This is my list of my favourite films of 2011.
The list is in alphabetical order, and includes films released straight to DVD in Australia, cinema releases, or film festivals here in Australia or overseas (which have been viewed in Australia).
Winner of the Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
‘Absent’ is the story of a 16 year old schoolboy who finds an attraction to his swimming teacher.
With outstanding performances by Javier De Pietro and Carlos Echevarria, the film very respectfully and emotionally guides us through the hidden and built up emotion of a 16 year old’s crush.
Spanish Language w/ subtitles. Directed by Marco Berger. 87 mins.
BURNING MAN, THE
At the 35 minutes mark of the film, I got it. It all came together for me. The opening scenes of the film are a mismatch, deliberately disconnected from each other, but ultimately connected.
And once I understood the film, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the performance of Matthew Goode, as the falmboyant chef trying to deal with life and dying. His performance was one of the best of 2011.
Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky
Possessing all the rage a juvenille prisoner has built up, Adam Butcher’s performance in this film elevates the movie into the top ten of 2011.
Set at a juvenille detention centre, we focus on the lives of three new prisoners as they arrive to see out their prison term.
Butcher’s performance at times evoked memories of James Dean’s rage and angst on screen.
Directed by Kim Chapiron. 91 mins
There was nothing more beautiful than Niels Schneider burning up the screen in Heartbeats. There was also nothing more heartbreaking than watching Xavier Dolan’s lust and pain towards an object he so desires.
By the end of the film I was infatuated by the character, the manner and the appearance of Niels.
Heartbeats was beautifully shot and many times had me smiling at the terrific use of music. But it was Dolan’s performance (he also directed the film) that stays with me, and a terrifying scream he lets out spoke more than any image of the whole film.
Directed by Xavier Dolan. 95 mins.
HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER
Set in an isolated arctic polar station – ‘How I Ended The Summer’ was more about what didn’t happen, than did. With a simple plot twist half way during the film, this slow moving drama turns psychological and guides us through the extraordinary imagery of mountains and snow.
Sometimes the best films of the year are the ones which have minimal dialogue and force the viewer to question character motives.
Directed by Aleksey Popogrebskiy. 130 mins.
HUGH HEFNER – PLAYBOY, REBEL and ACTIVITST
This documentary completely and utterly changed my perception of Hugh Hefner.
His stance against racial inequality was unknown to me, so too his important television show ‘Playboy After Dark’ which broke the colour barrier on television.
Brigitte Berman (Oscar winner for ‘Artie Shaw’ in 1986) directed this film and uses archival footage and present day interviews to convince you that Hefner was, himself, a revolution.
Not the best film of the year by a long shot, but such an important film in the canon of Scorsese. Promoted as a family film – I felt this film was more of a history lesson for would-be film buffs, and was an excellent introduction to the spirit of early cinema.
But the highlight was undoubtably the editing by Thelma Schoonmaker. The edit between Ben Kingsley in the top hat and tails, to Meilies in a 100 year old silent film – will stay with me all my life.
Directed by Martin Scorsese. 126 mins.
Unfairly criticised for her acting style and her ‘plastic’ look – Rabbit Hole is the best performance by Nicole Kidman since ‘Moulin Rouge’.
She anchors this film with her wonderful performance of grief and the way that she feels the need to cope with loss. Told with utmost care and sensitivity by John Cameron Mitchell
Undoubtably the best film of 2011. And for me, a film that instantly is elevated into my top ten favourite films of all time.
You don’t have to be a Formula One fan to appreciate this film. Asif Kapadia’s documentary is a brilliant example of storytelling and editing. He has managed to shape Senna’s life story into an engaging and emotional journey, with the most amazing footage.
I highly recommend the director’s commentary on the DVD which highlights some not-so-obvious film and editing techniques and decisions which Kapadia decided on during the making of this film.
Quintessential 80’s. The perfect combination of E.T and Goonies. The look of the film was so nostalgic and the performance of the young actors, in particular Elle Fanning, was wonderful.
When Goonies came out, I was six years old, and just slightly too young to appreciate the film. When E.T came out, I was three years old. So Super 8 finally gave me the 80’s childhood I just missed. Beautiful in every aspect.
Directed by J J Abrams. 112 mins.
Worthy mentions: George Harrison – Living In A Material World, The Trip, L Amour Fou,
The Next Three Days, Le Illusionist, Bullhead
Source Code, Armadillo, Tin Tin, Money Ball, Oranges and Sunshine
Better This World, Joan Rivers A PIece of Work ,
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, The Bengali Detective,
I Love You Philip Morris, Margin Call, Drive, The Magnificent Tati,
Midnight in Paris, Red State, Sleeping Beauty
– Rhett Bartlett