Thursday, 29 December 2011

My Top 30 Films of 2011

Well, it's that time of year again, and in my opinion, it's been a pretty decent year. We've seen everything from robots to apes, superheroes to bridesmaids and boy wizards to vampires. There are many 2011 films that I won't be seeing until early 2012, including The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, The Artist and The Descendants to name a few, so here are my top 30 picks for 2011 as of December 31st. (Note: I haven't included 2010 films that were released in Australia in 2011, such as Black Swan, True Grit, The Fighter and 127 Hours. 2011 films that will be released in 2012 will go on the 2011 list)

30. Wasted on the Young
A stylish and alarmingly relevant Australian film criminally ignored by audiences earlier this year. Wrong, people. Wrong.

29. Bridesmaids
The comedy that surprised everyone by not only becoming the year's smash hit comedy, but by also becoming the year's funniest film. Take that Hangover II.

28. Hanna
Joe Wright's kick-ass actioner was one of the year's best action film. Super stylish and inventively directed, as well as boasting a great cast lead by Saoirse Ronan, this is one of the year's most underrated films.

27. The Ides of March
One of the most well-acted films was part three of Ryan Gosling's 2011 triple threat combo. We'll see you later on, Ryan.

26. Contagion
Forget Paranormal Activity 3, THIS was the year's scariest film, simply because it seemed so realistic. You won't be touching anything for days after seeing this one.

25. The Help
Another smash hit, this crowd pleaser is sure to dominate the acting categories come Oscar time.

24. 13 Assassins
I watched this the day after I saw Seven Samurai for the first time, and compared to that, this looks like The Last Airbender. Which is a testament to how good that Kurosawa film is, because Takashi Miike's latest was bloody great.

23. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Hands down, the best straight up action film of the year, with undoubtedly some of the best action set-pieces ever put to film. Don't agree with me? Watch that Burj Khalifa scene again. Welcome back, Mr. Cruise.

22. X-Men: First Class
I (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) expected this prequel to suck balls. How wrong we were. This ended up being the best X-Men film ever.

21. Beginners
This was just a damn great film, put simply. And I swear, that dog is the cutest dog ever.

20. Rango
The animated film that wasn't for kids, Gore Verbinski's brilliant oddball film referenced everything from Chinatown to The Man With No Name. Awesome.

19. Red Dog
And now the little Aussie film that could. Did anyone think that this sweet and heartfelt tale would become one of the biggest Australian films of all time? I think once you saw it, everyone did. And it deserved every penny. If this didn't move you, then you are made of stone.

18. Moneyball
Or, what Aaron Sorkin did after The Social Network. Of course, this is much more than that. Capote director Bennett Miller deftly turned a movie based around baseball stats into an exciting and intelligent piece of entertainment, with a fantastic performance by Brad Pitt to boot.

17. Source Code
Let's face it, Duncan Jones' follow up to Moon was never gonna hit the heights of that masterpiece. But what Source Code did do, was confirm the fact that Jones is a force to be reckoned with, and shows that he can still make a smart piece of entertainment regardless of the budget size.

16. Snowtown
The most harrowing and chilling film of the year. Why? Because it's based on true events. Despite this, it's still an amazing debut by Justin Kurzel.

15. War Horse
This is Spielberg at his old-school movie making best. Miles away from his other 2011 film (which will be mentioned later), this was both emotionally satisfying and terrifically exciting and intense. Good to see you back in the directors chair, Spielberg.

14. Super 8
J.J. Abrams nostalgic monster mash was one of my most anticipated for this year, and it didn't disappoint, blending pitch perfect thrills with great characters and heart. Mint.

13. Submarine
One of the more quirkier films of the year is one of my favourites, as its a tale that we can probably all relate with. And with some of the most inventive direction of the year, Submarine was definitely worth a watch.

12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The film that everyone was waiting for (for better or worse) finally arrived, and brought the highest-grossing franchise of all time to a grand and satisfying close. The perfect end to a great franchise.

11. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Another one of the films I was prepared to hate ended up being the year's biggest surprise, both critically and commercially. Directors take note, this is how to craft a blockbuster. And if Andy Serkis is not recognized at Oscar time, watch out Academy.

10. Attack the Block
The most ridiculously fun film of the year got everything right, and put Joe Cornish immediately on the map. Believe, bruv.


9. Incendies 
This brilliant Canadian film was as exciting and tense as it was emotionally involving and devastating. Poetic.

8. The Adventures of Tintin
I felt like such a big kid watching this film, and you will too, as Spielberg's mo-cap adaptation of Herge's legendary comics is the most exhilarating and fun film of the year. Forget Thor or X-Men, this is the best comic book film of the year.

7. Midnight In Paris
Finally! A light and bright rom-com that doesn't make you want to reach for the sick bag. This is Woody Allen's best film in years. A film lover's delight.

6. The Skin I Live In
This is one of those films that simply demands a second viewing, thanks to its jaw-dropping twist. Special thanks to Pedro Almodovar's masterful direction and Antonio Banderas' fantastic performance for making this one of the year's very best. Fantastico!

5. Drive
That opening scene. That score. That near-silent-yet-brilliant performance by Gosling. That blistering performance by Albert Brooks. That stylish, retro direction by Nicolas Winding Refn. Need I say more?

4. The Tree of Life
I can't think of a film that has divided audiences as much as this one. You either found it a piece of pretentious gobbledegook or a piece of breathtaking art. I found it the latter. Simply breathtaking.

3. Melancholia 
Before seeing this film, I saw Lars von Trier as nothing more than a pretentious hack. This near-masterpiece immediately changed my opinion on that. This absolutely took my breath away, and a film that I haven't stopped thinking about since I saw it.

2. We Need To Talk About Kevin
Other than Snowtown, this was the most haunting film of the year. I'm years away from being a parent, yet it was such an eye-opener on parenting. It's a film that every parent, nay, everyone should see.

1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I was lucky enough to receive a free advance pass to this film that I had been anticipating all year, and I am so grateful I did, because this for me was undoubtedly the film of the year. The complex yet involving narrative, the pitch-perfect performances, the cinematography, the tense pacing of it and the final reveal to name a few, all combine to create a true cinematic miracle. It doesn't get much better than this.


  1. terrific selections, Dwayne, and glad to see Drive and Tintin ranked so highly. Great choices

  2. Very nice. Very few films here that I didn't enjoy.

  3. Fuck. You've seen a lot from last year. Okay, time to get back to my 2011 marathon with the hope of catching up.