Hollywood shovelled 28 sequels at us in 2011, more than any other year in the history of moving pictures. Add in countless unnecessary remakes (here's looking at you Conan the Barbarian) and the past 12 months stand out as some of the worst in recent memory (despite three offerings from the always-awesome Nicholas Cage).
Best Date Movie
This year it was a no-brainer — take a girl to a movie made by girls, for girls, about girls (and is tolerable for the rest of us). Written by and starring Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids took the Judd Apatow envelope-pushing style and pumped it full of comedic estrogen. Runner-up is 80s throwback comedy Take Me Home Tonight by director Michael Dowse (Fubar, Goon).
2011 horror movies were generally as scary as an ice cream sundae, but if you didn't mind reading subtitles I Saw the Devil is a Korean ultraviolent murder/revenge flick that looks at the depths of human evil, and goes way past it. Runner up is Red State by Kevin Smith who turns in some of his best work since Dogma.
Action is Hollywood's specialty these days, but unfortunately they're still figuring out how to insert that action into a solid story with decent characters (sorry SuckerPunch, you blew it) so the champ this year is Hanna, the teenaged-girl-assassin-on-the-run masterpiece that brought Euro sensibilities to America's big genre.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes took an origin-story approach to the time-honoured monkey franchise and ended up with a flick that was both entertaining and creepily foreboding at the same time. Killer effects, solid acting and hot-ass Freida Pinto make this one ape-tastic.
It was slim pickings this year but I like my comedy uncomfortable so Young Adult, the opening film of the 2011 Whistler Film Fest takes top honours. Charlize Theron absolutely slays it as a slightly deranged writer who returns to her small town roots. Juno writer Diablo Cody returns to form and director Jason Reitman is on a 4-for-4 winning streak that includs Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air.
Kung-Fu Panda 2 is a visual tour-de-force that integrates old Chinese art styles with flashy graphics and good humour (and Angelina.) Rango brought some gonzo style to the screen (and hot visuals) and Rio showed what colour is supposed to look like.
Best Flick You Didn't See
Drive, starring Ryan Gosling, is one of those action/love stories with the beauty of a ballet and the impact of a 2x4 to the face.
Best of the Year
I'm gonna go all-Canadian this year and give top honours to Jason Eisener's crazy bloodbath Hobo with a Shotgun. A dystopian near-future that only a Hobo can salvage. This one is not for the faint of heart. Runner-up: Jay Baruchel's Goon because its high time we got a decent hockey movie.
Happy New Year, bring on 2012 (not the movie, the year).