In 2011, my goal is to see 66 movies I had never seen before the year began.  The start was optimism-inspiring for the potential to surpass the goal.  In January and February I saw a combined 11 films, putting me right on track.  I hit 18 movies by the end of March, putting me on average of 6 movies per month. When the close of April hit, I had seen 29 movies, which put me on pace to hit 87 movies this year. My viewing rate had me on pace for 96 movies  by the time May was over, and I said that when June was done, I’d reconsider my goal.

June is done, and although I’m on pace to break 100movies this year, that’s too ambitious for me. I’m sure I’d surpass that tally if I set it as my goal, but I’d rather enjoy the films I watch instead of pushing myself to see movies for the sake of adding them to the list. I’ll increase my goal to 85 (though the name of these articles won’t change).

Below is a list of the films I’ve seen in the month of June and my corresponding review of each film.  Following those reviews is a list of potential superlative nominations from those films for various categories along the lines of what you might see in the Academy Awards and such. With no further ado, here are the reviews for the films which I had never seen prior to the start of 2011.

41. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

I was surprised that with all the episodes of the various Star Trek series’ I’ve seen over the years, I had gone this long without seeing the first of the movies. I felt like I was breaking some movie-lover law by having seen the J.J. Abrahms reboot before seeing the original movie. While the special effects didn’t hold up, they weren’t all together terrible, and neither was the acting. The plot was mildly interesting for the first third of the movie, and while it seemed to have taken a down-turn during the middle part of the movie, there was an interesting twist at the end. Anyone with any interest in Star Trek should give it a look, though approach it with lowered expectations.

42. Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist And Rebel

The documentary about the Playboy founder was certainly eye-opening. While I knew how ambitious he was, I didn’t realize how involved he was in the civil rights movement and how those values were involved in the history of the magazine and the associated nightclubs. Anyone who appreciates the magazine or doesn’t know about Hugh Hefner’s civil rights movement involvement should see this documentary.

43. Toy Story 3

I don’t know what all the hype was about this movie. It wasn’t a bad film, but I wouldn’t nominate it for an award (especially not an Academy Award), and it definitely didn’t make me cry. It had a decent story and it was a decent way to finish off the trilogy, but now I’m hearing that they’re working on a fourth feature film and I really wish they wouldn’t. If you didn’t see the first two Toy Story movies, you’re not missing anything by skipping this one. If you took the time to see the first two, you may as well finish out the series and leave it here.

44. ** X-Men: First Class

Why are there stars next to this movie? Because I saw it in the theater… my first trip to the movies all year due to having a young child at home who doesn’t deal well with babysitters. If I only see one movie in the theater this summer… I’ll be disappointed, but not because of the movie I saw. There was plenty of action, the story was very interestingly tied into real events and the characters were appropriately developed. Far better was FIRST CLASS than X:3 and ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.

45. Taken

The first part of the movie is a bit slow as it sets up Liam Neeson as being a loving father who’s trying to make up for lost time with his daughter but makes him look somewhat lame in the process. As it progresses and his daughter gets in trouble, Liam turns into a total bad-ass who has great detective skills and is able to track down some of the people who abducted her. The means which he figures certain things out are kinda cool, and although some plot elements are slightly unrealistic at times, it’s not easy to suspend your disbelief enough to really enjoy the movie.

46. The American

Though this isn’t an action movie, there are interwoven elements of that in this film, and I found those to be scenes in which George Clooney’s acting just felt out of place. The story has some interesting characters, but the plot as a whole isn’t necessarily all that engaging.

47. King’s Speech

This was definitely a more interesting film than I thought it was going to be given the subject matter.  Certainly Colin Firth’s performance was praise-worthy, and although I wouldn’t pick it to win Best Picture against the other films from the year it was released, it deserves to be in the discussion. If you have a mild (or more) interest in history like I do, you’ll probably find this film worth your time.

48. Chaos Theory

This is another one of those films where I can’t remember which movie I was watching when I saw a preview for it, but I’m glad that I took note of it. It’s a slightly quirky film which is well acted by Ryan Reynolds and Emily Mortimer in their prominent roles. The plot is exposed with interesting construction and pacing, featuring an interesting twist part of the way through the film.

49. Sweet Karma

After the GuysNation interview with Playboy’s Shera Bechard, I put this on my list of films to see, and when I heard from my friend over at GATW that it was available on Netflix Instant, I jumped at the chance to watch it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a film starring a Playmate, but I was rather impressed. It definitely had an independent movie feel to it, though that’s not always a bad thing (some of my favorite movies have the independent “feel” – Bottle Rocket, Mystery Team and Rushmore among others). Shera played her part very well, to the point where I’m interested to see what project she picks next.

50. The Expendables

Anyone interested in this film knew what to expect, and I wasn’t surprised by what I found. There was a decent plot and the acting was on par with the performances from the action stars involved – Sly Stallone, Jason Statham and the like. Terry Crews was actually very entertaining, to the point where I’m nominating him as a supporting actor candidate (not that he’ll win). I was disappointed by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo in the film, and it definitely shows that he hasn’t been in a film for a while. The action scenes were well done, as you’d expect. I’m guessing that the target audience for this film have almost all seen this flick already, and I’m guessing most of them were satisfied with what they got. I’ll be looking for an inevitable sequel.

51. The Squid And The Whale

Having enjoyed the work of Jesse Eisenberg in Adventureland, Zombieland, Social Network, Roger Dodger and Emperor’s Club, I wanted to see how he did in the rest of his work, and because The Squid And The Whale got good reviews (or at least his performance did), I put that near the top of my list. While his performance was good, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the film very much. It was a good movie, and all of the main performers (Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Owen Kline, William Baldwin and Anna Paquin) were good in their parts, but the tone of the film and the pacing felt a lot like a not-funny version of The Royal Tenenbaums (which shouldn’t be surprising, given the involvement of Noah Baumbach). People who enjoy movies should see this movie. People who just like to watch movies so they can be entertained might want to pass on it.

52. Get Him To The Greek

I had heard this was an entertaining film, and that Puff Daddy was good in it, and that Russel Brand’s character from FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL was very entertaining in it. I’ll disagree. I didn’t much like the film at all, and at one point I made the comment that I felt like the movie had been written by a pair of 17 year old boys.The only part of this movie I actually liked was Rose Byrne. If you liked Pineapple Express, then you should see this movie… and we probably shouldn’t watch comedies together.

53. Tenure

In continuing the trend of seeing independent films with stars whose work I enjoy, I checked out this film with one of my favorite actors, Luke Wilson. Although it wasn’t a great flick, it was entertaining. Luke tends to play the charismatic, directionless wanderer fairly well, and this movie played to his strengths. Some of the plot points bordered on “lame”, but all in all I’d say I liked it. Though I can’t point out why, I enjoyed David Koechner’s performance as the best friend of Luke’s character, though he won’t get a nomination for my end of year awards.

Potential Nominees From These Films

Best Actress – Shera Bechard (Sweet Karma)

Best Actor – Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)

Best Actor – Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid And The Whale)

Best Actor – Ryan Reynolds (Chaos Theory)

Supporting Actress – Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)

Supporting Actress – Emily Mortimer (Chaos Theory)

Supporting Actor – Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class)

Supporting Actor – Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Supporting Actor – Owen Kline (The Squid And The Whale)

On Deck for July and August

The Fighter
Hang ‘Em High
True Grit
The Adjustment Bureau

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