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Monday, 2 January 2012

2011 Review: Top 10

As 2011 draws to a close, it is time to look back and reflect on the highs and lows of what was, by all accounts, quite a peculiar year for the film industry.

Below is my top ten films of the past twelve months:

10. True Grit

The Coens return to the wild west, this time in the much more conventional sense, with the Oscar-nominated remake-that's-not-a-remake.

 The film's cinematography was second to none this year, and the cast's superb chemistry is smothered in the Coen's patented mix of twisting narrative and off-beat humour. Plus, it's always nice to see veterans like Bridges, Damon and Brolin out-acted by a 14 year old girl (Hailee Steinfeld).

9. Black Swan

Ballet gets scary and Natalie Portman gets the gong in Aronofsky's razor-sharp Black Swan.

Darker and edgier than any film in the last year, Black Swan shredded nerves and raised pulses with that scene. Hauntingly beautiful and career-defining role for Portman, who deservedly picked up the Academy Award.

8. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

An all-star cast was assembled to re-create the magic of the original TV series. However, this film surprised many by being not a mere remake, but an all together stunning film in its own right.

 This is a spy thriller for grown-ups. Gone are the gadgets, girls and unfunny one-liners, and what remains is gritty, powerful and compelling authenticity. Nothing is lost from the book or original TV mini-series, and the outcome is a modern re-telling, executed with first-class acting and a breathtaking visual style.

7. Attack The Block

Joe Cornish smashes film genres together like a Large Hadron Collider in this triumphant directional debut.

E.T with an asbo, Attack the Block perfectly blends humour, sci-fi thrills and character arcs as well as any film. Cornish and his fresh-faced (but let's face it, terrifying) cast are awesome, and the final product is perhaps the first film to finally live up to the claim of 'the new Shaun of the Dead'.

6. The Inbetweeners Movie

The lads make the transition from TV to silver-screen seem as slick as Simon's hair.

We all approached it with the absolute terror, dreading the possibility that funniest British TV show in recent years would be tarnished by a weak big-screen effort. Perhaps what makes the hilarity and brilliance of it that much sweeter. Easily the funniest film of the year.

5. Senna

If you only saw one documentary this year, it should have been this one....

Ambitiously constructed, deeply compelling, thrilling and in no way only for those who like watching cars drive in circles. A worthy tribute to a true talent.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

One of the greatest sagas in history ends with a bang, and a magical one at that.

Cementing the series' status as national triumph, it had everything you could possibly want from Potter's final instalment: epic showdowns, long-awaited kisses, Neville Longbottom's greatest moment and, of course, the unparallelled talent of Alan Rickman.

3. Drive

If 2011 was Ryan Gosling's year, this film was his crowning glory.

Its cool. Very, very cool. enough said.

2. Super 8

J.J Abrams and Steven Spielberg remake Alien, but replace Ripley with the Goonies.

The blockbuster that flew under the radar, only smash its rivals to pieces. It’s nowhere close to E. T. (nothing is!)  but amongst the hullabaloo of summer, Super 8 is something to cherish: a beautifully made homage to better times, and better movies.

And finally...

1. The King's Speech

It blew away the critics. It blew away the box-office. It blew away Academy. Long live the King!

In a year that ultimately lacked major 'event' movies (be honest, asides from Potter there wasn't any), it took a very special film to claim 2011 for its own. Not one part of this film lets it down, Hooper's direction, the inch-perfect script, and of course the acting. Firth is the obvious champion and deserves every accolade he received, but the ever-underrated Geoffrey Rush is as vital and as brilliant, so too is Helena Botham-Carter as the Queen Mother. Perhaps then, even with the countless awards this The King's Speech won, it's greatest praise came from Queen Elizabeth II herself who was 'moved' and 'delighted' by the film. The rest of the world whole-heartedly shares her majesty's view.