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HORROR TEN SPOT: My Favorite Genre Hotties of 2011

12.30.2011by: Jake Dee
As 2011 winds to a close, I know you've been inundated with all kinds of year-end lists and best-of compilations. Well, I suppose this one is not all that different. But instead of celebrating my favorite films of the year, or my favorite kills of the year as I did at the end of 2010, I'm going a different route to cap off the 2011 movie-going season. That's right ladies and gents, I'm diving head first into the shallowest of puddles by awarding my the top ten genre hotties of the year. No shame here, I'm simply calling out the lovely ladies who partook in at least one major mainstream genre film...and caught my attention in so doing. New names and old you'll find below, hopefully each will continue to champion our taste in film and offer solid work for many more moons to come. Here now are my Top Ten genre Hotties of 2011.

#10. Carice van Houten (BLACK DEATH, INTRUDERS)

Dutch beauty Carice van Houten may not be a household name yet, but as she continues to plow through international genre productions, the gorgeous gal is definitely earning her stripes. Racking up 35 titles since 1997, van Houten partook in two somewhat unheralded, diametrically opposed genre flicks in 2011. The first was BLACK DEATH, a bleak, supernatural spin on the bubonic plague era. Her role wasn't a starring one, but certainly a vital one, as a large part of the story hinges on her faithful actions. In the other film, Juan Carlos Fresndillo's INTRUDERS, van Houten is tasked with playing a mother and wife who desperately tries to rid her daughter of malefic visions and paranormal disturbance. Clive Owen is her screen partner, which means you must bring your A-game to the table. Most exciting though? Ms. van Houten has already been cast in the second season of HBO hit "Games of Thrones." Must have been the BLACK DEATH gig, ya dig?!?

#9. Danielle Harris (THE VICTIM, CHROMESKULL)

A perennial AITH favorite, I'd be remiss if I didn't fete the lovely Mrs. Danielle Harris...aka the hardest working gal in the horror genre. 2011 was quite nice to Danielle, as she appeared in no less than four horror releases, not to mention worked on a few that have yet to come out. And this coming off a six-film resume in 2010. The girl never stops! This past year though, Harris lent solid turns in such varied fare as Michael Biehn's THE VICTIM, CHROMESKULL: LAID TO REST 2 and DEVIL'S NIGHT. She also has SHIVER and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: ORIGINS 3D in post, as well as another five...count 'em...five genre flicks slated for 2012 and beyond, including HATCHET III. I was lucky enough to meet Ms. Harris on my birthday last year, doing so at the premiere of THE VICTIM. It was the best part of my day, the radiant stunner was as nice in person as she is beautiful to look at. Truth be told, I've been a fan since DON'T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER'S DEAD and LAST BOYSCOUT, so to see her in the flesh all these years later was a real treat. Keep up the good work Danni!

#8. Thandie Newton (VANISHING ON 7TH STREET, RETREAT)

After carving a rep for serious, dramatic roles early in her career, the almond skinned goddess Thandie Newton somewhat gravitated to our twisted brand of cinema in 2011. And I for one couldn't be more thrilled! Early in the year Newton appeared in Brad Anderson's urban blackout thriller VANISHING ON 7TH STREET, in which she was forced to band together with Hayden Christensen and others to seek refuge...and ultimately answers to what the hell is going on. Later in the year the British bird appeared opposite Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell in RETREAT, a psychological thriller of isolation and inescapability. Both films, while wildly disparate, play to the notion of communication, or lack thereof, and the ability or inability to trust people in such dire consequences. Newton's face is not only angelic, she exudes such a credible vulnerability that you can't help want to save her from any peril she may find herself in. The sexy accent only heightens said desire!

#7. Freida Pinto (RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, IMMORTALS)

Though not horror per se, Freida Pinto parlayed her SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE success into making two monumental American blockbusters in 2011, one good and one not so. The good was the surprisingly compelling PLANET OF THE APES rehash, which not only struck a chord with critics, but audiences alike (thus an upcoming sequel). In the film she played a primatologist sincerely concerned for the well being of Caesar, despite many people's efforts to the contrary. The bad? The spectacularly soulless IMMORTALS, in which the stunning Indian native plays a Greek goddess called Phaedra. It's pretty crazy to think that just three years ago Freida was toiling in relative obscurity in the Indian modeling scene, and in the short span since, has performed in seven different films, including titles for Woody Allen and Julian Schnabel. Let's just hope that she blesses our beloved genre with her talent for many more years to come. It could use it.

