So, 2011 was not a great year for me writing wise. I only had 31 entries on this blog, less than half of previous years, but it was because life happens and I didn't always have the time to write. Now that I have the time, I'm trying to get back into it, and I might as well offer up my summation of 2011.
Now, I only saw 19 movies in the theater this year. I'm trying to catch up with as many 2011 movies as possible through Netflix, but it'll take awhile before all of the movies I want to see come out on DVD. So with that in mind, I'm only going to present a top 5, and a bottom 1 for 2011 until I can better judge the year (whenever that may be, there are still 2010 movies I wanna see but haven't caught up with yet):
The only movie this past year that I'd classify as a masterpiece, 50/50 kinda came outta nowhere at me. I love all of the actors that are in it, but had never heard of the writer Will Reiser, nor the director Jonathan Levine. So I was taken aback while sitting in my theater seat, watching the directorial command of tone and storytelling, and the wonderful evocation of a multitude of emotions from the writing.
It tells the story of Adam, a 27-year-old radio journalist who finds out he has a rare cancerous tumor on his spine. He's told his chances of survival are only 50/50, and his best friend Kyle's remark that "50/50? If you were a casino game you'd have the best odds. You're gonna be fine." doesn't help. He's sent to a therapist, Katherine, to help him cope with his life changes, but he's only her third patient, and ends up helping her grow as much as she helps him. Adam also has to deal with his overbearing mother, and his inconsistent girlfriend, while his whole life is turned upside down with cancer.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt proves again that he's our finest young actor (not that we needed reminding after movies like Mysterious Skin, 500 Days of Summer, Brick, and The Lookout), and this is among his best work. His journey as he goes through the few highs and many lows of cancer treatment is rendered with such honesty and heart from Gordon-Levitt that I hope he's not forgotten when Oscar time comes around, it's the best performance I saw this year. Not to be out done, the supporting cast is flawless, especially Angelica Huston as the mother. Her love for her son, while also caring for her Alzheimer stricken husband, is palpable and Huston's subtlety in the performance is heart wrenching in some scenes, it's another award worthy piece of work from her. While Anna Kendrick is very good as the therapist, it's not all that different from her work in Up in the Air as George Clooney's young tag along. The real surprise for me was in Seth Rogen as best friend Kyle. He brings a ton of humor, and a real dramatic weight to his character.
But the best thing about this movie is that it's a movie about a young man getting cancer, it's very heavy in some moments, but it is extremely funny. While I would categorize Rogen as the "comic relief" the movie really doesn't need it as writer Will Reiser finds the humor in most situations without cheapening them. One of the best examples is that of Adam chemotherapy friends, who convince him (after he initially declines) that eating their weed-infused brownies is about the only way to get through something like chemo.
It ends quite perfectly, and there wasn't a single second of this movie that rang false for me, easily the best movie I've seen of 2011.