Top 11 Film Picks
First, the fluff! Most of these are now available for home viewing, but a few are still in the theater. Check them out!
Captain America - When I took in Captain America, of the many Avengers films coming to theaters this decade, I had low expectations for this comic book character. I knew virtually nothing about him, and he didn't seem as fun as Iron Man. Boy was I surprised! This movie was alot of fun and remarkably clean by today's standards. When my sons get a little older, I'm definitely sharing this one with them.
Winnie The Pooh - I took my six year-old to see this one. It's just sweet, (thankfully) not annoying and lovely.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - I wasn't a massive fan of Pirates 2 or 3, but this one was just plain fun. Although I could have done without the vicious mermaid scene. However, I closed my eyes through most of that moment, so I guess I can't comment on it too much!
Kung Fu Panda 2 - I actually liked this one better than the original. Great family story, beautiful animation. And I can't get enough of Jack Black's panda antics!
The Adventures of Tintin - As I've explained to my father multiple times, this is not about a dog, Rin Tin Tin. There is a dog involved, but he's just a sidekick to the titular character, a young man named Tintin. I knew very little before I went, and I had a blast! If you like animation, Pirates of the Carribean and Indiana Jones, this is for you. Go see it before it leaves the theathers!
X-Men: First Class - There are certain elements of the 60s that aren't attractive to me, so I went into this one thinking it might not go over well. How wrong I was! I loved this one. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy were marvelous!
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - I was unsuccessful in getting my husband to take me to see the original in the theater, which I regretted when we saw the fun movie on DVD later. For this go 'round, I took myself to the theater and had a great time! With the lack of occultism in this film, I think I liked it better than the first! Robert Downey Jr.'s poor excuse of an English accent is horrible, but I don't care.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 - The night I saw this was bittersweet on so many levels. We were preparing to move away from south Florida after 5 wonderful years, and this amazing book and movie series was coming to an end. I shed many tears in the closing train station scene.
And a few true quality pieces...
Jane Eyre - Based on the novel from which I wrote my first term paper, this somber piece surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. It's put the book back on my TBR list for the first time since high school.
Hugo - Based on Brian Selznick's intriguing novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, this film took my breath away. It was amazingly touching and beautiful, and one of the few of 2011 that I would love to own on Blu-ray. The book is of course, on my "Must Read" list.
Persuasion - Okay, I know this wasn't released in 2011, but I saw it for the first time this year. I loved it so much, I had to make this one exception in the list. As a Janeite I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read Austen's final novel yet, but I'm so glad that I was finally able to see this 2007 production. I promptly put the new annotated Persuasion on my wish list, and thankfully my son was so nice to buy it for me for Christmas. The movie has done its job in generating more interest in the source material for sure!
Top 11 Workout Picks
Choosing 11 exercise DVDs is a simple task this year. Ten of them come from a workout series that pushed me harder than any other has before. The Peak Fit Challenge videos by Michelle Dozois are by far my top picks, and are certainly permanent favorites in my large collection. PFC was extremely challenging, but Michelle makes it fun and really connects to her viewers. I especially appreciated the non-condescending appeal to the over-40 set. Those in their 40s and 50s keep up with the younger cast members-- they certainly aren't over the hill! If you'd like to read the long-winded details of my journey with Peak Fit, you can read my 8-week journey here.
The full Peak Fit Challenge series is currently sold out, but in the meantime, you can purchase individual selections from the Challenge with Michelle's Peak 10 workouts, found on her website and from other retail outlets. One of my favorites (and also one of the toughest) is Cardio Interval Burn, over an hour of intense training that will have you sweating buckets and feeling accomplished when you've completed it!
I'm also a big fan of videos produced by The Firm. In 2011 they released their Firm Express: Get Thin in 30 series. While I do have this series, I haven't gone through all of the workouts yet. The ones I have completed are just great-- challenging, but with small, achievable bursts. If you're not ready to go for the whole 14-disc series, try The Firm: Ignite Calorie Burn , which has excerpts from the same program. As always, The Firm is challenging and fun, with a combination of cardio and strength training.
I hope my pics of 2011 bring you a bit of fun as well as a bit of fitness. Have a great 2012!