I’ve been meaning to do this for a couple of weeks, and have been a bit computerless for the past week or so, so just getting round to posting it now :P
I’m going by UK release dates here, so all the films below were officially released in UK in 2011…
10. Calvet / Project Nim
I’m tying the two best documentaries I saw this year because I couldn’t choose between them… :P
Calvet is the intense story of a French artist who started out as a rent boy in France before moving to Florida to work as a bouncer , before getting involved in drugs and all kinds of craziness, having a child and then abandoning him, and ending up a junkie somewhere in South America before art literally saved his life. Now clean, he goes looking for the son he left behind while telling his story. And it’s a fantastic story, really well told, and presented visually.
Project Nim continues my love affair with James Marsh ( whose Wisconsin Death Trip and The King I LOVE, and also Man on Wire), again blending documentary with reconstructions in really effective ways to tell a tragic story…
9. Submarine/ Tomboy
Again I couldn’t choose between these two, and since they’re both kind of quirky, small coming of age stories I thought I’d put them together. Submarine was just my kind of quirk…I fell in love with it’s sensibility, and washed out yet colourful style.
Tomboy…Well I don’t think I’ve felt happier in the cinema this year….I had a big grin on my face the whole way through the film. It’s a potentially difficult story sensitively told, and actually, despite some awkward moments, it’s just a really, really happy film, full of joy and fantastically authentic acting from the kids.
8. Blue Valentine
A lot of people are probably putting Drive on their top ten lists, but I just couldn’t really get behind that film… I thought It was undeniably stylish (great cinematography, great music, great direction) , but after I saw it I felt kind of empty. I couldn’t feel anything for the characters cuse to me they were just flat cutouts going through predictable motions. For me this was The Ryan Gosling film of the year, a beautifully acted and shot bittersweet (but more bitter) account of the rise and fall of a relationship. Michelle Williams and Gosling were both fantastic.
Tough to watch at times , and I thought some of the violence was a bit gratuititous, but Paddy Considine’s first film as director otherwise really got to me. I though the way it dealt with the issues it did was really well judged, and i like that it had more of a sense of hope and redemption than the usual “misery porn” type of films… Olivia Colman was fantastic, as well as Peter Mullan (but when is he not??).
Despite a way too meandering first part set at a wedding (I got the point after like 20 minutes…where were the script editors??? haha), this film had me with my mouth hanging open most of the running time. Just the stunning shots of destruction were enough to win me over really ha, also Kirsten Dunst gave a good performance.
5. Rabbit Hole
Basically I don’t think I’ve cried more in the cinema this year… This is a FANTASTIC FILM. I think it was criminally under seen. The acting is fantastic, especially Nicole Kidman. Cameron Mitchell left behind the in-your-face sexuality of his last films behind to concentrate more on serious drama, but you can still feel his quirky sensibility in the little details, and it really helps to make the film.
Martin Scorese continues his run of doing things a little differently, and after Shutter Island (which I love and was around this position of my list of last year). I thought Hugo was great, The sets , cinematography and direction were all beautiful, and the 3-D was actually really good.
3. Black Swan
Aronofsky + ballet = all kinds of fucked up awesomeness. This reminded me a little of the amazing films Cronenberg used to make (all body horror + creeping tension)before he went all mainstream with Viggo + corsets. I was impressed anyways.
This kind of crept up on me (and everyone I think) but although it’s small I actually think it’s a bit of a milestone. It’s definitely the best or even just most relatable ’gay’ film I’ve ever seen, presenting a realistic look at what being gay means in modern society, with all the home truths and brutally honest dialogue that entails. Buit above all I just really liked its sweetness and the way it was played; all intimate shots, dreamy cinematography and half-heard dialogue. You can tell the director is a fan of Sofia Coppola, from the style of it and also because the climactic scene has a nice Lost in Translation nod/subversion. The actors are awesome, especially Tom Cullen whose sensitive yet gruff Russell is adorable.
In a way this is a bit of a guilty pleasure choice, because I know Hanna maybe isn’t as ‘worthy’ as some of the other films on this list…But I freaking enjoyed it SOOO MUCH. It’s the only film this year i ended up going to see twice at the cinema, because I literally couldn’t wait to see it again, and I would watch it over and over, so it’s going at the top of my list. I loved the combination of fairy tale and action movie, the fantastic acting (Cate Blanchett made a GREAT villain), the whimsical visuals and great Chemical Brothers soundtrack.
Honorable Mentions: Take Shelter, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Balada Triste del trompeta, The Tree of Life, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Kill List, Super 8, Scream 4, Sherlock Holmes 2
Supposedly amazing/ half-decent films I’m yet to see: Another Earth, Rise of Planet of the Apes, Midnight in Paris, The Help, Silent House, The Awakening, Girl with Dragon Tattoo, A Separation, Las acacias, etc.