10/ Super 8 –
JJ. Abrams tribute to the Stephen Spielberg films he watched as a boy, Super 8 charts the exploits of a group of children who decide to make their very own film, only to stumble upon a mysterious and dangerous piece of top-secret cargo. At less than 2 hours, this was one of the most enjoyable film experiences I’ve had all year and features a fantastic performance from Elle fanning. (As if one talented daughter wasn’t enough for that family!)
9/ Warrior –
Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy star in this film about two brothers who confront and overcome the demons of their past by taking on the world of M.M.A. , which eventually leads them to facing one another, in a brutal, yet brilliantly filmed showdown. If you’re a fan of Rocky, be prepared to have a new favourite film, Warrior though brutal in subject matter, is immaculate in its execution and Tom Hardy is effortlessly brilliant.
8/ Bridesmaids –
Upon first hearing about this project, I never would’ve imagined it would make my top ten list for the end of the year, however, I couldn’t be happier to be pleasantly surprised. Kristen Wiig’s excellent performance as the maid of honour, who is desperate to upstage a glamorous bridesmaid and prove that she is the bride’s best friend (despite the fallout on the wedding itself), is one that everyone needs to see. Easily one of the funniest films of the year and proof that the girls of SNL are just as capable as the boy’s when it comes to making us laugh.
7/ The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo –
Upon hearing of Hollywood’s intention to make an English version of Stieg Larsson’s fantastic trilogy, I was worried. Once David Fincher was brought to the helm, those fears subsided. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara star in the first of the three thrilling novels about Lisbeth Sallander, a computer hacker who assists an investigative journalist in solving a mysterious murder case, in the freezing temperatures of Sweden in winter. I challenge you to find a finer performance than Rooney Mara’s last year, the commitment with which she takes the role on and the immaculate execution Fincher provides, makes this one of my favourite thrillers of 2011.
6/ Tree of Life –
Terence Malick returns with his fifth film, a casual attempt to chart mankind’s journey from the beginning of time to the present day. Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastein star as the parents of three boys in the 1950s, who have two varying ideas of what it takes to truly succeed in life. This film is not for everyone and features prolonged sequences attempting to portray of the creation of the universe. Put simply, Malick doesn’t make ‘easy’ films, one to approach with caution, to avoid altogether if you watch films to be entertained, but one with rich rewards for those who’ve time for the visionary filmmaker.
5/ Midnight in Paris –
Woody Allen returns with his best film of the last decade in my opinion. Featuring gorgeous footage of Paris and charming performances from Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdam’s and Michael Sheen, this typically neurotic romantic comedy, is undoubtedly one of the best ways to spend a spare hour an a half. Allen portrays Paris as its very own living entity and I defy anyone who watches the film not to have a deep urge to jump on the next available Eurostar.
4/ Take Shelter-
Michael Shannon and Jennifer Chastein star in a film about a man’s seemingly paranoid delusions of an impending apocalypse and the effects it has on his family. A little known film, but one that contains some of the best performances 2011 had to offer, Michael Shannon is excellent and causes anyone who watches his character, contemplating what they’d do, if they too, were sure the world was going to end.
3/ The Descendants –
Alexander Payne returns to bring us one of the most bittersweet tales of the year. Following George Clooney playing a father who struggles to reconnect with his daughter’s following their mother falling into a coma. Like all of Payne’s work, the film contains some moments of utter hilarity, but balances them with those of genuine poignancy and emotion. If you were lucky enough to see About Schmidt and Sideways don’t miss your opportunity to see another gem of a film in Payne’s brief, yet almost flawless film career.
Ryan Gosling has had a fantastic year. You’ve most probably seen him in Crazy Stupid Love or The ides of March and his performance in The Notebook most likely led to (a large proportion) the female demographic of Warwick, getting through copious amount of Kleenex. Here he proves his diversity, playing a stunt driver, who turns getaway driver each night to earn money. One of the finest examples of film noir in 2011; compelling in both its moments of great suspense and extreme violence (with a brilliant soundtrack to boot)
1/ The Artist –
For anyone who is unaware of the great origins of the medium of film, I implore you to see this film. Whilst far from a perfect account of the Silent Film era, The Artist is a stunning tribute to an age when actor’s truly earnt their money. A black and white silent film charting the journey of a George Valentin, a silent actor who struggles to adapt to the dawn of sound within the medium he loves. As my colleague Barry Levitt agrees, The Artist proves that silent films can be just as enchanting and enjoyable, as their modern counterparts, with all their expensive bells and whistles.
**Honourable mentions ** – The Guard, We need to talk about Kevin, X-men First Class, Source Code, The Skin I live In, Beginners.