Friday, 16 December 2011

Top 15 of 2011 Thus Far

Because you're all eternally interested in what I have to say, I have decided to construct a Top 15 of 2011 list, with pictures and explanations, instead of just printing it in numbers and names without a hint as to why they even deserve their place. So, read on if you please, it's not pivotal (in all honesty, this is about 40-50% due to boredom), but any comments and opinions would be appreciated. On with the list.

P.S: These short reviews I'm giving are not full depth analysis' of the films, they are merely just a few, simple points on why I loved them, but enough to get a general idea. Enjoy.

15. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Despite being slightly disappointed by how underwhelming this film ended up being after months of intense anticipation, Tinker, Tailor is still a brilliantly crafted, finely acted, extremely clever film that just happened to have a few major pacing problems, which thoroughly deteriorated my enjoyment of the film. Nonetheless, this will be a lot of people's cup of tea. I thought it would be mine, but sadly, I misjudged. One thing has to be said though - if the film was this difficult to follow in film form, I would hate to imagine what it would be like trying to keep a track of the plot whilst reading the original John Le Carre book. Anyway, to conclude, thus far, Tinker, Tailor is in my Top 15 of the year, and even though it probably won't be by the end, this does not mean it's not worth seeing, because believe me, it is.

Rating: 3/4

14. Thor

Thor, although not a flop among Marvel fanatics and critics, didn't receive nearly as much praise as it ought to. X-Men: First Class and Captain America: The First Avenger were two of the biggest disappointments of the year for me, yet they seemed to get more acclaim and notice from fans - X-Men: First Class, yet another entry in a tired out franchise, being drawn out for the sake of money; Captain America, a vapid film with no character development and an unconvincing villain get praise, yet Thor doesn't? Thor, for me, was one of the most entertaining films I have seen in a long time, and not only that - I thought the characters were solid, the script was a mixture of many emotions, which all slotted perfectly into the film's atmosphere, and enjoyment all the way through. My favourite superhero film of the year, without a question asked.

Rating: 3-3.5/4

13. Super 8

To absolutely nobody's surprise, everyone was a sucker for Super 8, myself included. What's wrong with it? A lot, actually. The ending is absolute dog feces, it milks the absolute crap out of this cheesy kid relationship and the character of the father is as bland as watching paint dry. But I had a lot of fun with it, I really did. Led by two impressive child actors, (despite the cheesy relationship) Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, Super 8 thrives on wonderful cinematography and a delightfully Abrams/Spielberg feel, which is probably why most people fell over in love with it. Super 8 is by no means even close to perfect, but as a nostalgic film and in simple terms of enjoyment, Super 8 is absolutely brilliant, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not something that I'm in a huge rush to watch again, but I will, someday, because it's worth it.

Rating: 3-3.5/4

12. Hanna

With two females that I have the utmost respect for (Cate Blanchett and Saoirse Ronan), I was bound to enjoy this, and that's how it ended up. With solid performances, stunning cinematography and a very unique feel to it, Hanna impressed me a great amount. I was taken on a thrill ride, and of course a contributing factor to my enjoyment was the fact that I live films of Hanna's ilk, with the father figure and the badass killer girl, but Hanna was more than that to me, it had a justified level of emotion without shoving it down your throat in extreme amounts and it never lost its pacing. With sharp, often humorous dialogue, Hanna wraps up a place in my Top 15 as an enjoyable, well directed thriller with technical advantages to back it up.

Rating: 3.5/4

11. Moneyball

Just to clarify straight away, you DO NOT have to be a baseball fan to enjoy Moneyball, a film that is more about the integrity, teamwork and togetherness of being in a baseball team, and perhaps the stress of trying to point one in the direction of success, with thousands of fans hearts on the line of the decisions you make, and the strategies you choose to use. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill make the absolute most out of the characters they have, and also the solid script they are given. Moneyball, like any other film, has its flaws - the players aren't explored nearly enough and the director obviously seemed to concentrate on making the baseball scenes look nice rather than any other scene, but Moneyball is strong in heart and strong on a technical level, and is worth seeing, baseball fan - hell, even sports fan - or not.

Rating: 3.5/4

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part ||

Harry Potter, until the sixth entry, never really matured - but thanks to David Yates, we were given three wonderfully made Potter films right at the last, the strongest being this film's predecessor, but only marginally. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part || is glowingly magical, enticing and exciting, and is everything that I could have hoped for after the thoroughly impressive previous entry. Yates concentrates on bringing out the characters in full right before they disappear off our screens forever and his effort is shown throughout, by Alan Rickman, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint especially. Deathly Hallows: Part || is one of the strongest entries in the Potter series and a film that I feel I will enjoy watching on countless occasions.

