Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stevee's Unofficial Best Films of 2011

Again, when I say 'unofficial', I definitely mean unofficial. I've seen barely anything this'll be months before I see such movies as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, War Horse, The Artist, Drive, Shame, The Descendants, day I'll get around to doing an official one. For now, here are ten movies which I found quite good. And if you look at this list, you'll see just how pretentious and arty I have become over the past year.
Anyway, I know the criteria that I had for films that were really made in 2010 but they came out here this year. I've chosen not to include films like Blue Valentine or Never Let Me Go, even if they were released here in 2011, because I think of them as 2010 films no matter what. There is one film that I've included here that was in contention at the Oscars earlier this year, but I feel that it deserves a spot here considering it was part of this year's film festival and I never got to see it until a week ago. So yeah, I know what I'm doing.

Honourable mentions: The Orator, Meek's Cutoff, Beginners, Contagion, Super 8, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Trust, Winnie the Pooh, Crazy Stupid Love, Sarah's Key, Captain America, Limitless, Rango, X-Men: First Class, Source Code, Thor, Horrible Bosses.

10. Submarine
I just saw this film last weekend and I absolutely fell in love with it. There is just something about it's quirkiness and being so unashamedly over-the-top that I found it hard not to be drawn in to Oliver Tate's weird little world. Both Oliver and Jordana seem refreshingly real - well, Oliver is a bit pretentious - which makes this UK teen comedy shine. Not to mention, Paddy Considine plays his crazy character just the way Nicolas Cage would have...except he is much better.

9. The Help
This film gets a spot on my list because I had a pretty enjoyable time watching it at the cinemas, and it was a great adaptation of one of the best books I read in the past year (okay, don't take my word for it, I probably haven't read over five books in 2011). Plus, it has so much talent on show: Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain (whom I loved in this movie), Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek...such a strong female cast, and how often do we get that? We mustn't forget that I cried at least five different times during this movie, and when I cry, it sure isn't because I didn't like the movie!

8. Melancholia
Melancholia gets a special place in my heart because it was the first movie I ever got to see at the New Zealand Film Festival. Hopefully next year I can watch a few more. Lars von Trier's apocalyptic tale is one of beauty shrouded in sadness, as we see how a rogue planet affects two very different sisters. One of these sisters is played by Kirsten Dunst, whose performance should really be nominated for an Oscar because it is so cripplingly depressing. But the main reason that Melancholia has appeared on this list is because of it's absolutely amazing ending. Seriously, I can't believe how much I was shaking when the credits hit. I literally did feel like the world just ended.

7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
At the beginning of the year, I thought this would be just another one of those pointless prequels with a ridiculous title that would tank at the box office. Boy, I was wrong. Turns out that Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the greatest blockbuster of 2011, with one of the greatest moments of the year. Caesar is the coolest ape ever, and possibly one of the only 'heroes' from the movies that I didn't have trouble getting behind. Hopefully Andy Serkis does get an Oscar nomination, because his work is ground-breaking...and it's time Hollywood had a shake-up.

6. Incendies
A nominee for Best Foreign Film at this year's Oscars, Incendies is a Canadian film that doesn't shy away from much, and knows exactly how to smack the audience in the face. People who have seen the film will know what I'm talking about...the twist in this film will literally make you feel like someone just punched you in the face. This is an expertly crafted, beautifully shot, completely involving film which takes you to all sorts of places, including hell and back. If you haven't seen this film, then what are you waiting for? It's a hard hitting drama in every sense of the word.

5. Certified Copy
A collection of conversations (and you should know how much I love to see conversations on film) between Juliette Binoche and William Shimell were surprisingly quite enjoyable to me. Abbas Kiarostami's multi-lingual drama is one that makes you question all sorts of things, including and especially the relationship between the two strangers...or were they really strangers? So many questions that this movie asks, and while it doesn't really answer all of them, it is still beautiful to watch.

