2011: Dud Year for Movies?


Friday, December 02, 2011

This year saw a record number of sequels, reboots, and spin-offs: of the ten highest grossing movies, only one, Bridesmaids, was entirely original.

Kurt Andersen talks with Sharon Waxman, editor of Hollywood business site The Wrap, about why 2011 ended up being a mediocre year for films. Waxman believes movie studios were more risk averse not because of the gloomy economy but because of competition from other entertainment media, especially from videogames like Call of Duty MW3, which had a record-setting release in November. That skittishness leads to more sequels because studios feel safer relying on known brands, Waxman says. "Anybody in movie industry will tell you: you need a brand to start with to grab moviegoers' attention. That's why you've seen Muppets come back. Why you've seen Smurfs come back. And they've done ok."

But Waxman is optimistic that the competition will push studios into a more creative phase. She points to Freddie Wong, who she describes as “a Tarantino-esque kind of videogame-aged style director. He became a hot property after making six-minute movies on YouTube and now everybody's after him to make a feature film. So the creativity is going to come from the margins.”

Here are the movies that topped Kurt's list (in alphabetical order):

  • Another Earth
  • Attack the Block
  • Drive
  • Limitless
  • Margin Call
  • Moneyball
  • Our Idiot Brother
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Super 8
  • X-Men: First Class

He's looking forward to seeing:

  • The Artist
  • Barney's Version
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Muppets
  • Shame


What was the most overrated movie of 2011? How about the most underrated?
Tell us in a comment below.

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Sharon Waxman

Produced by:

Michele Siegel

Comments [12]

Madmoves from Brooklyn

Shame is completely overrated. It's a classic "Grey Turd" indie. Like In the Bedroom or Half Nelson, it falls into that category of grave self important navel gazing indies. Why critics are gaga over this baffles me to no end. Then again, they loved Shipping News as well. I've nothing wrong with touchy subjects (no pun intended) such as sex addiction, but at the end of the day this is a story about a guy who's a 24/7 wanker. It's not that deep or as serious as it pretends to be, no matter how long the takes are. But its biggest crime is that it portends that to be serious you cannot be entertaining. Shame hasn't an iota of entertainment. When seen in the light of far more compelling indie fare addressing serious themes, a movie like Dirty Pretty Things, shows you can have gravitas while being riveting. Perhaps, the critics obsession with Shame, is that deep inside that they relate to the antagonist in that they spend far too much time "reading" internet porn with one hand. Shame gets four grey turds of a rating in my book.

Dec. 30 2011 01:38 AM
Biff Not Zeem from Seattle, WA

I have seen three movies in a theater this year. Two of them were independent film biographies ('Senna' and 'There But For Fortune'). "Senna" was amazing, but I named one of my kids after Senna, so I am obviously a bit biased on the subject. "There But For Fortune" was underrated. It seemed so timely even if about a guy who killed himself 30-plus years ago. The remaining film was "Super 8", which was a little overrated, but still good.

Dec. 11 2011 04:00 AM
Danielle Masursky from Syracuse, NY

Thanks for this conversation about movies and thanks to all the posters for their intelligent comments. A Dangerous Method is definitely the movie I'm most excited about seeing - something for GROWNUPS, with a great cast and a provocative story. Bonus - no diarrhea humor! (I think it's totally tragic that "adult" comedy has evolved into a gross-out fest - some of us are not stuck at age 16). One more note - I join the people who were disappointed with Hugo - guilty of very false advertising. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn't brought my children, who were bored through quite a bit of it. Beautiful movie, but not what it was billed to be.

Dec. 08 2011 09:51 AM
Jenny from Studio 360

Hey Vitiare -- you might enjoy Kurt's conversation with David Cronenberg:

Dec. 06 2011 04:59 PM

I felt A Dangerous Method was underrated. I don't hear anyone talking about that film and I didn't even hear about it until a month ago. I think it's a brilliant film and a must see especially for those psychology enthusiasts. Not to mention Keira Knightly finally got a role that showed her versatility and strength as an actor. Of course the other actors were awesome but I was particularly surprised by Keira's performance.

Dec. 05 2011 11:04 PM
eco_bach from canada

Have to agree with Kit above. Absolutely loved the sets, but the film as a whole (and most of the acting)felt 'flat' to me. Too many superfluous narratives. Dear Hollywood, a good story well told does NOT need the embellishment of 3D. Just my 2 cents.

Dec. 04 2011 01:35 PM
barbara from nashville TN

Fourty, really, fourty minutes of advertising I don't want to see, ruins any movie. Not even a free movie would motivate me to pay hard earned money to sit thru that again!

Dec. 04 2011 11:22 AM
Kerry Meyer from Kansas City

"Limitless," was annoying on par with "Social Network." Are these the people that we are suppose to aspire to? Or care about? Didn't care what happened to them. And they got what they deserve.

Dec. 03 2011 04:40 PM
Boston Moviegoer from Boston

Margin Call was just lost even in this area, where it was only shown at art movie houses. It was an intense movie, extremely good acting that walked the line between the expected "Wall Street" repeat or even "Smartest Guys in the Room" and character drama. Gee, Simon Baker actually has a dark side, but give me a Kevin Spacey with a dying dog for hitting the complex issues here. Who is damned and why.

Dec. 03 2011 01:23 PM
Kurt Andersen from Brooklyn, NY

I haven't seen Martha Marcy Mae Marlene. And, Kit, I'm afraid I was disappointed by Hugo, too. Beautiful to look at, though, and ambitious in its way. I assume the "ponderous" direction was Scorsese's over-literal attempt to reproduce the cinematic rhythms of the 1920s-30s.

Dec. 03 2011 11:52 AM
Jane from San Francisco, CA

It seems to me that Martha Marcy Mae Marlene is not getting the attention & praise it deserves.

I was blown away by the acting of Elizabeth Olsen, the strength of Sean Durkin's directing (which reminded me quite a bit of Michael Haneke), the power of the screenplay and in particular the economy of words and images to create a complete and haunting world. It's definitely the best movie I've seen this year and I think it will remain a favorite of mine for years to come.

Dec. 02 2011 04:30 PM
Kit Salisbury from Providence, RI

Hugo was enormously disappointing: while the film was visually beautiful (it IS Scorsese after all), the 3-D didn't add materially to the experience, the story was a hash, and the direction of the actors was ponderous (reaction shots that took 5 times longer than needed, as if he were padding the screening time). Advertised as a sort of plucky-young-orphan-with-clockworks story, it veers off into what amounts to an AFI tribute to Georges Melies and his place in cinematic history. As a former film student I was probably the only one in the theater who knew who Melies was, and while I appreciate GM's contribution to early cinema, the end seemed tacked on. Sadly not Mr. Scorsese's most organic work to date.

Dec. 02 2011 04:26 PM

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