Monday, January 16, 2012

Biggest Disappointments of 2011

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.

Another Earth
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?

J. Edgar
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.

War Horse
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?

Albert Nobbs
Crazy, Stupid, Love
The Help
The Iron Lady
My Week with Marilyn
et al.
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?


  1. Not really surprised to hear that any of these are terrific disappointments. Just another year. Prefer the Best Of lists. At least with those I can take down notes of films to see. But thanks for doing this list anyway.

  2. Have not seen a single one of these but am sad to hear Another Earth and Rampart failed to meet up to your expectations. They sounded like the two I most want see on this list. Oh well at least you enjoyed the performances!

  3. @Pete I was really excited about those two as well. Just didn't do it for me. Woody is excellent in Rampart though.

  4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes and HP7: Part 2. But, usually, I watch movies after many fellow bloggers. So, I have chance to review my expectations. Playing little safe haan??

    As for 2011, last year I was rooting for couple of films to win(Inception and Social Network). This year, I don't find myself doing that. But, overall Yes, this was pretty good.

  5. @SDG Rise of the Planet of the Apes impressed me, but that's only because I thought it was going to be utter crap. Saw the first Harry Potter, fell asleep during the second, refuse to watch any of the others. Not for me.

    So no real standout favorites for you this year? Awards wise?

  6. Not really. Artist, Hugo, The Descendants, Midnight. Anyone can take it. But I wouldn't mind any one taking it over the other.

  7. For me it was Tree of Life, Dangerous Method and X men. First one was so boring, second was just a wasted opportunity and third one apart from Fassbender was just so average.

  8. @SDG I'm in complete agreement with you. None of my die-hard favorite films of the year are going to be nominated for anything, so the winners really make no difference to me.

  9. @Sati. Aside from Tree of Love, which I loved, I too agree about X-Men First Class. I thought it was a completely average action flick. Aside from Fassy, of course.

  10. The Descendants was the biggest letdown for me(but not the worst film). About Schmidt and Sideways are two of my all-time-favourites. Aside from the opening 15 min, his latest just didn't work on an emotional level for me, overlong and predictable. Its not a bad film, but not worth waiting 7years for!

    On a side note, Vanishing On 7th Street also failed to impress me, Brad Anderson is another director besides Alexander Payne I follow.

  11. @Chris I completely agree with you about The Descendants. I thought the acting and writing were particularly good, but the movie as a whole didn't wow me. Didn't catch Vanishing on 7th Street. Bummer it was a let down.