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.

July is done, so is August, and although I’m on pace to break 100 movies 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 months of July and August 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.

September

54. The Fighter

There’s no doubt in my mind that this movie was worthy of being a Best Picture nominee. While I don’t totally understand how/why an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress was awarded to Melissa Leo for the portrayal of the mother, but there’s no doubt that Christian Bale’s portrayal of Dick Eklund was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Great film, and I was very happy to have watched it with my dad, a boxing fan who doesn’t always like to spend his afternoons watching movies, but he liked the movie as much as I did.

55. Surrogates

This movie has a very interesting concept at its core, and although GAMER also builds its plot around the concept, SURROGATES executes considerably better. It was a better script with much better acting. On its own merits, it’s not a great movie, but it’s more entertaining than I was lead to believe by the people I asked about it. If you’re looking for a great film, skip this and go elsewhere, but if you enjoy watching movies with interesting and unique concepts, you could do worse.

56. That’s What I Am

I’m never sure what to expect from WWE Films, but I know that Ed Harris is a great actor so I was fairly sure I was going to enjoy this movie, and I did. Aside from a couple short scenes, Randy Orton was barely involved in the movie, so I almost don’t consider this a WWE Film. A special shout-out to Alexander Walters, who did a great job of portraying the character of “Big G”, and although he won’t win, he’s definitely nominated for Best Supporting Actor, especially in his first movie role. Though I wouldn’t necessarily nominate the film for any awards, there were some strong performances in it and the storytelling did a great job to emotionally connect us with a couple of the characters. If coming-of-age tales interest you, give this one a look.

57. Spread

I can’t remember when and where I saw an interview with Ashton Kutcher about this movie, but I almost wish I didn’t. The movie sounded mildly interesting from the way Kutcher talked about it, but it turns out that he did a much better job  of hyping it up than it deserved. I’m just glad that I found it on Netflix Instant instead of wasting a rental on it, because if that DVD had been delivered to my mailbox, I would’ve thrown it right back into the mail box about 48 seconds after the movie was over. SKIP IT.

58. The Soloist

Great movie. I don’ think it’ll end up in my top 50… maybe my top 75… but it’s definitely a must-watch for people who like movies. If you primarily watch “feel good” movies, find some time to view one that isn’t. Make it a double feature and watch something light-hearted after The Soloist, but I’m betting that with the strong performances by Robert Downey Jr and the amazing work from Jamie Foxx, you’ll enjoy this one more.

59. The Adjustment Bureau

About a decade ago I saw a great film called DARK CITY, and when I saw previews for THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, it was like deja-vu… without the film-noire. The Adjustment Bureau was far more mainstream, a lot less weird, but I wouldn’t say it was more enjoyable… for me, anyway. For most people, however, The Adjustment Bureau is the far more acceptable option, and I don’t have any problem with that because it’s a decent movie. Not great, but decent.

60. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Swedish)

After finishing the first book in the Millenium trilogy, I was interested in checking out the corresponding movie.  I don’t have any problems with subtitled movies, so that’s not the problem I had with this film. Maybe it was the pacing or the fact that some of the performances lacked a bit of depth, or that they left out some parts o the book which I’d deem to have a decent level of importance in the Millenium trilogy. For people who didn’t read the book, I’d think the movie could be enjoyable, but I was less than thrilled with it and I’m highly anticipating the one coming up later this year with Daniel Craig. For anyone who claims that Hollywood’s upcoming remake / adaptation is unnecessary, they have NO CLUE that the majority of American audiences would have such a lackluster response to this film that they’d likely not move on to The Girl Who Played With Fire, let alone The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.

61. ** Captain America: The First Avenger

See those stars? It means I saw it in the theater, and I was really glad I did. I’ve seen very few films in the theater this year, and although this wasn’t a great movie, it was a really good popcorn action flick with special effects and action sequences that deserve to be seen on a very big screen. I initially didn’t like the idea of Chris Evans being cast as Captain America for several reasons. In Fantastic Four, he portrayed a cocky Johnny Storm sooo well that I thought he was mis-cast as the very serious, dutiful, leader-of-men hero that Cap’ should be. He showed considerable dramatic range in this role, which makes me satisfied in their choice. The other reason was that now he portrays two characters in the Marvel Universe, though if (and when) they reboot Fantastic Four, they’ll be looking for a new Johnny Storm anyway, so I guess that shouldn’t bother me anymore… despite the fact that I actually liked the first film AND Rise Of The Silver Surfer. Back to THE FIRST AVENGER, Tommy Lee Jones did a great job in his role, Hayley Atwell was bewitching as Peggy Carter, and Sebastian Stan portrayed Bucky well enough that I wouldn’t be surprised to see a spin-off with him in it. Hugo Weaving, as you might expect, was an excellent villain, and Dominic Cooper not only captured the Howard Stark character, but his subtle nuances lead you to believe that he could be the younger version of a character seen in stock footage during IRON MAN 2 of the older Howard, portrayed by John Slattery.

62. Revolutionary Road

As a side quest on the Drive For 66 (which is going to be something around 100), I’m trying to see as many of the Academy Award / Golden Globe Best Picture nominees from the past three years, which is how this movie ended up on my list. I had high expectations going into the film, given the nominations and the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have good chemistry with one another. There’s no doubting the quality of Revolutionary Road, but I’ll NEVER watch it again, and I almost regret watching it. It was one of the most depressing movies I’ve ever seen, bar none. If you don’t mind movies with overly depressing tones, you’re likely to enjoy this film, but I didn’t. At all.

