Here at Filmjuice a storm has been brewing like a well-timed cup of tea. That storm is the raging debate as to what films were the best and the worst of 2011.
Here at Filmjuice a storm has been brewing like a well-timed
cup of tea. That storm is the raging debate as to what films were the
best and the worst of 2011.
Strong words were spoken, harsher words were whispered,
Smurfs were thrown and, in one case, a Drive/ Kill List hammer was
raised. A truce was called, hugs were shared and a weeping rendition of
A Real Hero was sung, and a solution found; each Filmjuice
Editor would have their own Best & Worst of 2011 List. So, without
further delay, Ladies and Gentlemenm behold Editor Alex Moss
who kicks off with the second of the FilmJuice team’s Best & Worst
Films Of 2011.
Hands down the
most surprising and break-out hit of the year. If Ryan Gosling wasn’t a star before this he certainly is
after it. Nicolas Wending Refn
creates enough atmosphere and neo-noirish brilliance to make you wish it would
never end. Gosling took his acting
to Steve McQueen levels of understated cool and that’s before we even talk
about Carey Mulligan once again proving an angelic presence and Kristina
Hendrix putting the vamp firmly into a short but memorable Femme Fatale. If we
get a film as good as Drive every year us here at Filmjuice Plaza will be very
It’s hard to
imagine that a documentary about a Formula One driver could spark such emotion,
power and genuinely staggering narrative but Senna does just that. Transcending both its documentary genre
and the sports perception, Senna paints a hugely affectionate portrait of a man
who was destined for greatness and tragedy. The most spellbinding thing about the film is its appeal to
those who knew nothing about him and like nothing about the sport.
For the most part
vampires have been tried and tested and are now becoming slightly tiresome, not
to mention weirdly sparkly. Not in
the case of Stake Land which manages to make an Apocalyptic odyssey come
Western one of 2011 sleeper hits.
Imagine The Road meets Zombieland meets Stand By Me and you have
something resembling Stake Land a film made with so much affection and
attention to detail it’s hard not to watch it over and over again.
The Tree Of Life
has a habit of making great films and then disappearing off the face of the
earth for close to decades. With Tree
Of Life he has done that again but in doing so has conjured the most personal
film of his career and one that is deeply hypnotic in its use of cinematic
language. Some will claim a lack
of plot frustrating but Tree Of Life is about more than plot, it’s about a
feeling, a sense of spirituality in a material world. Watch it like you would take a hot bath and let it wash over
you to lift you to euphoric levels of brilliance. Expect it to be a major contender at all award ceremonies in
the coming months.
For some it was
too much, too OTT and frankly too in your face. Wake up and smell the opera, this is Darren Aronofsky at his
brilliant in-your-face best. A
film that manages to somehow channel the extravagance of Dario Argento, the
body horror of David Cronenberg and the beauty of Powell and Pressburger is
something that will stay long in the memory after it has finished. And that’s before we talk about Natalie
Portman’s Oscar winning performance and THAT scene with the stunning Mila Kunis.
They don’t make
them like they used to? After
Tinker Tailor they do now. Here is
a spy film without any of the crash bang gadgets of Bond, without the kinetic
of Bourne and yet it brims with such slow-burn tension you are immersed into
Smiley’s world so utterly that you never want to leave. With the cream of English thesps fleshing out John Le
Carre’s much loved characters many thought it would never live up to the Alex
Guinness TV version. If anything,
thanks to Let The Right One In’s Thomas Alfredson, it surpasses the BBC
incarnation. If Gary Oldman is not
recognized at award season for his central role in the film then there is no
justice in the world and we’re hiring Smiley to hunt down the Academy riggers.
A low-key British
coming-of-age dramadey? Never
going to work, right? Wrong. The
IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade wrote and directed the film with such charm and
whimsy it’s hard not to fall in love with it. Never does it delve into the
realm of sentimental nonsense but captures, to John Hughes’ perfection, that
awkward moment of adolescence when the world is against you and nothing else
matters but trying to make sense of it all. Crucial to its success was the casting of Craig Roberts who
tows the line of geeky teen mixed with adult trapped in a boy’s body. Heartfelt and funny Submarine is a film
that dives deep and comes up smiling.
Just scrapping it
onto the list, due to date rather than lack of brilliance, The Artist will make you
believe in the magic of cinema. Essentially a silent movie in a year when 3D
technology seemed to usurp decent story-telling The Artist has more heart and
warmth in it’s opening minutes than most films muster in a whole running time.
