(Ha, totally meant to post this several days ago. ;P Oh well, better late than never! Happy New Year, everyone!!)
Wow, did another year really just come to an end? It always seems to come up out of nowhere! We definitely had some awesome highs (due mostly to our family & friends and our amazing travels) and a few depressing lows (due mostly to being overly stressed about work and school), but overall 2011 was another INCREDIBLE year. Definitely one we won't ever forget!
As a way to reflect, we're here with our annual best-of post! We gave ourselves an added challenge this year of actually putting our lists in an order, which we're sure you can all imagine was SUPER tough for us. ;P But it was also a lot of fun! (And this is going to be really long, so we won't blame anyone if you want to skip right by this!) So here we go...
TOP 11 THEATRE SHOWS OF 2011
Wow, we saw some truly FANTASTIC shows this year. What an AMAZING year in theatre--one of the best in recent memory. We saw 29 in NYC, one in Seattle, one in LA and a handful here in Portland. SO. FLIPPIN'. HARD. to narrow it down to our top 11!!! Like, honestly, it too us ages to decide on this list. So yes, of course we're doing honorable mentions, too. ;D
11) "War Horse" (saw in NYC in December)
The puppetry in this show is absolutely AMAZING. The artistry and execution of the horses is just sooooo beautiful, and it was a little breathtaking to see how incredibly real they seemed. Admittedly, the story itself wasn't developed quite as well as we had hoped and a lot of the characters lacked real depth, but the show as a whole still brought us to tears by the end. Loved it!
10) "Venus In Fur" (saw in NYC in October)
Wow, wow, wow. The chemistry on stage between Nina & Hugh was absolutely ELECTRIC. And the way that they both transformed into and between each of the characters was incredible. It was like watching a tennis match back and forth as they each challenged each other and battled for dominance. Two powerhouse performances. This show is NOT to be missed!
09) "Catch Me If You Can" (saw in NYC in April)
We waited over a year and a half to finally see this on Broadway and we were NOT disappointed! The show was so much fun, with incredibly catchy songs that we LOVED and many awesome dance numbers. Our favorite thing, though, was definitely seeing Aaron & Norbert together on stage. <333 They were both PHENOMENAL!! The whole cast was fantastic (also especially loved seeing our other favorite from the Seattle production, Brandon Wardell <3). This show closed WAY too soon. :((((((
08) "Asuncion" (saw in NYC in October & December)
This show was SO smartly written and thought-provoking. It was also quirky and HILARIOUS. The whole cast was terrific. We were SO excited when the show was extended by enough so that we could see it again on our trip back to NYC in December. LOVE!!!
07) "Urge For Going" (saw in NYC in April)
Gosh, this was SUCH a powerful and incredibly moving play. It is not at all an exaggeration when we admit that we both were absolutely bawling by the end. The entire cast was beyond amazing, especially Tala and our other favorite, Omid Abtahi. This is one of those shows that we're just SO grateful that we had the opportunity to see. Hopefully it will see more life in the future!
06) "Derby Day" (saw in NYC in December)
Oh goodness, this show was definitely the biggest surprise for us of the year, in terms of how much we LOVED it. We expected to enjoy seeing Jake on stage again, but the writing and acting literally BLEW us away. The entire cast (particularly Jake & Malcolm Madera) were amazing, and the realism and truth in the story just gutted us by the end. We loved it so much that we gave up tickets to something else, just so we could see it one more time. SO happy for everyone involved in this incredible production!
05) "The Normal Heart" (saw in NYC in April)
This show was SO incredibly powerful, and honestly moved us beyond words. We were sobbing by the end, and we've never heard so much sniffling around us at a show before, either. WOW! Plus, the whole cast gave AMAZING performances. <333 This is such an important play, and is another show that we are so thankful we got to see.
04) "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" (saw in NYC in April & October)
This one seriously fills us with so much JOY, even just thinking about it. Pretty sure we looked like fools both times we saw it, too, since we couldn't do anything but smile through the entire thing. ;D Daniel Radcliffe blew us away as Ponty, and he was absolutely ADORABLE on stage. And John Larroquette, Christopher Hanke, Michael Park, and the rest of the cast were fantastic, too. LOVE!
03) "Good People" (saw in NYC in February)
There are just some shows that stick with you long after you've left the theater, and this was definitely one of them. It was just SO well written, hilarious and thought-provoking. Plus, the entire cast (especially Frances McDormand) were pitch-perfect in their respective roles. One of our BIGGEST regrets of the year was only getting to see it once.
02) "Other Desert Cities" (saw in NYC in February, October & December)
Coming into this, we were mainly just excited for the chance to see Thomas (<333) on stage again, so we were so not prepared to be completely knocked over by this play. WOW! Such INCREDIBLY moving and emotional performances from both the off-Broadway and Broadway casts (and we can't even choose a favorite between the two). Plus, the story (while controversial) is also funny, gripping and absolutely heartbreaking. It's hardily an exaggeration to say that we BAWL throughout the entire show.
