Sunday, 15 January 2012

Top 15 of 2011: 5-1


Number 5:
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Mummy's little devil...

Release Date: 21st October
Highest Box Office Position: 7

Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell

If there’s a few films from 2011 that certainly need to be spoken about, it’s Lynne Ramsay’s dazzlingly bleak We Need to Talk About Kevin, in which Tilda Swinton puts in a career-best performance as a mother who has to deal with the consequences of her son Kevin’s devastating actions. Through non-linear narrative, Swinton perfectly conveys Eva’s desire to love a son who hates her, and anguish at facing up to cruel revelations. Ramsey raises the game here – it has to be seen to believed.

We Need to Talk About Kevin reviewed...
Number 4:

Some heroes are real

Release Date: 23rd September
Highest Box Office Position: 5

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks

Nicolas Winding Refn’s 80s neo-noir has everything going for it, not to mention guaranteed cult status. Ryan Gosling is the enigmatic toothpick-chewing Driver with no name who whisks away criminal’s right from under the cops’ noses by night. Keeping himself to himself, he threatens to ruin all stability when involving himself when a bid to protect Carey Mulligan’s innocent girl next door embroils himself in danger with Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman’s villains. Depicting this with an electro, vibrant, damn cool soundtrack, as well as tight editing and an iconic performance in Gosling to top it all off, Drive is races ahead.

Drive reviewed...

Number Three:
Enjoy it while it lasts

Release Date: 30th September
Highest Box Office Position: 15
Directed by Lars Von Trier
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, John Hurt

Directed by Lars Von Trier, and promoted amidst his thoughtless remarks at Cannes Film Festival, this is a truly astounding work of art. Split into two parts, the film follows two sisters, played by an award-winning Kirsten Dunst and Von Trier regular Charlotte Gainsbourg, and how their lives are altered by the introduction of a new planet named Melancholia that threatens to collide with the earth. With support in the form of Kiefer Sutherland and John Hurt, this could be the arthouse auteur’s finest piece yet.

Number Two: 

Release Date: 7th October
Highest Chart Position: 19

Directed by Paddy Considine
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Samuel Bottomley

The directorial debut of actor Paddy Considine proved that this guy has more than one string to his bow – and one that he should pluck more often. Tyrannosaur, a gritty British drama set in a Leeds estate, was quite simply storytelling of the cruellest, gruelling – yet sublime nature. Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman’s central performances (as the lost souls whose lives collide when the former charges into the latter’s charity shop) are ones to be shouted about.
Tyrannosaur reviewed...
Number 1:
The Artist
Release Date: 30th December
Highest Box Office Position: 8 (as of present)

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, Uggie the Dog

 The Artist is a very special film. Telling the story of George Valentin, a silent movie star who refuses to embrace the introduction of sound in cinema at a time when audiences 'want to hear what actors have to say', he remains set in his ways and continues making silents with his trusy dog (amazingly played by Uggie the Dog!). As his career hurtles downwards, new actress on the block Peppy Miller's soars - but Valentin remains in her mind amidst her success... A charming storyline propelled forward by the charming way in which French director Michel Hazanavicius depicts his film. If you don't know already, The Artist is a silent black and white. The irony of the storyline keeps this from ever becoming gimmicky, with lead actors Dujardin and Bejo keeping everything grounded: and just when you think you have this treat worked out, the rug is pulled from under your feet in a way you just don't expect.

This one really lives up to the hype and deserves any award success it receives.  


Top 15 of 2011: 10-6


Number 10:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Evolution becomes revolution

Release Date: 11th August
Highest Box Office Position: 1

Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Starring: Andy Serkis, James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto

It's hard to pinpoint why nobody held out much hope for this unlikeliest of hits (critically and commercially). Of course the Planet of the Apes franchise has been running for a long time now, but since Tim burton's poor remake of the classic original in 2001, the Apes took a backseat... Until 2011, that is, when Rupert Wyatt (director of largely unseen The Escapist) took on the job of helming the film nobody particularly wanted. Wyatt can most certainly have the last laugh after proving indefinitely that he has come from the Chris Nolan school of relaunching past hits in a classy way, but also by showcasing Andy Serkis' skills like never before. Ceasar, the Ape who leads the ultimate revolution the title alludes to, is given a rare humanity by Serkis, who quite bluntly outacts everybody around him. Oh, and if you manage to breathe in the thrilling final half hour, you deserve a medal. 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes reviewed...

