Film 2011… and the winner is…

Nothing left of 2011 but a couple of memories and some of them included movies. In a year where I wasn’t able to catch a lot of films selecting a Top 10 is without a doubt an even more subjective affair than in ‘regular’ years, but does that stop us? Of course not. The idea that we might not have even watched two dozens of recent movies proved wrong when compiling the list (however, what does it say if you can’t recall what you’ve just seen?). Choosing a winner proved to be a piece of cake, it’s the rest of the top 10 that was trickier to rank. Some serious shoehorning later, this is the result:

1. WINTER’S BONE
And the winner is… oh yeah, you already know. “Because Jennifer Lawrence, Ree in the movie, has a doe-like quality that […] wonderfully clashes with the toughness of her character and the film’s setting. They say nature can be relentless… well, so are the people who have to live in the woods. The movie is also excellently shot and almost every scene where the nature settings are present are small tableaus, but one where beneath the soft blowing of the wind danger seems to loom.” Full review: here

2. LE GAMIN AU VÉLO
Ultimately, what at the time seemed a flaw, has won us over. This may not have been the most logical film by the Dardennes, but life isn’t always easy to explain. For no apparent reason whatsoever, a woman takes a boy into her custody. Add some small time crooks and a huge amount of personal problems and you’ve got yourself a movie that is almost poignant as Rosetta, but easier to watch. (Original review here)

3. CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.
Which movie should become the runner-up, CSL or Gamin? That was the hardest decision of this top 10, but this one finally bowed its head. Because for some reason a lot of movies with Ryan Gosling popped up in 2011? Because this blog shares a nationality with the Dardenne brothers? Possibly and no. Because the period at the end of the title is getting on our nerves? Perhaps… (welcome to the only blog where interpunction may cost you a spot) Fact is that this is one of the very few recent comedies that has no problem standing in the same pantheon as classic screwball comedies. And it would be a couples of bridges too far to rank Emma Stone‘s comment on Gosling’s six-pack (“Seriously, that’s not photoshopped?”) next to “Because I just went gay all of a sudden”, but it is one of the few movies that manages to pull off two climaxes, one of which is a teary-eyed Hollywood cliché book, but one with a nice twist at the end. (Full review)

4. CONFESSIONS
How to take revenge at the school kids who’ve killed your daughter? Well, if you’re a teacher, it’s easy: confess you’ve spiked their milk with HIV-positive blood and enjoy the aftermath. Includes beautiful slow motion scenes and a couple of twists. A burning look at the human condition until the very end. Read more about it here.

5. BLUE VALENTINE
The mid-section of this top 10 is very much the cheeriest thing you’ll have read: if you’re not pleased with mentally torturing the murderers of your child, you may want to watch how a relationship dissolves. Blue Valentine might have ended up higher in the list, but the interweaving of how the relationship ends and the happier times didn’t grip us as much as it should have done. Starring Michelle Williams and a debuting actor called (wait, we’re looking this up) Ryan Gosling.

6. MELANCHOLIA
And what if we could tie the death of a relationship to the end of the world? Step forward Lars von Trier and Kirsten Dunst. There was something about a press conference on this film at some film festival where someone said something that didn’t really go down well with the rest of the world, but we forgot the details. Meanwhile, the mysterious 19th hole (a.k.a. the part where reality doesn’t make sense or ceases to exist) as well as the review itself were the most read and sought after items at the Avenue. We’ve already mentioned that this featured Dunst in great form, but we shouldn’t forget that the slow motion prequel to the movie were extremely beautiful to watch. Not the best film of the year, but the one with the most beautiful shots. (Full review: here)

7. CARNAGE
More relationship joy? Polanski’s play on film ended up on the seventh spot. Why not higher? “Because the film was written by Yasmina Reza and it was based on her play Le Dieu de Carnage. And this film is very much a film version of a play. Is that bad? No, but throughout the film I wanted to see the reactions of the other people while someone was having a dialogue or monologue and here – by definition as it’s a film (unless you count experiments like Timecode by Figgis) – you’re bound to watch what’s happening through the vision of the director.” (Original review)

8. BLACK SWAN
We really should take some happy pills: more psychological destruction, but this time it’s self-inflicted. You all know about this Darren Aronofsky film starring Natalie Portman, so why bother with a lengthy review? Let’s just say this wasn’t as fulfulling as we’d hoped, but while this wasn’t the case, it didn’t disappoint enough to keep it out of the top 10.

