Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Best of 2011: Favorite Movies


Once upon a time we  had two incomes, no children, and loved the movies. So almost every Friday we’d meet immediately after work for the discounted 5:30PM showing. We often saw 30+ movies a year. Then we became parents.

Thanks to the world’s greatest babysitter, we made it to a movie theater EIGHT times in 2011. I thought perhaps Brian and I had broken a new record, but based on my 2007 Best of (or rather, the list of every movie I saw that year), we merely tied that year. Note, that is also the year we discovered our babysitter, and that the record held because we had a baby in 2008. Torrie will be going to college soon, and there is no baby on the way, so come on Hollywood, help us make it to NINE in 2012!

In all honesty, we still watch around 30 movies a year…but now they are usually on DVD or a random discovery on cable after the kids are asleep. Remember, I’m behind the times. You probably saw some of these titles more than a year ago. Nonetheless, my favorites from 2011:



  1. Midnight in Paris

I used to love Woody Allen, until he became intertwined with Lolita’s Humbert in my mind. I can’t deny though that these were the two hours of movie-watching I most enjoyed this year. Perhaps it had a little to do with the lovely Brandy Alexander I was sipping. My dad used to make those every New Year’s Eve, so I was already in a nostalgic mood. And I’d just read The Paris Wife, in which the Lost Generation of artists were just as appealing.

Luke Wilson seems to be doing a Woody Allen imitation at times (especially during the lost-earrings scene), and Rachel McAdams seems wasted in this shallow role. And yet---it reminded me of Purple Rose of Cairo, my previous favorite WA film,in which another protagonist has to choose between fantasy and reality. The way he films Paris with a lover’s eye, surrounded by a wonderful soundtrack, reminded me of the way he treated NYC in Hannah & Her Sisters. Part of the thrill was recognizing who was playing who (“Dali” I yelled at the start of Adrian Brody’s scene stealing), so I don’t know how it would hold up to repeat viewings. But like Marion Cotillard’s character, it was  lovely and fun.

2. Barney’s Version

I saw Lara’s review on FB “your parents will love it” and thought, I must be getting old. I thought it was a total guy movie, since it is from Barney’s point of view and Paul Giamatti gets three beautiful women to marry him. But Brian didn’t care much for it. I loved it and was thrilled when others saw it so we could discuss it (for the record, I think Miriam set him up---and rightfully so!). A rare one I’d love to see again.


3. Blue Valentine

Beautiful and painful to watch. Ten years ago, when friends called to say they had news, it usually meant they were expecting. Today, it usually means they’re getting a divorce. Maybe it’s just our age, but in 2011 the news of divorce seemed to come up over and over. I love how this movie manages to show how right and wrong both partners can be simultaneously, and how the very things that made you fall for someone can be the same things that make you want to scream later. 

4. *The Help

It was so much better than I expected. It still didn’t come near the power of the novel, but I was very grateful that it began and ended with Aibileen’s voice.

5. *Moneyball

Low expectations contributed to my enjoyment of The Help; high expectations almost ruined Moneyball for me. There’s actually very little baseball in this baseball movie. The book, too, used Billy Beane’s character as its arc, but to greater effect. Brad Pritt was perfect, but I wonder what it might have been if Steven Sodenbergh had stay on. Still, the banter and acting were great.

6. Please Give

No, this isn’t a great movie. But I’m still thinking about it, months later, so it ranks up here. I love the way it plays with greed, guilt, and generosity. Oh, and the beauty of fall leaves. 

7. *Bridesmaids

I haven’t thought about this movie once, and that was its own particular beauty. Hilarious, gross and fun.

8.*Source Code

A light, entertaining action movie. Almost, but not quite makes up for Jake’s role in Love and Other Drugs, the worst movie I saw this year.

9. Winter’s Bone

I saw it at this time last year---and still remember it. I’m 42. That’s how good it was.

10. The Adjustment Bureau

We hadn’t heard anything about this movie, so it was a delightful surprise.

Honorable Mentions: Easy A, Sarah’s Key,Win Win, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II, Crazy Stupid Love, Exporting Raymond.

*=one of our 8 big-screen ventures.

Movies I still want to see: Another Year; Tree of Life; Young Adult; The Decedents;  Poetry; The Guard; Hugo, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Newlyweds; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; Beginners.

One last movie note of 2011…I took the boys to Grand Junction the last week of the year. Aidan got to pick whether we’d see Hugo or Tintin. He chose Tintin. I was disappointed at first because it sounds like Hugo is a better movie. But Aidan loves Tintin, and so I love him too---and he just radiated joy sitting next to me in that theater at the very first sight of Snowy. He was laughing throughout it and loved explaining to me who people were or predicting what would happen next. So Tintin was one of my favorite times at the movies this year too.


  1. one of the best parts of the New Year is that YOU ARE BLOGGING. hip hip hooray.

    i hope to ready many, many, many more posts in the months to come!! i can never get too much keating.

  2. How fun to get your comment---and on this post where I made my "at this age when friends call with news" point. When we got your GREAT news, Brian teased me "See---we're not that old yet!" Well, we are, but at least we know some young people:)

  3. I started reading your posts when I noticed in your comments on African Kelli that you are located in Moab. I have family there and hope to move there in the next few years. I tend to see lots of movies in theaters-50+ but have yet to see Tintin. That movie is on the agenda for tonight and thanks to your comments I think I will enjoy it even more.


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