Scorsese tried to make an ode to cinema with Hugo, The Artist writes poems,
sonnets, love letters and essays on the sheer power of the moving image. It doesn’t hurt that it has a very cute
dog and two sterling performances from Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.
The Artist Review
Never Let Me Go
This was always going
to be a tough sell considering the subject matter is essentially a romantic
sci-fi movie, but Never Let Me Go is a beautifully shot and acted drama that
tugs at your emotional core from beginning to end. Imagine an existential Logan’ Run and you’re kind of close
to what Never Let Me Go is about but in truth Mark Romeneck’s film draws a firm
realisation of mortality rather than a convoluted plot.
Never Let Me Go Review
A sports film
that takes all the clichéd conventions of the genre, throws them out the ballpark
to transcend into a hugely engaging character study. It is made all the more brilliant because it’s based on true
events and never feels predictable.
Pitt has rarely been better and Jonah Hill proves he is more of a force
as a straight guy than he ever is as a funny man. Add to this some creative direction from Bennett Miller and
a script full of nuance and sub-text from Steve Zaillain and Aaron Sorkin and
you have the playbook for a film that uplifts as much as it does inform.
10 Worst Films Of
Pirates Of The
Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
I’m one of the
few people who quite enjoyed the first three film, they were silly and fun in a
childlike nostalgic way. This
installment is plain boring. It’s
also proof that the supporting character never makes a good lead, even if he is
played by Johnny Depp and that much of the fun of the first films came from his
sparring with Keira Knightley, would it have hurt to have her turn up in a
Dark Of The Moon
Rarely is a film
with so much action so utterly dull.
Flawed characters, weird editing that seems to drop plot points and a
story so irrelevant you wonder why they bothered. The only highlight is Rosie Huntington-Whitley’s magic
changing shoes and her legs, but you can see them on pretty much any billboard
I wanted to like
this, I really did. The trailer
looked promising, Craig as the Man With No Name, Ford on snarly form and Olivia
Wilde bringing the eye-candy.
Instead we got a boring trek across the desert to find aliens that look
like the locust from A Bug’s Life, oh and they have laser guns but chose to
fight the cowboys in hand to hand combat. Nonsense and not in a good way.
With the talent
involved this should have been a contender for the best of list but instead it
is a giant, over-inflated mess of a movie. It’s probably meant to be life-affirming, but makes you want
to rip your eyes and ears off, it’s probably meant to give you faith but
instead makes you loathe all religion.
The Hangover Part
Oh where to
begin? The first film was a bit of
fun, a laugh with the boys about what we do after too many drinks. This film is a mean spirited mess of
racial stereotypes and anal sex, with a hermaphrodite. It’s as if the writers of this film
didn’t see the first film, took an idea and decided to make one of the darkest,
unfunny comedies of all time. Not
even a monkey can rescue this horror of a movie.
The Hangover Part II Review
Just Go With It
Proof if ever it
were needed that Adam Sandler really is a niche market for people who like dick
and fart jokes without anything resembling context. The only vaguely entertaining thing here is Jennifer
Anniston, and that’s saying something.
A film that
frankly any red-blooded male who saw the trailer surely then rushed to go and
see only to be sorely disappointed and bored to tears….by girls in underwear,
fighting dragons and steam-punk samurais.
How Zack Synder managed to take such a bat-sh*t crazy idea and destroy
it so perfectly remains a mystery.
The Green Hornet
Seth Rogen as a
superhero? Seriously? Yes that’s
half the joke but it doesn’t work, he’s never been more irritating. Michel Gondry doesn’t even get to go
all surreal on us and Jay Chou is wasted beyond comprehension.
Or Taken 2
without any of the good bits. This
was a royal mess of a film and not even Liam Neeson having a unique set of
skills could make it any less forgettable. Speaking of which when are people going to stop casting
Betty Draper as anyone other than Betty Draper?
death rattle for the superhero genre.
This was a Technicolor vomit of a movie. Bad CGI, one-dimensional characters and a villain that was a
cloud of smoke. Not even Ryan
Reynold’s wise cracks or Blake Lively’s pout could rescue this one from the
burning wreck of CGI spandex that it is.
I’ll leave you with one of the best moments of cinema this year and a homage to A Real Hero.