Best Ten Films Of 2011

While 2011 hasn’t exactly been a year of record-breaking box office success, it has been a fantastic one for British cinema, emerging talent and unique independent features which found themselves surpassing the popularity of many much bigger movies.

The films I’ve chosen – and believe me when I say it wasn’t an easy process – are what I think represent the pinnacle of the cinema I Continue reading “Best Ten Films Of 2011”

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Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

DVD Releases: April 11, 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Director: David Yates

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint

Legend Of The Guardian: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole

Director: Zack Snyder

Starring: Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving and David Wenham

Monsters

Director: Gareth Edwards

Starring: Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able

Rubber

Director: Quentin Dupieux

Starring: Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida and Wings Hauser

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

Director: Daniel Alfredson

Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace and Lena Endre

Of Gods And Men

Director: Xavier Beauvois

Starring: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale and Olivier Rabourdin

His And Hers

Director: Ken Wardrop

Fred: The Movie

Director: Clay Weiner

Starring: Lucas Cruikshank, Jennette McCurdy and Jake Weary

Poster: Rubber

Director – Quentin Dupieux

Starring – Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick, Wings Hauser and Ethan Cohn

Review: Rubber (2010)

Rubber revolves around a tyre, Robert, that’s been buried and forgotten in the middle of the desert. When, for some unknown reason, Robert wakes up and discovers his destructive telepathic powers, he soon sets his sights on a desert town; in particular, a mysterious woman who becomes his obsession.

The film, an ode to 1970’s experimental filmmaking, serves as a wonderful social commentary piece of film by not only playing on the typical conventions of commonplace horror films, but by bravely eradicating the “fourth wall” by establishing a subplot of spectators watching the action through binoculars; essentially a film within a film.

The script is solid, and the humour builds on itself in tiers, sprouting from the perplexing moments of hilarity to the ludicrous crescendo of the conclusion, where every element of the film comes together in an ending that, if nothing else, will make sure you never look at a supposedly inanimate object the same ever again.

Quentin Dupieux’ vision, inspired dialogue and dark, stony humor is fluently brought to life by the innovative cast, and the buoyant nature Robert annihilates other living beings.

Jack Plotnick, especially, exhibits the uncommon talent to carry a scene from laugh out loud humorous to acutely afflicting in a matter of seconds, delivering his lines in a magnificent, whimsical style.

Mr Oizo’s soundtrack compliments the on-screen action sublimely and, by working in unison with the excellently lingering, often intentionally off-frame cinematography, builds up and up as Robert, a rolling tyre, is made into the main character, one displaying wholly human characteristics, a feat that’s rarely achieved so distinctively.

Rubber is a uniquely screwy horror-comedy that supplies a fascinating blend of carnage and farcicality, moulding it into a striking romp that deserves to find its audience.