So, the total cinema visit count for this year was only 94 (down from last years 100+), but still a respectable amount. It was also the year we finally bothered to get Cineworld Unlimited cards, saving a small fortune! Anyway, here are my top 10 films of 2011.
10. 127 Hours
Another Danny Boyle success, this film took a great true story and turned it into a spellbinding visual tale. The dream-like sequences felt out of place at first, but really helped build up the character. And what a great performance from James Franco after the dismal Spider Man 3.
9. True Grit
It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a Western. Scratch that, I’ve never enjoyed a Western. But True Grit was a great success, bringing modern production values to a seemingly tired genre in much the same way Pirates of the Caribbean did. Throw in a great cast and it was a recipe for success.
A lesser known British film, Blitz is on this list purely because it was so different to your standard Hollywood crime-capers. Here’s a cop who isn’t afraid to bend the rules, teaming up with a bent cop (in the non-expected sense of the word) to catch a serial killer who’s so deranged it’s scary. Definitely one worth a watch, especially after the lackluster Kill List which also came out this year.
You can always count on Johnny Depp to make a weird movie. While The Rum Diary was enjoyable it didn’t grab me the way Rango did, with it’s weird visuals and oddball cast of characters. Throw in a great story and it really was something special to behold. Definitely not a kids film, it’s a decent watch.
6. Fast Five
A surprising addition, Fast Five was the first decent Fast and Furious film since… well, the beginning. Bringing all the main characters together it dropped all the silly pretenses and just concentrated on being a good all round action movie. With some great driving scenes, decent special effects (for once) and good all round fights, this was definitely one of the best action movies out this year.
An oddball action movie, Hanna deserves a spot purely for being a bit smarter than your average flick. With a globe-trotting set of locations, unique characters and a decidedly violent streak, Hanna should be watched at least once.
4. Another Earth
Another Earth follows the perfect definition of how to succeed with popular sci-fi in movies; put the fiction before the science. This is a tale of love and loss set the backdrop of an unimaginable event. The actual science is put in the background, mentioned in passing on TV broadcasts. Instead, this film is about repairing the wrongs we have done. Watch it and enjoy the tale.
3. Stake Land
Stake Land came out with relatively little fanfare which is a shame as it’s a very well made film, even with some faults. The story draws you in and the tension is much more real than The Road. You can see the ending coming a mile off and there are many questions left open, but it’s still more than worth a watch.
Perhaps the most underrated film of the year, primarily because of the backwards advertising campaign that sold it as a GTA-like movie, Drive was easily the best surprise of the year. Ryan Gosling pulls off his role with aplomb, never hurrying to get to the next scene. If you watch only one film from this list, make it this one.
1. Super 8
Definitely a love-it-or-hate-it movie judging by others who have seen it, Super 8 is my favourite movie of this year. Harking back to the sci-fi movies of the 80s, especially those of Spielberg, this movie is packed with nostalgia. The lens flares J.J. Abrams lusts after almost end up ruining the entire picture, and the acting of some of the younger cast members really do leave a lot to be imagined but overall? This is the 80s all over again. Throw in the great heard-but-not-seen monster, mystery army men and some awesome special effects and this movie has it all.
As ever, there were some real pieces of crap released this year alongside everything else. In no particular order: Your Highness, Mission: Impossible 4, Captain America, Red State and the 3D adaptation of The Lion King.