Thursday, 22 December 2011

Happy Solstice - My Top Films of 2011

As Christmas approaches my days at work seem to be getting busier and my internal battery is starting to run out of juice. Unfortunately I don't get any time off apart from the national holidays, but that's more than can be said of those poor souls working in shops.

I'll likely be off the grid after tomorrow so I want to take the chance to wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Solstice, and a Happy Hanukkah. I hope you get to snuggle up with loved ones, tolerate the crazy family members without knives being drawn, and get totally stuffed on food and drink. I'm planning on getting in touch with my Pagan ancestry by totally overindulging in both this season (the food and drink that is, not the knives and snuggles. Depends how the holiday weekend goes.)

I'm also hoping to catch up on some films over the festive season, to recharge my power supply, and thinking about this made me realise that I haven't done any film posts in an epoch. So here I will bring you my top films of 2011, based on those I've managed to see so far, plus a list of films I still really want to see (I was going to do a top Christmas films list, but as I did that last year - and it would be exactly the same list - I decided against it).

Top 2011 Films


Oddly brilliant is the best description for this animated film where the eponymous hero is a hallucinating Chameleon. It was weird how much Rango was Johnny Depp, even looking like him sometimes. Or maybe that was just me. Wonderfully weird.


Any film with an alien wise cracking about the fallacy of a monotheistic religion is going to entertain me, though understandably may upset those who follow said creed. That being said I found Paul to be hilarious, and not cruel in the jibes it made - more incredulous than nasty. And this is totally how I would like an alien to be; funny, crass and just as "human" as us.


Oh, how this film made my skin crawl - but in an enjoyable way. There are not nearly enough ghost stories done well in cinema anymore, so Insidious was a breath of fresh air. It was like they took all the weird shit from my brain and made a movie out of it.

The King's Speech

This list wouldn't be complete without this film. Colin Firth and Helena Bonham-Carter are amazing as the King and Queen, as is Geoffrey Rush in the role of the speech therapist. Funny, touching and dramatic, this is a perfect film for the holidays.


I laughed so hard at Bridesmaids that my sides hurt afterwards. Hilarious and unlike most "chick-flicks" (shudder) this one had a good story and a lot to say about the responsibility of friendships, as well as showing how awful a hen party can go when air planes and sedatives are involved.

X-Men: First Class

Taking a more serious go at a comic adaptation works and X-Men: First Class is proof. Setting it in the sixties was a masterstroke, tapping into the paranoia of that time to show the mutants in full self-preservation mode. Again, the story here is excellent and thought out, rather than just feeling like a lot of bits of the comics thrown together haphazardly (I'm looking at you X-Men 3: The Last Stand).

Super 8

The eighties were my childhood, and though I identify more with the nineties (being a teen in that decade), I adored the references in Super 8. I don't think it would have quite the same impact had it been set in modern times; there was an innocence in children then that just doesn't seem to exist now.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Another Marvel film, and another excellent adaptation. Chris Evans drops the Human Torch mantle for the much more impressive Captain America, and it has some of the most impressive CGI I've ever seen. No, not the red faced man, but on Mr. Evans, who is unrecognisable in the opening half hour...

Attack The Block

Sadly this film is likely to be tainted in Britain with the "riots" we had earlier in the year (otherwise known as "shit head circus") but it is still a brilliant bit of film making; an inner city gang come up against intergalactic invaders, and in the process of watching their struggle their humanity is exposed. I never felt the film made excuses for their earlier behaviour, and in fact shows them repenting for some of their actions later on, making this one of the smarter sci-fi films to come out in Britain for some time.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

More sci-fi but on a whole other level to Attack the Block, here we see the start of what was to become the Planet of the Apes. I actually struggled to watch some of this film, due to the way the apes (and Caesar in particular) are treated, as well as due to my personal predilection to instantly sympathise with animals in films, but it was worth it for the conclusion. Leading beautifully into the Charlton Heston film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of the best sci-fi films to come out this year. Even if it has a terrible title.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

After the first film I was certain to rush to see the second, and Game of Shadows did not disappoint. The action is still present, Downer Jr. is still adorable as Sherlock (at least I think so) and the chemistry between him and Jude Law is electrifying. With brilliant use of slow-mo, and some excellent weaving plot elements, this was a delight to watch.

Some films I've missed so far and am dying to see from this year are; Dreams of a Life, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Another Earth, Cowboys and Aliens, Fright Night, Apollo 18, Margin Call, Melancholia, The Muppets, War Horse, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake. (Wow, my tastes are really random...)

Feel free to throw your own recommendations into the comments below, send me a raven with a missive or shout it into the ether so the lord of snow and lightening can hear you. The comments might work best, but I have always wanted a pet raven...

Finally, as an early Christmas present from this blog overlord, I bring you the trailer to The Hobbit. We've only had to wait 8 years for the damned thing... and it was worth it.

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


  1. I know I cannot positively wait to see War Horse, Cowboys & Aliens and Sherlock Homes. And yes, what on earth took Peter Jackson so long to make The Hobbit? December of 2012 will not come fast enough...

  2. Nice to see Captain America in there! Out of all the Super Hero movies out this year, it was probably the one that was the toughest (world wide) sell and in as much I think had a lot of effort and love put in to it. PLUS (and yes it’s a big PLUS) it had big physical action sequences that the human eye could easily follow. None of that “a quick blur of fast-cut CGI fisticuffs” nonsense that’s regrettably now the norm in Summer blockbusters.

    On the other end of the blockbuster / arthouse scale, I’d put Melancholia up there. As the performances are excellent, it’s surprisingly funny and (in the cinema atleast) the conclusion was a marvel of both sonic and visual effects (the ultimate 3D effect without it even being made in 3D).

    I think my film of the year has to be Submarine though, which I totally adored from start to finish which is quite an achievement seeing as how I usually throw up and scowl at the mere mention of other such ‘quirky teen comedy dramas’.