It’s a few days late, but here are my favourite films from 2011. There are many films that I quite liked during the year, however I sadly cannot include them all. As such, before I move on to the list itself I thought I would list some honorable mentions that did not make the cut:
- Attack the Block
- Red State
- Source Code
I saw many documentaries at TIFF this year and The Last Gladiators was one that definitely stood out for me. This look at the world of hockey enforcers is especially poignant in a world where the violent nature of the sport is being increasingly scrutinized.
9. Scream 4
This year the Scream franchise returned after a decade with a film that, in my opinion, is second only to the original film. It cleverly introduced both characters old and new and had a thing or two to say about the current trend of horror remakes.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2
After a full decade of films, the Harry Potter series came to an end with a truly epic conclusion. It was definitely one of the best films in the whole series and it was truly a great end for the saga.
Despite being an animated film with a talking chameleon, Rango is also a very well-done Western. Definitely one of the most unique films of the year.
One of the big Midnight Madness hits at TIFF, You’re Next was a very tongue-in-cheek horror film that was an absolutely blast to watch. While a constant overuse of horror cliches may hurt other films, they only worked to help with the crowd’s enjoyment of this film.
It says a lot when my favourite film from last year’s TIFF was a documentary. With Paradise Lost 3, Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger have created a mature depiction of the entire saga of the West Memphis Three that is great viewing for both old and new viewers. As of this writing, I have yet to see the extended cut that shows the West Memphis Three’s release, but I still consider it my favourite documentary of the year.
4. The Artist
Who would have thought that one of the most talked about films of 2011 be a full-fledged silent film? The Artist was most definitely a joy for me to watch and I definitely expect that it will be getting a lot of attention during awards season.
3. The Tree of Life
While not the most accessible film of the year, The Tree of Life was definitely one of the most visually spectacular. The film is less about conventional narrative and more about being a completely surreal experience. This is a film I definitely want to see again.
Here is another film that is not that easy to watch, for a completely different reason. A film about sex addiction is definitely not for everyone, however you cannot ignore the great performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, as well as the excellent cinematography and its use of long, lingering shots. It remains to be seen how much the Academy recognizes this film (which is rated NC-17 in the US), but it still gets top marks in my book.
The fact that it was directed by Martin Scorsese was a big hint that Hugo would turn out not to be your average family film. Scorsese churned out a film that turned out to be a wonderful celebration of early cinema and the films of Georges Méliès.
The film is definitely one of the best history lessons you can get on film without taking a film class and it is for that reason that I declare it my favourite film of 2011.
And that’s my list.