Top 10 Films of 2011

Number One: “Margaret” – Director: Kenneth Lonergan

If you want a lesson in how to write dialogue, watch this film. And if you’ve never seen Lonergan’s first film You Can Count on Me, go get it. Storytelling that shows the minutiae and the bigger picture are the same thing. I want to see the missing hour and a half.

Number Two: How I Ended This Summer – Dir: Aleksey Popogrebskiy

A film that essentially rests on one character knowing something that the other character doesn’t. I sometimes get angry with people who can’t sit still in a cinema. If I was sitting next to me during this film I would have punched me in the face. It made me feel uncomfortable. In a good way.

Number Three: Pina – Dir: Wim Wenders

It’s great to watch something and know that your response is genuinely uninhibited due to the fact you know nothing about the art form you’re watching.

Number Four: Tree of Life – Dir: Terrence Malick

Yeah I’m not sure what purpose Sean Penn’s character served but this film has so much going on and so much time and space in which to process it. I even liked the dinosaurs.

Number Five: Le Quattro Volte – Dir: Michelangelo Frammartino

A film about the earth, tradition, change, goats and charcoal (below).

Number Six: Snowtown Dir: Justin Kurzel

Daniel Henshall’s performance is absolutely harrowing – And proves that the bad guy never thinks he’s the bad guy.

Number Seven: Senna – Dir: Asif Kapadia

Proof that sometimes knowing the ending can make the story stronger.

Number Eight: Essential Killing – Dir: Jerzy Skolimowski

From the off, there’s only one way Vincent Gallo’s character can go in this film, yet nevertheless his situation is transfixing – And the way you’re made to share his sense of disorientation is pretty overwhelming. One of three films on my list (along with numbers five and ten) that are basically without dialogue.

Number Nine: Tabloid – Dir: Errol Morris

In Morris’s words: “All these people trapped in island universes of their own devising, that’s at the heart of the story.” In a way, a film very closely connected to my number one of 2011. Yeah it might not have the supposed weight of a doc about Robert S. Mcnamara but the way Morris allows people to present themselves never fails to fascinate me.

Number Ten: The Artist – Dir: Michel Hazanavicius

I’ve been desperately trying to avoid reading too much about this film despite all the post-Cannes column inches and I suggest others do the same and just go and see this film – Sometimes films just need to be straight-up fun, and this was the most fun I’ve had in the cinema in 2011.

Stuff I still haven’t seen that may well have made it on to the list had I seen it: Melancholia, We Need To Talk about Kevin, A Separation.


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