4. The Tree of Life
My tastes really have changed this year. If you showed me Terrence Malick's ultra-polarizing film last year, I would have really disliked it. But I rolled up to the cinemas, and while I was baffled, I was more intrigued than I had ever been before. Now I have the film on Blu-Ray, I've realised just what a marvel it is, but I don't think I could ever give it a proper rating. I know that a lot of people hate this movie, and a lot more people hate the people who like it. I'm sorry, but I just really liked it, for all of it's pretty pictures and the amount of reading-between-the-lines that it required. A magnificent piece of cinema, no doubt about it.

3. Hesher
While this is technically a 2010 flick, this film took a while to make it to the general public. I was pretty happy that I finally got to see it when it hit DVD back in September. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the titular Hesher, who is a loner that doesn't care about much in the world, but he can help a few people along. Filled with charming indie moments, plenty of funnies and enough heartbreak to go 'round, Hesher is delightfully original and even charmingly offensive. JGL gives a bloody terrific performance, too. If only more people had the chance to see this one...

2. Midnight in Paris
I have never been a huge fan of either Owen Wilson or Woody Allen, but Midnight in Paris is an absolute delight to watch. It's impossible not to love - as Wilson is transported to 1920's Paris and meets such icons as Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Dali, my eyes were having a mad love affair with the screen. I really can't say how much I love this film. It is just pure magic, from beginning to end. There were only two things that I didn't like about it: that it had to end and that Paris is so far away!

1. Senna
Isn't it weird how I have a documentary about Formula One as my number one for the year? But seriously, Senna is a masterpiece. The editing in this movie is probably the best I have ever seen, as I imagine that it isn't easy to edit down a whole lot of archive footage into something that closely resembles a normal narrative. And I must say, considering I didn't know that much about Ayrton Senna before watching the movie, and I was bawling my eyes out at the end, this movie really was something special. It was just wonderful.

So, what do you think of my list? What are your favourite movies of 2011?

And before I go, I'd just like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I'll be taking a couple of days off to enjoy Christmas and Boxing Day. As for you all, thanks for all of the support this year - it's greatly appreciated! I hope you all have a great and drink to your heart's content, and be happy!


  1. Nice list, Stevee. Four of these will appear on my Top 10 also! Love your #1.

  2. Submarine! Yes 4 of those would be in my unofficial top 10 too. I think.
    I liked Senna, but I really do not like sports :/ Having said that, I agree with you on the editing. That film would be nothing without its editing.
    Good list :D

  3. Interesting choices, I didn't expect Hesher to be so high up there; I still have to see Rise of the planet of the apes and Incendies, but I hope to do it before the New Year.
    I am so glad I decided to start my blog; because of it I discovered so many great people and great blogs and you are high on my list. Keep up the good work, it is remarkable for such a young person like yourself. You're going to go places, if you want to- is cinema the direction for you?that's what you want to do? or is it just a hobby?

  4. Great list, quite a few I still need to see on there! Definitely will have Submarine and Apes on my own top 10 list! Merry Christmas!

  5. Lovely little list! Senna was indeed fantastic, a wonderful example of documentary storytelling - hard to believe it's been ruled out of an Oscar nomination. Melancolia and Submarine will also most likely be in my top ten.

  6. Great list, Stevee!

    I think Certified Copy was a 2010 release as well...over here, anyway, but I am not entirely sure.

    Most of 2011 releases are gone on from the American release dates, though, and I feel that it would be a 'Sight and Sound' kind of moment (where they list films that haven't even been released in the UK as their favourites at the end of year round up) if I didn't go by the UK release dates, hence why Blue Valentine will be my no.1 film of the year!

    Still so happy that you loved Senna!

  7. Great List!! I need to check out Submarine and Hesher from your list. I have seen all others and 4-5 of them will be on my list as well. I missed Drive though. Is it because it's not available in NZ yet??

