Tuesday, 27 December 2011

My End of Year List: Best of 2011

As it's Christmas and I'm feeling bloated and lazy, I'm not going to provide proper write ups of the movies I saw this week. For the record, I saw the following films this week:

The Mist (2007) - very good Stephen King horror yarn, slightly let down by some weak CGI. Rating: 8/10

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). Russell Crowe's finest nautical adventure since he went fightin' round the world with his good friend Tugger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t87JRof-NHM). Rating: 7/10

The Cement Garden (1993) I saw this adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel on Christmas Eve. It's a festive treat, full of death, incest and bad '70s haircuts. Ho, ho, ho. Rating: 7/10.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946) Now this one actually was appropriate festive viewing. Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart team up for a classic, heartwarming tale. Rating: 8/10.

Anyway, as promised, here are my rankings for the best new films I've seen in the cinema in 2011.  I've excluded any older pictures which I watched on DVD, or were re-released at the cinema over the course of the year. To be honest, my list hasn't changed too much from the one I posted back in September, though I have rejigged the list slightly to reflect my current preferences. It's been slim pickings at the cinema recently, with only Moneyball, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Contagion, We Need To Talk About Kevin and Drive coming in for serious consideration as additions to the list. In fact, on the whole it's not been a brilliant year at the movies. Though I've seen plenty of films which I'd classify as 'very good', there's been little which has really blown me away, in the manner that A Prophet, The Secret In Their Eyes and Inception did last year.

Kirk's Best of 2011 List:

1. Hanna -  I was highly skeptical after seeing the trailer for this film - how could an action film from the director of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice possibly be any good? However, on seeing the film I was totally blown away. It's a movie directed with real panache by Joe Wright, with an exceptional lead performance from Saoirse Ronan and a propulsive score by the Chemical Brothers.

2. We Need To Talk About Kevin - When I initially reviewed this one, I likened it to being kicked in the stomach, and I stand by that. Despite being extremely upsetting at times, this is a compulsively watchable movie, anchored by some top notch acting by Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller.

3. Animal Kingdom - Fantastic Aussie crime drama showing the bloody consequences of a police campaign against Melbourne's leading crime family. Ben Mendolsohn steals the show as the terrifying and psychotic Andrew 'Pope' Cody.

4. Kill List For two thirds of the way through, this was my favourite film of the year - mixing some creepy and unnerving horror with some moments of unexpected comedy. Though I felt the ending wasn't quite up to the standards set by the start of this picture, a number of the scenes from this movie will be seared into my brain forever. Also, it features Tyres from Spaced, so it's got that going for it...

5. Senna I previously had very little interest in Formula One racing, so it's a mark of how successful this documentary is that I found myself so completely captivated by Ayrton Senna's battles against his great rival Alain Prost, and the fact that I was so heartbroken when Senna eventually comes to meet his tragic fate.

6. Super 8 This was definitely the best and most purely enjoyable big budget Hollywood film I saw this year. It might not quite be up to E.T. standards, but it's tremendous fun, and it's a movie I'll be returning to in the near future.

7. True Grit The Coen brothers rarely let me down, and this was another triumph, featuring some winning performances from the likes of Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. In general though, I still prefer movies based on original Coen material, and it looks like I'm in luck - there's another potential masterpiece in the pipeline: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2042568/; 
8. The King's Speech When I came to see this film, it had received so much praise and Oscar hype that I was thoroughly expecting to hate it. Sadly, it turned out to be almost as good as everybody had said, and a worthy recipient of the many accolades and baubles it was given.

9. Black Swan Rather like the Coens, Darren Aronofsky is another director whose works I always seek out. For me, this isn't quite up there with Requiem for A Dream or The Wrestler, but it's still an enjoyably dark and twisted look into the mind of an obsessive ballerina.

10. Drive 2011 was in some ways, the year of the Gosling, and for me, this was the best of his many pictures. It's almost as stylish as it is violent, which is no mean feat considering some of the fearsome stompings that RG dishes out in this movie.

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