My Top 10 Films of 2011

As all bloggers do, here’s my top 10 films from 2011.

There were many great films released on the big screen this year, from the origins of the X-Men to nameless drivers. Of course, there were many films that I didn’t get to see, but as I’ve started to write about film more over this past year I have slowly been catching up. Therefore, this list is constantly changing with the more films I watch, so you can visit my Letterboxd account for a constantly updated list. For the UK, as well, we’re still waiting for some highly acclaimed films, such as Shame, to be released on these shores, but these will have to be included in next year’s as I am going by UK dates. Nevertheless, carry on reading to see what I have chosen and why.

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10. Spy thriller, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a brilliant combination of actors who all play their roles incredibly. Starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt and Tom Hardy, this film adaptation, directed by Tomas Alfredson, is a traditional British spy thriller based on the novel written by John le Carré in 1974. Whilst the film isn’t action-filled with everything going on at once, it is a slow-paced, traditional and gripping recreation of the novel, and also of the BBC series that it inspired. In its gloomy time setting and saddening atmosphere, it is still a very powerful portrayal that manages to pull a heart-string. Read my full review here.

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9. The King’s Speech

I felt very average about this film before I eventually saw it on DVD much later on in the year. It didn’t seem like a film that I would enjoy, and I watched it purely out of curiosity over what the hype was all about. I ended up really liking it, however, which was largely due to Colin Firth‘s, Geoffrey Rush‘s and Helena Bonham Carter‘s amazing performances throughout. It was an incredible tale that all of Britain can respect, and one that will remain timeless for years to come.

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8. Black Swan

A great film to start the year off, and one that can’t really be forgotten in the year’s line-up of good films. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan was one of the most highly anticipated films of 2011. Although the film was released quite a bit later in the UK, the date of its release was still brought forward to deal with its anticipation, and it became Fox Searchlight Pictures highest per-theater average gross ever. Black Swan is a fascinating tale with an almost creepy interior. In a way, it is something we have never seen before, and the ending brought upon a more than average cliché twist that tied the film up respectfully. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis both excelled in their performances, especially together, which subsequently set them up for even more great roles over the year. Read my full review here.

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7. We Need To Talk About Kevin

Directed by Lynne Ramsay and adapted from Lionel Shriver‘s novel of the same name, I can’t believe it took me until mid-2012 to see this one – what an intense and brilliantly directed thriller! The story is played out in a really interesting way, constantly leaving you guessing what will happen next as everything builds up for the shocking finale. With brilliant acting from the film’s leads, Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller, We Need To Talk About Kevin is powerful and dark, but incredible nonetheless.

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6. Blue Valentine

Completely depressing but beautiful in every way, Derek Cianfrance‘s Blue Valentine is romantic but so anti-romantic at the same time. This is my second top film for both the lead stars, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, in my 2011 list, as both are absolutely brilliant, as always. Their raw emotion is deeply powerful and their chemistry is outstanding. The film’s structure, constantly going backwards and forth, works incredibly well, allowing us to engage with both characters whilst each have their own unlikeable characteristics, and the cinematography is beautiful. This film has some of favourite quotes and stills, which will always be its biggest quality for me. Whilst this film tears me up inside every time, I absolutely love it.

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5. David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

This is probably my most anticipated film of 2011. After seeing the Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson‘s thriller trilogy, directed by Niels Arden Oplev, over the year, I was really intrigued to see Fincher’s take on the adaptation. Beginning with a brilliant opening title sequence featuring Trent Reznor’s and Atticus Ross’ thundering cover version of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, as Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are drowned in liquid monochrome, we are given subtle hints to what the film has to offer and also what we can expect from the second two films in the franchise. Not only is this sequence visually appealing, it also gets your blood pumping for the ride Fincher is about to take you on. The first film for this is dark yet fascinating franchise is both brilliant in itself and also great in comparison to its Swedish predecessor. Fincher’s take on the film managed to be somewhat sexier, whilst also adding a slight hint of humour to take the focus away from the film’s dark backdrop. Read my full review here.

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4. The final chapter, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

It was a sad day, having to say goodbye to the Harry Potter franchise. But what a way to go. After a decade of filming, the magical trio of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) finished their time at Hogwarts with a final battle against the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Full of excitement and a huge amount of anticipation, this final instalment to the Harry Potter franchise was the funniest yet saddest film out of the franchise. With jokes flying around from a number of characters and the typical cheesiness from the Potter trio, this film had your emotions going all over the place. A personal favourite scene was the revelation of Professor Snape’s (Alan Rickman) memories. Always portrayed as one of the baddies, we saw the more humane side to Snape as we found out the truth behind his actions. Yates really did this scene, and the film as a whole, justice, including a number of flashbacks which opened up our own memories as well. Read my full review here.

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3. X-Men prequel, X-Men: First Class.

I’ve not seen this film in many other people’s list, but I couldn’t refrain from putting it quite highly in my own. Always a small fan of the X-Men franchise, it was very interesting to see the the origins of the rival mutant teams, introducing us to both younger characters from the previous films and to new characters as well, showcasing a handful of extraordinary new powers. This latest X-Men film also had a great cast with well-known names such as James McAvoy who plays Professor X, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and Kevin Bacon who somehow pulls off his antagonist role. This is then mixed with a selection of new talent and also with the talent from some who may surprise the audience, including SkinsNicholas Hoult. It may not have been on par with The Avengers hype, but this was the best Marvel film to come from 2011. Read my full review here.

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2. My Week With Marilyn

Simon Curtis‘ adaptation of Colin Clark’s diary entry detailing the week he spent with the world class icon Marilyn Monroe is now one of my favourite films. My Week With Marilyn tells a brilliant story, revealing so much about Marilyn’s true self. Michelle Williams plays the role superbly and her relationship with Colin Clarke (Eddie Redmayne) is performed beautifully. Scenes of Williams and Redmayne are constantly mesmerising, and the cinematography is stunning throughout. Whilst this wasn’t a particularly sad film, I find myself tearing up by the end of it every time, so bravo Simon Curtis.

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1. You probably guessed it, Drive.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, based on James Sallis‘ 2005 novel of the same name, was ultimately the best film I saw this year, and I know that many others will agree. The way that deeply brutal scenes contrasted with ones of true passion was outstanding. It was also the first time that Ryan Gosling stood out for me, as he plays a Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a getaway driver. Carey Mulligan was also brilliant here, bringing in the romance side of the film that was dealt with so well that even the men began to swoon, probably over Gosling more than Mulligan though. We’ll get to see a lot of Mulligan in 2012 with Shame and The Great Gatsby too, and hopefully more of Gosling as well. Let’s not also forget the amazing soundtrack for this film, as Kavinsky and Desire help to make this film what it is, and that is pure brilliance. Read my full review here.

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