Okay, let's continue the countdown. If you haven't read the first post yet, read it here before continuing. Once you're done, hit the jump for my favourite 10 movies of 2011.
If you had told me at the beginning of this year that The Help would be in my top 10 films of the year, I would have told you to f@ck right off and guess again. Well, I was wrong. Carried by probably the strongest ensemble performance of the year, The Help was so much more than I expected. I suppose that what I liked about it (the fact that it wasn't a 2 hour guilt trip) would be exactly what others hated. Thank you Tate Taylor for choosing the more entertaining route!
Another major surprise was Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. Owen Wilson is perfect as the guy Woody Allen would've played had he been younger in a story that is as much an ode to Paris as it is a unique take on the power of a stimulated imagination. A veteran director of over 40 feature films, Woody Allen has no trouble assembling massively impressive casts for even the smallest of films, and this one is no exception.
Cary Fukunaga is a major talent. He kicked off his career with the harrowing Sin Nombre, and followed that up with none other than an adaption of Charlotte Bronte's classic novel Jane Eyre. The film had two aspects which were sufficient to propel it into my top 10 of the year: fantastic performances by two of my favourite actors (Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska) and absolutely beautiful cinematography. A job extremely well done, and I cannot wait to see what Fukunaga has up his sleeve next (I know it's science fiction, but I want to see it).
50/50 takes the prize for tearjerker of the year. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen deliver the best performances of their careers in a film that (as I said in my review) expertly treads that thinnest of lines between comedy and tragedy, and that needs to be seen by as many people as possible.
I've seen The Guard three times already and cannot get enough of Brendan Gleeson's Sergeant Jerry Boyle. He has a thick Irish accent, loves the whores, has nothing but contempt for Dublin and the USA, you can't tell if he's really motherf*ckin' dumb or really motherf*ckin' smart, and he's racist as hell, but he is my favourite character of the year by a mile. The Guard is a whole lot of In Bruges mixed with just enough Tarantino, and one hell of an entertaining movie!
It's difficult to find words to describe The Tree of Life. I can't remember when last I saw a film as polarising as this, and I find it impossible to predict who will love it and who will hate it. I loved every minute, and my honest opinion is that Terrence Malick has not gone off on a self-indulgent frolic, but rather has crafted one of the most ambitious and beautiful cinematic works of art of our generation.
I was extremely excited to see this latest film from one of my favourite directors Nicolas Winding Refn. The result? Another prime example that no matter how much I build a movie up, the end result can always exceed expectations. This stylised and violent masterpiece had it all: great performances, awesome music and spectacular cinematography.
For the second best film of 2011 I head over to some heavy drama territory. Lars von Trier is not afraid of controversial subject matter, and this time he takes on the end of the world. I held my breath expecting another shock to the system a-la Antichrist, but was greeted instead by a (literally) breathtaking tale about how different people react when placed in the most difficult of situations.
My best film of 2011 may be a bit of a strange choice, but I looked over my list again and again, and the only really honest opinion would have Lucky Mckee's The Woman at number one. I saw it three times in the first week, and no other film this year has shocked and impressed me more completely than this film. It was truly a remarkable movie that I have found myself discussing with friends at every opportunity since the first viewing. I will say no more, just go see the thing!