Sunday, 1 January 2012

Review: Best of 2011

So 2011 has proved another interesting year for the film industry. There have been highs, lows, massive disappointments, as well as the utterly bizarre (I'm looking at you Tom Six). It's proven difficult to select a top 10, as there were some great films that just missed out.

Honourable mentions


Top 10 of 2011

#10 TRUE GRIT (dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)

A different direction for the Coen's as they tackle the challenge of a remake, but stick closely to the Portis novel. Bridges and Damon are excellent, but newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is sensational. As always, cinematographer Roger Deakins makes it all stunningly beautiful to watch, too.

#9 CONFESSIONS (dir. Tetsuya Nakashima)

This slick and stylish Japanese thriller cum mystery is somewhat of a hidden gem of 2011. The fascinating story of child killers with overarching themes of revenge makes this a fantastic alternative film from the blockbusters.

#8 TYRANNOSAUR (dir. Paddy Considine)

Paddy Considine's début directorial feature is gripping, raw and unforgiving. Stunning performances from Colman and Mullan make it truly unforgettable.

#7 THE TREE OF LIFE (dir. Terrence Malick)

Recluse Terrence Malick returns after a six year hiatus with this visually stunning depiction of, well, everything from the creation of the universe, to the extinction of dinosaurs, until he focuses on the O'Brien family in the 1950's. One of those rare films that had critics praising the socks off as well as audiences walking out half way through.

 #6 SUBMARINE (dir. Richard Ayoade)

Another début from another Brit: this time Richard Ayoade for his quirky and quaintly touching comedy drama about 15 year old Lloyd as he embarks on love, romance and a determination to split his mother and her resurfaced lover up for good. Likeable, funny, sad and evocative: Submarine is an accomplished first-time effort.

#5 TAKE SHELTER (dir. Jeff Nichols)

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain provide one of the strongest combinations of the year. A superb social-commentary about a man with mental illness; there are multiple layers to explore. An underrated film, that's for sure.

#4 SENNA (dir. Asif Kapadia)

The sole documentary in the list, Senna is a finely crafted and slickly edited doc from Asif Kapadia. Hugely emotive and poignant, you'll be a strong character not to shed a tear. 

#3 THE ARTIST (dir. Michel Hazanavicius)

Black and white. Silent. European. Not destined for commercial success, but it should be. Every aspect is astounding: the acting, cinematography, story, score, direction; The Artist is the charmer of the year, and I haven't even mentioned Uggie the dog.

#2 RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (dir. Rupert Wyatt)

The biggest surprise of 2011 and the strongest summer blockbuster of them all. Andy Serkis proves that not only has motion capture advanced with the help of WETA, but that you don't need to actually appear in a film to steal it.

#1 DRIVE (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

A film I simply could not get out of my head from the moment the opening scene kicked in. Winding Refn's ultra cool, ultra stylish, ultra violent, minimalist, retro art house thriller ticks all the boxes. The soundtrack is just a little bit good too.