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DID YOU READ

The best genre movies of 2011, part 2

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Continuing our list from yesterday here are five more of the best genre movies of 2011. Click over for our picks for the best romance, Western, horror film, legal thriller, and comic book movie. Today it’s time for the best spy movie, cop movie, sports movie, mystery, and science-fiction. Let’s do it.

The Best Spy Movie of the Year
“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (In IMAX)
Directed by Brad Bird

Even fans of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” would admit the film is more of a character study about spies than a true spy movie. For real genre thrills, I’m going with something bigger: much bigger. “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” delivered everything we’ve come to expect from this series — high-tech gadgets, ferocious fights, Tom Cruise running — on a grander scale than ever before. Director Brad Bird’s IMAX action scenes, especially one dazzling, dangling sequence atop the tallest building in the world, were absolutely stunning. Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci makes some excellent observations about the gaping holes in the film’s story. So why isn’t anyone talking about them? Because people get so caught up in “Ghost Protocol”‘s enormous imagery they don’t have time to think.


The Best Sports Movie of the Year
“Warrior”

Directed by Gavin O’Connor

This might be the most inexplicable flop of the year. “Warrior” was a shameless crowd-pleaser, with twice the underdogs of your typical underdog sports movie, but for some reason the crowds never showed up to be pleased. Maybe the lack of a bankable star kept people away, but the lack of a bankable star meant two very good young actors, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, got to play the lead roles of Brendan and Tommy Conlon, estranged brothers who both enter the same mixed martial arts tournament in search of a big cash prize. The final fight felt seriously anticlimactic and Nick Nolte goes a bit overboard in his alcoholic suffering at times, but the rest of this movie is just about perfect. Any sports movie would be blessed to have a lead character as good as Hardy’s or Edgerton’s. This one has both. If I had to bank on one 2011 movie slowly becoming a massive word-of-mouth hit on DVD and Blu-ray, I’d pick “Warrior.” It could easily become this decade’s “Shawshank Redemption.” Read my full review here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54vrgCP5nlc


The Best Cop Movie of the Year
“The Guard”
Directed by John Michael McDonagh

The buddy cop movie has had its up and downs in recent years but it rose from the ashes like a phoenix who was getting too old for this shit with the comedy “The Guard.” Brendan Gleeson delivers a brilliant performance as Sgt. Gerry Boyle, a small town Irish cop who stumbles, accidentally and disinterestedly, onto a drug smuggling ring. He teams with an American FBI agent (Don Cheadle, whose Southern accent is the one weak spot in the film) and together they make a classic pair of mismatched partners. “The Guard” was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, brother of “In Bruges” filmmaker Martin McDonagh. I suspect if you liked the latter, you’ll dig the former, which has a similarly picaresque setting and dark sense of humor. Listen to my full review here.


The Best Mystery of the Year
“Cold Weather”
Directed by Aaron Katz

Mysteries are all about finding things in unlikely places and the DIY, improvisational genre of mumblecore is probably the last place in moviedom you’d expect to find a good whodunit. Yet here is Aaron Katz’s “Cold Weather,” a very successful experiment in marrying the off-the-cuff mumblecore aesthetic with the rigid structure of a drawing room mystery. A college dropout with an interest in forensic science and Sherlock Holmes novels moves back home to Portland and gets a job in an ice factory. An old flame comes to visit then seemingly disappears. Was she kidnapped? Or even murdered? While Hollywood turned Sherlock Holmes into a six packed, speed ramping action hero, Katz proved you don’t need any of that to tell a compelling story. All you need are a few interesting characters, one good brainteaser, and a pipe. Read my full review here.


The Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year
“Attack the Block”
Directed by Joe Cornish

There was plenty of callbacks to old movies in “Attack the Block,” including 80s gang flicks like “The Warriors” and “Streets of Fire,” but the film was far more creative than your typical nostalgia pastiche. Even the design of the “gorilla-wolf” aliens that crash into a giant South London housing complex was refreshing (if something with glowing, razor-sharp teeth and a hunger for human flesh can be termed “refreshing”). Director Joe Cornish’s dazzling debut film was light on science but heavy on scares and humor, and it featured a cast of charismatic misfit kids who made the Goonies look like the Muppet Babies. Buried beneath the laughs and scares, there are even some powerful themes about personal responsibility and the dehumanizing nature of life in the projects. Believe, bruv: this movie deserved better than its $1.0 million domestic gross. Read my full review here.


Back to PART 1 of The Best Genre Movies of 2011.

What was your favorite spy movie, cop movie, sports movie, mystery, and sci-fi movie of the year? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.