17.  Delhi Belly

In case you missed this Indian flick, Delhi Belly is a screwball comedy about three bumbling roommates who, through a series of coincidences, end up facing off with the mob.  The term Delhi Belly, if you don’t know, seems to mean something along the same lines of Montezuma’s revenge, which should suggest something about the film’s humor.  The comparison isn’t perfect, but I peg it as kind of like The Hangover, but with more of a 90s feel to the action and comedy.  At any rate, this movie is really funny and really could and should have crossed over to American audiences.

16.  My Week with Marilyn

My first attempt to see this movie was cruelly thwarted by a fire alarm at E St., fortunately I was able to see it later at AFI Silver.  I understand, to some extent, the incredulity of those who questioned the decision of a story involving Marilyn Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier focusing instead on a 17 year old intern as its main character.  But I think one would be better served to view this film not through the prism of an Oscar biopic, but a coming of age tale that happens to involve famous people.  The film is light and fluffy, but fun and engaging throughout.  It was a very pleasant palate cleanser during the run of Oscar watching last year.  Kenneth Branagh was solid.  He may have been my pick for the Oscar, though that was largely due to the thin group of nominees.  Michelle Williams was absolutely riveting in the role, and my choice for Oscar.  My only real criticism was that the film could have used more of Judi Dench and Emma Watson, both because films just need more of them in general, and because their characters were fun and underutilized.

15.  Super

This is a dark, dark superhero movie from the twisted mind of James Gunn that falls into the increasingly popular subgenre of a regular guy decides to put on a costume and fight crime.  Rainn Wilson stars as a cook in a diner whose wife (Liv Tyler) is lured away by a skeevy drug dealer (Kevin Bacon).  Drawing inspiration from TV’s Christian superhero The Holy Avenger (the impossibly awesome Nathan Fillion), Wilson becomes the Crimson Bolt and starts fighting crime, with the now-standard subplot of questions about whether a vigilante is good or bad for operating outside the system.  Ellen Page, who works at the comic book store Wilson went to research superheroes, figures out his identity and forces her way into being his sidekick, Boltie.  This film is the rare dark comedy where both the “dark” and the “comedy” work really really well, both separately and together.

14.  Colombiana

You have to hand it to Luc Besson, the man knows how to churn out top notch action movies.  I think he understands better than anyone else the essence of an action film: a badass character doing badass things.  It is no coincidence that Besson films tend to have short running times.  He believes in taut movies stripped down to their bare essentials.  And they are pure joy to watch, for fans of the genre.  The “twist” here is that the main character is a chick.  A very very badass chick.  Zoe Saldana (who, admittedly, may never surpass the highs of Drumline) cements herself as a viable action star and adds another movie to her collection of films where she is generally just awesome.  The cool thing here is that the character is written and played as an action hero who happens to be female, not a female action hero.

13.  Bellflower

I was kinda dreading seeing this Spirit Award nominee, after reading some less than exciting descriptions of the movie.  Let me tell you, do not believe any summary of this film you read.  Including mine, probably.  It was like other people watched a completely different movie than I did.  The movie is insane, there’s no question about that.  For me, the film is about relationships.  One type of relationship is friendship.  The guy best friends chase women, install a whiskey tap into their car, build a flamethrower, you know, normal guy stuff.  I won’t lie, this part of the movie does feature some of the requisite indie movie ennui.    But did I mention the time they built a flamethrower?  Another type of relationship is love.  I thought the movie did a fascinating job handling the ups and downs of the relationships here.  It was touching, exciting, nerve-wracking, and downright scary watching the main character try to deal with his feelings.  The ending, in particular, was absolutely insane.  And quite possibly the most brilliant thing I watched in a 2011 film.  I also kind of fell in love with Rebekah Brandes.  I thought she was amazing in the movie and I hope April Apocalypse ends up this high on next year’s list.

12.  Kaboom

Oooh, look at Jared going back to back arthouse on you.  Though it is perhaps no coincidence that I’d also use “insane” to describe this film.  Let’s put it this way.  The movie is partially a look at college relationships/sexual awakening, and partially a sci-fi, doomsday cult flick.  So, yeah.  Thomas Dekker is quite good in the lead role.  And there’s lots of sexy time with Juno Temple, which is nice.  I have no idea who I’d recommend it to, since I don’t think it is for everyone, but I want someone to like it as much as I do.

11. Captain America: First Avenger

A slightly underrated Marvel superhero movie, I think.  Not sure I have a ton more to say about it.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much the cast got to shine in their limited opportunities.  I had been pretty down on Hayley Atwell, but it turns out that may have been more a reflection of the terrible Brideshead Revisited than on her acting abilities.  And I think this role may be the perfect one for Chris Evans, who, in my opinion, kept finding roles that were close to a good match for his combination of charm and smarm but not quite on the money.

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