Although this was the year I actually left a theater because I was pretty certain the attendants noticed and would be forced to throw me out. Being two of only three people I saw inside the whole afternoon made me overly cautious. This was also the first time I "hopped" by going to two theaters. My friend and I watched one movie and then walked a few blocks over to catch another one immediately afterward. Not quite as economical as real movie hopping, but good for flexible showtimes.
Some basic tips for successful movie hopping:
- Go to the largest theater possible. Choose theaters that don't partition off sides or levels, otherwise you'll get stuck in the wrong area.
- Wear a bright colored jacket in and take it off when wandering around the theater. Take a stroll around to see where all the movies are showing before you go into your first selection.
- Time your exit from a theater so that you leave with a big group. Always go to the restroom in-between showings, or buy something after your first movie since a fresh popcorn looks like you're heading somewhere you belong.
- Try not to make eye contact with the staff and play around with your phone as you walk. If questioned, the easiest thing to say is that you're looking for a friend in another theater.
- Be flexible on sitting in a movie for twenty minutes during down time and then leaving to catch the movie you actually want to see. If you wanna be pro, bring your own 3D glasses and save big bucks.
In 2011 I watched thirty four movies in theaters, slightly down from last year. I attribute that mainly to the difficulty of movie hopping in New York. Even for a film that I thought was unpopular, lines formed fast and ticket checkers lurked everywhere in Manhattan theaters. I'd also never encountered so many sold out shows. There was a four month span early on where I only got out to the movies five times. When I returned to suburbia in the fall, I hit the theaters hard to make up for time lost.
Sadly, it's been a real down year for new movies. I mean, my numbers ended up being 7 A's, 15 B's, 12 C's, and 2 D's. And of those seven A's, one I actually didn't even see in theaters, as I Redboxed it (semi-cheating). The A-list is: X-Men: First Class; Harry Potter 7b; Beats, Rhymes, and Life; Drive; Never Say Never; Ides of March; and The Skin I Live In. Plus most of the movies I gave A-ratings to I was already super biased towards. I mean, X-Men, Harry Potter, Almodóvar, Gosling...
I know I missed out on a grip of potentially good 2011 releases but I couldn't have missed out on that much, right? At least the mainstream ones. I'm hoping to catch up on Fincher's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Shame, Tree of Life, Certified Copy, and The Future, but I doubt any of those will jump to the top of the 2011 list, even retroactively.
In picking my favorite movie of the year, I think I have to go with Drive. I was just in love with the entire package of visuals, music, tension, and actors/actresses. A lot of people -- and friends I recommended it to -- didn't love it but I watched Drive twice and confirmed my enthusiasm.
The other movies I pushed all year long was the Justin Bieber documentary and the Tribe Called Quest one. If you don't become a Belieber after watching Never Say Never, you don't have a heart. And you don't have to be a fan of ATCQ to like Beats, Rhymes, and Life, even though for hip hop fans it's perfection.
Stuff that disappointed me to no end: Hanna, Weekend, Midnight in Paris, Hugo. I've been seeing Hugo on a lot of "best of" lists. I was so bored I would have left the theater if I had anything better to do at one in the morning. And while I loved the premise of Midnight in Paris, the execution left me empty -- except for Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali.
Nicest surprise of the year: The remake of Footloose. I shared my thoughts on it extensively here so I'll spare you but it's worth a watch even if you think remaking Footloose is sacrilege. As for all the movies I watched but not in theaters, I think my favorite was Beginners (2010), which I saw a few days before the new year. It's everything I wanted Garden State and Greenberg to be. Quirky, funny, clever, lonely, heart wrenching, and featuring Mélanie Laurent as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl who isn't quite. Beginners wasn't perfect but I suspect after another viewing it might be.