I feel at this stage, my Top 5 is almost common knowledge. Not only can you hear my Top 5 on the Matineecast, but I have additionally re-teamed with Jo to provide a full Top 10 on a brilliant new episode of The Simon and Jo Film Show.
But in both cases, I was not aware of the Oscar nominations and now those have been released it is worth considering the Top 10 I chose in comparison with the films that have been nominated.
On a sidenote, as we have many of the Oscar contenders not released in th UK until after the new year, you have a few films which may be considered 2010 films. I have placed the release date and, in a couple of cases, the time I viewed the film to show why it is categorised for 2011. Additionally, certain films were not released in the UK until 2012 – this includes The Artist, The Descendants, Shame, A Dangerous Method, Carnage and many more, so they are not counted. The films I haven’t seen that are worth highlighting are Hanna, 50/50, Take Shelter, Contagion, Tree of Life, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo … but I did see, and rate, the following ten!
10. Black Swan (21st January 2011) -
Horrific, personal and dramatic. Natalie Portman shows us how her sweetness is undercut by a sinister, destructive desire to achieve perfection. Which she manages to reach – but at what cost…
9. War Horse (Viewed on 2nd December 2011, not released in UK though until January 13th 2012) -
Spielberg doing what he does best. Epic and grand. A sweeping score from John Williams with a story that amanges to balance an unforgettable depiction of World War I alongside tender stories about loss and the horrors of War time.
8. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Viewed at London Film Festival 2011 on 24th October 2011, not released in the UK though until February 3rd 2012) -
Elizabeth Olsen gives the performance that will jetison her into the Hollywood mainstream acting circuit. With a lack of an indie-film at this years awards – No Winters Bone, Juno or Little Miss Sunshine this year – it seems Martha Marcy May Marlene could’ve been the indie-film that was recognise …but alas it was not to be.
7. We Need To Talk About Kevin (21st October 2011) -
A stunning example of how twisted a story can be. Has she given birth to a purely evil child? