2011

The following is a comprehensive list of every film I’ve seen that debuted in the year 2011 in a U.S. theater, or if not released in the U.S., then released in 2011 in its home country. My favorite 20 films are ranked, while the remaining are in approximate order according to overall feelings and lasting impressions. Films near the top are worth watching, while films near the bottom are not worth your time. Those movies seen in the middle portion are worth filtering through and watching, depending if it peaks your specific interest in the film, whether because it has a favorite director, actor, or interesting plot. A good rule of thumb: if it’s below the middle of the unranked section, then it probably isn’t worth watching.

1. A Separation

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i might be a bit biased but this is by far my favorite film from 2011, as well as the film that i think deserves the most respect. this is just pure quality drama with tension you can just feel so vividly from the writing and superb acting. Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi perfectly crafts drama in this Oscar winning foreign film set in Iran. absolutely a must watch film as it creates a unique type of suspense.

2. Take Shelter

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i really love this film and love this director, and i think each of his films are truly one of a kind and unique yet near perfect in quality. a suspenseful drama with aspects of psychological thriller and some very well crafted moments. any time a filmmaker writes and directs his own film, the vision of the film is properly executed, and i think this is proof of that idea. definitely watch this, especially if you like Michael Shannon. also check out the director’s filmography.

3. Tyrannosaur

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not many consider this film to be this high up on the yearly list, but i am biased and i think this film brings out an incredible amount of emotion in such a simple screenplay. great acting by Peter Mullan and a great directorial debut by actor Paddy Considine.

4. Incendies

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another incredible film from this year. technically i think this deserves to be even higher up on this list, but sometimes i let my biases towards certain films take over my lists on this site, and i think we will just have to settle for where this film is now. plain and simple, Incendies is just an awesome drama thriller with moments of intensity that will keep anyone on the edge of their seat, while simultaneously having moments of raw tear jerking emotion. some great twists and turns and you just have to watch it to understand why i love this film. foreign drama, so beware of subtitles, but trust me its worth every second.

5. Shame

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arthouse with no boundaries. when this film came out, it hit headlines because of its borderline porn scenes, but if you’re adult enough, watch this (preferably alone to avoid awkwardness) and just enjoy the masterful scenes of emotion and intense acting by Fassbender. this film is proof that a great screenplay with great direction can take an idea fit for a D rated film and make it A+ worthy cinema. so good.

6. I Saw The Devil

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once again, a wonderful film packed with emotion. great Korean drama mystery thriller with a lot of gore. its not so much gore that it’s disturbing, but it’s a lot of gore and violence nonetheless. i haven’t seen too many films that are better at having moments where i just want to cry my eyes out, while having other scenes where i’m scared shitless. good cinema.

7. 50/50

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simple Hollywood film that gets by on great acting and above average writing/direction. at moments this is nothing special, but its the few key moments that make you ball your eyes out that show how wonderfully made this film is. great performance by Joseph Gordon Levitt.

8. Hugo

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i think one of the more underrated big Hollywood films from this year. Scorsese imagines and creates a wonderfully ethereal world based on a children’s book. the cinematography and direction is just so magical and filled with passion and emotion that i cannot comprehend that this film was based on a children’s book, making it technically a children’s story. i think adults may love this more than their kids. must watch.

9. Beginners

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very good indie comedy drama starring Ewan McGregor. great style and execution and i love artsy little indie films like this that don’t try to be too meta. just good acting and writing and a nice little story about a man and all the elements of his life. perfect combination of love story with the sad moments of real life. think 500 Days of Summer.

10. Drive

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highly anticipated crime thriller Drive was very good but probably didn’t live up to the high expectations set out by the pre-leaked trailer and select scenes. there was a lot of hype with this film, and it definitely produced an incredible viewing experience but it was much shorter than expected and ended abruptly. maybe that is part of the magic? idk, it was good, but not amazing.

11. Poetry

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excellent Korean film with very sad and intense moments. great realistic acting. makes you feel like you are there with the character. true empathy and emotion, as well as a very interesting and artistic idea for a film. must watch film, as are most Korean films.

