The Best of the Rest, 2011 Edition

by Ben Travers

9 January 2012


Best Romantic Comedy and more...

Best Romantic Comedy - No Strings Attached

OK, so working within the aforementioned confines of the genre and coming out on top is no small feat. Both the winner and the runner-up are incredibly predictable and actually feature plots based around casual sex. What separates the winner from the loser isn’t much. If you like one more than the other, than I’m not going to put up much of an argument. Though their plots are incredibly similar (sex buddies who slowly become couples), what I like more about the Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman version is the couple’s chemistry.

Don’t get me wrong – JT and Mila Kunis are no slouches. After all, she earned that Academy Award nomination and he earned his…well, job as an actor. But Portman won the Academy Award for a reason. She even manages to bring the likable if formally flawed Kutcher up to her level. Well, maybe not quite that high, but lofty enough to make the movie as innocently sweet and fun as it intends to be. There was no When Harry Met Sally or Love, Actually this year, but I’ll settle for something I’m happy to find on TV some lazy Tuesday night.

Runner-up: Friends with Benefits

Best Science Fiction Movie - The Adjustment Bureau

You may have noticed the Matt Damon/Emily Blunt picture a few slots above as the runner-up for Best Romance, and I really think that’s where it belongs. The film’s success came from its stars’ talent, passion, and chemistry – all of which sprouted from their characters’ budding romance. The science fiction angle was merely passable. I mean, what was with those hats? Weird.

Yet in a weak year for sci-fi, The Adjustment Bureau managed to hold onto its title throughout the year after its early March release date. After major disappointments (like Cowboys and Aliens) and minor ones (like Super 8), The Adjustment Bureau kept looking better and better. I wouldn’t have bet on it early, but I’m glad to congratulate it late.

Runner-up: Source Code

Best Sports Movie - Moneyball

Can Aaron Sorkin do no wrong? I mean, we all know Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip didn’t pan out quite as planned, but even the last few episodes of the NBC bomb were far superior than much of what’s on the network’s schedule today. After that, Sorkin wrote the undervalued Charlie Wilson’s War, the appropriately regarded Social Network, and now has adapted the unadaptable – a math book.

Moneyball was not only met with the wide embrace of most critics, but the public as well. It’s earned more than $74 million domestically, such an impressive sum it’s sparked Oscar talk for its writer and its star. Brad Pitt deserves it, too. His portrayal of the renegade Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane is almost as incredible as Sorkin’s remarkably entertaining script. What will he do next? Adapt the phonebook?

Runner-up: Uhhh…nothing. Wait! Warrior!

Best Superhero Movie - The Green Lantern

That’s right. Screw all you haters. I’m not about to get into this again. Let me just say, if you really, honestly, truly believe Captain America is a superhero movie then you must in turn believe Sylvester Stallone to be a superhero as well. While I’m fine with that classification, I can only accept it if its made a worldwide standard. Until then, running kind of fast and jumping kind of far only make a man athletically gifted, not super.

Runner-up: Thor - Can gods be superheroes? Meh. Inconsequential.

Best Thriller - Contagion

Another weak category in another weak year, Steven Soderbergh’s epidemic thriller comes out on top almost by default. Frankly, there wasn’t much competition. Still, the all-star cast earns their film its prize. It’s not your typical thriller, but it does provide the requisite frights, even if its final message is little more than what your mother told you every day before dinner.

If only Gwyneth Paltrow would have washed her hands. Then we would have been spared this chilling image of the late mother and wife, as well as the dozens of grotesque demises that follow in Soderbergh’s spookfest. Contagion would be the most harrowing documentary ever filmed if the events depicted were, in fact, true. As is, its terror lies in the plausibility of their occurrence sometime soon.

Runner-up: Super 8

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