This year was a mixed year at the movies. It started superbly (January & February are generally good thanks to Oscar season), then had a lull and is starting to pick up again (apply the January/February reason to the end of the year). I’ve found it tough to narrow my selection down to my top 10 but I finally have my Top 10 Films of 2011. Here they are:
1. SUPER 8
Super 8 is brilliant! Thanks to JJ Abrams and Stephen Spielberg for making me fall in love with cinema all over again – for making me see that the world of cinema can be fun and magical! It has been a long time since I have wanted to get up and cheer at the end of a film, but that’s exactly what I did when the credits started rolling on Super 8. Super 8 transported me to a land of make believe, where I believed the impossible is possible!
WOW! WOW! WOW! What a film! Heartbreaking and edge of your seat at the same time. I’ll be very surprised if come Oscar time Nick Nolte doesn’t get a nomination for his role as the recovering alcoholic father who is estranged from his son. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton deserve nominations too but there is far too much competition in the Leading Actor category in 2012.
3. BLACK SWAN
Darren Arronofsky freaked me right out with his take on the ballet world and the performances he got from his cast, Oscar winner Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder were phenomenal. Black Swan is gripping, demented, extraordinary and intoxicating – even when you want to look away you can’t!
4. THE FIGHTER
This deserved all the Oscar nominations and the Oscar Awards it received. It has everything you can ask for from a boxing movie, actually from any movie. It’s about the underdog, has heart, there are big fights that have you cheering and, ultimately it’s all about love – the love of the sport and for your family.
Calling this the female Hangover is very lazy. The similarities between this and The Hangover are few and far between. It’s fantastic to see an all female cast lead a film and it do so well at the box office – while being hilarious at the same time! This is side splitting funny! Melissa McCarthy is already getting lots of attention for her role as Megan, already getting a Best Actress nomination in the 2012 SAGs and I’m sure there’ll definitely be a Golden Globe nomination and possibly an Oscar nomination as well – although unfortunately, comedic performances don’t usually get the attention of the Oscars.
6. THE HELP
This is the first book adaptation, in a while, that I’ve loved as much as the book! It’s a great heartfelt story which had my crying tears of anger, sadness and joy. The cast were outstanding and they are already being recognised with this movie leading the SAG award nominations. I am sure there will be more nominations come Golden Globe and Oscar time!
What a year it’s been for Ryan Gosling – the roles he has taken on this year couldn’t be more different! His role, as the Driver, in this refreshingly original American story, is smooth yet flawed, cold yet warm. Drive can be described as brutally violent, but I would also throw in beautiful, exciting and what a rush! Sidenote: This is accompanied by a fab soundtrack!
8. THE KING’S SPEECH
Many are saying that you should see this if you like Elizabeth, The Queen, Young Victoria. The only thing The King’s Speech has in common with these film is that it is about royalty. This story has more heart, charm and humour than those films. The script was clever and witty, and the acting and direction were flawless (it’s understandable why it did so well at this year’s Oscars). This film reminds me of why I love the cinema – it doesn’t always have to be about the special effects – sometimes a great story and great acting is enough!
9. BLUE VALENTINE
This honest and bleak look at a fractured relationship is often a hard, and sometimes uncomfortable watch, but it’s brilliant! Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give some of the most natural, organic, raw performances I have seen on the big screen in a longtime. Michelle Williams was nominated for her role at this year’s Oscars but I will never understand why Gosling wasn’t!
10. THE GUARD
This was the surprise Irish hit of the year. It’s hilarious and has charm – but not in the twee way we are used to seeing Irish charm and humour portrayed on screen (usually in American productions).
Honourable mentions go to:
THE INSIDE JOB
THE IDES OF MARCH