My ten favourite films of 2011

#1

So here they are. In all but two cases, I also had some thoughts at the time – click on the titles for those. Happy new year.

1. Archipelago – Joanna Hogg’s exquisitely observed study of a family on holiday in the Scilly Isles is both gloriously witty and completely horrifying. A perfect film.

2. Blue Valentine – two brilliant actors, some fabulous cinematography and a dash of non-linear narrative combine to make this truly moving and memorable film about (ill-fated) love.

3. A Separation – perfectly balanced, thoughtful and humane Iranian drama which gains enormous strength simply by treating its characters (and its audience) with respect.

4. Kill List – a brilliantly stylish, properly disturbing horror film with superb sound design and an ending that simply went for it. Thrilling stuff.

5. Tyrannosaur – Olivia Colman is incredible in this grim, powerful, violent northern tale. Peter Mullan is one of the best actors out there too. I was so transfixed I didn’t even open my packet of nuts.

6. Cave of Forgotten Dreams – not quite up there with Grizzly Man, but still wild and wonderful in the way only Herzog documentaries can be. ‘Stay here’ was the best line of the year.

7. Senna – I’m still not sure what exactly to make ‘last lap’ sequence in this film, but it had me pinned to my seat like nothing I can remember.

8. The Tree of Life – awful in parts, and yet it drew me back to watch a second time. Something about the whole thing – its utter sincerity, its ambition – was overwhelming. This film felt like an event.

9. Animal Kingdom – stylishly realised, calm but compelling Australian crime drama with a memorably demonic grandma at its head.

10. Wuthering Heights – Andrea Arnold’s stab at a classic falls away a bit towards the end. But for the first hour, this is pure filmmaking: stories through images – and what striking, primal, passionate images they are.

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5 Responses to My ten favourite films of 2011

  1. Uncle Kevin says:

    The only one of these I saw was The Tree of Life, which was pretty underwhelming as well as confusing. The most enjoyable by far was Midnight in Paris, where you walked out at the end, as with many Woody Allen films, just glad to be alive.

  2. Nince says:

    Obviously you’ve not seen many films this year.

  3. Archipelago: my most uninspiring movie of the year, which is a shame because it’s the one film I really looked forward to seeing and most wanted to like. I live where Archipelago was filmed, and ultimately thought “what a wasted opportunity”. The Scillies are a unique place. A film made here should leverage the location in some way to drive the plot, give a sense of place or set a mood. Archipelago did none of these things, and would have lost nothing in being filmed in any other coastal or rural setting. I could forgive this if the plot or the performances could have lifted the story. After all, a film must made somewhere. However, the experience felt like a dreary trudge along a muddy path with aching feet in bad weather, rather than a walk on the hills on a bright, breezy sunny day. Not the worst film, but many better example exist of its type.

  4. Myerla says:

    I would argue that Blue Valentine is a 2010 film becuase it was nominated, for an Oscar, in the year 2010 (same with Animal kingdom). Anyway, I’ve not seen seen your top two but do intend to. I loved the final seconds of Kill list. A Sepairation had the best performances but no films I can argue with their inclusion.
    My top 10 is:

    1. The Artist
    2. A Separation
    3. Senna
    4. We Need to Talk about Kevin
    5. Hugo
    6. Midnight in Paris
    7. 13 Assassins
    8. The Skin I Live In
    9. Oranges and Sunshine
    10. Another Earth

    Honourable mentions: Melancholia, Drive, Moneyball, 50/50, The Tree of Life, Super 8, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Kill List, Source Code.

  5. Nince says:

    This is my favourite film of the year (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTcV5f5oQdQ)

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