A good year for films – thanks to me Unlimited card I was able to catch a good few films at the cinema, plus everything else on the telly and DVD. It made it very hard to chose my top 10 of the year (though perhaps more sadly it was harder to chose a bottom 5 given there were a number that could’ve qualified. Still chosen I have and here’s what:
Top 10 of 2011
This was a bit of a surprise one –the famed Shakespearean actor directing a super hero film – and it worked bringing slightly more complex layers to a film that could’ve easily gone wrong, but it didn’t. It held together into an entertaining romp, with a good dollop of drama added for additional effect. Highly recommended as one of the best super hero films I’ve seen.
This one was just plain fun – if I’m honest I ended up seeing it three times at the cinema, enjoying it every time. Hopefully it’s the start of a new era for Disney bringing in fun family films, re-working the classic fairytales and giving them a slightly more modern edge. I’ve not seen it in 2D but this is one of the films where the 3D seemed really worth it – especially in the lantern scene (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it!)
The Three Musketeers
I unashamedly loved this one. Yes it didn’t exactly get great reviews, and yes it’s not exactly a great film but it had a fantastic sense of fun and it wasn’t afraid to shy away from this. If I’m honest when I saw the casting of the musketeers I wasn’t sure, but seeing them in action sold me on them. Don’t watch this expecting great things – it’s not going to win awards, but for a fun film to chill too I couldn’t fault this one in the slightest.
This film really knocked my socks off when I saw it. It felt a throwback to the days when Spielberg was making films like ET. The film hangs on the performance of the main kids who all give fantastic performances, and one of the strengths is the background details will tell an unspoken deeper story. Plus you can’t forget the amazing train crash towards the start of the film.
It’s A Kind Of Funny Story
This one caught me by surprise earlier this year. We almost missed at the cinemas, and ended up going to a showing with about four other people there – and found a truly amazing film that saw the entire group of us leaving the cinema with huge smiles on our faces. Played very straight it’s a comedy about a teenager who starts the film wanting to commit suicide, but as the films story develops you meet a host of fantastic characters and get to share a journey full of joy. Really worth digging out if you can.
Duncan Jones’ first film “Moon” was a fantastic slow burning sci-fi with complex ideas at its heart. He then followed this up with Source Code – once again a sci-fi with complex ideas at the heart, but also a gripping thriller as a man struggles to find out whose bombing a train – whilst repeatedly living the same last 8 minutes of someone’s life over and over again. It’s worth a couple of views – there are little hints and references that you’ll only spot on a second viewing, but the depth of thought that’s obviously gone into the film make it worth looking up.
Attack the Block
It was a surprise how much I enjoyed this film – dealing with inner city hoodies, fighting off an alien invasion – the film provided an interesting social commentary and gave itself a challenge by starting the film showing the “heroes” mugging a nurse on her way home. The aliens are different from anything I’ve seen on film – the glow in the dark teeth are a fantastic touch – and like Super 8 this feels like it could belong to the 80s, but at the same time uses it’s modern setting efficiently and leaves you with a lot to think about afterwards.
One of the two films on this list that I didn’t actually see at the cinema (it came out 2009) I watched this on the recommendation of a friend over twitter, and found that for Boxing Day, Turkey stuffed viewing it was brilliant. Combining equal dollops of comedy and cuteness you may be able to see exactly where it’s going to go from the start, but it’s still an enjoyable ride that I look forward to catching again next Christmas.
I caught this one at the end of the November just before it went through a major resurgence in December (not really sure why it was released as early as it was but that’s another matter). This film is one of those wonderful films celebrating the spirit of Christmas – I challenge you not to finish it without a smile on your face. Covering the world with Aardman Charm and humour – it’s not quite Pixar but it works on multiple levels (and I was especially impressed that in the crowd scenes of elves where you’d get a couple of thousand characters on screen, none of them looked the same but all had their own individual characteristics). I will be sitting as many people down to watch this as I can next Christmas Eve.
The Brothers Bloom
This was a film that I saw the trailer for years ago, thought that the film looked fun, then it had a really limited release and I finally got to give it a go when the giving LoveFilm a try. Presenting a wonderfully styled comedy caper the plot twists come thick and fast – there’s a couple of points where it just doesn’t work, or things seem to resolve themselves a bit too conveniently, but with a quirky cast of characters and an ending that you won’t see coming it’s a really enjoyable experience and a somewhat different film experience.
Other films I saw over the year – worth a mention include…
30: Minutes or Less, Hanna, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, In Time, Jane Eyre, Limitless, Little Miss Sunshine, Paul, Real Steel, Renaissance, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, The Incredibles, The Living Daylights, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, True Grit, Unknown, X-Men: First Class
The Worst Films…
And the bottom 5 films that ended up as disappointments, just not being as good as they could’ve and should’ve been.
The Green Hornet
This film felt a bit of a disjointed mess. There were plenty of places where you could see that they were trying to be funny/inventive but it never really worked out leading to me sitting there feeling bored and dis-engaged.
This film was a bit of a disappointment for me. The concept and the trailers sold what looked like an interesting, genre bending film, instead I found that I couldn’t get into the film – Johnny Depps performance at the start of the film annoyed me, and I just found the whole thing un-engaging and from this disappointing.
Another film that I really wanted to enjoy but that just left me feeling meh. And that was the problem – it had an amazing opening sequence, but went down hill from there. I think I can see what they were trying to do but at the end of the film I was left feeling underwhelmed and disappointed.
Pirates Of The Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides
I’m a defender of the first Pirates films – I think they have a certain style/element for fun but that all seemed to be missing from the latest instalment. The story didn’t seem to hang together (a character appeared the start to disappear for the whole film only to turn up when needed at the end), and the main bad guy we only really know he’s bad because every scene he’s in has a character comment on how evil he is. Disappointing even held against the rest of the franchise.
The Adjustment Bureau
This film seemed to be trying to be too many things at the same time – a love story, a conspiracy thriller, an action film, and in the end it failed on all counts leading to a bland heap. If they’d focussed more on one strand it could’ve been an enjoyable watch, but as it was I found that this didn’t really work for me at all.
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