In 2011 I watched 212 films which is only slightly more than the 203 I saw in 2011, with the Leeds International Film Festival I thought it might be higher. A third of these films were released in 2011 and I saw just over half of then (52%) in the cinema, mostly the wonderful Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds. Just under a quarter (22%) were repeat viewings of films I’ve already seen which means the vast majority were new to me.
It’s time to try and work out what I thought the best films of 2011 were. It’s hard enough to pick out a number (ten seems to be the tradition) so it makes sense for me to do this is mostly chronological order. The year kicked of a lot of the award favourites got their release in the UK: The Kings Speech, Black Swan, True Grit, Animal Kingdom, 127 Hours. I enjoyed all of these films quite a lot apart from The King’s Speech which I think was highly overrated but in my opinion the best of these films and my first choice is…
#1. Black Swan
It’s completely bonkers and I loved it. Seeing it with a highly shockable full house at Hyde Park Picture House certainly added a lot to my enjoyment.
#2. Blue Valentine
I still haven’t seen the end of this film due to a power cut and in a way I don’t want to because I often have a problem with endings. Brilliant performances, soundtrack and story all brought together in such a clever but not too clever way.
This does exactly what a great documentary should do; take a subject I have zero interest in and tell a story that it’s impossible not to be fully engaged by.
#4 1/2. Life In A Day
Nobody told me to select 10 films so there’s no need for me to cheat but I wanted to include another great and completely different documentary. I only saw it in the last few days of the year and was unsure how to rate it for my film diary. Straight after seeing it I wanted to give it 5/5 but then dropped it down to 4.5 and finally settled on 4, I’m not entirely sure why. There are some really remarkable sections throughout the film and some other less interesting parts but that is life and the purpose of the film. The final scene sums it up perfectly and made me forget any previous flaws I had with the film.
#5. Tree Of Life
Love it or hate it. The people behind me thought it was a “pretentious piece of crap” but I fell firmly into the love camp. I didn’t expect to like it but it completely absorbed me and stuck with me much longer than many other films that simply fade from memory as soon as you leave the cinema.
#6. The Guard
I want to say this was the funniest film I saw all year but I’m now not sure exactly how much of a comedy it was. I really enjoyed it though, whatever it was.
#7. Living In A Material World
Another documentary, a subject matter I was interested in this time but t’s mostly on this list because it’s nearly three and a half hours long and I my usually distracted wandering mind never once got the slightest bit bored.
#8. The Artist
I had a few minor issues with the film but it’s still probably the most enjoyable film of the year. I want to see it again because it was so much fun and I think I might even like it more a second time around.
#9. Black Pond & Tyrannosaur
Another cheat. I wanted to include Black Pond because not only did I really like it but I also feels like it needs some more attention so more people get to see it. I left the cinema thinking that Black Pond was probably the best British film I’d seen all year. I was sure there were other films but I couldn’t recall them, I quickly remember about Submarine from earlier in the year which I think I preferred slightly. Looking back through my film diary the only other serious contender was Tyrannosaur.
#10 The Deep Blue Sea
The first film I saw in 2012 was this Terrence Davis film from late last year. I had no real expectations from it and (perhaps as a result) it completely blew me away. Once again I’m not entirely sure why I liked it so much but liked it I did. There’s something amazing about the hopelessness portrayed throughout the film which I somehow found realistic and engaging.
So those are my best films of 2011, the year I increased my cinema going but kept away from the multiplex, as a result I’ve missed a lot of the big releases but no doubt I’ll catch up with them at some point. The only films I really regret not seeing are Bridesmaids, The Inbetweeners and A Separation (which I’ll hopefully see at Keswick Film Festival next month) although there are probably many more I’ve simply forgotten about (I’ll try and do a list, like I did last year, so I don’t forget).
There were lots of good films and only a few disappointments so all in all, it was a good cinematic year.
Honourable mentions: True Grit, Animal Kingdom, 127 Hours, Source Code, Attack The Block, Never Let Me Go, X-Men, Super 8, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Tangled,Tomboy, We Need To Talk About Kevin, The Adventures Of Tintin, Melanchonia, Another Earth, Take Shelter and Hugo.
Disappointments: The King’s Speech, Hanna, Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy