Friday, 30 December 2011

Best Films of 2011

Twelve Eleven

Okay, so there’s a few things you have to know before diving into my top 12 movies of 2011. I hope you take time to read this intro before skipping to the movies but... either way, thanks for reading.

First thing I’ve decided is that, much to my horror, we are now living in a digital age. I would much prefer to see movies in the cinema on their first run but the sad fact of the matter is that in the UK, some movies maybe screen once or twice only at a festival or two (if that) and then go straight to DVD. Since my number 2 pick was something I needed to desperately include, I’ve gone ahead and included films (only that one as it happens) which pretty much premier on DVD. As I said, I would much rather see these things at the cinema... but the opportunity never arose. Which is a shame, frankly, because though Ive not seen Lucky McKee’s The Woman, I’m guessing that if it had got a local cinema release it would have made this list. As it is, I won’t get to see this movie until next year now.

The second thing which I really hate is that, over the last few years, my diet of film in terms of first run cinema has relied pretty much on what my local cinema decides to show... and unfortunately that means a lot of non-English language movies are not screened anywhere near me... and when they are they often only last a week or so. My local multiplex actually has 15 screens so you’d think the greedy people in charge of the programming might at least free up one or two screens for foreign product. Not so and, unfortunately, this is probably going to be reflected in my list.

The third thing to remember is that... all end of year lists are going to be different to each other and list articles in general are dangerous territory because it’s rare two people agree on everything. Please don’t moan that I left out your favourite film of the year... there could be so many reasons I did this ranging from “I hated it” to “I didn’t get the opportunity to see it.” My apologies if this list is not for you but don’t feel left out... anyone can go create their own blog and pontificate from there. Or better yet, please post your own lists in the comments section below the article for all to see!

Please note that I also live in the UK, so while films like the Besson movie listed were released in their own countries prior to 2011, they’re new to this country.

Okay then... so now the pre-amble is out of the way, here’s my Twelve Best Films of 2011 list in reverse order with a brief introductory note for each one, followed by a link to my full review from earlier in the year. There are twelve for no other reason than, these were all obvious choices for me and deserved inclusion. Hope you like!

12. 127 Hours
Directed by Danny Boyle
I’m not exactly the biggest fan of movies depicting true events but the combination of the camerawork, dynamic editing and a standout performance from James Franco really pulled me in on this one. Not sure I’d watch it again but this was definitely one of the more interesting films of the year. My full review is here...

11. The Adjustment Bureau
Directed by George Nolfi
Loosely based on a well loved short story by my favourite writer Philip K. Dick, this movie is SO NOT the cross between The Bourne Identity and Inception that the marketing people wanted you to believe it was. This film is great and romantic and full of whimsy... which is why, if you’re going to sell it like some kind of action movie, the audience that you attract will not give good word of mouth. Badly marketed but a great movie! My full review of it is here...

10. Sucker Punch
Directed by Zack Snyder
Another badly received movie, Sucker Punch is a visual and aural feast. This has giant samurais with machine guns and a dragon chasing a World War Two bomber plane... seriously people, if you haven’t seen this then you are missing out on the spectacle of cinema. My full review is right here...

9. Battle: Los Angeles aka Battle: LA
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Okay, so it’s big and dumb and a bit of an “invite the guys around for beers” kinda movie, but the Saving Private Ryan meets War Of The Worlds stylistic “mash up” works really well. It’s patriotic tosh... but it’s very well made patriotic tosh and it has another cool performance by the wonderful Aaron Eckhart in it. Worth a watch if you like first person shooter games and lots of explosions. My full review here...

8. Paranormal Activity 3
Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
I love the Paranormal Activity movies. The first one wasn’t that scary but I could appreciate it on a technical level and the second US movie (I’ve not seen the Japanese sequel as yet) really worked well for me with its skewed timelines and it did get me quite jumpy. This third movie is a prequel and, though not quite as good as the second one, still “scared me up good”. Looking forward to seeing where they go with this franchise next. My full review can be found here...

7. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec
Directed by Luc Besson
It’s always good to see Bessson directing again and, although this one is nowhere near his best, it also sees him reteaming with his old composer Eric Serra for the first time in a long while (and it’s a really good score too). Definitely worth a look for the on-screen presence of the lead actress and for the wonderful antics of the mummys at the end of the movie. My full review of it is here...

