I don’t know if anyone’s officially welcomed you to 2012, so if they haven’t…Welcome! We’ve been expecting you. And if we don’t all die in a Mayan Zombie Apocalypse, it should be a good year. I don’t have a lot of resolutions each year as a general rule, but one that continues to top my list is this: Watch movies. Theater movies.
Granted, some people have fully automated, home theater retractable blu-ray man-cave THX surround sound setups that would rival any Regal Cinema system. If I had that, I might not leave the house. But I’ve got a laptop. So for me to fully experience a film as it was intended to be seen, I either have to sit in a dark closet with my nose an inch from my Macbook screen with headsets and pretend it’s IMAX…or venture out to the theater.
Here are most of the 2011 films I saw, in no particular order:
The Adjustment Bureau
Battle: Los Angeles
The King’s Speech
Water For Elephants
Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides
Midnight in Paris
Hangover Part II
Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Friends with Benefits
Crazy, Stupid, Love
30 Minutes or Less
Conan O’brien Can’t Stop (Documentary)
The Skin I Live In
The Three Musketeers
My Week with Marilyn
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
We Bought a Zoo
I know, right? That’s 42 films. That’s a LOT of Popcorn and Twizzlers.
Notably absent from this list includes Soul Surfer, Courageous, and Muppets to name a few. All of which I will be getting to on DVD in the sweet by-and-by in my IMAX home closet theater. I mean calling yourself a Christian and not having seen Soul Surfer and Courageous is treading some dangerous theological grounds. Almost like the time the Plague of locusts and frogs hit my living room and I realized it had been 5 years and I had never seen The Passion and I had to rent and watch it really quick and sacrifice a gerbil before the Plumbing Plague hit.
I’m a little rusty on my Exodus “Let my People Go” Hebrew histories, but I vaguely remember something about toilets backing up. Oh, you know what? I might actually be thinking of a scene from “The Money Pit”.
Anyway, back to 2011. It’s a tough list to distill down into a Top 10, but I have prayed and fasted (the usual fast where I don’t eat Livers or Pickled Pigs Feet or Chitlins or Collards…what the old testament refers to as the “Tyler Perry/Medea Fast”) …and as Moses descended from Mt. St. Helena Bonham Carter with the 10 commandments engraved by Kay Jeweler’s, so I bring you my own “Best of 2011″ list (which I reserve the right to change at ANY moment and without notice!)
BEST FILMS OF 2011
THE KING’S SPEECH
Okay, sue me. This film came out in 2010, but I didn’t see it in the theater til 2011 so it’s not only on my list, but tops my list. An amazing film on a lot of levels. The interplay between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush was a clash of the titans. Life and death in the power of the tongue.
Some may say that Racism was too underplayed in this film, but I for one, was happy to see a film centered on that subject that didn’t showcase the Klan, crosses burning in yards and lynch mobs. There is more bravery and courage showcased in this film than most action films today.
Kristen Wiig is hilarious. Essentially this is the lady-dude answer to The Hangover.
CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP (Documentary)
Conan is at the top of his game and performing without a net in this one. He’s lost his dream job “The Tonight Show” after only 7 months and by contract could not go back on TV for a full year. So he hits the road and takes us with him. We assume he’s gonna come out alright, but there’s no guarantee of that. It’s an all-access behind the scenes look at a very public and very funny performer. And it shows the good, the bad and the dictatorial.
Cancer is funny, right? This film is great b/c it’s also a personal journey that the filmmakers took in real life which informs the film in genuine, honest and surprisingly hilarious ways.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
To me, Woody Allen has been off his game for a few films. But so has Clint Eastwood. Anyway, his films used to be one love story to New York City after the next. Now, he’s written a love story to Paris. And even though this film actually made me *gasp* dislike my hollywood spouse, Rachel McAdams, it is still a great film. Even better if you take a literary buff with you on one side and a francophile on the other!
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE
Steve Carrell is fun to watch. Not only is this film hilarious, but it’s got a lotta heart to it as well. I called this the “500 Days of Summer” for the 50-somethings.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
Not rated “E” for Everyone! There’s some rough stuff in here. But it is completely honest and pulls no punches and it’s a multi-layered and meaty film you can sink your teeth into. Some directors get their actors to play certain parts, but David Fincher systematically morphs his actors into those characters. To watch Rooney Mara in this film and then go back and see her opening scene in “The Social Network” and she has been completely transformed is mesmerizing. Lost in the part. Elia Kazan would be proud.
3-D animated films are getting to be a dime a dozen. And so it’s nice when one comes along that is truly original, like this one. And funny. And quirky. And NOT Pixar. It can be done. Maybe I’m just a sucker for those Western/Cowboy Fish-Outta-Water (or rather Chameleon outta water) stories.
WE BOUGHT A ZOO
It took me a minute to accept hunky Matt Damon as an overweight, Carpool Dad, but once I got past my own emotional baggage, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It’s also a great family film like Soul Surfer and Secretariat. And the cutest mostest adorablest little girl you’ve seen on the big-screen since the kid in “Miracle On 34th Street” (Mara Wilson).
