1. The Artist - This was the only film left on my "must watch" list from 2011. I was waiting to update my "best of" list until after I watched this, assuming that it would make the cut. It totally doesn't. The movie is enjoyable and all, but it's not remarkable in any way. It's just one of those films that you can't really say anything bad about, which is why it earned a ridiculously high 98% on the RT TomatoMeter and therefore, must be amazing. If it didn't have the gimmick of being a silent film, I honestly don't think anyone would have noticed it. The film is littered with all these life lessons like "beware of your pride" but it doesn't really evoke any sort of emotion. There were a few really beautiful scenes, the acting was decent (not Oscar-worthy) and it went a little bit darker than I was expecting but overall my best assessment is that it was cute.
2. This Means War - I can appreciate a film that tries to combine genres. Bringing together an action/adventure tale with a rom-com is a challenging concept. McG does a satisfying job at balancing the explosions with the relationship dialogue, but the movie is a complete disaster. The problem lies more with the script than anything else. It's offensive and disturbing on so many levels. Two CIA operatives (Tom Hardy and the guy from Star Trek) fall in love with the same woman (Reese Witherspoon), but instead of handling it like sane adults, they decide to compete for her love in the most psychotic ways possible. They break into her home, spy on her, and then use the information they get to pretend that they are well-rouned individuals. The two men are opposite in nature, Hardy portrays the "nicer" one (and he's waaaaaay hotter, too. This makes the entire plot pointless. The choice is obvious from the start: Don't pick the less attractive douchebag. Duh.). The ending bothered me the most because it was sort of like a "fuck you" to the audience (meaning that it doesn't end how it should end). Reese's character needs some serious therapy, not the mind-numbing advice from her best friend, played by the never funny Chelsea Handler. I enjoy Chelsea when she interviews celebrities because she is very good at throwing them off their game, but as a comedian she is just not my idea of funny. Conversations amongst females in movies often makes me cringe, but the ones in this film are distressing. Women don't talk like that in real life, even the most vapid of women have more depth in their conversations than the women in this movie.
3. Newlyweds - I'm not really a fan of Ed Burns as a writer/director; The Brothers McMullen, Sidewalks of New York and She's the One all bored me to tears. Yet, I LOVE Ed Burns. I love him as a New Yorker, as an actor and as a passionate filmmaker. It is evident that he makes movies because he loves making them. He is always true to his own style and I have nothing but respect for him. Newlyweds was a film made for under $10,000 that was released online and marketed through social media sites like Twitter. It was a charming little movie and is certainly my favorite of his. The story felt very authentic. I have never been, nor will I ever be a "newlywed", but I can still relate to the problems that relationships face once family members become involved. I love the point of view that is given, which is that modern marriages have a shelf life and that even if a marriage is ending after 18 years it should be considered a "success". It was refreshingly honest, only slightly contrived and a bit funnier than I was expecting.
4. Jeff, Who Lives at Home - What a nice surprise this movie was. I was expecting a more slapstick comedy about a guy who still lives at home and can't get his shit together. Instead, it was a film that raises the ultimate questions of destiny vs. free will. Jeff, played to adorable perfection by Jason Segel, is a bit obsessed with following his own destiny, so much so that he is too afraid to live a productive life. He allows for "signs" to control his actions, which at the start of the story is the name "Kevin". His story unfolds as he follows these "signs" and it really is just about the sweetest story I've seen in a while. I really liked Susan Sarandon (as Jeff's mom) in the film. Her story arch was a bit unrealistic (as was most of the film), but her acting was superb.
5. New Year's Eve - I will never understand why a film like this attracts so many actors (oh yah...$$). I admit, I went in with a bad attitude, knowing full well that I would absolutely loathe it. I couldn't even process the thought of keeping an open mind after watching the similarly themed Valentine's Day, especially when such terrible actresses like Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel and Katherine Heigl are cast in the main story lines. It was dreadful. Too many plots, not enough development and cringe-worthy dialogue like "May the best vajayjay win". I was hoping the highlight would be Lea Michele belting out a song, but for some bizarre reason her voice was considerably dialed back. I'm hoping she gives up this "I want to be a movie star" mentality and goes back to Broadway. The actual highlight of the film is a bit surprising and a bit embarrassing to admit, but I have to be honest: Zac Efron. Simply adorable and held his own against Michelle Pfeiffer (who was either phoning it in or miscast, I can't decide). Also, did anyone else notice Alyssa Milano? She had like 1/2 a line of dialogue. Was it supposed to be a cameo or did the rest of her scenes get cut? So awkward. The end credits showed the cast having fun while filming their scenes. It's too bad they couldn't bring this fun to the actual movie.