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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Out Now – 25th February 2011

A good week for releases this week with a couple of Oscar films and plenty of mindless guff. Oddly it’s the mindless guff I’d rather see.

Animal Kingdom
Can a young man escape a life of crime despite his family being a right rum lot? Can you not like a film with a 93% fresh rating?

Drive Angry
There’s almost no need to see this stupid, run of the mill, 3D action film. But then there’s Amber Heard.

No Strings Attached
There’s almost no need to see this stupid, run of the mill, romantic comedy. But then there’s Natalie Portman.

The Rite
A young priest goes to exorcism school in Italy a bit of a skeptic. A few hours and plenty of dark rooms, evil faces and arch dialogue later and he’s a believer.

West is West
A sequel to a film I haven’t seen. Someone goes to join someone else in the Punjab. Any sequel to a critically acclaimed film, ten years after the original, is a tricky proposition.

Howl (limited release)
Your art house film for this week. The obscenity trial of Alan Ginsberg is acted out alongside archive footage of the man himself and some surreal animation. With a cast that include John Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker and James Franco you know this is a quality piece.

Waste Land (limited release)
Those of us who have seen this documentary about art thriving in a landfill won’t shut up about it, and those that haven’t have added it to their increasingly long list of films they want to see in the cinema.

Not at the Oscars – Catfish

I’ll admit that the list of nominees for Best Documentary at this years Oscars does feature a few Mild Concern favourites in the shape of Exit Through the Gift Shop and Waste Land, but it’s a shame the most talked about documentary is absent.

Catfish is truly moving and completely shocking. Once you’re into the final forty minutes you won’t be able to look away. Clearly this isn’t the most technical documentary, shot on the fly rather than with nay real intent to make a documentary, but the story it tells is one of the most compelling. Rather than the lack of technical prowess what is probably holding Catfish back is it’s believability.

While I buy into the story completely some are more cynical and find the final act revelation too exciting to be true. This brings the feature’s credentials as a documentary into question and makes it much less award friendly. Exit Through the Gift Shop had a similarly dramatic conclusion that many viewers found hard to swallow. It’s validity only confirmed for some but the fact that it was allowed into the Oscars.

A nomination at the Oscars would have given Catfish the seal of approval from the wider film community. As it is it remains a cult hit and something that has to be seen to be believed… and even then not by everyone.

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!

The Best is Yet to Come: 2011

Today we’re looking ahead at out most anticipated releases of 2011… and there’s a lot. A few glaring omissions perhaps but we have no interest in giant robots fighting.

So what can top 127 Hours and The King’s Speech?

Friday 14 January 2011
Blue Valentine
Made the headlines by getting its rating reduced in America as they claimed the sex scene wasn’t obscene just realistic. If that doesn’t tempt you how about a realistic portrayal of a marriage and career best performances?

Friday 21 January 2011
Black Swan
It’s great, powerful stuff and yet is another with more coverage of a single sex scene that the rest of the film. Portman is at her prime and Kunis ain’t too shabby either.

Friday 11 February 2011
Never Let Me Go
True Grit

A small British sci-fi with a beautifully subtle plot and the Coen brothers’ latest acclaimed production. Good Friday.

Monday 14 February 2011
Paul
For some reason sneaking out on a Monday, Pegg and Frost’s latest is funny if not up to the standard of an Edgar Wright collaboration. We saw it, reviewed it and got asked to take it down.

Friday 18 February 2011
Chalet Girl
A hopefully above average romantic comedy starring our own Felicity Jones and the slimy one from Gossip Girl.

Friday 25 February 2011
No Strings Attached
Waste Land

Natalie Portman tries her hand at a comedy about two friends trying out casual sex before Mila Kunis gets the chance. And on the same day we have one of our favourites from the London Film Festival, though most likely only at three cinemas.

Friday 4 March 2011
Rango
The Tempest

Animated comedy starring Johnny Depp as a lizard that is set to offer something better than the average animated film accompanied by the apparently less than perfect Shakespeare film featuring… Felicity Jones!

Friday 18 March 2011
Submarine
A film everyone should see as Richard Ayoade makes a strong directorial debut with a near perfect tale of young love and awkwardness.

Friday 1 April 2011
Sucker Punch
Zack Snyder kicks you in the face with amazing visuals, sexy crazy girls and general madness.

Friday 8 April 2011
Attack The Block
Joe Cornish made a film with a slightly bad sounding premise. Can Cornballs make a bad synopsis into a great film?

Friday 15 April 2011
Scream 4
Winnie the Pooh
Your Highness

A triple whammy in mid-April. First the fourth in the Scream series starring the cast of the entire TV alongside the usual faces. Then we have a hand animated Disney film about everyone’s favourite bear and a medieval comedy starring future Mrs Mild Concern, Zooey Deschanel and with her third film in four months, Natalie Portman.

Friday 22 April 2011
Source Code
Duncan Jones tries to top Moon with sci-fi action thriller involving confusing time travel in which Jake Gyllenhaal consistently fails to find the bomber on a train.

Friday 29 April 2011
Thor
Michael Gambon directing a comic book movie? Surely worth a look. Oh, hello Natalie Portman.

Wednesday 18 May 2011
Pirates Of The Caribbean 4
They’ve promised to keep it simple this time and have lost the less interesting characters, we’re excited.

Friday 15 July 2011
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II
Because Part I was so good this can only be the peak of the Potter series.

Friday 29 July 2011
Captain America: The First Avenger
It might be terrible but is the lead-in to The Avengers which might also be terrible. Wait, it could be good too!

Friday 5 August 2011
Rise Of The Apes
John Lithgow and James Franco! And monkeys!

Friday 19 August 2011
The Inbetweeners
Super 8

The spin-off from E4’s best output and J.J. Abrams top secret new film. Funny and surprising… and deeply shameful.

Friday 26 August 2011
Final Destination 5
Guilty pleasure alert… I like to see people die in ridiculous ways…

Friday 2 September 2011
Friends With Benefits
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Mila Kunis gets to do the friends having sex comedy to see if she can top Portman. Portman doesn’t care after having so many other films out.

Friday 7 October 2011
Johnny English 2
“It’s only a bit of poo.” Heh.

Friday 14 October 2011
Footloose
The Thing

A musical remake of a personal favourite and a prequel starring Ramona Flowers. It could be a glorious pair or a double disaster.

Friday 21 October 2011
Paranormal Activity 3
With no new Saw film this is all we have for Halloween. Boo!

Wednesday 26 October 2011
The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
Because the best British writers all seem to have had a hand in the writing of this particular film. Wright, Moffat and Cornish? Wow.