37. The Eagle
The more I think about it, the lower on the list I think I should have put this. I love an historical action film and the Roman Empire had some great visual style, but I’m remembering that the story here didn’t make any sense. That’s the problem with making this list at the end of the year; I forget stuff like that. Still, my recollection isn’t that I disliked it, so the visuals and action must have been pretty good? Maybe I just blocked out the worst parts. I dunno; you tell me. I’m certainly not watching it again to find out.
36. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
An intriguing drama with some great actors, but very, very slooowww.
35. Sucker Punch
Awesome visuals and set-pieces; confusing message about female empowerment. Hell, just confusing in general.
Beauty and the Beast for the Twilight crowd. And me, apparently. Not exactly original, but I’m a huge sucker for that particular fairy tale and Beastly hit the right beats to make it work for me. Vanessa Hudgens doesn’t give me a ton of reasons to believe Alex Pettyfer would fall that hard for her, but he’s great in it and sells the attraction anyway.
33. Drive Angry
Great grindhouse schlock. Didn’t exactly make me love Nicholas Cage all over again, but it’s my favorite thing he’s done in years.
32. Conan the Barbarian
I’ve seen the Schwarzenegger Conan movies countless times, but I don’t hold the first one in as high regard as most fans do. In fact, I like Conan the Destroyer a lot better. Which is to say that my standard for this movie was pretty low and it met my expectations just fine. It’s not a great movie and it’s not everything a Conan movie should be, but compared to the rest of the sword-and-sorcery movie genre that exists in reality and not an ideal world, it’s toward the top of that pile.
31. Our Idiot Brother
I loves me some Paul Rudd, but this is not his best movie. It’s funny in parts, but the message is overly simple: that uptight women need to chillax like the bros.
30. The Adjustment Bureau
A good thriller marred by a rushed ending. Still, I love Matt Damon and I totally bought the romance between him and Emily Blunt.
I also love Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill (and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but he’s wasted in this movie). The game-changing formula that this movie is based on is fascinating; I just never got a great feel for what the movie is trying to say about it. Is it a good thing? A bad thing? A little of both? If it’s a little of both, why does it matter enough to make a movie about it? The film works a little better as a drama about Brad Pitt’s character, but even then I’m left unsure what it’s trying to say and I’ve spent some time thinking about it.
28. The Green Hornet
I probably would have hated this movie had I been a Green Hornet fan, but I’m not and I don’t mind its light-hearted approach. I allow myself one Seth Rogen movie a year so’s not to get burned out and I enjoyed this one. Kind of wish I’d held out for 50-50, but oh well. This was fun, if dumb.
27. Fast Five
Speaking of dumb fun, Fast Five could have squandered the opportunity of putting Vin Diesel and The Rock in the same movie together. The cynical me actually expected it. But it didn’t. Not only did it make the most of their screen time together, it built a storytelling engine that will easily (and interestingly) power this series for the next few movies. On the other hand, them dragging that safe down the street at the end was helladumb.
26. The Mechanic
I only have vague memories of the Charles Bronson original version, but what I do remember was handled more to my liking in this one. I know that’s cryptic, but I’m mostly talking about the last five minutes of both movies. Anyway, a better-than-average Jason Statham vehicle, improved by the presence of Ben Foster.
25. Source Code
Nice scifi story. It didn’t stick with me like a great movie should (maybe ’cause I figured out what was going on too early?), but it kept my attention and I rooted for Jake Gyllenhaal to figure out a way to save and end up with Michelle Monaghan’s dead character.
Very funny and I like the meta-message it sent about gender equality in Hollywood films. I didn’t buy into the romance like I was supposed to (mostly because I didn’t like Kristin Wiig’s character much), but it was still a funny movie with actresses I love and some nice heart.
My friends who’ve seen the original tell me that I’m not supposed to like this, but – like with Green Hornet – I have the luxury of getting to judge it purely on its ability to make me laugh. Which it did. And the relationship between Russell Brand and Helen Mirren was awesome and touching.
22. Friends With Benefits
An almost perfect romantic comedy foiled only by a resolution as cheesy as those in the other romantic comedies it mocks. Between this and Bad Teacher though, I’m right on board the Justin Timberlake Is Awesome train now. I was already there with Mila Kunis, whom I’ve loved since That ’70s Show.
21. Real Steel
Unambitious, but it does what it does – tell a sentimental story about a man’s redemption, both to himself and to his son – really well.