6. Tron Legacy
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
I think this movie may have come out in the last few days of 2010 but, never mind, it was playing at cinemas well into 2011. A surprise sequel bridging the gap of the decades since I’d seen the first movie in the cinema, this has a great visual style and a surprisingly addictive and kick ass score by someone called, of all things, Daft Punk. Once again, a film to remind us of the pure spectacle of cinema. My full review can be found here...

5. Kill List
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Both brutal and inscrutable, it’s been three and a half months since I saw Kill List and I still haven’t figured out what it was about. All I know is that it started off very simple and got pretty enigmatic in that The Wicker Man kind of way by the time the movie finished. Great performances all around and one to ponder over if you’re in a head scratching mood. I need to see it a second time. My full review here...

4. Troll Hunter (aka Trolljegeren)
Directed by André Øvredal
Another in the increasingly easy to find first-person-shooter documentary style movies, Troll Hunter manages to mix in a lot of laughs with the horror and make for a pretty unique experience. It’s a real fine line of moods to handle and still retain suspension of disbelief but the director handles it pretty beautifully. My review for this one is here...

3. Melancholia
Directed by Lars Von Trier
Gorgeously lit depression, despair and fear as the end of the world looms closer for the characters. Von Triers visual poetry still manages to slowly pull the rug from under you in the final reel.

2. Rubber
Directed by Quentin Dupieux
Quentin Dupieux’s tribute to the cult of “no reason” is made manifest by a homicidal rubber tyre that becomes self aware. No words can truly describe just how delightfully surreal this movie gets... so grab a copy and take a look at it yourself. For my full review, click here...

1. Amer
Directed by Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
A french surrealist masterpiece with only a few words of dialogue in its whole running time, Amer uses the techniques of Italian Giallo cinema and uses actual music tracked in from the scores of various gialli and Italian cop movies. A visual and aural treat, you won’t know what hit you. This is easily the best film of the year and my only regret is that I saw it on my birthday in early January... after that I’d already seen the greatest film I’d see all year, which was kinda sad but I’m happy that great movies like this can still get made and find a small audience. My review of this splendid masterpiece is right here...

So there you have it. Those are my personal favourites of the year, with honourable mentions for My Week With Marilyn and The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of the Unicorn. As I said above, please feel free to post your own Best of 2011 lists in the comments section of this post. I’d be happy to read them.


  1. I really need to see Amer.

    I'm always loathe to draw up a list of best films of the year because I only ever get round to seeing a very small portion of them, and so don't feel qualified to comment. I still guiltily haven't seen pictures like Meeks Cutoff & Tyrannosaur, for example.

    However, I have seen 2 films this which are comparable with anything: Archipelago, and The Skin I Live In. I know you've seen the second one, but try the first one for it's Pinteresque/Pialat joy.

    Many thanks for your blogs this year, keeping us informed about the Nuts4R2 corner of the filmic universe.

    All the best for 2012. James.

  2. Hi James,

    Thanks for your comments. I, too, feel unqualified to make these kinds of lists except around the table at a pub with a few friends but people seemed to want me to do one last year (including yourself) and so I thought I might as well.

    Thanks for reading my blog throughout the year. And thanks for the interview (coming soon to this blog folks!). Hope you enjoy my Kurosawa articles next year.

    All the best.


  3. Very interesting list! I haven't seen all of these but there are certainly several that I have not noticed on other top lists! I think a few counted for 2010 over here though.

    I'm so happy to see a nod for RUBBER, which I completely loved but had such a small release I don't think a lot of people got to see it. And jeez I really wish WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN would come out near me! I don't remember hearing about AMER but it looks like it's out on dvd so I may give it a shot based on your praise.

  4. Thanks for stopping by.

    Yeah, I thought Amer was cool but it drove a couple of my friends nuts! Especially the scene with the football and the scene in the third act with the bath filling up. ;-) Now you'll have to watch it to see what I'm talking about.

    Alex is filmforager folks. She writes a great blog of film reviews and also does regular film related art which she sells on etsy.

    You should check out her cool stuff here...

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  5. Very cool list - eclectic and interesting.

    Intrigued by Amer and liked the sound of Melancholia when it came out. Really want to see Kill List but know it's not the sort of movie that's goimg to go down well in this house!

  6. Hi there... I think I just figured out who you are from your IP. ;-)

    Thanks for coming on and reading. Yeah, Kill List made more of an impression on me after it had finished and I started thinking about it... rather than when I was actually watching the thing itself.

    Thanks for the comment.