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The Best and Worst Films of 2011

Posted by: Matthew Turner 16/12/2011 @ 14:09
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 490
Films seen in the last week: The Well-Digger's Daughter, Mission
Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Dreams of a Life (again), Meet Me In St Louis (again), Sherlock
Holmes: A Game of Shadows
, Magic to Win, Red Dog, Goon, The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo

FILM OF THE WEEK: Dreams of a Life

The Best and Worst Films of 2011
As the year draws to a close, it's time once more for the agony and the ecstasy of the end of year Best and Worst Films lists. Actually, mine wasn't too stressful this year because of two films I bumped at the last minute (one because I'd forgotten about Meek's Cutoff, the other to make way for late entry Margaret), one wasn't quite as great on a second viewing and the other was a film I admired rather than flat-out loved, like all the ones on the list below. (I won't give away their names but both films are on the bubbling under list below).

The only thing that did give me pause was The Artist, which I'm going to cheat slightly and class as a 2012 film, even though it opens on 30th December. “Has to play a full week in the year,” that's the rule I've just made up to justify that decision. Anyway, without further ado, here are my top ten films of 2011.

Top Ten Films of 2011
1. True Grit
2. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
3. Tomboy
4. Cold Weather
5. Margaret
6. Midnight in Paris
7. Love Like Poison
8. Melancholia
9. Meek's Cutoff
10. Bridesmaids

As for the bubbling under list, the first ten of these are essentially the bottom half of my top 20 and could easily stand as an alternative ten to the one above.

Bubbling under: Tabloid, Blue Valentine, Tree of Life, Arrietty, Super, Senna, The Interrupters, Kill List, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Snowtown, Miss Bala, Weekend, Black Swan, Poetry, Point Blank, Source Code, Cedar Rapids, Win Win, TT3D, Donor Unknown, X-Men: First Class, Thor, Bobby Fischer, Project Nim, A Separation, Jane Eyre, Captain America, Drive, The Salt of Life, TrollHunter, The Innkeepers, 100 Mornings, The Silence, Moneyball

And here are my worst films of 2011. Incredibly, each of the films below was SO BAD that I actually bumped Big Momma's House 3 to make way for them ...

Worst Ten Films of 2011
1. Got to Run
2. Sucker Punch
3. How to Stop Being A Loser
4. The Dilemma
5. Huge
6. New Year's Eve
7. Country Strong
8. Anuvahood
9. The Hangover 2
10. The Change-Up

Narrowly escaping this list: No Strings Attached, Hereafter, How Do You Know?, Legacy: Black Ops, Restless, A Christmas Princess, Special Forces, Big Momma: Like Father, Like Son

Trailerwatch: G.I. JOE 2: Retaliation
Confession: I stand by the four star review I gave the first G.I. JOE movie (technically, it was a three and a half but I rounded up), because it was something of a guilty pleasure, with fun characters, great action set pieces, superb special effects, oodles of explosions, nifty gadgetry and, oh yes, Rachel Nichols and Sienna Miller in tight leather catsuits. So I'm not-so-secretly looking forward to the sequel, which takes all of the above (well, it replaces Miller and Nichols with Adrianne Palicki – briefly TV's rebooted Wonder Woman and Elodie Yung) and adds DWAYNE JOHNSON AND BRUCE WILLIS. (Sometimes I wish Johnson still let us call him The Rock – the previous sentence would have been much funnier. Ah well).

The trailer is edited rather brilliantly to make Bruce Willis' first appearance laugh-out-loud funny, especially given his “There is ONE man we can trust ...” lead-in by Johnson – I doubt it'll happen that way in the finished film. The plot looks like fun too – the G.I. JOEs (it's actually weird how many of them are NOT back for the sequel – I can't imagine Marlon Wayans was all that busy, though Ray Park, Byung-Hun Lee and Arnold Vosloo are here) are set-up and hunted down by President Jonathan Pryce (also back). Apparently Channing Tatum gets killed off and Johnson takes over as the lead, which I don't really have a problem with, but I'll be sad to see Tatum go.

The other thing that's really making me laugh from the trailer is the cliffside sword-wielding ninja fight. Why aren't they just cutting each other's ropes? Surely the point where they're all getting into position offered plenty of opportunities for the fight to start? Madness. Anyway, it looks like a lot of Big Dumb Fun and it opens here in June next year. Oh, and please check out this guide to the emotions on display in the trailer, courtesy of The Shiznit.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Only two new entries this week, with both Carol Morley's haunting documentary Dreams of a Life and British drama Wreckers both entering the top ten. Sherlock Holmes 2 isn't bad, but it's not quite good enough to crack the top ten. Rather wonderfully, Margaret has continued its strong opening and is now playing on a number of London screens. Everyone that went to see it at Odeon Panton Street in its first week should feel very proud of themselves because you made that happen. I will also put in a good word for Las Acacias, which is probably nearing the end of its run but is the loveliest film about a truck driver, a woman and a baby you'll see all year.

Interview-wise this week we have an exclusive interview with Dreams of a Life director Carol Morley and press conference interviews with Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jnr, Jude Law and Noomi Rapace for Sherlock Holmes 2. Elsewhere you can still read our exclusive interview with Mark Williams (aka Arthur Weasley) to tie in with the DVD release of the final Harry Potter film, our press conference interviews with Hugo director Martin Scorsese and Hugo actors Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz and Ben Kingsley, our exclusive interview with Terence Davies for The Deep Blue Sea, our semi-exclusive (i.e. round table) interview with Michael Shannon for Take Shelter, our exclusive interview with Snowtown star Daniel Henshall, our semi-exclusive round-table interview with Rum Diary (and Withnail & I) director Bruce Robinson and our semi-exclusive round table with The Rum Diary star Amber Heard.

1. Margaret
2. Take Shelter
3. Moneyball
4. My Week With Marilyn
5. Las Acacias
6. We Need To Talk About Kevin
7. Snowtown
8. Dreams of a Life
9. Wreckers
10. The Deep Blue Sea

DVD of the Week: Larry Crowne (out now, online RRP £12.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is Larry Crowne, co-written (with My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos) and directed by Tom Hanks. Hanks stars as Larry Crowne, a divorced U-Mart employee whose life changes when he suddenly gets down-sized. Ditching all his expensive possessions in order to stay afloat, Larry decides to sign up for a public-speaking class at the nearby community college, where his zippy new scooter attracts the attention of friendly, free-spirited classmate Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who quickly takes him under her wing. At the same time, Larry finds himself with a crush on his permanently grumpy, secret booze-swilling teacher “Miss” Tainot (Julia Roberts), who has her own problems at home with her porn-surfing loser husband Dean (Bryan Cranston). Could a ride on Larry's scooter put the smile back on her face?

Hanks is his usual charming, likeable self and his presence alone is enough to ensure that the film remains watchable. In addition, it's fun to see Julia Roberts playing mean, grumpy and a bit messed up for once and there's strong comic support from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, George Takei (as another tutor) and Cedric The Entertainer as Larry's neighbour-slash-best friend Lamar. That said, though it's never less than likeable, the script never really convinces on an emotional level, it's not quite as funny as it should have been and it wastes talented performers like Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston, Taraji P Henson and Wilmer Valderrama by giving them next to nothing to do.

Extras include: a ten minute Making Of featurette, a four minute interview with Tom Hanks; seven minutes of deleted scenes and, best of all, a 10 minute “Fun on the Set” featurette, featuring some rather charming footage of the cast and crew (including Julia Roberts) just having a good time, making each other laugh, etc. Worth seeing if you're a Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts fan, though maybe wait for the price to come down a bit.


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