Stalker's Top Ten 2011: Tom Wade's Top Ten
While Tom Wade has already delivered us one list of What Not to Watch with Mother, he's also dropped a list in for his Top Ten films of the year and so here they are for your reading pleasure.
It's a strong list, although I have to claim surprise at a couple of wild entries which I don't think belong anywhere near the top ten, but then it's not my list and I know that both my disagreements seem to go against the populist opinion.
The submissions for the Stalker's Top Ten's are always active, and it's easy to do, just create a list, add at least a sentence explanation about each entry although it would be nice to have more, how you'd like to be known on the published article along with a link to a site or an online profile, and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For some inspiration you can look at the other Stalker's Top Lists from this and previous years.
However this is Tom Wade's list, and it's time to hand over to him for his Top Ten films of 2011. You can see more of him over at Cultureslap which he edits, but in the meantime, see what you think of his decisions:
20. Never Let Me Go (Filmstalker review)
19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Filmstalker review)
18. Midnight In Paris
16. The Kings Speech
15. Super 8 (Filmstalker review)
14. True Grit
13. Crazy Stupid Love
12. Animal Kingdom (Filmstalker Review)
11. We need to talk about Kevin
I know that technically a documentary shouldn't be in a film list (if we want to be picky) but Senna managed to make me care about a person I'd never heard of before, and a sport that I've always thought utterly dull. The documentary pays tribute to Senna's life in a way that doesn't make him sound perfect, but instead does the man justice. The best documentary this year.
9. The Tree of Life
A film that will split opinion like no other on this list, Tree of Life is either a magical, brave and deeply personal piece that cuts to the very core of our own creation, or it's utterly boring and useless. I tend to verge on the first half of that statement - it's not perfect - but it's one of the most ambitious films for years. Watch it and decide for yourself.
8. 50/50 (Filmstalker review)
A film starring Seth Rogan in my top ten films of the year?! Oh right it's got Jason Gordan-Levitt in it as well - phew. A comedy about cancer that plays it controversial and sensitive all at the same, this is the closest I've come to tearing up in a comedy for a long time.
7. The Guard
A glorious film about an Irish Cop who has to deal with not only a major drug deal happening in his normally quiet town, but also an American agent coming over to help. Brenden Gleeson is on fine form, and the script sparkles with the best buddy cop duo outside of an Edgar Wright film for years. It's also deeper than you think. Comedy of the year.
6. Kill List (Filmstalker Review)
Is it a horror film, a thriller, a dark action film? Whatever it is, Kill List is the most harrowingly intense film of 2011. From the opening half of the film which seems to just be one intense and hardcore argument after another (you'll literally want to stop watching due to feeling uncomfortable) the second half of Kill List ramps into an intense killing spree. The hammer scene is brutal and shocking, while the ending will leave you speechless. Not for the feint of heart.
5. Warrior (Filmstalker review)
Warrior unfairly flopped upon release which is confusing as it featured the rising star Tom Hardy ('The Dark Knight Rises' Bane) and lots of brutal cage fighting. Warrior is effectively a fairy tale story of two brothers, separated for years, who suddenly find themselves in a fighting tournament. Getting to the final fight is somewhat predictable (do you think they'll fight each other?!) but with acting performances that are stunning, and emotional moments that'll make the manliest man well up - the genius of Warrior is that you're never quite sure which brother you want to win come the final fight…
4. Black Swan (Filmstalker review)
A January release that seems like a lifetime ago, Black Swan deserves to be remembered as a film that made Ballet all dark and mysterious. Aronofsky directed a tragic, dreamlike film that explored the (oscar winning) mind of Natalie Portman's dancer as she travelled down her quest to embody the 'black swan.' This has already had lots of plaudits via the oscars this year, but it's worth reminding yourself what all the fuss was about.
3. Blue Valentine
Never has a film been more ill-fitted to be a date movie. Blue Valentine takes a relationships and flitters from the disney-esq beginning to the deeply sad and depressing end. This is the most 'real' film of 2011 and its leads deserve a special mention for bringing this story of love and despair to life. It's also responsible for a sharp rise of Ukulele sales. Well done Mr Gosling.
2. A Separation
This film combines a plot worthy of a great novel with the emotional impact of a great drama. Not widely seen, it's an Iranian film that involves a struggle for child custody, the challenge of a parent with Alzheimer's, the intricacies of the law, and the plain awkwardness of discovering the truth. In short - it's beautiful and will make you cry.
"If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours no matter what. I don't sit in while you're running it down; I don't carry a gun… I drive."
From the stunning opening scene of a crackling overhead neon LA cityscape, where a robbery is taking place - set to the compulsive dirty synth sounds of 'Nightcall' - you just know that Drive is going to be a very cool film - indeed that it is going to be the best film of 2011.
Everything works to absolute perfection with Drive. The cast, for starters, are flawless - especially Mulligan and Gosling who share looks (and very few words) that will melt the heart of anyone watching. The romantic relationship overlays the thriller drama and compounds it; Driver becomes motivated by it, and the stakes escalate as a result of it, ending up with a film that is as edgy as it is layered. We never get to know Driver in any depth, but there are several insights, especially to his darker and obsessive side. Yet we learn that he is capable of great tenderness, too, and we get a sense of his inner turmoil as he fights his private demons in the hope of overcoming them. This is a story of a man who can see and wants a normal life in the future, but has to go to extreme lengths to attempt to get it.
The soundtrack to the movie is amazing - the outstanding score by Cliff Martinez, delivering energy and helping to maintain the film's eerily steady mood and pace, adding a haunting vibe to the four-wheeled carnage and slow burning romance. The violence, when it comes, (and it definitely appears!) forms an intrinsic part of the plot - and the heartbreaking moments come thick and fast.
Drive is a fascinating, bloody at times, gripping film that is brutal about human nature.
It's also my film of 2011.
Thanks Tom, and I'm just about to get my review of Drive on Blu-ray live, and although it's a damn good one I'm not so willing to place it at my number one spot, it would be in the top ten though.
50/50 and especially Kill List I just cannot agree on though, Kill List is not the film it's cracked up to be and shouldn't be in a top ten. I think people who have said so many positive things about it this year will look back on it and wonder why they rated it so highly.
What do you think of Tom's list? Are there any choices in there that you wouldn't have included? Anything he's blatantly missed?