12. Pariah

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intense realism, solid acting, great movie. very well crafted screenplay and indie production on a very common drama film topic. teenage coming of age stories have been done before, but maybe not as wonderfully as this one.

13. The Artist

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this film definitely won too many Oscars in my opinion. it was great and cool to see a reimagining of earlier silent films with flashes of modern cinema, but this was overrated. probably not in the top 10 of the year, but definitely somewhere in the top 20. a must watch because of its originality and execution, but lacks the substance that a truly amazing film requires.

14. Midnight in Paris

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one of Woody Allen’s better films from this past decade. very well put together film. classic Woody with good acting and script. funny moments fill this must watch movie with a twist of romance.

15. 13 Assassins

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good raw action, but actually a very good film altogether. good story and plotlines and a truly wonderful cinematic experience. grab the popcorn, but expect your jaw to drop a few times. very exciting and enjoyable.

16. Martha Marcy May Marlene

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very artistic and indie, yet not as good as it could have been. slow and dry at times, this has a very creepy yet creative idea to it, but feels a bit try-hard. good acting by the lead.

17. The Descendants

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if you have seen other films by this director, you already know what to expect. grab a bottle of wine and enjoy this friday night flick. you’ll have a laugh and a cry and feel good about yourself, and you just might forget about this film in a week. classic modern indie comedy drama.

18. Warrior

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very good feel-good drama about two brothers who fight MMA with passion and do it for their families. i love this film and look forward to rewatching it and highly recommend anyone into films about fighting or films about dysfunctional families who still give it their all.

19. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

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felt like it was amazing at moments, but overall felt a little congested and convoluted. i think it tried too hard it certain aspects and the screenplay tried to do too many things, and the end result was a complex crime/war mystery with a good deal of suspense but not perfect execution.

20. The Guard

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Irish action comedy with Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson. if you enjoyed In Bruges, then you will love this. great writing and just a fun film to watch. don’t expect to be blown away, just expect a feel good comedy.

The Skin I Live In

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spanish speaking film from Almodovar. wonderful concept and execution. very artistic and good production. must watch.

The Tree of Life

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very sophisticated Malick film that comes off as a little pretentious but has some of the most beautiful visuals you will ever see. poetry in motion. way too philosophical for some but very good if you like arthouse. this is should be the definition of arthouse.

Moneyball

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being from the Bay Area, and being a huge baseball fan, i enjoyed this more than i should have, but it was nonetheless a good film. acting was very good too. check out the director’s other films also.

The Yellow Sea

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Korean film. bit of a tear jerker. good and dark writing, which is expected from a Korean drama. i recommend this to anyone looking to start in the Korean drama genre.

Weekend

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film about homosexuality that has no boundaries. if you don’t mind watching gay sex scenes, and would appreciate an artistic take on the subject of homosexuality in society, then this is a must watch. expect some good conversation and dialogue, but some explicit scenes.

Submarine

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very enjoyable indie comedy drama about a teenager and his life in England. has a very modern feel to it. i loved it.

Barney’s Version

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anything with Giamatti is great, and this is no exception. wonderful comedy drama. very fun and light and worth the watch.

Jane Eyre

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love the director and the previous film. this doesn’t hold up as well, but is still a great watch with great acting and costume. script is good but could be a lot better.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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not as good as the original but when is it ever? this American remake is still worth the watch for the production value.

Fast Five

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similar to the 4th film in the series. filled with action and fun moments. grab your popcorn and a beer, this is one of the most exciting films of the series, but not gonna win any awards.

Kill the Irishman

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very enjoyable film about organized crime and 70’s history in Cleveland. much fun, not perfect but still a good film. not up to Scorsese’s standards, but worth the watch.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

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great Indian film. forgettable moments but fun at the time of watch. action comedy more than anything.

Tuesday, After Christmas

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incredible Romanian film about a man and the two women in his life. very good piece of foreign cinema. must watch. not the most original idea for a film, but great arthouse execution and writing.

