2011 has been a good year for films, not the most brilliant yet still some amazing work, and here are my top films of the year:
WEEKEND (Andrew Haigh, UK, 2010)
First saw this at the London Film Festival, this gripping and yet at times enlightening film about the growing relationship between two gay men after a one night stand. Brilliantly acted, well written and a true depiction of what is possible in British film if they are supported, trusted and given the financing.
Usually I dont like putting films in order, but on this occasion it is at the top of the list for a reason. Top top film, which will be a cult favourite for years to come.
NATURAL SELECTION (Robbie Pickering, US, 2011)
A real find of the LFF, that I hope receives a form of distribution in the UK. An odd-couple road movie that bashes the bible-bashers, with some genuine laugh out loud moments featuring a standout performance from Rachael Harris, as the frumpy Linda.
THE SKIN I LIVE IN (Pedro Almodovar, Spain, 2011)
Almodovar's reunion with Antonio Banderas proved that the partnership is still vital and unique. Banderas melts into the malevolant role of the evil, twisted doctor with ease and coupled with the sylistic panache so indicative of Spain's finest auteur - this was a twisted tale reminiscent of Roald Dahl and David Lynch. I first saw it at the premiere screening at Somerset House on a balmy August evening- a wonderful experience and venue for live cinema. (Also saw 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' the following week for the first time at the same venue - absolutely mind blowing)
THE DESCENDANTS (Alexander Payne, US, 2011)
Payne's first film since 'Sideways' is a return to form and an honest depiction of grief and loss in Hollywood cinema, albeit it also in a faithful adaptation of Hemming's source novel. George Clooney's performance as Matt King is another of those under the skin roles as slowly the celebrity Clooney disappears and we believe the character we are seeing. The film is released nationally in late January 2012, is a front runner for the Oscars due to the cache of Clooney and Payne; whilst screenplay honours beckon I feel Clooney will have to wait, as he has had better roles before.
THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE
After so much worry, the transition to the big screen for our four favourite small screen teenagers was easy and it was far funnier than the feeble American efforts of Bridesmaids and The Hangover Part 2
The Australian soap opera married with Goodfellas was a stand out film from the start of the year.
LE QUATTRO VOLTE (Michelangelo Frammatino, Italy, 2010)
Unlike anything done on screen before - goats, shepherds, mysticism, spiritualism, mythology all embedded into this unique piece of poetic cinema.
SOURCE CODE (Duncan Jones, US, 2010)
Jones' first Hollywood film was a sprightly mainstream blockbuster relying upon time travel and action film conventions featuring a suitable lead role by Jake Gyllenhaal.
BLUE VALENTINE (Derek Cianfrance, US, 2010)
Featuring two standout roles for Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, this was a telling and honest depiction of the disintegration of a modern relationship where the love at the start never lasted.
THE INTERRUPTERS (Steve James, US, 2011)
James who did so well with 'Hoop Dreams' out does himself with this tale of anti-violence campaigners that is both gripping and emotive.
Other notable films that missed out but deserve credit are: Oslo, August 31st; Black Swan; Cold Weather; Submarine; Putty Hill and Fire in Babylon.
Re-issues included the peerless black and white presentation of Gilda and the re-release of the re-redux of Apocalypse Now which saw at the BFI on the big screen - a visual and sonic experience to not be forgotten about.
Disappointments were mostly from America - I found the second Hangover movie to be lazy and tiresome with few funny moments apart from Ed Helms' Stu freaking out as always and 'Super 8' which promised so much but at times was too self-reflexive of Spielberg's oeurvre and turned into just another alien movie.