9. SIMON WERNER A DISPARU
School outcasts, a mysterious disappearance, the nineties and a soundtrack by Sonic Youth. “Cult fans (especially those who’ve watched a giallo or two) will not be surprised that it isn’t always the most likely suspect who’s responsible for a (possible) crime. If that worries you, Simon Werner says more about you than about the 1990s. There’s lots of gossiping in the film and eccentric or asocial characters are just ready to be served as scapegoats. (Just like Alice seems born for the role of femme fatale.) And that is the true story behind Simon Werner’s disappearance. A simple whodunit, this is not. Good movie, good soundtrack and a fair bit of nostalgia for the previous century. Are we content? Yes, we are.” (Read more here)

10. TOMBOY
After fifteen minutes you find out the couple that has just moved in don’t have a boy and a girl, but two girls. Gender confusion galore as Laure (Zoé Héran) pretends to be Michaël. Things don’t improve when Lisa falls in love with “him” and after a fight Laure’s mother thinks the best option to show everyone Michaël doesn’t exist is by forcing Laure into a dress. The second movie written and directed by Céline Sciamma, whose Naissance des pieuvres (Water Lilies) we still fondly remember.

Ten movies and between four to six to remember. Probably more, but time wasn’t on our hands, so for now, we’ll have to do with just the reputation of Rundskop, Never Let Me Go and The Artist. Maybe next year?

Two movies that didn’t make it into the top 10, but deserve a mention:
Easy A
The Ides of March

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4 thoughts on “Film 2011… and the winner is…

  1. Lauren January 20, 2012 / 23:55

    These were pretty incredible movies…2012 will have a great list of contenders too

  2. deeopey January 23, 2012 / 14:44

    As always there seems to be strangely little overlap in mine and your lists. I’ve seen only 4 of them and Winter’s Bone is unfortunately a 2010 film for me.

    So a top three in a highly variable but I think a settled order:
    We Need to Talk About Kevin
    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
    Black Swan

    The next batch in alphabetical order:
    13 Assassins
    Attack The Block
    Blue Valentine
    Bridesmaids
    Hugo
    Midnight in Paris
    Source Code
    Submarine
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    Tintin

    And another 4 that I really want to see and suspect could make my list but haven’t managed to catch yet:
    The Future
    Tree of Life
    Melancholia
    The Skin I Live In

    Confessions made it to my to watch list from your review though, so should catch it in the next couple of weeks.

  3. kurtodrome January 23, 2012 / 23:38

    I missed We Need To Talk About Kevin and I know it was a contender. Shame…

    Girl w/t Dragon Tattoo opened last week and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy next month. Hugo opened at the very last week of 2011, so it’s eligible for 2012 as well. If I’ll see it… I’m often quite annoyed by 3D movies when I have to put those glasses on and equally annoyed when I see the 2D version because you just see the scenes which were shot for 3D.

    The Future is a movie that I could watch at the very end, but there was only time for one movie, so I watched a couple of tiny clips and decided it would end just underneath the top 10, whereas Tomboy might just make it – so I did and looks like it was the right choice. I was more than happy with the original n°10 (“Easy A”) but “Tomboy” deserved a spot and when I hosted my first non-virtual movie quiz, only one team knew Sciamma’s previous movie (Naissance des Pieuvres), so the attention wasn’t unneeded.

    As promised, I made sure “Source Code” would not be included in the final list because of its atrocious ending, that’s why there’s only 2 entries in the “Bubbling under” section. I think if we both would publish a Top 20 there would be a lot more overlapping, but in 2011 (a year in which I could hardly read books or watch movies) it wasn’t really appropriate to compile a longer list.

    I watched previews of Tree of Life and Attack The Block and they looked atrocious. I tended not to care about previews that much, but the lack of time forced me into that habit and if I’d paid more attention to previews, I might have prevented myself from watching Drive.

  4. deeopey January 24, 2012 / 10:27

    I’m not sure when I saw Easy-A but it would definitely make my extras list.

    Attack the Block was in a great way classic Carpenter through and through (including even the soundtrack), it wasn’t perfect though and to me its biggest achievement was to make some these pretty unsympathetic characters in the slightest bit heroic.

    Hugo was firmly in the extras list, not threatening the top ones. It still had a lot more heart and charm than most kid’s films I’ve seen in a while. I enjoyed the extras on my list but there is a gulf between them and the top three.

    Caught The Artist and Shame just the other week, I think both might’ve made the extras list too. I do always find though that each year two or three films just connect so much better than anything else I see.

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