Well here we are again, halfway through the movie season. And like every other year, 2011 has been filled with highs and lows. We’ve had movies that should have been directly released to DVD (Red Riding Hood). We’ve had movies where filmmakers were more interested in a paycheck than worthwhile storytelling (Hangover, Part II). But we’ve also had some bright spots that help us forget the rest. Almost. So here are my selections for the 2nd annual Philly Post’s Mid-Year Movie Awards. In no way have these “awards” been decided by a vote of movie professionals or even a panel of experts. No. They’ve been decided by me. And even though I was unable to see many award-worthy movies—mostly independents like Beginners, Win Win, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams—this hasn’t stopped me from making this list. And if you, my tens of readers, agree or disagree with any of my choices, please let me know.
Best Movie, Drama: Hanna
The most unapologetically original movie of the year. With a Clockwork Orange ambience, the electronica score of The Chemical Brothers, and pitch perfect performances from Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana, director Joe Wright’s dystrophic, minimalist thriller still has me gushing.
Runner(s)-Up: Midnight in Paris, Super 8
Best Movie, Comedy: Bridesmaids
Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Melissa McCarthy shine in this year’s funniest, raunchiest, and most heart-felt comedy. But frankly, it won this category with one line: “It’s happening… I’m shitting in the street.”
Runner(s)-Up: Crazy, Stupid, Love., Horrible Bosses
Best Actress: Viola Davis (The Help)
As she did in Doubt, Davis is adept at creating strong but bruised women that utterly break your heart. Her portrayal of the strong, stoic, black maid Aibileen is a wonderfully restrained performance.
Runner(s)-Up: Saoirse Ronan (Hanna), Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Best Actor: Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life)
I still can’t tell you what The Tree of Life is about. (Or why there were dinosaurs in it.) But I do know that Pitt is devastatingly ferocious as the repressed, controlling father.
Runner-Up: Will Ferrell (Everything Must Go)
Worst Movie: The Hangover, Part II
(Plot of Hangover, Part 1 + bigger budget + Bangkok – joy) x mean-spirited humor = Waste of time & money.
Runner(s)-Up: Sucker Punch, Something Borrowed, Red Riding Hood
Best Sequel: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
It is hard to believe that the last chapter of Harry Potter has finally been closed. Fans are rewarded with a wonderful encapsulation of the best aspects of all the films: spectacular special effects, editing, cinematography, an unbelievable cast, and haunting and memorable music. It is a magical end to an extraordinary series.
Runner(s)-Up: X-Men: First Class
What the Hell Was That?: Cowboys and Aliens
A concept that was stupid awesome turned into a movie that was just stupid. And slow. After the woefully inadequate Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, why would Harrison Ford agree to make another movie with aliens?
Runner-Up: The weird dance that Babydoll does in Sucker Punch.
The Movie We Didn’t Know We Wanted: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
With Tim Burton’s so-so 2001 remake fresh in my mind, as well as my fatigue of seeing another origin story, I was not excited by an addition to the Apes oeuvre. But ignoring its overly prepositional-phrased title, Rise is an exciting movie with stellar performances and special effects.
Runner-Up: Friends with Benefits
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