Friday, December 30, 2011

My Top Ten Pick of 2011's Films

My favourite movies of 2011, ranked in some sort of order of preference. There are no hard and fast rules for inclusion release wise but most of these saw some sort of release in the UK in 2011.

With most of the big Summer movies disappointing this year, the best of them for me being Captain America. I loved the first half of Joe Johnston's film but the second half fell away so badly, the final action scene reminded me of the Star Wars prequels. After reading great reviews of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I was disappointed with that too, from having zero expectations to some, I thought it was okay but nothing special at all.

Of course I haven't seen everything by any stretch of the imagination, I would have expected Tree of Life to be in contention to be on this list had I seen it. The same goes for the disappointing showing for Hong Kong movies this year. Again the two I would have expected to be on or near the list, Johnnie To's Life Without Principle and Ann Hui's A Simple Life, I haven't been able to see as yet. It was also no surprise Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmasters didn't see a release! Let the Bullets Fly almost made it but that's a Chinese film anyway.

On with the list.

10. Hanna    My review here


2011 had plenty of disappointing action movies, Joe Wright's Hanna is the one Hollywood action blockbuster from this year with heart, brains and style. To get these together in a movie is unusual enough in itself but from a director better known for serious drama, all the more surprising. Great performances and a Cool Chemical Brothers soundtrack too.


09. Wu Xia


Peter Ho Sun Chan's Wu Xia starring Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jimmy Wang Yu is the only Hong Kong movie on this list. I have yet to review the film as I only saw it recently but it deserves it's place in this list as it's superbly made, involving, very entertaining and very well acted, yes even Donnie! It has flaws, the main one being it's almost like two separate movies spliced together but if the effect is a little jarring, they do come together by the end. Full review to follow, maybe.


08. True Grit    My review here


While not top tier Coen Brothers True Grit deserves it's place on this list thanks to a superb set of performances, amazing production design and glimpses of the Coen's wit mixed into the adaptation of the book. A special mention also for Roger Deakins photography, this is one gorgeous movie.


07. Au Revoir Taipei    My review here


While not the most action packed or thought provoking movie on this list, Arvin Chen's Au Revoir Taipei is certainly one of the most fun movies I've seen this year, it twists noir and gangster conventions until almost unrecognisable. Charming and amusing, with a likeable turn from Jack Yao and an adorable one from Amber Kuo and with simply beautiful cinematography. I loved it.


06. Kill List    My review here


Kill List is Ben Wheatley's second film as a director but you'd never know it, this film shows a rapidly maturing talent and confidence that holds great promise for the future. Not only that but it's a damn good film too, an unsettling and visceral assault of a movie both in it's visuals but even more in it's brutal sound design. Excellent stuff.


05. Cold Fish    My review here


Sion Sono's Cold Fish defies categorisation, a true crime/horror opus shot right through with a serious vein of black comedy. Sono once again proves himself to be a unique talent, deftly juggling all the components into something whole. The ending is probably the most audience bludgeoning endings I've seen for a long, long time.


04. Attack The Block    My review here


Attack The Block was my single most enjoyable movie of the year. A very funny, suspenseful and completely kick ass action movie. The kind of low budget movie that puts Hollywood to shame with it's $200 million turds, ATB has a style and economy that enhances it's quality, from creature design through to it's setting and action. I don't think this could have been any better with ten times the budget and that is genius (I guess first time director Joe Cornish may argue that point!).


03. The Yellow Sea    My review here


Na Hong Jin's The Yellow Sea seems to be problematic to audiences due to it's length, clocking in at around two and a half hours. Yes, it is overlong, but I loved every minute of it and didn't want it to end. After a fairly quiet start comes an incredible series of increasingly brutal set pieces, after The Chaser and this I'll be front of the queue for anything Na Hong Jin makes.


02. 13 Assassins    My review here


I've written enough about Takashi Miike's Samurai remake already, it was one of my most anticipated films of the year and it didn't disappoint. For me, this is a classic of it's genre already and one of the best action endings to a movie you could ever see.


01. Drive    My review here


Number one on this list for many reasons, Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive had excellent performances everywhere, style to burn and is my pick as the best soundtrack of the year. Above all of this though is the feel, everything about this film felt right, I couldn't think of anything that would have made Drive a better movie. Despite it's surface simplicity it haunted me for weeks afterwards and I'm still thinking about it three months on. Cool jacket too.


That's it for 2011, hope you enjoyed the list and I'd love to know what is on yours either via your own blog, the comments section or Facebook. Happy New Year and hope 2012 brings everything you could wish for.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great list. I love the posters you found for these movies too!

Rich Flannagan said...

I was disappointed with Drive, and the jacket was awful! I've got a copy of Kill List, but still haven't got round to watching it yet.

robotGEEK said...

