Top 20 Films of 2011

As 2011 comes to a close is it my obligation as a film blogger to put together my pick of 2011’s releases. I’ve gone for my top twenty as narrowing it down to just ten would be too harrowing a task and my only rule is that they must have been released in UK cinemas during 2011. This takes us from The Next Three Days (absolutely not in the list) to The Lady and The Artist and is only limited to films I have seen. I’ve also chosen not to speak to the wider Mild Concern team, mostly due to laziness, barring watching Waste Land at Kat’s insistence. This was a decision I have come to regret considering the rambling you will find below.

The scene properly set, let’s get onto the list. Looking back 2011 has been a great year for cinema, here are my top 20 releases of 2011:

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Take Shelter’s Biggest Fake Fans

Earlier this week Movie Mavericks noticed that the positive comments on their Mirror, Mirror trailer post had all come from the same source and were duplicated across the internet. Could social media marketing have reached the depths of posting fake comments? We can’t really tell, but whatever is going on it seems that Take Shelter is getting in on the act if a look at five of our followers is anything to go by.

Last month when I was pushing our review of Take Shelter on Twitter we picked up a few followers and some appreciative tweets, a rarity in itself.

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Out of curiosity I had a look at these new followers and they seemed an odd bunch but that’s to be expected. On closer inspection they were all tweeting in an odd way, most repeating a similar tweet about the weather and what to have for dinner, the rest made up of random retweets and identical messages to people about Take Shelter. Could this be a coincidence? There’s nothing too suspicious about a group of passionate movie fans. But then it turned out that they were lying to us.

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Out Now – 25th October 2011

It’s Oscar season! With this being a baseball movie I am at a loss to try to comprehend the plot. What I can say is that this film stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman and yet none of these are the most exciting cast member, that title belongs to Chris Pratt. Pratt is an amazing comedic actor, keep your eyeballs on him.

The Deep Blue Sea
Sadly not involving hyper-intelligent killer sharks. Instead a poorly reviewed romantic period drama starring Tom Hiddleston and Rachel Weisz.

To quote my rave review (cruelly left off the film’s poster): “In short, a moving and hilarious film about living with cancer. Who knew a Seth Rogan project would almost make me cry?” Fans of indie drama and broad comedy can unite and see who lasts the longest without crying.

My Week with Marilyn
Michelle Williams is Marilyn Monroe! Kenneth Branagh is Sir Laurence Olivier! Emma Watson is some random costume woman called Lucy! Eddie Redmayne is the lead! You know him! He was in an episode of Doctors eight years ago!

Dream House
Rachel Weisz (again) stars in this horror alongside her new husband Daniel Craig. Apparently this is the film where they moved from friends to friends with a serious commitment to one another, so there’s something to look out for if the plot is a little lack-lustre.

Take Shelter (limited release)
In my (mostly) rave review I used phrases like, “infinitely better than Evan Almighty“, “Shannon is brilliant”, “a clever, well told story” and “an enthralling watch and a great showcase for Michael Shannon”. Michael Shannon plays a man who thinks the world is going to end and then it either does or doesn’t. If your local cinema isn’t showing this film, move.

An African Election (limited release)
“An African Election is a political documentary that exposes the never-before-seen, nitty-gritty of political electioneering in Africa.”

Resistance (limited release)
“In 1944 a group of women in an isolated Welsh village wake up to discover all of their husbands have mysteriously vanished.” Oooh a thriller. Shame this will be overshadowed in this over-saturated week of releases. A cast of Iwan Rheon, Michael Sheen and Andrea Riseborough is worth leaving the house for.

We Were Here (limited release)
A moving look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco. Sadly only showing at the ICA, why not work it into a trip to see where the Queen lives?

Revenge: A Love Story (limited release)
Quirky romantic comedy in which a man’s girlfriend is raped by a psychotic killer leaving him to seek revenge.

Parked (limited release)
“Fred Daly returns to Ireland with nowhere to live but his car. Then dope-smoking 21-year-old Cathal parks beside him, and brightens up his lonely world. Encouraged by Cathal, Fred meets attractive music teacher Jules. Growing closer, these three outsiders are set on a course that will change their lives forever.” WARNING! The synopsis on the official website includes that most familiar of phrases, “forms an unlikely friendship”.

Take Shelter – LFF Review

Curtis (Michael Shannon) is having trouble sleeping. Each night he has terrible nightmares along a similar theme, a storm is coming and bringing with it thick rain which drives people insane. As Curtis sees people he trusts turn again him in his dreams he cuts them from his life in fear of his visions coming true, all the while building an expansive storm shelter in his back garden. His wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain) does her best to support her husband, but is torn between caring for a troubled man and looking after their deaf daughter. The big question is whether Curtis is developing schizophrenia or is foretelling a coming apocalypse…

In many ways this is the dramatic equivalent of Evan Almighty as one man ignores the criticisms of his loved ones in the pursuit of protecting them from a storm he has foretold. The main difference being that Take Shelter is infinitely better in every way.

Shannon is brilliant as Curtis, a man plagued by his dreams, trying to save his family while not letting them know how terrified he is. We can see Curtis’ inner feeling and the mask he hides them behind. Jessica Chastain and Shea Whigham are perfect as his wife and best friend, both willing to help Curtis but ultimately are hurt by his mistrust. Though ably supported by this great cast it is Shannon who has to carry the film, there is not a scene without him in, and he does so fantastically.

Jeff Nichols direction is simple for the most part, his gentle scenes of domestic tension lulled me into a relaxed state, making the violent dreams all the more distressing when they bellowed onto screen. The lulling does get a little out of hand at times as the film takes too long to get to the conclusion the rest of the two hours has been building to. This is a clever, well told story but does not need to be this long to be told in full.

A quality film with a bit too much flab, Take Shelter is an enthralling watch and a great showcase for Michael Shannon.

Take Shelter is released in UK cinemas on 25th November 2011.

55th BFI London Film Festival

For the next week or so this post will be our hub for coverage of the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Any films we’ve seen have a thumbnail below linking to their review and the video player below will update itself to show the latest video from the BFI about the festival.

We’re trying to break the 20 film barrier this year, though it may well kill us.

Films reviewed:

Latest video coverage:
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