01) "Book of Mormon" (saw in NYC in April, October & December)
This show. THIS SHOW. It's kind of hard to put into words how much we love it. We actually saw it for the first time kind of by accident; we had tickets to something else ("Fat Pig") that ended up getting postponed, so we had a free night and settled on it pretty last minute...and the rest, as they say, is history. We could NOT adore the ENTIRE cast, EVERY single song or the hysterical, smart, heartfelt, adorable story more if we tried. GAH! We've seen it three times, and it still isn't ENOUGH. LOVE LOVE LOVE. <3333
Honorable Mentions: Chinglish, Anything Goes, Lysistrata Jones and Three Sisters.
TOP 11 PAIRINGS/DUOS/GROUPS OF 2011
Instead of top couples, we changed it to pairings, duos & groups to accommodate all of our favorites this year!! (And btw, we aren't going to talk individually about these, but just have to say--who in a MILLION years would have ever thought that, after NINE years, Leo & Greenlee would make it back onto another current list of our favorite pairings? AMAZING! EEEEEEEE!!!! <333)
11) Nina Arianda/Hugh Dancy in "Venus In Fur"
10) Jacob & Anna from "Like Crazy"
09) Jason & Sam from "General Hospital"
08) "Other Desert Cities" Cast
07) Aaron Tveit/Norbert Leo Butz in "Catch Me If You Can"
06) "The Help" Cast
05) "Harry Potter" Cast
04) Leo & Greenlee from "All My Children"
03) "Super 8" Cast
02) "Friday Night Lights" Cast
01) "Book of Mormon" Cast
Honorable Mentions: Ron & Hermione from "Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows, Pt2", Casey Abrams/Haley Reinhart, Oliver & Anna (& Arthur!) from "Beginners", Joe & Alice from "Super 8", Annie & Rhodes from "Bridesmaids", and Adam & Katherine from "50/50".
TOP 11 MOVIES OF 2011
Of the 84 movies we watched this year that we've never seen before, 65 of them came out in 2011. Trying to narrow that number down to our top 11 was probably even more challenging than our theatre list. GAH. There were honestly some breathtakingly AMAZING movies out this year. We recommend all of these BIGTIME, and yes, we have to have lots honorable mentions here, too.
Wow. This was the first movie we saw during our Sundance trip last January, and it set the bar SUPER high because it was absolutely AMAZING. It's VERY emotional (one scene in particular, toward the end, had the entire audience in collective tears) and moving, and the whole cast is just FANTASTIC, especially Adepero Oduye. It is just starting to open in theaters nationwide, and we urge all of you to GO SEE THIS! We can't wait for it to open here so we can see it again.
10) "Take Shelter"
This is a truly moving and often times suspenseful look at mental illness and how fear can take over your life. It's intelligent, heartbreaking, and gives an unbelievably real portrayal of love and sacrifice. The performances from Michael Shannon & Jessica Chastain are quite literally PHENOMENAL. Some of the BEST not even only of the whole year, but ever. The fact that neither are getting recognized for awards this year is a CRIME. SEE THIS MOVIE, you guys. It will BLOW you away.
09) "Soul Surfer"
Sometimes a movie comes along that just sort of knocks the wind out of you with how inspiring it is. That is what this movie did. We saw it with our mom and we all walked out of the theater feeling so in awe. The performances were wonderful (with the exception of Carrie Underwood--girl, we love you, but you are NOT an actress :P) and the execution of telling this true story was just amazing.
08) "My Week With Marilyn"'
Having a movie exceed any and all expectations you have is one of the best things ever, and that is exactly what happened with this one. We ended up loving it SO much more than we thought we would!! First of all, Michelle's performance--WOW. She literally WAS Marilyn, but not at all in a copycat way. It was subtle and honest and real. AMAZING. Plus, we positively LOVE the score. LOVE IT! And Judy Dench was literally adorable in this movie, too. SOOOOOOO good!!
This is by-far one of the most under-rated films of the entire year. Everything about this movie is perfect--literally within three minutes, we were looking at each other saying we LOVED it. It's funny, touching and heartbreaking. The relationships are all so incredibly REAL, and the performances from the three leads (Ewan, Christopher & Melanie) were just amazing. Plus, the little jack russell terrier that played Arthur may be one of the cutest dogs we've ever seen. LOVE!!
As it probably was for most people, we were a bit unsure of what to expect with this movie going in, but ended up adoring it. It's such a funny, though-provoking look at a very difficult subject, and the relationships between all of the characters were just so real and honest. Plus, Joseph Gordon-Levitt gave an absolutely BEAUTIFUL performance that brought us to tears.
05) "Like Crazy"
Gah, another Sundance favorite. This is just SUCH a beautiful look at first love, long-distance relationships and the way that feelings evolve, but never really go away. It also includes incredible performances by Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin, who had AMAZING chemistry together. As you can see from our list above, one of our FAVORITE on-screen pairings of the year. LOVE this movie.
There is no doubt about it--this is the absolute BEST comedy of the year. It's actually our favorite comedy of the past several years. The writing is SO smart and it is literally HILARIOUS. Unlike a lot of other movies in this genre, though, the characters in this had so much depth and the relationships were so real. Plus, all of the actors were awesome, ESPECIALLY Melissa McCarthy. She gives one of the funniest performances ever in this. Just absolutely LOVED everything about this movie!
