The arrival of Labor Day weekend signals the end of our summer at the movies. We are now officially saying goodbye to a season of blockbusters. Let's take a look back at the best movies Hollywood had to offer last summer. Here's my list of the Top 10 Best Movies of Summer 2011.
1. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" -- The last film in the popular Harry Potter franchise gave us a satisfying conclusion. We laughed, we cried, and we felt vindicated for standing by our favorite boy wizard for the last 10 years. J.K. Rowling's saga on the boy who lived will forever have eternal life in cinema history.
2. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" -- This sci-fi film renewed my faith in Hollywood sequels, remakes, and prequels. While it's not a perfect movie, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" did something short of miraculous. We all knew where the movie was heading, but somehow, the film felt fresh and exciting. Big credit goes to director Rupert Wyatt for creating a cerebral popcorn film.
3. "Super 8" -- Director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg teamed up for this excellent coming-of-age film told using the canvass of movie zombies, a rampaging alien, and the world of super 8mm cameras. Abrams showcased his great storytelling skills aided by a bunch of gifted child actors headed by Elle Fanning. It's a nostalgic filmmaking exercise that perfectly mixed the notions of sci-fi, monster, and family drama movies.
4. "Midnight in Paris" -- Welcome back Woody Allen! The film became the auteur's biggest hit and why not? It was also one of his best in quite a long time. The golden age of Paris was explored with Owen Wilson playing a time-traveling scriptwriter. The result was an enchanting trip inside the magical heart of Paris.
5. "X-Men: First Class" -- Hats off to director Matthew Vaughn! The helmer of "Kick-Ass," "Stardust," and "Layer Cake" gave us one of the most intriguing "X-Men" movies yet. Playing with the philosophical and psychological concept of good and bad, Vaughn created a prequel that was steeped in "X-Men" mythology but was also thoroughly engrossing and entertaining.
6. "Bridesmaids" -- I'm still laughing thinking about this smart, funny, and surprisingly touching movie. Kristen Wiig proved that she could spearhead a movie that would become the highest grossing female R-rated comedy of all time, but my heart was stolen by Melissa McCarthy who starred as Megan, the sexed-up bridesmaid.
7. "The Debt" -- When critics use the words riveting and gripping to describe a movie, they might as well be talking about "The Debt." Director John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love") working from a script co-written by Matthew Vaughn, created a tension-filled movie in the vein of the great Alan Pakula films of the 70s. Based on the 2007 Israeli film "Ha-Hov," "The Debt" is blessed with great performances, especially by Jessica Chastain who shares the same character with Helen Mirren. This is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat cinematic experience.
8. "The Tree of Life" -- This transcendental meditation about life as we know it is brilliantly executed by writer/director Terrence Malick. Like a true master, Malick created a film that confounded some, but inspired many. This visual treat, starring Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, and Jessica Chastain, deservingly won the Palme D'Or at the recently held Cannes Film Festival. Watching the film is almost a spiritual experience.
9. "Thor" -- Director Kenneth Branagh infused this Marvel superhero movie with enough Shakespearean sensibilities thus creating one of the best comic book superhero films to date. Chris Hemsworth is perfect as the Nordic god and Tom Hiddleston is memorable as Thor's nemesis, Loki. Even Anthony Hopkins was game to take on the role of the powerful Odin. The script written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, and Don Payne was punctuated with enough gravitas that took the audience on a thunderous ride.
10. "Attack the Block" -- From the producers of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," this criminally underseen alien invasion movie must belong in your must-see list! This stylish and entertaining yarn even has something to say about racism and social structure. Trust me, you will love this out-of-this-world movie!