Great list! I contemplated putting one together myself for he site, but my brain started to hurt thinking about all the movies I saw and didn't see and I knew I'd forget something totally awesome that should've been on the list and blah, blah, blah. lol.

I am a huge Captain America fan and was so excited to see the film. The trailers impressed the hell out of me, especially with it's style. But I was left somewhat disappointed and I still don't know why. I think I need to see it again to figure that out. I actually enjoyed Thor much more than Cap.
True Grit was awesome and beautifully photographed, but I don't know if it was the ending or the lack of action, but it also left me a little underwhelmed. Just a little.
Attack the Block would easily rank as one of the BEST films I've seen this year, no doubt.
Hanna was also very good and really well made. Everybody was so good in it and the action was brutal. If I had any complaints, it would be that I just didn't buy that whole thing where she randomly and easily gets taken in by that gypsy family.
13 Assassins was a powerhouse of a film and easily one of the years best.

But sadly, I haven't seen any of the other films on your list. I really need to catch up. lol.

A hero never dies said...

Thanks Anon, glad you like the posters, I really love the Drive one.

Rich, shame you didn't like Drive more, I remember you didn't rate 13 Assassins highly either, what would your picks have been? Kill List needs to be experienced as loud as you dare.

A hero never dies said...

rG. I know what you mean re. Making a list, it can be hard work but it's quite satisfying when you're happy with it.

I didn't see Thor so can't compare it with Cap. As I said I loved the first half or so, but as the set pieces came and went I found myself losing interest rapidly by the end it felt like all the soul was sucked out of the movie.

The beauty of these lists is that no one ever sees exactly the same movies so aside from personal preferences, you're always going to see different titles.

Pete said...

Great list! Still need to see Drive and 13 Assassins!

Rich Flannagan said...

The exigencies of Christmas have delayed me putting a list together yet, and I want to watch Kill List first, but Sucker Punch and Melancholia will definitely be up there. Although its an old film, the blu-ray release of Deep End this year has definitely been a highlight, ditto Quatermass and the Pit.

Shaun [The Celluloid Highway] said...

I'd also nominate Werner Herzog's bewtiching CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS...presented in 3D it's a magical experience.

Daniel Thomas said...

a list (in no order) which i posted elsewhere;

red
the lost bladesman
true grit
the artist
i am jesus
gnarr
we have a pope
the fatherless
symbol
the sound of noise

i really liked 'attack the block' too. as for 'hanna', i did watch it, but i'd be struggling to tell you anything about it, as it just washed over me.

i haven't seen 'drive', but my 70 year old mother absolutely hated it; her film of the year was 'midnight in paris'...

Wes M said...

Mart, this is a great list, if only because it stands out among the usual end of year lists blowing off the same glut of Hollywood movies. I remember many of these films from the original posts and I'm determined to track down the Asian films, especially The Yellow Sea... I almost never see films from the current year, anything that came out in 11, I'll probably see in 12, so any end of year list of my own will almost certainly be completely retro, but if I had to choose a recent film that really impressed me this year was Claire Denis' tremendous 2009 film White Material. I had hoped to include Scorsese's George Harrison documentary in this year's list of films watched but it never made the cut, due to other things jostling for attention...

A hero never dies said...

Pete, See them asap. I'd love to know your thoughts on them.

Rich, Love to know what you make of Kill List, I haven't seen Melancholia yet, as for Sucker Punch I wasn't even going to bother but changed my mind. Like many films from this year, I liked the first half quite a bit but found it went down hill rapidly in the second half, interesting failure would be about right for me.

A hero never dies said...

Shaun, Will you be doing a list? I'd love to see one.

Dan, Interesting list, I've only seen a few of those, still haven't seen Lost Bladesman. I did enjoy RED and I'm looking forward to The Artist.

Does your mother go to the cinema regularly? I can't imagine many 70 year old mothers getting much out of Drive to be honest Dan!

A hero never dies said...

Thanks Wes, Hollywood's output has been depressingly poor for me this year, even the disengage brain movies have been poorer than usual. I haven't seen White Material, off to do research.

Daniel Thomas said...

Yeah, my mum grew up in the cinema, so always enjoys watching movies and still goes once a month with her best mate from school. We're off to see 'The Artist' at the picturehouse in a couple of weeks...

She's not put me off watching 'Drive'.

As for Hong Kong movies, she was loving 'In the Mood for Love', but didn't like the ending, although she does listen to the soundtrack a lot.

Ty said...

Good list! Happy you put Hanna on it. Very underrated.

Have to watch Attack The Block soon.

A hero never dies said...

Dan, That's great, I would never get my mother to go to the cinema!

Ty, Yeah I agree about Hanna, I'm sure you'll love Attack the Block.

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