Unlike my antiquated novel list, these are films which were actually released in 2011.
10. Contagion –an effective, chilling account of the spread of a pandemic. Marks off for Jude Law’s annoying character.
9. I Love You Philip Morris – the most surprising film I saw all year; an offbeat, strange comedy about a man who keeps breaking out of prison.
8. True Grit – a Western by the Coen Brothers.
7. The Debt – stylish, quality thriller about the assassination of a concentration camp doctor.
6. Melancholia – a film I need to see again, but I don’t have the endurance required for it. The way von Trier shows the planet moving closer and closer until it engulfs the Earth is truly frightening. The whole film is disturbing.
5. Higher Ground – a woman begins to doubt the 1980s evangelical world she is immersed in. For anyone who knows the world and is willing to hold it up to the light, this will surely be engaging.
4. Black Swan – an intense thriller about an obsessive ballerina losing her grip on reality.
3. The Guard – black, black comedy about an Irish policeman with his own contrary code of honour. I laughed so hard at all the outrageous things he says and does.
2. Source Code – a man keeps up waking up inside someone else’s body in a train about to explode. A science fiction thriller which will probably come apart under scrutiny, but it gripped me like no other film this year.
1. Tree of Life – it’s difficult and sometimes boring, but it’s brilliant because it captures as much about the meaning of life as a film can hope to do. It also shows what it is to be a child, giving us an experience of life through a boy’s eyes.
- Ides of March – it really is very good and probably belongs in the top 10.
- Voyage of the Dawntreader – far better than Prince Caspian, I enjoyed this Narnia film.
- Anonymous – a likeable, loud historical conspiracy thriller about the ‘real’ author of Shakespeare’s plays.
- We Need To Talk About Kevin – a fine adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel, but without its beauty or compulsion.
- Incendies – melodramatic but fascinating drama.
- The Eye of the Storm – an interesting attempt to film Patrick White.
The most underwhelming films of the year:
- Get Low – a boring, competent film about a hermit who stages his own funeral.
- Red State – Kevin Smith bombs out with this crazy, rather pointless shoot ’em up.