2011 in film

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Dave and I ended up seeing 60 films in 2011.  As we are Cineworld Unlimited cardholders (unlimited films for £14.99/month), we quite often see a lot of films we wouldn’t otherwise bother with, which is fun. This year we have divided our thoughts into 3 categories: Worst, Best and Good Fun. The Good Fun movies aren’t winning awards any time soon, but we walked out of the cinema each time with such a good feeling that we couldn’t ignore them in our summation of the year.

WORST FILMS (or films we enjoyed the least):

5.  Scream 4:
So the franchise is fun and ridiculous, but seriously, these things are just a joke now. We went purely because I insisted, after obviously being a teenage fan of the early films, and found it predictable and ridiculous.

4.  What’s Your Number:
As cute as Chris Evans is, he couldn’t save this film. And while we had a few good laughs, overall it was a pretty rubbish piece of cinema.

3.  Transformers 3:
Fans of Kermode’s film review show would have heard his hilarious rant on these films.  While showy, loud and explosive (as Michael Bay loves), it only vaguely entertained us, and meant that we spent more time throwing our hands up and shaking our heads than we did laughing or caught in the action.

2.  Hangover Pt. 2:
No. Just.. no.  It’s the same film, in a different city! It was borderline offensive, unimaginative and just really, really stupid.

1.  Tree of Life:
Yes, while appearing on a lot of best lists at the moment, this is our worst film of the year.  Dave and I went with his mother and her friend, and while I went with a very open mind, wanting to enjoy it, I just couldn’t.  There is a thin line sometimes between art and wank, and this felt like pretentious, over-the-top wank. And exactly the kind of film that filmmakers, critics and Hollywood glitterati will jump up and down about, excitedly proclaiming it to be the film of the decade. Because it’s very pretty wank, with some very good actors in it.  It’s exactly the type of film that people either unanimously scoff at, or get far far too behind it, because they don’t want to look stupid. It’s like looking at a piece of art that has 3 coloured stripes on it, and because all of the “important people” around you say how wonderful and deep and meaningful it is, you immediately dump praise on it.
While beautiful to look at, I could not connect with it. Too much pretension, not enough heart. No characters I cared about. No real development to make me feel any sort of angst for any of them. Just stars and nice lighting and cinematography and dinosaurs and.. too much wank.

Also-rans: Battle: Los Angeles, which wasn’t awful enough for “Worst” or enjoyable enough for “Good Fun”.  Everything else we saw that isn’t in this list is in another category, titled “Meh”.

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GOOD FUN (not ground-breaking, but enjoyable):

5.  Fright Night 3D:
I think part of the appeal of the films in this category are that we didn’t go in expecting much.  Fright Night was no exception. It was surprisingly funny, clever, and just damn enjoyable. Colin Farrell was ridiculously entertaining at times, and David Tennant damn near stole the film.
 
4.  Trollhunter:
Marvellous piece of “found footage”.  Full of recognisable folklore, amusing anecdotes and characters and the actual effects were very well done. Also, hilariously, a great tourism piece for Norway, as in some of the scenes I just couldn’t help but turn to Dave and say, “I want to go to there.”
 
3.  Footloose:
Oh dear. I was dragged to this, as D thought it’d be fun, and I really wanted to hate it. But the country remake of this 80s classic just well, worked. And although I hated the new “dancing in the barn” scene, I found the rest of it to be really, really, good fun. Sorry, Kevin Bacon. I still love you.
 
2.  Sucker Punch:
Wow, is this film hated.  People have their pitchforks out for this, proclaiming it to be chauvinistic, porn with swords, boring or just plain dumb. Well okay. It’s not the most feminist piece, but I was not offended by it, and actually was kinda surprised afterwards when people said they were. It was a piece of fantastical fiction, which was really really fun to watch. Not exactly the best film ever, but we were definitely not bored.
 
1.  50/50:
I’m not a huge Seth Rogen fan. I find his voice irritating, and that he plays the same role in every film he does. But Joseph Gordon Levitt, I am a fan of, and he and Anna Kendrick sold this film to me.  Anjelica Huston also shines as the very-believable mother of a cancer patient. 
We didn’t consider it to be one of the best of the year, but enjoyed it so much that we had to make it our favourite “Good Fun” film for 2011.
 
Also-rans: Stakeland, Inbetweeners, 30 Minutes or Less, Red State, Tintin, Harold and Kumar, Drive Angry 3D.
 

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BEST FILMS (enjoyable, well-made, “wow-inducing”:

5.  Senna:
Disappointingly missed out of Oscar nominations, this documentary was spell-bounding. I had, shamefully, never heard of Ayrton Senna, so agreed to go as D was so keen on the film. Of course, not having heard of him, I was also unaware of his untimely death, which put an extra spin on this documentary for me: the shock at his accident, for me, was real.  Beautifully-edited, fascinating and just plain captivating. Not a F1 fan, but I really enjoyed it.
 
4.  The King’s Speech:
Released in the UK early in the year, so a must for this year’s list.  We all know the reasons it deserves to be here: excellent acting, great story. Understandably applauded by most.
 
3.  We Need to Talk about Kevin:
Now, if this were my list, and not for both of us, this film would top it. Having enjoyed the book (well as much as one can “enjoy” it) years before,  I was excited to see a film adaptation, and this did not disappoint. The casting is stunning: Tilda acts her ass off, from a twitch in her eyelid to her tippy toes. Ezra is terrifying as Kevin, and John C. Reilly is excellent as the oblivious father.  Without showing too much detail, the film builds up to the horrifying act that only Eva saw coming. It’s every mother’s nightmare, and Lynne Ramsay has done a really beautiful job here.
 
2.  Drive:
Though a bit violent for me, this film was well worth it. Ryan Gosling is bad-ass, the story is gripping, and the soundtrack is amazing. We both walked out of the cinema saying “Wow”, and saying it was in our favourites for the year. The characters are believable, the script is sound and it’s just very, very impressive.
 
1. Black Swan
I think if Dave wrote a list Drive might have topped his, Kevin would have topped mine, but we both agreed that Black Swan is truly incredible and probably the best one to agree on at #1.  Again, a film late to the party here in the UK, but this twisted psychological thriller had our teeth on edge and us talking afterwards. The cast are excellent (Natalie truly deserving of her oscar), the story is gripping and the swan allegory was very well-done. I think my knowledge of the ballet itself was helpful, as I loved all of the links between the film and Swan Lake
 
Now, if we were to have had a top 10, films 6-10 would have been:
6. The Guard
7.  127 Hours
8.  Midnight in Paris
9.  Never Let Me Go
10.  Super 8
 
Also-rans:  13 Assassins (amazing), Beginners, Tinker Tailor…, Crazy Stupid Love (best comedy of the year?).

I hope you enjoyed this, and aren’t too angry with our choices. It’s all opinion, of course.  I hope you had a good year at the cinema and I can’t wait for 2012 to unleash all the great films I’ve been waiting for including The Iron Lady which is finally out.. but most of all, we’re finally getting The Muppets in February! About time. I can’t stop giggling at that damn Orange ad.
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One thought on “2011 in film

  1. I am, once again, jealous and infuriated at your Unlimited Movie Pass. Oh, I would save so much money…But hey, excellent end-of-year film list, even if I don't agree with everything (see, "Tree of Life"). Also, great way to separate the categories – Best, Worst and Fun.

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