So here it finally is, my top 10 films of 2011. Once again I will be following my rules of the film having to have been released in 2011 in the UK. I will also be including links to the reviews I’ve made for each film (expect reviews to be coming soon for those without the links). So without any further delay, here are my top 10 films of 2011.
10. Source Code – Now here is a film which treats the audience with a great deal of intelligence and rewards their progress with a really satisfying ending. The way in which the Source Code itself works is never fully stated but it doesn’t have to be, we want to know more just through the strength of the film. But what really puts this film in here is the outstanding acting from Jake Gyllenhaal as Coulter Stevens who sells the idea of a man who doesn’t know his situation but has to get on with it really well, just through his facial expressions, particularly in the first few minutes of the film. All this puts Source Code at number 10.
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – Officially, my childhood is over, the film series which has sustained my youth for the past 10 years, has come to an end, and what a film to end on. HP7b ties up most of the remaining loose ends from the Harry Potter series and most of the film is taken up by the best action scene of the year, the Battle of Hogwarts. The acting too makes the film stand out, particularly a heartfelt performance from Alan Rickman as Snape. It’s not my favourite Potter film (Prisoner of Azkaban is still the best) but this is still a brilliant film and a fantastic end to the film series of my childhood.
8. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Here is a film which just makes you think. Throughout the film you think about everything, whether you can trust anyone, who the mole is, everything. The acting in the film and the script is so good that it is only at the very end of the film that you realise everything falling into place and you then think back upon it to see if everything adds up. Now I don’t know how well this film holds up to in repeat viewings when you know who the mole is, but as of now, this is going in at the number 8 spot.
7. The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn – This film is just a very good time to have. You feel so much fun coming from everyone involved that you just cannot help having fun while watching. The action scenes are really inventive and take advantage of the motion capture format which allows it to do things you cannot do in live action (e.g. a single take chase through Morocco lasting 5 minutes) and the acting in the film, combined with the script, makes the film so funny to watch, particularly every time that Andy Serkis comes on screen as Captain Haddock and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost come on as Thompson and Thomson respectively. This mix of humour and action therefore puts Tintin at the number 7 spot.
6. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Here is the most surprising film of the year, when I saw the trailers I wrote off this film as yet another, science screws us up film and didn’t want to see it. After I heard the positive reviews I decided to give it a watch and I was amazed at how good it was. The plot is really good and the characters pretty okay (with the exception of the villains who were all one note, even if the performances were great) but the reason this is so high is due to Andy Serkis. Serkis gave the best performance of the year as Caesar, making you feel so sorry for the character just through his facial expressions and having very little dialogue. Plus, any film which has a fight between a gorilla and a helicopter has to be in this list.
5. Super 8 – Here is a film which is such a joy to watch. The style of film is very much grounded in the Spielberg films of the early 1980s which helps to strengthen the tone of the film into a very fun time. The children in the film, particularly Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning and Riley Griffiths, are amazing and you feel the friendship between the characters because of how strong the chemistry between the actors is. The mystery over the alien is very intriguing, the train crash is one of the best visual spectacles of the year and I just loved the film, putting it at number 5
4. Senna – Now I don’t care for Formula 1 racing at all and yet I still found Senna to be a very engaging and moving film. The life of Ayrton Senna is just fascinating to watch and you grow to like him the more the film continues. The style of this documentary, told entirely through previously recorded footage is genius and lets us know that there was no faking at all when it came to Senna’s life. Plus the ending of the film is one of the few times that I have actually cried whilst watching a film, putting Senna at number 4.
3. True Grit – Now for most of the year, True Grit was at number 1 and I thought it would be hard for any film to beat it, let alone 2. Still, True Grit is an amazing film, the first Coen Brothers film I watched at the cinema and it didn’t disappoint, the acting from all involved was excellent, with Hailee Steinfeld stealing the film as Mattie Ross, the moments of black comedy are excellent, the story in incredibly engaging, the characters are amazing, in particular Rooster Cogburn and Mattie Ross, and you want to know more about them, the gunfights are swift and brutal and the ending doesn’t let up and shows you the cost that revenge can bring, putting True Grit at number 3.
2. The Artist – Here is a true throwback film, very few people would have the guts to make a black and white silent film in the world of Michael Bay, yet Michel Hazanavicius does it and it works. The film does not need sound to make itself heard and in fact the story benefits from it not being in sound. The story of the transition from silent films to sound and the way it affected those who couldn’t make the transition was beautifully done, sold through the great acting of Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo. John Goodman and James Cromwell give outstanding supporting performances and Uggie the Dog is just hilarious to watch. I highly recommend that, if it’s still playing near you, you go and see The Artist.
1. Hugo – So here it is, Martin Scorcese’s Hugo is my favourite film of 2011. The way in which it blends the most advanced film technology we have with the very birth of narrative cinema with Georges Melies is outstanding. The acting is uniformly excellent, seriously Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen should have got some awards for their outstanding performances. The overall design of the train station is outstanding. The direction from Scorcese is incredible The scenes of the making of classic films are incredible and the whole story of Georges Melies rise and fall is heartbreaking to watch. You can tell that this was a labour of love for Scorcese and that love transcends onto the audience. I cannot think of any other film which deserves to be at number 1 more than Hugo.
Finally, for sake of consistency, here are my rankings for the rest of the films I saw in 2011 and my star ratings for each:
11. The Fighter – 4.5/5
12. Attack the Block – 4.5/5
13. X-Men: First Class – 4/5
14. Captain America: The First Avenger – 4/5
15. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – 4/5
16. Paul – 4/5
17. Thor – 4/5
18. Hanna – 4/5
19. Kung Fu Panda 2 – 4/5
20. Limitless – 4/5
21. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – 4/5
22. Tucker and Dale vs Evil – 3.5/5
23. The Inbetweeners Movie – 3.5/5
24. The Adjustment Bureau – 3.5/5
25. Cave of Forgotten Dreams – 3.5/5
26. The King’s Speech – 3.5/5
27. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – 2.5/5
Now keep in mind, none of these films are really bad, in fact most of them are of 3.5/4 star quality and I avoided watching all of the really bad films of the year (e.g. Transformers 3, The Hangover 2, Green Lantern and Twiglet: Breaking Dawn: Part 1). This is a list going from the best to weakest films I saw in 2011, not best to worst. Besides, at the start of the year, The King’s Speech would have been even higher but after re-watching it, it’s just become slightly over-rated to me and should not have won as many Oscars as it did (especially Best Original Screenplay as it was adapted from the journals of Lionel Logue).
So here marks the end of my lists of the best of 2011, sorry for the long delay but I hope that all these lists were worth the wait. See you soon.