Yes, my list differs from your list. Yes, you’re probably not as spiritual as I am. Yes, Transformers 3 almost made my Top 10 and I…I…can’t…really psychologically explain why. But it moved me! Okay? It spoke to me. And by golly if you take out Shia the Beef and put in Joseph Gordon-Levitt…it would have topped the King’s Speech. And like Dark Matter and Quantum physics…that is a mystery that just can’t be fully explained.
by Joey O’Connor
Did you know that Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling book “The Help” was rejected 60 times before it was accepted? If you want an amazing, inspirational story about one woman who refused to give up, then read on my friend…
I love inspirational stories like this…courageous people who simply refuse to give up. I speak with many creative people who have wonderful, God-given desires and dreams. They want to create that next book, song, dance, film, painting, studio or business. Yet, for many, that dream begins to fade.
Your work gets rejected. You get discouraged. Frustrated. Hopeless. Feeling like what you’re creating really doesn’t matter. I say, “Stop! Don’t give up! Work hard…stop waiting…fulfill that dream…nothing is impossible for God!”
Let this essay written by Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, inspire you to greatness. God put that greatness in your blood. You just need to believe and just go do it!
If you ask my husband my best trait, he’ll smile and say, “She never gives up.” But if you ask him my worst trait, he’ll get a funny tic in his cheek, narrow his eyes and hiss, “She. Never. Gives. Up.”
It took me a year and a half to write my earliest version of The Help. I’d told most of my friends and family what I was working on. Why not? We are compelled to talk about our passions. When I’d polished my story, I announced it was done and mailed it to a literary agent.
Six weeks later, I received a rejection letter from the agent, stating, “Story did not sustain my interest.” I was thrilled! I called my friends and told them I’d gotten my first rejection! Right away, I went back to editing. I was sure I could make the story tenser, more riveting, better.
A few months later, I sent it to a few more agents. And received a few more rejections. Well, more like 15. I was a little less giddy this time, but I kept my chin up. “Maybe the next book will be the one,” a friend said. Next book? I wasn’t about to move on to the next one just because of a few stupid letters. I wanted to write this book.
A year and a half later, I opened my 40th rejection: “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.” That one finally made me cry. “You have so much resolve, Kathryn,” a friend said to me. “How do you keep yourself from feeling like this has been just a huge waste of your time?”
That was a hard weekend. I spent it in pajamas, slothing around that racetrack of self-pity—you know the one, from sofa to chair to bed to refrigerator, starting over again on the sofa. But I couldn’t let go of The Help. Call it tenacity, call it resolve or call it what my husband calls it: stubbornness.
After rejection number 40, I started lying to my friends about what I did on the weekends. They were amazed by how many times a person could repaint her apartment. The truth was, I was embarrassed for my friends and family to know I was still working on the same story, the one nobody apparently wanted to read.
Sometimes I’d go to literary conferences, just to be around other writers trying to get published. I’d inevitably meet some successful writer who’d tell me, “Just keep at it. I received 14 rejections before I finally got an agent. Fourteen. How many have you gotten?”
By rejection number 45, I was truly neurotic. It was all I could think about—revising the book, making it better, getting an agent, getting it published. I insisted on rewriting the last chapter an hour before I was due at the hospital to give birth to my daughter. I would not go to the hospital until I’d typed The End. I was still poring over my research in my hospital room when the nurse looked at me like I wasn’t human and said in a New Jersey accent, “Put the book down, you nut job—you’re crowning.”
It got worse. I started lying to my husband. It was as if I were having an affair—with 10 black maids and a skinny white girl. After my daughter was born, I began sneaking off to hotels on the weekends to get in a few hours of writing. I’m off to the Poconos! Off on a girls’ weekend! I’d say. Meanwhile, I’d be at the Comfort Inn around the corner. It was an awful way to act, but—for God’s sake—I could not make myself give up.
In the end, I received 60 rejections forThe Help. But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. After my five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, an agent named Susan Ramer took pity on me. What if I had given up at 15? Or 40? Or even 60? Three weeks later, Susan sold The Help to Amy Einhorn Books.
The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, —in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good. I guarantee you that it won’t take you anywhere. Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession instead.
And if your friends make fun of you for chasing your dream, remember—just lie.
I found this article on Donna McBroom-Theirot’s website, My Life. One Story at a Time. It’s a great site filled with book reviews. Read Donna’s review of The Help here! The article was written by Kathryn Stockett. This essay appears in the anthology The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives, edited by Katie Couric and published by Random House in April.
This article from Joey O’Connors blog Art, Life & Faith is reprinted with permission.
Joey O’Connor is the founder and Executive Director of The Grove Center for the Arts & Media, a ministry dedicated to cultivating, connecting, and creating the Story of God in people’s lives. They hold evening & weekend gatherings with artists from all walks of life. Their work is focused on developing the spiritual formation and creative vision of artists.
He has a blog entitled: Art, Life & Faith. Here he offers his thoughts and reflections as a screenwriter, author, pastor, speaker, retreat leader and husband/dad. On the writing side, he’s written nineteen books for couples, parents and young adults. You’ll find his recommendations on the writing books he loves, the life of an artist, thoughts on creativity, relationships, walking with God, and inspiring stories about people who work hard to hone their artistic craft.
As if all of that weren’t enough, he’s also a screenwriter and producer. He produced the award-winning short-film series, Unthinkable: The Scott Rigsby Story, the first double-amputee to complete the Hawaiian Ironman in Kona. With his brother-in-law, Ken Straw, they’ve written an award-winning screenplay that’s currently in development with Last Chance Productions.