Rating: 3.5/4

09. 50/50

50/50 is not only one of the most touching, heartfelt films of the year, it's also one of the funniest, something many films would struggle to do, and do struggle to do. When you put 50/50 as "a comedy about cancer" it doesn't sound particularly amusing, but when you actually sit down and watch this film, it embroiders itself in your heart and takes you on a moral journey through the eyes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen. To no surprise, Gordon-Levitt was impressive, with a charming and often sarcastic performance, but I was seriously surprised by Rogen, an actor I usually can't stand, who added an array of emotions into his performance, and made a perfect partner to Levitt. Anjelica Huston, Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard also impress to formulate one of most charming films of the year, earning a deserved spot in my Top 15.

Rating: 3.5/4

08. The Help

Oscar-Bait or no Oscar-Bait, I adored The Help. It has one of the best assembled female casts in a long time, featuring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek and Jessica Chastain, all with apt and enjoyable performances. The Help, despite milking as much as it can out of its PC topic, is relevant and enjoyable and touching to watch. It is a colourful and bristles with snappy dialogue and powerful scenes backed up by being well filmed and powerfully acted. The Help will inspire you and lift you up on a bad day, because it succeeds at doing what it was always supposed to do - make audiences feel good. The Help, whether you like emotional films or not, is worth a watch.

Rating: 3.5/4

07. Hugo

Hugo is a magical journey, fit for all ages, full to the brim with ancient movie references (most of which I got) and a terrific performance from everyone involved, especially my favourite child actress, Chloe Grace-Moretz. Scorsese offers us what most kid's films cannot - maturity - and although that it sounds stupid to say that, considering that IT IS a kid's film, but watching the maturity of the picture flow throughout really is joyous, and maturity often suits kid's films. The film is without a doubt entertaining, I was never bored. The film has a few minor flaws, such as some jarring tonal shifts and Sacha Baron Cohen for the first hour of the film, but Hugo makes up for it by being enticing, joyful and an absolute pleasure to watch. I stick to the fact that I said that the film looked bad, but I am equally as willing to say that I have been indeed proved wrong.

Rating: 3.5/4

06. Drive

Drive should be the dictionary definition of 'encapsulating'. In fact, Drive should be the dictionary definition of many complimentary words, but there are so many that it would be far too challenging for my tiny little brain to go into. Drive features a standout performance from Ryan Gosling, an apt and wonderfully funky soundtrack that I can listen to again and again, some mesmerising cinematography, especially some simply unforgettable scenes in slow-motion, and a gripping plot. But one thing, as the great Rohit Ramachandran once said - "Multiple viewings are mandatory." These words are nothing but truth. I thought the film was weak when I first watched it, but upon multiple viewings, I have found its greatness. Carey Mulligan accompanies Ryan Gosling with a sweet, subtle performance as per usual, and all other supporting performances are solid. Drive is an essential of 2011.

Rating: 3.5-4/4

05. We Need To Talk About Kevin

We Need To Talk About Kevin is a tale of torture, pain and struggle, yet somehow manages to be beautiful in the meantime. Perhaps down to its wonderful cinematography, or maybe even the award worthy performances from Ezra Miller and Tilda Swinton, but I think mostly it's because the director managed to make a menacing killer deceive the audience by changing his persona throughout, looking sweet and innocent at certain times and looking beyond salvation at others. The other wonderful thing about Kevin is that almost every point and moral issue brought up in the film is moot, leaving room for wonderful post-watching discussion. On a film level itself, Kevin is simply unforgettable, worthy of every piece of praise it receives, and a must-watch for any lover of psychological thrillers - you'll get a bit more than that, too.

Rating: 3.5-4/4

04. La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In)

Pedro Almodovar, being the genius that he is, has spurned another masterpiece out of his beautifully twisted mind, that being The Skin I Live In, a hypnotic journey through moral standpoints, trust and issues. Full to the brim with cultural/technical codes, differential decoding and preferred reading, The Skin I Live In thrives upon its fine performances all round, from Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya particularly. The Skin I Live In has some of the most impressive and captivating scenery I have ever come across, and some of the topics that are embroidered within this cavern of fascination and beauty are as effective as you can get. The Skin I Live In is by far my favourite foreign film of the year, and one of my favourites of the year overall. An absolute must-see.

