So, I really think it’s been a great year for cinema all in all. Maybe not as consistently exciting as 2010, when Hollywood was on a roll with Toy Story 3, The Social Network and Inception, but when I look back at all sixty-three of the new releases I managed to see, about half of them are really good, worthwhile films. It’s also been more of a struggle trying to come up with a “worst of the year” list, this may be because I’ve avoided a lot of (probable) shit this year which in other years I may have put up with, including Transformers 3 and Pirates 4 which are franchises I’ve complacently given up on. Anyway here goes…
It’s so hard not to gush about this and I don’t want to add to the slow burning backlash that seems to be occurring, but it really is a delight! Here’s my original review.
The Skin I Live In
Almodovar is one of my favourite directors but I was still surprised at how exciting and unique this was; visually stunning and morally ambiguous with a narrative arc that only old Pedro could pull off with such breathtaking flair. I came out grinning at the sheer pleasure of cinema.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lynne Ramsey’s first film since Morvern Caller in 2002 is raw, unnerving and really rather horrific. Much better than the book (my first book at The Curzon Book Club!), which is compelling but not at all great literature. Every single shot is a work of art in itself and Tilda Swinton gives one of those things that they call a “career best performance” which does sound trite but she absolutely pulls you in from start to finish. Harrowing beyond belief.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
A great British film by a great Swedish director. Previous thoughts here…
Never Let Me Go
This adaptation by Mark Romanek of the best selling novel by Kazuo Ishiguru was completely ignored both by the awards season and the audiences. I absolutely loved it and was so swept away by it that I couldn’t really speak for a while after leaving the cinema. The three main leads, Keira Knightly, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield are brilliant, but their characters passively accepting their fate is the reason I think it didn’t wash with audiences; it’s pretty hard to accept but I found it crushingly beautiful. It’s probably the bleakest film in the list, which really is saying something!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Even if you take away the fact that Harry Potter has been a massive presence in my life from the age of 14. I would STILL think this was an ace film. It’s not perfect, true, there are a few dodgy effects and that epilogue really is questionable but after three viewings at the cinema I was still enthralled. Snape’s final hurrah shouldn’t be overlooked as one of the best sequences of the year, Alan Rickman bloody nailed it. The end of an era for Potterites everywhere but we really couldn’t have asked for more. So there.
It’s been a year since I saw this but it still resonates. Extremely loud, grotesquely visceral and stunningly shot. I really didnt care that Natalie Portman wasnt as slight as a real Ballet dancer would be or that sometimes a body double was used…yawn… she throughly deserved the Oscar; it’s a ballbreakingly intense show.
The Deep Blue Sea
I was pleased that Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut turned out to be so good. After hearing lots of reviews proclaiming him to be “the British Wes Anderson!” I was somewhat scepitcal, not because I don’t like Wes, but because that is critic shorthand for REALLY QUIRKY. Anyway, anything in this Welsh set, teenage drama that could be associated with that kind of “quirk” is pretty much stamped all over by the very British cynicism and driest darkest humour -which is great! It’s also got an excellent soundtrack by the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner.
Disney gold. As with my beloved Enchanted, it is modern and witty but consistent with the magical, fairytale charm that Disney is loved and known for, and Alan Menkin’s songs are wonderful!
And a few that almost made it…
Drive – Stylish and excruciatingly tense but so violent that I spent much of the film hiding behind my fingers.
Senna – Moving documentary, especially for someone like me who was shamefully ignorant of the whole story. An insane oversight on the 2012 Oscar short-list.
Pina – Wim Wenders and 3D, who knew!
The Guard – Brendan Gleeson being freakin awesome again, impossible not to compare with In Bruges which still has the edge on this.
Hugo – Another surprisingly good 3D film. It’s a shame it seems to have flopped because its probably Scorsese’s best film in years. It’s not a masterpiece but has a lovely sense of the awe and wonder of early cinema and the 30’s Paris setting is beautiful. A splendid Christmas family film!
In case you’re thinking, “what about blah blah!”, here are some of the films I’ve not seen yet that may have made it in there…
Little White Lies
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
So yes, to wrap this up, 2011, maybe not the best year for mainstream Hollywood fun but for art-house and independent it was a winner. Let’s hope next year brings us some spectacular action and adventure in the forms of both bat and hobbit!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! x