I don’t do Worst Of lists. You don’t need me to tell you that Fast Five was garbage (or maybe you do). Or that Bucky Larson was “just as bad” as you thought it’d be.
Instead, I like to offer a few of the year’s biggest disappointments – films that I had high hopes for, but ultimately crashed and burned. 2011 was a great year for cinema, but there were more than enough clunkers (from remarkable directors, no less) to fill an entire post. Here are a few of them, alphabetically.
A unique, inspired concept – that there is not only another planet Earth, but there is also a replica of every living person – started great, but fell dismally flat. Brit Marling (who also co-wrote), and terrific character actor William Mapother gave it their all, but the material crushed their talent. A complete waste of time.
A Dangerous Method
Like so many movies from 2011, A Dangerous Method featured great performances (or performance, really) that went next to nowhere because of the film’s weak script and flawed execution. Cronenberg – Freud – Jung – Mortensen – Fassbender; should’ve been gold. I expected more, didn’t you?
After his masterful streak that included Oscar darlings Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima, people have been seriously hating on Clint Eastwood. Sure, Changeling, Gran Torino, Invictus, and Hereafter have their problems, but J. Edgar is the director’s first inarguable disaster since, what, The Rookie? Long, pointless, and ungodly boring, J. Edgar is made all the more heartbreaking by boasting an excellent Leonardo DiCaprio performance. The man was seriously let down.
One of the worst films of Steven Spielberg’s career is this horribly didactic drama about a beloved horse’s unrealistic life in wartime. With its jam-it-down-your-throat optimism, lifeless battle sequences, misguided direction and forced acting, War Horse could’ve been a contemporary classic (Spielberg + war = heaven), but instead it’s a by the book, playing-it-safe farce.
We Bought a Zoo
Given the disaster that was Elizabethtown, I can’t say that I was exactly disappointed by Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo. But because Crowe is responsible for such contemporary greats as Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky, I can’t be faulted for holding out hope. Sadly, We Bought a Zoo’s dismal trailer was evidence of what was to come. Like War Horse, Crowe played it safe and banked that the holidays would help propel his family film to greatness. How wrong could he be?
Crazy, Stupid, Love
The Iron Lady
The Iron Lady
My Week with Marilyn
I spent much of the latter part of 2011 dubbing it The Year of the Great Performance in the Mediocre Film (for the record, it was also The Year of the Non Ending, but who wants to read a bunch of spoilers?), and all of the films listed here help ring my notion true. I didn’t care for any of films listed above, but I did, however, care for the performance(s) in them.
Ryan Gosling made Crazy, Stupid, Love somewhat bearable, Woody Harrelson breathed a little life into Rampart, while Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Michelle Williams, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Meryl Streep will all be nominated for Oscars in films completely unworthy of their performances.
All in all, 2011 was, I believe, the best year for film since 2007, which is saying a lot. But I’m curious: What was your biggest cinematic disappointment from 2011?