It was hard putting my list together this year as I saw some amazing films at the beginning based on our top tens – the majority of which I obviously can’t include here as they were released in 2011. This year has been rubbish for films as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been on maternity leave and so I’ve been able to sit/sleep through a lot of films – I was disappointed by Beasts of the Southern Wild, bored out of my mind by This Must Be the Place and found Damsels in Distress just as crap as The Last Days of Disco. The films listed below were a pure joy to watch however and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Although Alexander Payne’s The Descendants failed to make my top ten, I do feel that it is worthy of a mention as I managed to really enjoy it even though it stars George Clooney. If that doesn’t put you off then do give that one a watch too.
10. MOONRISE KINGDOM
Dir: Wes Anderson
Any Wes Anderson film is beautiful, purposefully off-beat, extremely theatrical and I enjoy them because of their co-ordination and props. This one is no exception. Anderson really is very clever and puts so much effort in to his work that it’s hard not to appreciate what he does even when you try to resist.
9. DREAMS OF A LIFE
Dir: Carol Morley
An interesting documentary about a 39 year old woman whose body was found in her North London flat after three years. Morley interviews friends and acquaintances in an effort to piece together an assemblance of her life. Whilst all agree on her character, no one had any idea about her history or even what she used to do – their stories are different. What is clear is that all are shocked over how she was found and feel remorse and guilt that it was allowed to happen. This documentary really does make you think about those friends who have drifted out of your life over the years.
Dir: Bill & Turner Ross
I spent most of this film thinking that the parents of the three brothers exploring New Orleans at night must be really worried. I didn’t want anything to happen to them and was on edge throughout, just in case. What I found interesting about this documentary (once I got over the whole they’re out really late and oh no, they haven’t caught the last ferry back) was the dynamically shifting relationship of the brothers throughout the long New Orleans’ night.
Listen to the interview with Bill & Turner Ross
7. END OF WATCH
Dir: David Ayer
I started off not thinking much about Brian and Mike (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña), the two LA policemen that this film follows. I started to give a damn about a third of the way through and by the end my heart was in my mouth. A great watch.
6. LE HAVRE
Dir: Aki Kaurismaki
A story of friendship and what people will do for each other when the going gets tough. An African boy arrives with cargo in Le Havre. An illegal immigrant, he is taken in by an elderly shoe-shiner who hides him and goes out of his way to help even though he is going through his own difficulties. Beautiful.
5. THE KID WITH A BIKE
Dir: Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
Beautiful and sad and French, this won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. Jérémie Renier is an amazing actor and plays a father who has abandoned his boy. Uncomfortable in places, we watch the 11 year old boy search for both his bike and father with the help of a hairdresser who tries to give him the support and love he is sorely lacking.
4. YOUR SISTER’S SISTER
Dir: Lynn Shelton
Mumblecore, yay! Wouldn’t be a top ten without one. Mark Duplass stars as Jack who is sent by his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) to a family cabin after the loss of his brother. He unexpectedly walks in on her sister who is staying there after a recent break up and they drink and have sex. Iris turns up the next morning and what follows is typical mumblecore – deliberation and focus on relationships with a twist. I like mumblecore a lot!
3. THE HUNGER GAMES
Dir: Gary Ross
I devoured the books in about two days and this is a brilliant adaptation of the first book. The actors fitted their characters perfectly and the film totally lived up to the hype. Here’s hoping Catching Fire and Mockingjay are just as good.
2. SOUND OF MY VOICE
Dir: Zak Batmanglij
This film is one of those that makes me mad. Just tell me what happens, don’t leave me on the edge like that! I think I jumped up and just went ‘aaarghhh’ when it came to an end. It was in MarBelle’s top 10 last year as he saw it at SXSW and I won’t repeat the plot. It is very good although did leave me humming The Cranberries Dreams for days after. Could have done without that Zak, ta very much!
1. TINY FURNITURE
Dir: Lena Dunham
LOVE LOVE LOVE her. Along with Tracey Emin and a couple of others she needs to be in my make believe gang. I saw this before Girls aired and so had no preconceptions. I knew nothing about the film or that Dunham’s own family starred in it and just thought the way that she explored the life of a graduate who returns home after college cleverly hysterical. Then I got all excited about Girls which she does the exact same thing with. Tiny Furniture is total Dunham and there is nothing not to like about that.