#6. Imogen Poots (FRIGHT NIGHT, CHATROOM)

Since appearing in 28 WEEKS LATER back in 2007, the lovely English ingénue Imogen Poots enjoyed quite a supernatural 2011. First, the cutie pie appeared in Hideo Nakata's stylized techno-thriller CHATROOM, which didn't release in the states until early this year. Then in March, Poots partook in the ghostly JANE EYRE adaptation, although her role wasn't a substantial one. Nope, Imogen wouldn't enjoy her real time to shine until August, when she starred opposite Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell in the too easily panned FRIGHT NIGHT redo. Say all you want about the film, there's no denying Poots was a far improvement over the original's Amanda Bearse. Having visited the FRIGHT NIGHT set in New Mexico, I can tell you firsthand that Imogen is just as vibrant and charming in real life as she is on screen, maybe even more so. The fact she was affable, engaging, sunny even...pretty much made me fall in love with her right on the spot. Boy what I'd give to knock them Poots!

#5. Alice Braga (THE RITE)

Okay, so maybe I'm a year late with this one, as the smoldering Brazilian import Alice Braga only appeared in one bona fide genre outing this calendar year. But in addition to THE RITE this past January, Braga appeared in PREDATORS and REPO MEN in 2010...which makes her more than qualified in my book. This chica has such a commanding presence in everything she does. She can play a soft, vulnerable woman in much need of solace, or she can play a tough as nails woman of independence...and be just as believable in both. It's hard to discount the sexual androgyny of her PREDATORS part...decked in fatigues, dripping sweat, an assault rifle at her hip. Braga defines sexual toughness, a trait I hope she keeps intact when seen in Neill Blomkamp's upcoming alien epic ELYSIUM. I'll always remember first seeing her in CITY OF GOD, which makes sense, surely there must be a higher power to create something so beauteous.

#4. Kirsten Dunst (MELANCHOLIA)

Since debuting in her one and only true horror tale, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE in 1994, Kirsten Dunst has largely stayed away from the genre. After doing some fine work in the indie-dramatic scene, Dunst hit the big time with the SPIDERMAN gig, but then seemed to stumble in subsequent years, even incurring critical wrath with charges of being a no good actor. Well folks, 2011 marked a big-bad comeback for Kirsten, who I'm not ashamed to say I had a crush on at one point in my younger days. For her haunting turn in Lars Von Trier's MELANCHOLIA, Dunst earned the Best Actress award at Cannes this year, and for that, I feel more than comfortable honoring her with a high ranking. We know how difficult Von Trier can be to work with, and given the soul-crushing material she was mining in the piece to begin with, Dunst's workload was made all the more arduous I'm sure. Congrats Kirsten, we're more than welcome to have you back. Now stay here damn it!

#3. Amanda Seyfried (RED RIDING HOOD, IN TIME)

The eyes alone could have one Amanda Seyfried a spot on the list, but it just so happens the lovely lass appeared in two high profile genre gigs this past year, with another one due this February. In March Amanda got paid for the god awful RED RIDING HOOD, in which she plays the titular damsel in distress. The less said about that one the better, so let's move on to IN TIME, Andrew Niccol's thought provoking new sci-fi thriller. Though I'm still not convinced Timberlake is a leading man, Seyfried is a seasoned vet by now, and it shows here, whether in action scenes or expository dialogue pieces. And with her serial killer thriller GONE coming up (not to mention JENNIFER'S BODY a few years ago), Seyfried has quite the taste for genre material. Remember she also did CHLOE, which had its fair share of insidious moments (not to mention a make out scene between she and Julianne Moore). I've been waiting a long time to profess my love for Amanda's eyes, and now I've done it. My life is fucking complete.

#2. Amber Heard (DRIVE ANGRY, THE WARD)

Because her two genre starring nods this year were toward the front of the calendar, it might be easy to forget Amber Heard's work in DRIVE ANGRY and THE WARD in 2011. Nah, fuck that...Heard's downright unforgettable in two otherwise forgettable movies, though for what it's worth, I enjoyed both well enough. In DRIVE ANGRY, Heard's sexuality is accentuated by her skin tight Daisy Dukes and knee high fuck me boots...a lethal concoction of lust indeed. The fact she kicks so much ass in the film only draws you in closer...here's a broad whole love you and protect you at once...a damn keeper in my eyes. In Carpenter's THE WARD, she's much more vulnerable, at least on the surface. Still, her sensuality shines through...never less than a PG shower scene or when voyeuristically leering at her fellow inmates bust a dance number to The Newbeats' "Run Baby Run." Amber Heard is equally talented as she is beautiful...we should be so lucky to have such a phenom in our favorite genre.

#1. Rooney Mara (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)

Congratulations of the highest order are in line for Mrs. Rooney Mara, as she not only gives a great performance in one of the better films of the year, she also managed to put all the bitching and moaning about her turn in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET to bed by doing so. And yet you never think about that one time while watching Fincher's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, in which Rooney blisters off the screen with an icy sexuality and indomitable bravado few others could pull off. No wonder the casting search was so wide. I mean, it's one thing to be able to nail any character in the first place, but when you're tackling a character worldwide audiences know and love being played by another person (Noomi Rapace), it must be doubly difficult. Add the tens of millions more who've read the books in which this character was created, a lot was riding on Rooney's shoulders, whether she was conscious of it or not. So again, props to you Rooney, job very well done! And that ass of yours...good god!!!

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