Top 20 Films of 2011

As 2011 comes to a close is it my obligation as a film blogger to put together my pick of 2011’s releases. I’ve gone for my top twenty as narrowing it down to just ten would be too harrowing a task and my only rule is that they must have been released in UK cinemas during 2011. This takes us from The Next Three Days (absolutely not in the list) to The Lady and The Artist and is only limited to films I have seen. I’ve also chosen not to speak to the wider Mild Concern team, mostly due to laziness, barring watching Waste Land at Kat’s insistence. This was a decision I have come to regret considering the rambling you will find below.

The scene properly set, let’s get onto the list. Looking back 2011 has been a great year for cinema, here are my top 20 releases of 2011:

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So… The Oscars Eh?

Early this morning the Oscars happened! Wahey!

We, unfortunately, were fast asleep and then had to rush out into the world early today to sit an exam that you have no interest in. Some would say that this makes us unqualified to comment on the ceremony, but we won’t let that stop us.

Both Natalie Portman and Colin Firth gave charming speeches, each touching and funny enough to make them seem like genuinely nice people. Neither took themselves too seriously, which is always a nice surprise.

While some were expecting it to be The King’s Speech all night it was refreshing to see The Social Network and The Fighter get a look in. Sorkin may come off as a little self-important at times but he did write one hell of a screenplay.

Inception didn’t do too badly in its technical categories, and certainly wormed its way into plenty of Franco’s and Hathaway’s material. The hosts themselves were entertaining, but we could definitely benefit from a comedian hosting next year.

Toy Story 3 was an inevitable winner, but Pixar may have to pass on the crown next year when Rango enters the ring.

As with every year the show was in parts entertaining, and in a bigger way incredibly dull. One thing that really stood out/totally underwhelmed was Banksy’s appearance/absence. At least we can all stop speculating about whether he’d show up or not.

An Evening with The King’s Speech

Baftas 2011

This should be the easiest awards recap ever as The King’s Speech won all the big awards it was up for, completely sweeping the board. Its presence was made all the stronger by the amount of other winners that hadn’t turned up so weren’t given any screen time collecting their awards. The sheer dominance of the film, and the number of awkward moments, made for a less than exciting ceremony.

The King’s Speech does deserve to win awards so it’s hard to complain, though perhaps someone other than Helena Bonham Carter should have won Best Supporting Actress, there were better performances this year. Lesley Manville in Another Year anyone?

I was surprised and pleased to see The Social Network pick up an award for directing, and the screenplay award was just plain right. Aaron Sorkin is a master who cannot be matched. These two awards allowed BAFTA to show that they weren’t too biased towards the Brits.

Speaking of bias towards the Brits, Chris Morris deservedly won Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for Four Lions. With Duncan Jones winning last year this is a great award for praising unique filmmaking in Britain that might otherwise go unrewarded.

It’s a shame Andrew Garfield didn’t win the Orange Rising Star Award, but as we forgot to vote ourselves, we can’t really complain. Besides, with Inception being relegated to a collection of technical awards, it was nice to see one cast member up on stage.

It was an evening with more flubbed lines than surprise winners and is likely to be reflected at The Oscars, Portman’s win certainly will be at least.

Nominations – The Hits and Misses

Before we had chance to have a proper look at the BAFTA nominations, the Oscars announced their own nominees leaving us in danger of overdoing it with the nomination coverage. In a two for one special let’s take this film by film and see where the two big ceremonies have put most of their nominations. We’ll look at each ceremony nearer the time.

127 Hours – 14 Nominations
Franco, the screenplay, music and editing are all nominated at both ceremonies and could possibly pick up the majority of these awards, though Franco would have to topple King Firth first. While at the Oscars it has a Best picture nomination, at the BAFTAs there is the slightly more specialist Outstanding British Film nomination and Boyle is only nominated for directing at the BAFTAs, benefiting perhaps from the home advantage. A good reception for a film about a man stuck under a rock.

Another Year – 3 Nominations
This beauty has a meagre spattering of nominations from the two institutes. The Oscars are just recognising the screenplay while BAFTA give Lesley Manville a nod for her heart-breaking role. Shame they couldn’t find a bit more room for Another Year in the other categories.

Black Swan – 17 Nominations
Doing particularly well with the BAFTAs this film has nominations for almost all the technical awards, most excitingly for Visual Effects, always good to see something not seen as “effects heavy” getting nominated. Darranofsky and Portman get a nomination at each ceremony as does the film, cinematography and editing. Bonus points again to BAFTA for nominating Barbara Hershey for Best Supporting Actress. Shame no nod for Vincent Cassel.

Blue Valentine – 1 Nomination
More notable here for it’s lack of nominations, receiving just the one for Michelle Williams. Ryan Gosling must be a little hurt, or blue. Lol.

