As in most years, this year’s films ranged from good to so-so to bad. Just when it looked like there was small hope for the industry, Hollywood released a few films that actually had heart and even a good storyline. Below are the best of 2011 for those of you who have some time during the holidays to enjoy a good film.
1. The Ides of March
This George Clooney-Ryan Gosling mash-up is such a slow boil that the most suspenseful scene in the entire film is loaded with silence. It’s also a nice little commentary on the role of media when it comes to campaigning: Real reporters objectively disseminate the facts.
Who says women can’t be tastefully raunchy? The raunchiest being Melissa McCarthy who plays Megan, an off-kilter woman with lots of heart. McCarthy has been nominated for a Golden Globe for this role. Even though “sismance” — as in female bonding, the feminine of “bromance” — is an awful term, Bridesmaids is a great example of what women-centered comedies should look like. And it was directed by a man, Paul Feig.
3. Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol
With “how did they do that” gadgetry and death-defying stunts, M:I 4 delivers in a big way. Tom Cruise can still bring it when it comes to action films. Fortunately he doesn’t have to carry the film by himself. Paula Patton as Agent Jane Carter represents something rarely seen: black women as CIA agents. Hopefully, Patton will still be around for M:I 5 and beyond.
4. Straw Dogs
Alexander Skargard’s Charlie and Laz Alonso’s Sheriff Burke bring a certain appeal to the film. The plot lives and breathes the gray area between right and wrong. The extraneous plot points — such as a rape scene — leave lingering questions and open up a dialogue about class divisions and man’s inhumanity to man. Straw Dogs provides a powerful statement about what good people can do when pushed to their limit.
5. Things Fall Apart
This little-known Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson film is awesome. Most of you know it as the film for which 50 Cent lost a ton of weight. At its core, Things is a heart-warming and heart-wrenching film. The only thing this film is missing is a distribution deal so that it can be released to the public. It’s also 50 Cent’s finest acting to date.
6. Fast Five
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Vin Diesel, two favorite action stars, rumble in this clever action film. The cast, which includes Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, showcase their brawny talent in a smartly slick plotline. Using fast cars and lightning-quick thinking, director Justin Lin ultimately makes up to the audience for the lackluster appeal of his Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift.
7. Jumping The Broom
Starring Alonso and Patton, this film is producer T.D. Jakes’ best to date. He made sure to get the best for his cast: Tasha Smith, Gary Dourdan, Valerie Pettiford, Mike Epps, Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine. Showcasing the beauty of black love at its finest, Jumping the Broom is the best romantic comedy of the year.
This little-seen film packs quite the punch of heart and soul. Despite the comparisons to Rocky, Warrior is the kind of film that speaks to all ages, races, walks of life and in-between, using the maladjusted dynamics of a dysfunctional family and how it affects the children. Everyone owes it to themself to see this action-family film.
9. Tower Heist
It’s so good, it’s actually bad that Brett Ratner took this long to team up with Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller. Murphy goes back to his Axel Foley roots and shines. If only Ratner had not made that comment, and stayed on as producer of the 2012 Oscars, as he and Murphy undoubtedly had an interesting evening in store for the audience. Alas, one can only hope that there’s another action film in their futures.
10. No Strings Attached
Even though Natalie Portman’s Emma and Ashton Kutcher’s Adam go the round-about way of falling in love, it’s still a joy to watch them get there. This is how a friends-with-benefits movie is supposed to be done — unlike the film, Friends with Benefits.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Rio (best kid film), Take Me Home Tonight (best 80s nostalgia film), Transformers 3 (for die-hard fans of the robotic franchise) and Sucker Punch (best little-seen fantasy film).
Photo: A scene from Jumping The Broom