Number 9:
Innocence can be deadly

Release Date: 6th May
Higherst Box Office Position: 5

Directed by Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander

Number 8:
This fairytale-esque creation from Atonement director Joe Wright, stars Saoirse Ronan as a 16-year-old assassin who is let loose in Europe, entering a game of cat and mouse with Cate Blanchett’s intelligence agent. Slipping under 2011’s radar, it may come as a surprise that this film – for all of its pantomime tongue-in-cheek villainy – is very artistically crafted to the backdrop of a pulsating Chemical Brothers score. Ronan is top of her game in a role that would have required an insane amount of training, and she lives up to everything that is expected of her, meaning that Hanna has plenty of standout scenes. By the time the somewhat abrupt ending blasts onto the screen, you should have been won over by this gem of a film.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The enemy is within

Release Date: 16th September
Highest Box Office Position: 1

Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Colin Firth

A Cold War espionage thriller with a narrative that throws its audience about like a ragdoll, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was the classiest hit of 2011. An ensemble cast, led with absolute relish by arguably one of the greatest actors about, Gary Oldman, who here plays the silent, bespectacled George Smiley who is tasked with tracking down which member of the M:I5 is consorting with the Soviet Union.  Standout acting and standout scenes mark this out as a treat, and a film that should garner award recognition as it did wholly-deserved critical acclaim.
Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy reviewed...

Number 7:

A comedy that doesn't let principles stand in the way of progress

Release Date: 18th March
Higherst Box Office Position: 12

Directed by Richard Ayoade
Starring: Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor

Adapted from the Joe Dunthorne novel, Richard Ayoade’s Submarine is a quirky coming-of-age tale that is narrated by 15-year-old Oliver Tate, a neurotic schoolboy who takes it upon himself to steal the heart of fellow classmate Jordana Bevan, whilst trying to prevent his straying mother (Sally Hawkins) from getting close to new ‘ninja’ neighbour Paddy Considine – a character played with just the right amount of subtlety. Craig Roberts plays our unlikely protagonist, who is much more likely to check the dimmer switch in his parent’s bedroom as a means to assess their sex life than go and hang out with the friends he doesn’t have. This is one cool film; whether it’s the self-referential way in which The IT Crowd star Ayoade’s direction correlates to the narration or the sublime soundtrack provided by Arctic Monkey’s front man Alex Turner, this is an intensely likeable effort  that should be seeked out.

 Number 6:
The Guard

A raucous comedy

Release Date: 19th August
Highest Box Office Position: 5

Directed by John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong

The Guard is the filmic sibling of In Bruges; directed by John Michael McDonagh – brother of the former's director Martin – and starring Brendan Gleeson as a cynically-minded eccentric character who glides his way inexorably through the film, pitted together with an unlikely companion, the parallels are imminent. But instead of Colin Farrell, we here have Don Cheadle as fish-out-of-water FBI agent Wendell Everett, brought to the small Western Irish town in Connemara to investigate a drug-smuggling ring, led by Mark Strong. The film – in a word – is hilarious, with Gleeson putting in a career-best performance as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, the unorthodox Garda (Irish police) who breaks all the rules, earning himself a Golden Globe nomination in the process. Combine this with the statistic of it becoming the most successful independent Irish film of all time, and it's clear that if not yet experienced, you need to check this one out with immediacy.


Top 15 of 2011: 15-11

Today is Jacob's Film Cabin's 1st Birthday! To celebrate this, I will post up my Top 15 of 2011 throughout the day, as well as the Top 12 upcoming films in 2012 and Golden Globe predictions. Big day for the Cabin. I encourage comments and feedback from all, and if you would like to get in touch, feel free to follow Jacob's Film Cabin or follow me on Twitter. Get involved!

