The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 2011 Edition

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It’s that time again, when we look back on the ups, downs, and events of the past year and start making plans and dreaming dreams for the year to come. For me, that means it’s time for yet another semi-random selection of some of the films that made 2011 good, bad, or ugly, in their own unique and sometimes slightly terrifying ways. (And also time to start hoping for a good crop of movies in 2012, of course.) May you and yours have a bright and shining new year.

The Good:

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Salander and Blomkvist take a walk in the chilly night air.

Books get optioned by movie studios constantly. Anytime anything looks like it’s selling decently, some studio somewhere will jump on it, just in case it becomes the next huge sleeper hit. However, as I learned a while back, sometimes all that means is that the studios made a bad investment, since the odds of a book that’s been optioned actually making it to the screen are slim. Estimates range between 2 and 10 percent managing that leap, in fact. Many times those that do are unrecognizable anyway.

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Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

Holmes and Watson stand before Holmes' conspiracy map

The other day as I was entering a friend’s house, someone was watching Sherlock Holmes. This is the Sherlock Holmes, mind you, the Jeremy Brett version that shall never be surpassed. It was a scene where he explains to Watson how he produces such startling effects with his deductions — namely, by describing the first link in his impeccably logical chain of reasoning, then the last link, and not mentioning any of the links in between.
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Star Trek

The old crew and the new crew.

This is a reboot. I really can’t emphasize that enough. This is not your father’s Star Trek. The writers here took all the main characters you remember from the original series, many of the most famous lines, various alien races (most humanoid, a few very much not humanoid), and a few little in-jokes referring back to previous movies and shows, threw them all into a blender, mixed them up for a while, and served up something that’s almost Star Trek, but different.

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The Top 5 Strangest Movie Job Titles

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I always stay to watch the credits. Well, 99% of the time. I do occasionally bolt early when the movie was particularly vile, but that’s only happened once or twice in five years. The point is, I often see unusual job titles going by as the credits roll, and I make note of them when I can. Now, I don’t think these jobs are actually quite as weird as the titles suggest, but it’s difficult to find anything online about them, so I felt able to let my imagination roam a little. Who knows? Maybe they’re even weirder than I think. See what you can make of these Top 5 Strangest Job Titles:
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The Top 5 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies

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I admit, historical goofs bother me more than they should. Imagine if I’d majored in history instead of English literature. At least sometimes I can watch in mostly blissful ignorance and not know until afterwards, when I can no longer resist the urge to research, how wrong that script really was. This list doesn’t consider movies like Immortals, where they clearly aren’t trying to be accurate in any sense of the word; but it is otherwise the Top Five Movies that sent me scrambling for the history books.

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District 9

The posters warning aliens to stay where they belong.

Ever wonder what would happen if a bunch of very non-human-looking alien refugees showed up on Earth? Wonder no longer, because I’m pretty sure this movie predicts that very accurately. You know, aside from the particularly weird stuff that happens to the main character, because I’m not sure those exact details would ever happen, but the general outline is probably just about perfect.
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The Top 5 Movies that Prove Cell Phones are Evil

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Okay, “evil” might be too strong a word. But any movie set in current times, especially any sort of thriller or action movie, has to take cell phones into account. Sometimes that simply means having them be out of battery or out of range so the heroes can’t call for help; sometimes the cell phones themselves are what makes everything go wrong in the first place. If they’re not evil, they’re at least tricksters, messing with our minds. Without further ado, the Top 5 films where cell phones lead to death and destruction, sometimes on a massive scale.

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The Top 5 Movies that Might Make You Sick

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Motion sick, that is. My first thought was actually a list of bloodiest movies, but then I realized that I’d have to make a detailed comparison of Piranha and Saw in an effort to determine which one was more bloody, and that just didn’t seem like a fun way to spend the afternoon. So instead we have this list, of flicks that should have come with a warning to take some dramamine.
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The Top 5 Movies Secretly Based on Comic Books

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Okay, it isn’t such a huge secret, but once in a while the studios just don’t seem to want to make a big deal about the fact that a particular flick is based on a comic book and/or graphic novel. This is probably mostly because a lot of people still think of comic books as featuring nothing but four-color heroes in a clear-cut struggle of Good vs. Evil, even though these days that image often couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, movies often have to tone down the level of mature themes that can be found in some graphic novels. Take a look at these Top 5, for instance:

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