is ingenious in this silent film. It’s a nostalgically great time.

Dishonourable mentions:

One Day (Scherfig, 2011): Pointless and painful. Plus, Hathaway gives one the worst English accents in the history of the world.

Films that TVangie didn’t see in time but thought could potentially make the best list:

Like Crazy (Doremus, 2011)
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (Alfredson, 2011)
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Fincher, 2011)
Shame (McQueen, 2011)
Melancholia (von Trier, 2011)
Drive (Winding Refn, 2011)
A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg, 2011)
Tree of Life (Malick, 2011)
Carnage (Polanski, 2011)
Hugo (Scorsese, 2011)

Cinephilactic

#5: Scream 4 (Craven, 2011)

#4: 50/50 (Levine, 2011)

#3: Beginners (Mills, 2010)

#2: Incendies (Villeneuve, 2010)

#1: Drive (Winding Refn, 2011)

Courtesy of Bold Films

There’s virtually no story in Drive. That’s not what the film is about.

Well, okay, yes there is a plot. The film is about a nameless stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who moonlights as a driver for a hire in the evenings. No questions asked, so long as you respect his five minute window. Any longer than that, and he’s gone. The opening scene perfectly sets the mood as Gosling picks up robbers and evades police set to the tune of Kavinsky’s Nightcall (go ahead and open it in a new window to listen to as you read – I’ll wait). This kind of atmosphere is what the film is truly about: it’s a moody, artsy, European action film that’s more interested in silences and absences. There’s a reason why it’s hilarious that a woman who saw this sued because she felt misled into thinking this would be like The Fast and The Furious…because this movie could not farther from The Fast and The Furious. The only similarity is that people drive frakking cars!

This is Gosling’s third big film this year (after Ides of March (Clooney, 2011) and Crazy Stupid Love (Ficarra & Requa, 2011)) and while the former is more conventional Oscar bait and the latter more conventional (though apparently still quite good), this is a star performance. Gosling disappears completely into character, garbed in an 80s inspired white satin jacket with gold scorpion, chewing on a toothpick and uttering a maximum of 25 lines in the entire film. He’s super cool – disaffected and untouchable – save for his unrequited crush on his neighbour, played by Carey Mulligan. It’s when Mulligan’s husband returns from a stint in prison and refuses to return to his old ways that the proverbial shit hits the fan and Gosling’s nameless driver steps in to do the right thing. In between there’s great bits by Christina Hendricks (Joan from Mad Men as a prostitute-esque femme fatale), and Ron Pearlman and Albert Brooks (garnering Oscar buzz) as the ruthless men calling the shots. I love these kinds of villains because they don’t need histrionics and torture to instill fear and malice; they won’t shout at you or take you for a ride. They meet you for breakfast, or at the car garage where you work, and stab you with the slightest of motions and let you bleed out with an apology.

So why is this film my number one film of the year above all the others? Because it completely took me by surprise. I went in thinking it would be an okay action film and it blew me away. It’s also one of the few films I’ve seen that enveloped me in its aesthetic – the visuals, the score, the songs all worked in unison to create and capture your attention. Even the hilariously gaudy 80s glam (Gosling’s jacket, the hideous pink font on the poster) is both owned and reveled in. This is a film that knows it’s cool and awesome, and screw you if you don’t agree. It’s dark, moody, occasionally romantic and frequently ultraviolent (exhibit A: the elevator scene) with incredibly self-assured direction.

You’re just along for the ride. And, for me, there wasn’t a better seat at the theatres this year.

Honourable mentions:

The Artist (Hazanavicius, 2011): Exquisitely done B/W silent film that evokes films of yesterday; winning performances.
The Skin I Live In (Almodóvar, 2011): Daring, sexy, disturbing. I expect nothing less from Almodóvar, but this twisted noir is a perfect complement to his Bad Education (2004). What a pair of bookends they make!
Bridesmaids (Fieg, 2011): The funniest scene of the year when Wiig tries to eat a candied almond while suffering from food poisoning.
X-Men: First Class (Vaughn, 2011)/ Thor (Branagh, 2011)/ Captain America (Johnston, 2011): Rock solid introductions to timeless characters played with heart, passion and great special effects.

Dishonourable mentions:

No Strings Attached (Reitman, 2011): Come for the hot bodies and get mired in the predictable, trite, obvious and boring waste of time.
Cars 2 (Lasseter & Lewis, 2011): Pixar sells out and goes gun happy in an international crapfest starring the hick truck
Season of the Witch (Sena, 2011): Requisite Nic Cage stinker
I am Number Four (Caruso, 2011): 1) Take book written by committee 2) Cast generic hottie who likes to beat girlfriend 3) Stir in copious, pointless exposition 4) Bring to a boil and serve in the final five minutes thanks to a lone exciting female character.
Red Riding Hood (Hardwicke, 2011): Proving that atrocious acting, fake sets and inappropriate hairstyles with too much gel aren’t exclusive to Twilight films.

Films that Cinephilactic didn’t see in time but thought could potentially make the best list:

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (Alfredson, 2011)
The Help (Taylor, 2011)
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Fincher, 2011)
Shame (McQueen, 2011)
Melancholia (von Trier, 2011)
A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg, 2011)
Hugo (Scorsese, 2011)

—-

And that’s a wrap on the Bitch Awards for films for 2011. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have you seen Shark Night 3D and/or Red Riding Hood (we pity you if you have)? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Don’t forget that we start all over again on December 26 when we turn our attention to the best (and worst) of television. So if you’re back at work, or hanging out with family, be sure to stop by and check out our fresh content. Our #5 picks for television will be revealed at 12pm Eastern on Monday, Dec 26. See you then!

5 thoughts on “The ‘Bitch Awards’ – Best/Worst Film of 2011 (#1)

  1. Yeah, I see neither of you got the chance to see Hugo, which is easily my favorite film of the year. However, I would give quite a bit of love to The Tree of Life, brilliant film in my opinion…

    Nice work!

  2. Really enjoyed your list…especially liked this last one as you explained your #1 worst films. You are bitchin’ movie reviewers. Full stop.

  3. Pingback: The ‘Bitch Awards’ – Best/Worst Television Shows of 2011 (#5) « Bitch Stole My Remote

  4. The Help definitely was one of my faves of the year, and I really want to see Drive more than ever, now. I’ve actually like Gosling since his run as Young Hercules, and it’s good to see that the spark visible there has grown into a true acting flame. No, I don’t think that could have sounded more cheesy if I’d included Havarti.

  5. Pingback: The ‘Bitch Awards’ – Best/Worst Film of 2011 (#2) « Bitch Stole My Remote

Leave a Reply