A quick note - I am not including films from before March of last year, so as to disclude Oscar contenders. If a film was released in the UK from March 2011 to January 2012, it has a chance of appearing on my list. Similarly, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, War Horse,The Descendants and Take Shelter have not yet been seen by me, so will not be appearing on this list.
Happy reading, fellow film lovers.


Number 15:

Family is worth fighting for

Release Date: 23rd September
Highest Box Office Position: 3

 Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison

A mixed martial arts film that sees two estranged brothers inexplicably drawn back to the sport they used to compete in, sees them both enter a tournament with a huge cash prize. It is no spoiler to say that it looks ever more likely the two are going to enter the cage and face off at some point - but can they put their deep issues aside? If it all sounds tired and cliched, give Warrior a chance and you will discover this could genuinely be one of the most moving films of the year, all aided by the casting of Joel Edgerton and superstar-in-the-making Tom Hardy as the brothers - not to mention Nick Nolte as the recovering-alcoholic and ex-abusive father who tore the family apart years previous. Like Black Swan and ballet, Warrior is not just for fans of MMA, but for film-fans worldwide.

Number 14:
Crazy, Stupid, Love

This is crazy. This is stupid. This is love

Release Date: 23rd September
Highest Box Office Position: 2

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore

A romantic comedy with splashes of drama that stars Steve Carell as a fresh divorcee who is taken under the wing of ladies man Ryan Gosling sounds like a pretty standard effort. But noticing that two relative unknowns have somehow managed to compile a cast that daren't be sniffed at may elevate your expectations. And so it is, half an hour into Crazy, Stupid, Love, you'll see just why that cast signed on the dotted line, for the touching script taps so well into the the ensemble ensuring the film can appeal to an older and younger generation. There may be one sub-plot too many and a polarizing convention-busting twist that see the film swerve towards an underwhelming climax, but the whole thing charms you into thinking that none of this matter. Hilariously touching.

Number 13:

  What are you really worth?

Release Date: 25th November
Highest Box Office Position: 10

Directed by Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright

Brad Pitt saw something in Moneyball, the true-life story of Billy Beane - a former baseball player turned general manager of Oaklands Athletics, a team with a dire financial situation that prompts assistant general manager Peter Brand to throw an idea Beane's way: choose a team of players based on statistical success as opposed to fleeting match success. Pitt produces and stars as Beane and is truly on top form. Viewing this as a sports movie is unwise (considering the lack of sport action) but by focusing on Beane's loyal dedication to an underdog team he innately believes in and you will be deeply rewarded by something you probably didn't expect to find too many rewards in. On the Money/ball.

 Number 12:
Kill List

 The scariest hit man movie

Release Date: 2nd September
Highest Box Office Position: 17

Directed by Ben Wheatley
Starring: Neil Maskell, Harry Simpson, MyAnna Buring, Emma Fryer
There's a lot that can be said about Kill List, the British hitman film that is never quite what it seems. Frankly, the less said about this ridiculously disconcerting but thrilling ride the better - for here is a film that needs to be seen to be believed. It all sounds like fair game, with two ex-soldiers (played with brutal realism by Maskell and Simpson) embarking on one last job after being handed a kill list. But in an apparently leftfield genre veer (that becomes not so leftfield upon rewatch), and you will understand why Kill List requires a placement upon this list. At best, it's an experiment. At worst, a homage - but when a homage is produced as skillfully this, the whole thing becomes something else entirely. The words classic, modern and cult spring to mind.

Number 11:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

It all ends...

Release Date: 15th July
Highest Box Office Position: 1
Directed by David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman

No list compiling the best films of 2011 should be without the final installment of the ridiculously-popular adapted Harry Potter novels, which saw Harry and pals face off against Ralph Fiennes’ Lord Voldemort in one of the biggest and much-anticipated battles committed to screen. Watch on in awe, shock and excitement as the hugely loved landmarks at Hogwarts (everyone’s favourite school) are destructed in the largest scale possible. It's placement on this list is deserved for Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Professor Severus Snape alone – actors rarely match roles to the degree that Rickman matched his in this franchise, and hopefully will be recognised to some degree this coming awards season.