  8. Completely agree with SENNA, it is in my top 3 of the year and absolutely loved it! Nice list!

  9. I'm glad you have got the Apes movie and Hesher on the list, as well as some others. I haven't seen Senna, Submarine, Certified Copy and Incendies but they all are worth checking out, undoubtedly. Love your list.

  10. Wow, our Top lists are completely different. However, our #3s are exactly the same! Loved that movie. But there is no way I would put Submarine, Tree of Life, or Melancholia near my top list. Submarine was too 'blah' and tonally confused to me. And the latter two, well... you know. The Help and Apes were really good, but I didn't like them THAT much to put them over the rest of my 10. Haven't seen the others.

    I will be seeing Midnight in Paris today, though, so that might make it. Who knows?

  11. Yay for Senna! It along with Tree of Life and Melancholia are my three highest rated films of the year so far.

    Oh and Merry Christmas Stevee!

  12. Cool list Stevee - I have my Tree of Life dvd waiting for me at home, and I'll be heading off to see Melancholia soon (as soon as I get back to Melbourne methinks). I might do an unofficial list by the end of the year (not long to go now - eep!) Bring on 2012 for movies!!!

  13. Andy - I'm guessing Senna, Incendies, Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life? Haha. And I know that you love my #1!

    Nikhat - Hmmmm, I'm doing the guessing game with you, too: Midnight in Paris, Submarine, The Tree of Life (?) and...I can't pick the other one. But I'm glad you liked Senna! I'm not a huge fan of sports now, but I used to be a really fast runner until I got fat and lazy. Fun fact about me to brighten up your day.

    Aziza - I loved Hesher! Such a shame that it is rotten on RT. Definitely see Apes and Incendies, they're great!
    Awwww, thank you! Ideally, I'd like to become a film director but I don't know how that would work out. But whatever I do end up doing has to have something to do with movies otherwise I will be living a very unhappy life!

    Pete - I hope you had a good Christmas, too!

    Multiplex Slut - I don't know how Senna got ruled out...that is the most stupid hing the Academy have ever done.

    Cherokee - I think Certified Copy was at the film fest last year, but it came out in cinemas in March this year. Plus, everyone in America was classifying it as a 2011 release, so I just went with the flow.
    Blue Valentine would be my favourite film of the year if I did that, but going by 2010 it is my third favourite film (just after Inception and The Social Network).
    Senna is awesome!

    SDG - It was released in cinemas back in November, but it was rated R18. Since I'm only 16 I'm considered two years too young to see it :(

    The Littlest Picture Show - Senna was absolutely brilliant!

    Lesya - Apes and Hesher are brilliant! And yes, those four are great. Thanks!

    Nick - I remember you liking Hesher a lot - it really is awesome! And yeah, I remember your thoughts on The Tree of Life and Melancholia. I'm becoming so snobbish :/
    You *did* give Midnight in Paris 5/5, so I hope it makes it!

    Bonjour Tristesse - Lots of love for Senna around here! And those ones are brilliant.
    Thanks! I hope you had a good one, too.

    Ruth - Melancholia is great, definitely a big screen experience. I'd love to see your unofficial list! And yes, 2012 is going to be epic, movie-wise!

  14. i looove midnight in paris, didn't like Tree of Life or Hesher though...

  15. Should I feel bad that I only saw one of these? I gotta get out more. Rise was awesome.

  16. I haven't seen as many films as most other bloggers did either, Stevee, but it won't stop me from making a top 10 as well :D A few movies you have here will make my list too. I wish I had seen Senna to include on my list but I'll definitely watch that as soon as it hits dvd.

    Happy new year, Stevee!

  17. Candice - I guess Hesher is pretty weird...I don't know why I took to it so much!

    Maurice - shouldn't! It's not the most...accessible list!

    Ruth - Exactly, we can do what we want :P And definitely see Senna, by any means necessary!
    You too!


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