03) "Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part 2"
We're not sure that it has even quite hit us yet that this was the last movie. We just can't seem to wrap our minds around the fact that it's over. :((( But what a truly WONDERFUL way to end the series. This movie was packed full of suspense, fun, emotion, heart and seriously incredible performances from the entire cast. We have grown to love EVERY SINGLE ONE of them so darn much, and we cannot thank each of them enough for putting so much of themselves into making this final movie one of the best. We were in tears by the end. We understand why some may have been disappointed, but we weren't at all. Absolutely LOVED it!
01) "The Help"
This movie. Wow. Not even sure we can find the words to describe how we feel about this movie. We literally sat in the theater as the credits rolled and had to collect ourselves before we could get up and leave. It was like a punch in the gut--it knocked the wind right out of us. It is SO heartbreaking, SO moving, SO incredibly thought-provoking--we honestly bawled our eyes out through almost the entire thing. But it was also hilarious, and we don't even know how that is possible. But the writing was superb. AND THE PERFORMANCES. No words are adequate enough to describe how INCREDIBLE every single person in this movie is--most notably Viola, Octavia, Jessica and Emma. WOW WOW WOW. LOOOOOOOOOVE this movie.
01) "Super 8"
Goodness, there aren't words for how much we ADORED this movie!! Definitely one of our obsessions this year. It was absolutely FANTASTIC, and we still can’t get over the fact that it was both Joel Courtney & Riley Griffith’s very first acting project. They were both INCREDIBLE! Definitely breakout stars. And Elle Fanning was also AMAZING!!! The chemistry between all of the kids was phenomenal and the relationships they were able to build were just so real and authentic. Plus, we could literally watch Kyle Chandler read a phonebook and love every minute of it. And don't even get us started on the music--DEFINITELY our favorite score of the year. HIGHLY recommend this movie! LOVE IT SOOOOOO FRIGGIN' MUCH!
Honorable Mentions: Moneyball, The Adjustment Bureau, The Debt, Water For Elephants, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Artist, The Adventures of TinTin, The Descendants, Dolphin Tale, Warrior, Crazy Stupid Love, Connected: An Autoblogography, Our Idiot Brother, Rio, Midnight in Paris, Something Borrowed, Beautiful Boy, J. Edgar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Hugo, and Real Steel.
TOP 11 MOVIE PERFORMANCES OF 2011
Gosh, this was another really tough list to put together. There were honestly SOOOOOO many amazing performances this year, and we can't nearly name them all. Please also consider the under-rated performances list below as an extension of our honorable mentions for this list, because we didn't want to repeat ourselves, but they are all INCREDIBLE, too.
11) Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
10) Leonardo Dicaprio in "J. Edgar"
09) Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50"
08) Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"
07) Berenice Bejo in "The Artist"
06) Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
05) Michael Shannon in "Take Shelter"
04) Michelle Williams in "My Week With Marilyn"
03) Jessica Chastain in "Take Shelter"
02) Octavia Spencer in "The Help"
01) Viola Davis in "The Help"
Honorable Mentions: Shailene Woodley & George Clooney in "The Descendants", Elizabeth Olsen in "Martha Marcy May Marlene", Rooney Mara in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", Brad Pitt & Jonah Hill in "Moneyball", Ryan Gosling in "The Ides of March", Helen Mirren & Jessica Chastain in "The Debt", Paul Rudd in "Our Idiot Brother" and Kevin Spacey in "Margin Call".
TOP MOST UNDER-RATED PERFORMANCES OF 2011
These are the performances that we feel have not gotten their fair share of recognition this year. All are AMAZING, and if you haven't seen them, you've definitely missed out. (Also, kind of OT, but just have to say this because we haven't mentioned it in any of the other lists--"Beautiful Boy" is another of the year's absolute most under-rated films. Gah, it's heartbreaking. SEE IT!!)
- Michael Sheen in "Beautiful Boy"
- Ewan McGregor in "Beginners"
- Joel Courtney & Cast in "Super 8"
- Andy Serkis in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
- Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy"
- Adepero Oduye in "Pariah"
- Emma Stone in "The Help"
- Jennifer Lawrence in "Like Crazy"
SMALL NOTE ABOUT TV & MUSIC
With our super busy schedules this year, a few things had to take a hit, and sadly it ended up mostly being our tv viewing and music listening. We only watched five shows semi-regularly this year (Grey's, Glee, DWTS, Idol & X Factor), and only discovered new music through Idol & X Factor, LOL. We also stopped keeping up with our soaps, which probably makes us the saddest of all.
As we mentioned in our last post, though, we did take some time over the summer to watch all five seasons of "Friday Night Lights" (BEST. DECISION. EVER.) and are currently making our way through the 13-episode run of "Terriers".
Even though we're in for another killer term of school starting next week, one of our resolutions for the new year is to try to watch more TV, so hopefully we'll be able to catch up with more shows and watch a few more of the current ones, too.
And there you have it--all of our favorites of the past year. 2011 was pretty darn terrific, but we're hoping 2012 will top it!