Melancholia

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i’m not exactly Lars von Trier’s biggest fan, so all i’m gonna say is that this is just as good as his other films…. great cinematography though.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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pretty well written considering the subject matter. very good action and good direction, and similar in quality to the many other scifi/superhero/fantasy films coming out during this time. CGI is kind of noticeable but overall a good film and fun to watch.

A Better Life

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a lot of feel good emotion in this film about a father who only wants his kid to have the life he never had. perfect for a family and wonderful for any movie night that requires a box of tissues. makes you appreciate the good fathers in this world.

Terri

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underrated hipster dramedy about growing up and dealing with issues of self esteem and social anxiety. good film for anyone really. funny moments, and overall an enjoyable watch.

The Trip

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hilarious comedy about two friends who eat a lot of food and crack jokes and impressions. British comedy is just so much better than American comedy, the humor here is genuine and not forced. i love this film and look forward to a sequel of some sort. some may find it boring or dry or too indie, but i find that this film makes for a perfect wine drinking night.

Win Win

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decent dramedy with emotional moments, but not the best or most original of its kind. has a hint of indie drama but mostly just a feel good dramedy with good acting. Giamatti is awesome.

In a Better World

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Oscar winning foreign language Dutch film about a somewhat cliche and simple idea. good execution with much emotion. perfect family film.

Carnage

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Roman Polanski adaptation of a play, very fun to watch these actors let loose, but ends very abruptly and leaves more to be desired. unique and fun idea for a film, but as i said, it was a bit too short.

X-Men: First Class

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actually a good prequel to a comic book film series. great cast and acting, not too cliche and overdone, with good plot and storyline which actually adds to the overall story of the comic book. this added a lot of necessary yet enjoyable background to the characters which made the feel more authentic and genuine. good overall production, yet not the most unique or original film.

A Dangerous Method

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was expecting so much more from a Cronenberg film about history’s most exciting psychoanalysts, but this is just alright. hoped this could be amazing, but it seems to be lacking a lot.

Le Havre

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good moments but overall just kind of alright. decent foreign film that still outshines most of what Hollywood puts out each year, but still just an average film in my opinion.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

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very fun Hollywood comedy drama about love. must watch for a fun saturday night.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

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underrated horror comedy with great writing. perfect execution in my opinion, and way better than most horror comedies you will see. just so unique…. must watch.

Rampart

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love most films with Woody Harrelson. this is definitely underrated and deserves more artistic respect, but i agree it can feel cliche and too Hollywood at times. very dark watch if you are into that sort of thing.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

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classic Brazilian film about the crime and killing in the ghettos of major Brazilian cities, as well as the mobs who run the underworld and leave the innocent helpless. very informative watch which is apparently not far from the truth. extremely exciting and enjoyable, yet sad.

Sidewalls

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good foreign language film set in Argentina about neighbors in an apartment building. great idea for a film. one of those unique films art students might study.

Thor

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typical comic book hero movie. not bad.

Hobo with a Shotgun

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satirical grindhouse horror comedy. tons of fun and not bad as a movie, but crude and gratuitous as far as the gore goes. definitely worth the watch if you are into something out of the ordinary… yea, definitely worth the watch.

Like Crazy

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love story with a good amount of emotion, and decent acting. cute actress and enjoyable if you are a hopeless romantic. not incredibly unique though.

Certified Copy

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very very unique but overly complex, even for arthouse. seems pretentious at times, but that is just the director’s style. definitely one of the contemporary directors you should know about, but his filmography is imperfect like most directors.

Attack the Block

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very unique Brit indie fantasy for young adults. was initially unimpressed but as time went by, it definitely sits better with you. would watch again, and would recommend to many who enjoy an unusual comedy action mystery fantasy indie film every once in a while.

Neds

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Peter Mullan directed drama about troubled teens in England suburb. good film. contemporary indie drama with a dash of action/violence. can be emotionally difficult to watch at times, but that is what makes it so good.

Source Code

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good director, tricky idea, decent execution, overall not a bad movie experience. definitely some memorable scenes.

Hesher
War Horse

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cliche Spielberg simple style Hollywood drama about a horse. nothing to write home about and surely forgettable. may make you cry while watching but definitely a story you won’t care about 15 minutes after the end of the movie.