Biutiful – 4 Nominations
A perfect match across the ceremonies with Best Actor and Best Foreign Film nominations in both. Notable for having a lead actor nomination for the first time for a role with no English dialogue.

Exit Through The Gift Shop – 2 Nominations
In this list purely because I saw it at the weekend and though it amazing, and most likely not a hoax. Probably given one nomination for each ceremony in the hope that Banksy will turn up in person.

The Fighter – 8 Nominations
The screenplay and Amy Adams’ supporting role are the only two double nominations, with the Oscars throwing in a nomination for the film in it’s widened category and the BAFTAs nominating our nation’s own Christian Bale.

Inception – 17 Nominations
Thankfully not just getting technical nominations, Inception is also up for Best Film and Screenplay at both ceremonies with just the BAFTAs recognising Nolan’s directorial triumph. Expect plenty of technical wins but nothing for the bigger awards.

The Kids Are All Right – 8 Nominations
One of the least flashy big hitters, hence the lack of technical nominations. Instead there are double nominations for Bening, Ruffalo and the screenplay. The Oscars gives it a chance at Best Film while the BAFTAs gives Moore some deserved recognition. Yes Bening stole the show but Moore was better than Ruffalo, no?

The King’s Speech – 26 Nominations
As if winning one of our awards at the London Film Festival wasn’t enough, this British darling is doing amazingly well, probably for being a “proper” film that is actually enjoyable. Nominated at both awards for everything from acting to sound mixing The King’s Speech is the one to beat. A special note should be made of Rush’s double nominations for supporting actor as he made the film, and the undeserved nominations for Carter who is possibly just being swept up in the film’s tidal wave of praise.

The Social Network – 14 Nominations
My personal favourite of all the nominees has well deserved double nominations for film, direction, screenplay (woo Sorkin!) and Best Actor. Nice to see Jesse Eisenberg nominated, but a shame to see only BAFTA recognising Andrew Garfield’s talents. He needs all the accolades we can give him and this film deserves all it’s nominations. Best Screenplay is a must.

The Town – 2 Nominations
Another film I had expected to do a little better and oddly has different actors being rewarded for their supporting roles in the different events. Perhaps this could be an opportunity for BAFTA to give Pete Postlethwaite a farewell trophy.

Toy Story 3 – 8 Nominations
Pixar continue to break out of the technical categories and get double nods for Best Film, Best Animated Film and Best Screenplay. On a related note Day & Night absolutely has to win best animated short for being the most ingenious thing Pixar have ever done. Ever.

True Grit – 18 Nominations
The Coen Brothers always do well but the alarming lack of respect from the Golden Globes looked set to change that. No worries now that they have been showered with nominations, though Hailee Steinfeld has been relegated to supporting actress by the Oscars while the BAFTAs recognise her leading role status. Hard to say without having seen it but it’s probably awesome.

Waste Land – 1 Nomination
Another Mild Concern favourite getting the attention it deserves, carry on.

Winter’s Bone – 4 Nominations
This dark tale we haven’t seen went by the BAFTA radar but garnered Oscar nominations for acting, film and screenplay. Kudos!

And the Winner is… Golden Globes 2011

On Monday morning the Golden Globes were awarded to some deserving recipients in the film categories, and some less deserving recipients in the TV categories.

The Social Network, our 2nd best film of 2010, picked up Best Score, Best Drama, Best Director and Best Screenplay in a clear sweep of all but the acting awards. No arguments there, it is a great film that goes way beyond being a Facebook movie.

The Kid’s Are All Right did well out of the Golden Globes’ bizarre system of splitting films into drama and comedy/musical for a few categories. While the directors all go head to head the actors and films don’t have to. With The Kid’s Are All Right being classed as a comedy (not a drama?) it was an easy win in Best Comedy for the wonderful Annette Bening in Best Actress.

In the drama acting categories the vibe was set for future award ceremonies with Colin Firth and Natalie Portman taking the top honours. Two very deserving wins and two lovely acceptance speeches, now Firth is sure to get a BAFTA now and they could both do well at the Oscars.

The Fighter also did well for itself in a supporting manner, winning Best Supporting Actor and Actress in two categories that were not split into drama and comedy/musical. Not sure where the HFPA draw the line at which categories to split and which require comedians and dramatic actor to battle it out. Regardless, having not seen The Fighter, I feel like some personal favourites had their award taken from them.

Toy Story 3 won Best Animated Film in the most predictable category of the night… there really is nothing more to say on that.

TV went crazy, Glee is not the best comedy, Boardwalk Empire not the best Drama and Jim Parsons, Chris Colfer, Laura Linney and Steve Buscemi did not put in the best performances this year. Katey Sagal I can’t comment on and Jane Lynch is the exception as someone who was easily one of the best in her category. A couple of these awards looked a lot like rewarding movie actors for doing TV to encourage them to keep going, rather than judging the actual performances.

Next up: The BAFTAs!