63. Pearl Harbor

I’m not quite sure why I avoided this film for 10 years, but I did. I think it had something to do with the fact that it was three hours long, and at some point I soured on both Ben Affleck (probably because of Daredevil) and Josh Hartnett (Hollywood Homicide, probably). With them basically being the co-lead males in the film, I lost a lot of interest despite Kate Beckinsale being the love interest for both. Once I finally saw it, I was impressed with the epic nature of the film. Though it was an entertaining flick, I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again. I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it, though.

August

64. Mister Eleven

Ah, Netflix Instant, the interesting options you present to me. Though this film is listed on IMDB as being a two-episode mini-series, it wasn’t split in two on Netflix Instant and I didn’t notice a spot where it would’ve been. This wasn’t a great film, but it did an alright job at entertaining me for a bit. It’s not a typical romantic comedy by any means, and certain parts of it actually lends itself more to being a drama, but it’s certainly quirky in nature and a light-hearted look at a few people who are terrible at relationships. If you’re bored and can’t find anything else to watch on TV or on Netflix Instant, this is a decent option to pass your time. You aren’t missing out on anything by skipping it, but you won’t likely regret watching it if you tune in.

65. City of Ember

I thought this film had plenty of potential based on the previews I saw for it, and while it wasn’t as entertaining as I had hoped, it was a really interesting film. There’s plenty of philosophical points of discussion to be had while weaving through the plot, and the characters were well developed. Don’t use Bill Murray as a reason to see this film, because he’s not a central focus of the movie nor is he a comedic element. See it if you like movies which pose questions of society and the government’s role therein. Skip it if you’re looking for an entertaining popcorn flick on a Friday evening.

66. Never Let Me Go

In learning that Andrew Garfield had been cast as the new Peter Parker in the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, I wanted to see more of his work. I spotted him as a talented actor in IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS (despite not enjoying the film) and clearly he did well in The Social Network. When I saw the cast of Never Let Me Go also included Keira Knightley and one of my new favorite actresses, Carey Mulligan, I had to give it a watch. It’s certainly NOT a “feel good” story, but it’s certainly more interesting than you’ll give it credit for if you only watch the first half hour of the movie, once you start to get an idea for what the plot of the film is all about. Do yourself a favor if you decide to watch it, don’t look up any details about the film. Don’t read the back of the box. Just put it into your DVD player, hit play and enjoy the performances as the story unfolds.

67. Bart Got A Room

The previews for this movie make it look entertaining, but for the most part, it’s not. The lead character isn’t very sympathetic other than the fact that you’ll likely feel bad for the familial situation he’s in. Had the movie taken a different turn near the beginning of the film and his original choice to attend Prom with had agreed to the date, the movie could’ve been a lot better, even if the end result was exactly the same. Someone reading an early draft of the film should’ve given that suggestion, and had they been convincing, this movie might’ve actually made money instead of only collecting revenues to cover less than HALF of its paltry $2 million budget.

68. Inglorious Basterds

With Quinton Tarantino, you know you’re in for (at least) a very good film with no shortage of blood, so when I watched this movie, I wasn’t exactly surprised by anything, though I was a bit disappointed. The performances by Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl and Melanie Laurent were all very, very good, to be certain.  My problem lies with the brutal nature of some of the scenes. The scalpings done by the Basterds definitely adds to their depth of character, and the brutality of the Bear Jew certainly gives you an idea for how devoted he was to the cause, but in both cases Quinton Tarantino makes the decision to get way too graphic with his depiction of their acts than need-be. Perhaps if this movie makes it to a basic cable channel I can DVR it and make sure it never gets deleted so I can watch it as often as I like, but the theatrical version which made it to DVD was simply too graphically violent for my taste.

69. Take Me Home Tonight

I was a huge fan of the television series THAT 70’S SHOW, so when I saw Topher Grace was doing a movie set in the 1980’s and I heard it was written by people involved with the show, I was hooked. Anna Faris was as entertaining in the film as I knew she was going to be, the same can be said of Dan Fogler (who made BALLS OF FURY way more entertaining than it needed to be). I’m guessing that other guys who watch Take Me Home Tonight will enjoy Teresa Palmer, the main love interest, as much as I did. The only thing that took away from my enjoyment of this film was the sound editing. Demetri Martin, whose work I don’t always enjoy, had some great lines of dialogue in this film, and Chris Pratt portrayed Anna Faris’ boyfriend really well, to the point where you don’t know whether you want to like him or hate him and you understand why Topher Grace (Faris’ character’s twin brother) feels the same.  One scene would be quiet and I’d have to turn up the volume to hear the dialogue, and the next scene would have music turned up loud enough that I’d have to quickly reach for my remote to turn it way back down again, which affected the overall perceived quality of the film enough that my wife got annoyed and decided not to finish watching it because she found herself not connecting with the characters due to that annoyance which seemed to happen every three minutes. All in all, if the sound was edited right, I wouldn’t call it a classic, but it’s a movie I’d watch again and again.

Potential Nominees From These Films

Best Supporting Actress – Keira Knightley (Never Let Me Go)

Best Supporting Actress – Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Best Supporting Actor – Ed Harris (That’s What I Am)

Best Supporting Actor – Alexander Walters (That’s What I Am)

Best Supporting Actor – Jamie Foxx (The Soloist)

Best Supporting Actor – Brad Pitt (Inglorious Basterds)

Best Supporting Actor – Tommy Lee Jones (Captain America)

Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)

Best Actress – Saoirse Ronan (City of Ember)

Best Actress – Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go)

Best Film – The Fighter

Best Film – Never Let Me Go

Best Film – Inglorious Basterds

On Deck for September

True Grit
Hall Pass
Precious
Avatar
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Swedish)


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