Limitless

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good director and good acting but the story is basically about Adderall. yea not a bad film, but not exactly a good idea for a film. Hollywood may be running out of ideas. pretty good metaphors though.

Kinyarwanda

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pretty good African drama with prototypical storyline. not bad, just not that unique or especially well done.

Trust

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David Schwimmer directed should explain it all. not unwatchable, decent at moments, cliche and laughable at other moments.

Super

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kind of enjoyed this more than Kick-Ass, but its a shame that it has to be the copycat film of such a stupid idea for a film. would have loved it more if this was the original, it had some hipness to it.

We Bought a Zoo

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cliche Hollywood feel good drama with Matt Damon. watch with your kids or not at all.

My Week with Marilyn

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nothing special semi-biopic about Marilyn Monroe. nothing too memorable about this one, some good scenes, many whatever scenes.

Young Adult

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another version of Juno with a different storyline. unimpressed by this, but definitely had the writer’s and director’s respective characteristic styles. subpar performance by Theron though.

Horrible Bosses

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actually pretty funny and enjoyable. had a nice drunken laugh during this one. nothing more than a modern Hollywood comedy.

Bridesmaids

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typical Hollywood comedy. some laughs interspersed into boring viewage.

Contagion

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Soderbergh puts out another decent film that i probably wont remember in a year. enjoyable while watching, love the ending and the general idea. should check it out anyway.

Super 8

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J.J. Abrams does a decent job with this, but doesnt blow me away. definitely too much hype surrounded with this, and the script is so Spielberg-esque that i couldnt help by yawn throughout. the ending didnt pay off, but the first half was a great buildup with some real good acting and writing. good visuals which is expected from such an acclaimed visual director.

The Ides of March

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was hoping for much more from this one. not a terrible movie but definitely a forgettable one. politics, George Clooney and melodramatic elements; what more do you need?

Outrage

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typical Yakuza type Japanese crime thriller with great action and production but subpar everything else. not a bad film. wouldn’t necessarily remember to watch this if i was in the mood for this genre, so real need to recommend this over any other film from this director, who is very well known for this genre by the way.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

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not that bad of a film, but a little too simple and childish to be compared to adult films. great for the family as any Spielberg film is, but just not that special of a film.

Captain America: The First Avenger

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all the makings of a stereotypical modern comic book superhero film. love story was not developed, action was typical, story was decent but not surprising, and the acting was as expected. not a bad superhero film, just not a very special one.

The Flowers of War

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was hoping for more from this, but this Chinese American collaboration is just alright. nothing too exciting, but some as always good acting by Bale and the younger newer actors.

Another Earth

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unique and original but not the best writing or execution. very very average acting, which is expected from such a mediocre cast. wouldnt watch again, but not a bad film, just nothing to write home about.

Life, Above All

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another sad drama about a South African family. not bad, but nothing special. story has been done before.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

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was fun and great and nice and had a good story, but still just Tom Cruise in an action film jumping out of buildings. although one of the better Mission Impossibles.

Paul

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pretty funny and decently written for a typical comedy. all the usual characters and plays out just as you’d expect. its not terrible, and it can be enjoyable to watch, but look elsewhere for a unique movie. Pegg and Frost are a great writing and acting duo.

Cedar Rapids

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oddly enough i enjoyed this and thought it had more value and worth than most comedies on this level. this at least had some substance and grace and fell into a niche or style that isnt seen often in Hollywood comedies. was pleasantly surprised but still slightly underwhelmed. would recommend if you will Ed Helms.

Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster

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obviously not as good as the original. great watch for the fight scenes just as any film in this genre will be, but don’t expect a killer storyline (no pun intended).

Rio

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typical animated film. nothing worth saying about it. watch it if you like animated films. cant think of any other reason to really recommend this though.

The Adjustment Bureau

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nothing special here. move along.. just matt damon in another typical Hollywood movie with an interesting twist but a subpar execution.

