Movie Fuel is back with his list of the top 5 movies of 2011 (just in time for the Oscar nominations). Movies & Munchies will spend the next few weeks focusing on Oscar nominated films and some food to go along with! Before I introduce you to today’s recipe, let’s hear from Mr. Movie Fuel, shall we? Here are his top five movies of 2011:
5. Tree of Life
Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain
Directed by Terence Malick
Tree of Life tries really hard to make you hate it. Between the origin of life clips, the spinning world of the main characters adult life, to the lack of any coherent dialogue (it’s like watching a movie with Best of Classical blasting through your iPod ear buds), it doesn’t take long before you are asking yourself, “what is this I’m watching?” If you can sit through the entirety, the film as a whole is well worth it and will stick with you for a long time after. Often compared to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film primarily follows a family in 1940’s and 50’s middle America. A father (Pitt) broken by the world internalizes his bitterness and believes you can only benefit in life by taking control of everything around you and a mother with a passion for God and her children who believes in letting life take its course and having faith. Nature vs. Grace is not only represented by the parents of a young man finding his way through life, but also through flashes of moving images demonstrating scientific and spiritual analogies all in an effort to answer the question: what is the meaning of life? It’s not light fare obviously, but is well done and leaves you relating in some way to almost every character in the film.
Starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy
Directed by Paul Feig (produced by Judd Apatow)
Let’s call it what it is, a girls version of The Hangover. But, just like the difference between men and women, this version is more personal and vulnerable in its story telling. It is bold and raunchy, but with a sense of humanity and heart. Kristen Wiig steals the show here as a can’t-do-right bridesmaid who could use a hug. There are very few stars who do physical comedy well and even fewer actresses, but Wiig certainly has a bright future after strutting her stuff in this film. If you’re looking for a laugh out loud comedy, this is your movie. If you’re looking for something to watch on a date, this is your movie. If you love toilet humor, this is your movie. Bridesmaids has something for everyone (with a strong stomach).
3. X-Men: First Class
Starring: James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
For those of you who have never heard of director Matthew Vaughn…join the club! With only a few films under his belt (including 2010’s Kick Ass!), he convinced me and so many others that the X-Men franchise, which was thought to be dead, can be resurrected with quality filmmaking and an interesting story. Set over several decades, starting in the 1940’s and spanning through the 1960’s, the film tells the origin story of how the X-Men (super powered loners) came to be, while slyly infusing some of our own human history into the tale along the way. With solid acting all around and enough humor and action to keep even the non-comic book fan interested, X-Men: First Class won’t leave you unsatisfied.
2. Crazy Stupid Love
Starring: Steve Carrel, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
Directed by: Glen Ficarra
As the tagline describes it: “This is Crazy. This is Stupid. This is Love.” Love is all those things; never completely understood but desired and enjoyed just the same. While the story centers around a man down on his luck who meets a new friend that picks him up, the true theme here is about confidence. Every character is rich in the way they support the story and every character ebbs and flows with how convinced they are that they know how to define love and take control of it. As you put the pieces together, discovering what is going to happen next, you come to realize that you really like every character in the film. Sharply written and full of surprises, the beauty of Crazy Stupid Love is that the film demonstrates that love is not always happy and joyous, it can also be boring and painful, but even with that, is the best thing in the whole world. Painting a realistic picture of the challenges faced in life and relationships through a comedy writers eyes, reminds us that we’re not alone and that love is about going through things together and enjoying every moment. There are very few true romantic comedies made that can pick you up and provide a quick getaway, so it is that much more refreshing that a movie like this would come along and sweep you off your feet.
1. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Starring: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara
Directed by David Fincher
On occasion a performance will supersede the quality of a film and even be so good that the viewer is blinded by any flaws that may exist outside of that performance. Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander (the now infamous literary character) has such a subtle power as a fierce hacker with an equally soft innocence that you believe she truly exists (I was shocked to find out this was the same actress who played the girl who dumps Mark Zuckerberg in Social Network?). While the performance is incredible, the other pieces of the film do a lot to keep pace. Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network )does masterful work building the intensity of well written script. The story centers on a journalist (Craig) researching a decade’s long mystery of a lost heiress on an island in Sweden. While the film explores some very harsh themes, it is the overlaying idea of redemption that draws you in and sticks with you days after you’ve seen the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Notable films I still haven’t seen: The Artist, The Descendants, Money Ball, and The Help
While I was tempted to make some X-Men food (Wolverine Waffles?), I decided to opt for my favorite film of last year, The Artist. Yes, it is a silent film (with music), it is in black and white and stars only a couple of recognizable faces, but it is fantastic! It is one of those, you have to see it for yourself movies. Thanks Stephanie, for getting me out of the house to see it!
Jy and I put on our first Oscar party back in 2003 and served a crazy array of movie themed food. Chicago Chili is all I can seem to remember. Now that we have kids, we set the dvr and hope for the best! There will come a day when we host another Academy Award party, that day will probably be far, far away.
The first Oscar food of the series is a healthy-ish one. It works well with the movie The Artist, as it is a white dessert with a bit of black on top. Ready for it? It’s Probiotic Pudding. No, stay with me! Listen, there seems to be a new reason each week to eat loads of crap. While I love the Oscars, it is hardly worthy of Easter brunch calories. PLUS, this is a dessert you can make more often, now that you know it ain’t so bad for ya.
I took Mark Bittman’s recipe for vanilla pudding and swapped out the main ingredient, whole milk (or half-and-half) for a low-fat, probiotic filled Kefir! I also left out the butter. (FYI: I’m too mad at Paula Deen to continue butter love. More on that another time). The pudding tastes like a tart frozen yogurt, with a touch of sweetness. It’s really worth trying!
- 2 cups low fat, plain Kefir (you could try flavored too)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 T. cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- chocolate shavings (unsweetened is fine too)
- Put 2 cups of Kefir, sugar and salt into a medium saucepot over medium heat. Cook until mixture begins to steam or looks like it may start to boil (don’t let it).
- Combine cornstarch and milk in a bowl and blend lumps away. Add mixture to pot, cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to low and stir for 5 minutes or so until thick. Stir in vanilla.
- Pour into 1 quart dish or 4 to 6 small bowls. Cover with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top (or don’t cover if you like the skin). Keeps for a day in the fridge. Whisk to remove lumps if needed.
Add chocolate shavings to the top for the black and white effect.
To see more nominated films and their paired up foods, visit the main FoFo Oscar page!