Rating: 3.5-4/4

03. Midnight In Paris

Midnight In Paris is essential for any lover of history and quaint, anachronistic settings. That is just one reason why I love Midnight In Paris, but although you're probably asking why I love this film, my question is - how can you NOT love this film? It's charming, it has Owen Wilson NOT being a stuck-up prick, it has Marion Cotillard at her peak (which is a joy to watch) and its unforgettable screenplay should nab it a nomination at the Oscars this year, and if it doesn't - they're even stupider than they were prior to not nominating this. Woody Allen has crafted a modern masterpiece in Midnight In Paris, and I will buy this upon release simply for the reason that it will make me feel on top of the world if I ever feel down, and that also the fact that it is a fantastic film, and one of the most impressive of the year.

Rating: 4/4

02. My Week With Marilyn

My Week With Marilyn is a deep, beautiful study of a star (played by a PERFECTLY casted Michelle Williams) torn between her love for show business and fame and the overwhelming desire to lead a normal life. Williams is accompanied by Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson among others, all of whom impress. My Week With Marilyn is my kind of film, and this was definitely a contributing factor to my undying love for it, but I do believe that by itself it is a fantastic film, one with little flaw, and perhaps the best one based on the life of the late star. The touching dialogue will tear you apart as Marilyn has to make her choice after falling in love with a normal man, and the fun aspects of the film will balance out a mellow, enjoyable experience, regardless of whether you love it as much as me or not.

Rating: 4/4

01. Melancholia

The moment I set eyes on Lars Von Trier's Melancholia, I knew that not only would it be my favourite of the year, but perhaps one of my favourite films of all time: a fascinating study of human life crossed with an emotional journey with two sisters, one, Justine, who fears nothing due to her deep depression (studied beautifully) by Von Trier and her sister Claire, a paranoid woman who believes that passer-by planet Melancholia may strike Earth, eradicating all life. Dramatic irony is shown within Melancholia, as the depressed Justine (played by the mesmerising Kirsten Dunst) who is supposed to be vulnerable and feeble, fears nothing of a planet threatening to kill all life, yet a woman who has a husband, who continuously assures her that nothing bad will happen, and a child, is living in fear of death. Melancholia is intrinsic, captivating, and in all honesty I could probably write for hours about my love for this film, but for times sake, I will leave it here - but if you have not seen this film, make it your priority.

Honorable Mentions:
The Adjustment Bureau
Friends With Benefits
Horrible Bosses
Source Code
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Thank you for reading. 


  1. Terrific list Colin! I am glad Midnight in Paris is far up your list. I still need to see My Week With Marilyn. I will read a little more about her first. again, excellent work!

  2. Danke Thomas. You should watch Marilyn Monroe films, I think you'd like them.

  3. Planet of the Apes was good but the human characters were too much of cardboard cutouts for my liking. I did not like The Help as much because of the liberal view of the era, My Week With Marilyn showed Marilyn was a fragile individual which the pressures of fame being quite strong an her insecure personality but I felt it went too far into melodrama and Emily Watson was wasted in her role. Harry Potter was a bit of a mess, not enough support was given to the supporting characters that we care about just as much. Still enjoyed it. Felt Hanna had trouble with tonal shifts but was, again, good fun. We Need to Talk about Kevin was stunning and Midnight in Paris was whimsical and delightful. Melancholia was visually outstanding but I found myself not greatly caring what happened to the characters I was left impressed and wowed by it but never moved. 50/50 was surprisingly good, so was Moneyball and Super 8 was the best blockbuster of the summer. That’s my opinions in a nut shell.

    My top 5 are
    1) Senna (SEE THIS SOON COLIN!!!!)
    2) Hugo
    3) We Need to Talk About Kevin
    4) 13 Assassins
    5) Midnight in Paris

  4. Great list, Colin. Glad to see Drive so high up, that was my favorite of the year, and ROTPOTA and Thor made it, great to see. I loved those two. Will need to see Melancholia and others on the list

  5. good list, love your points here but I will disagree with most of whats on here, simply because a majority I've not had the chance to see.:P
    Though I would say for the ones I have, Super 8 and Drive would definitely claim a spot on my list, While Harry Potter would not(Among my many problems with it is that a lot of what makes it strong is it's over-reliance to the previous films, which is a peeve for me since I feel that great sequels shouldn't rely or at the least heavily on previous films to give it strength) It's good I believe, even with flaws but not great, also good for me is Thor but just not good enough to be on my list of films. Another I've seen is Rise of The Planet of the Apes which I hated, granted it's not as bad as the Burton remake, but the cg aside, the story just feels too "get it over with and get to the classic films already" for me, anyways that my two cents, I still enjoyed your blog and thought it was a great read.

  6. Quite a roundup you have here. Nice site, too.