The Help

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cliche and prototypical Hollywood white guilt movie about slavery. its been done before and it’ll be done many more times, so really no reason to see this one over others, except for a few great performances that might be a bit forgettable.

Everything Must Go

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on the surface, it may seem like a stupid comedy with no real substance, but the characters are actually likable and the story is uplifting at times and saddening at others. Ferrell shows more dramatic range here as an actor, and the director’s style allows for a more memorable film than one would expect. watch if you’re bored.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

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based on one of my favorite books, i was hoping for so much more from this story by this director but i don’t think he truly captures the essence of the writer (Jonathan Safran Foer). definitely one of those times where the book was better than the film. still a good performance by the kid and others.

The Iron Lady

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forgettable and largely uninspired. good performance by Streep is the only thing separating this from TV Movie status.

London Boulevard

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not very good, very forgettable, typical action sequences and plotlines. wouldn’t recommend.

Of Gods and Men

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very artsy and probably a very good film if i knew more about the religious subject matter or the spiritual and historic nature of the film, but i found it very boring and not very enlightening. would only recommend to a certain type of viewer.

Hanna

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forgettable and unenjoyable.

Coriolanus

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forgettable, complex at times, annoying and unenjoyable, some good moments and the potential of a much better film, but just doesnt execute at all. not even close really.

The Mechanic

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typical Statham action, don’t expect any flashes of creativity or unique writing. just simple expected action drama.

J. Edgar

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underwhelming and was hoping for so much more. decent performance but not a great movie. wonder if Eastwood is losing his touch. or maybe he never had a touch?

The Lincoln Lawyer

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not very special, legal drama thriller with expected plot. wouldn’t really recommend but not terrible.

The Hangover II

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not as funny as the first one, exact same plot. basically just watch it if you wanna get drunk and experience similar jokes and story as the first Hangover film.

The Rum Diary

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could have been a very special film but definitely something lacking from this film. beautiful leading actors, but surprisingly something is missing here that i can’t place my finger on. either way, it might be worth the watch, but go in with low expectations.

Margin Call

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wall street finance thriller with no real substance. kind of boring and hard to get into. kinda fake and uninspired. not really worth the watch unless you like that type of subject matter.

Friends with Benefits

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fun and quirky comedy drama that isn’t really special, but can be enjoyed by a certain type of viewer nonetheless. Mila Kunis is perfect to me, so i obviously had to see this. otherwise maybe nothing more than a chick flick.

Unknown

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unknown is unbelievably average. wouldnt recommend, but isnt terrible. watch if you want some Liam Neeson action.

The Change-Up

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average comedy starring Bateman and Reynolds. easy to look at cast and predictable plot and writing. some fun moments but mostly is what you would expect from a modern comedy.

The Sitter

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Jonah Hill comedy lacking real comedy. just some stupid plot with some stupid jokes. if im drunk, then im enjoying it. otherwise, why watch it?

Take Me Home Tonight

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very below average comedy with a touch of drama and romance. not very funny, not very good. don’t watch.

The Green Hornet

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i usually like Seth Rogen but this isn’t very good, not as a comedy and not as a comic book flick. although i’m glad there is finally a comic book film that doesn’t feel like a crime thriller like Dark Knight, i don’t think this is what a comic book film should feel like.

Waiting for Forever

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pretty uninspired and lacking creativity, acting, writing, and really everything else.

The Mill and the Cross

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tries very hard to be artsy but i don’t think was good at all. i’m not expert on arthouse or history inspired dramas, but i’m pretty sure this is just not good at all. very boring and kind of weird.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

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boring and not special. gets annoying after a while. maybe it’s just i can’t keep seeing Downey Jr. play the same character across different series. is he playing Tony Stark or Sherlock Holmes? i can’t tell.

Just Go With It

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just don’t watch it.

Margaret

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title character is annoying and i would only recommend it if you like the actors. not a terribly written film, but just isn’t that great and i found it simple and uninspired.

The Future

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just a bad film altogether in my opinion. very awkward feel, but i do admit that is part of the niche style, so if you like that style (Noah Baumbach-esque), then watch it. otherwise i can’t say this is a good film at all.


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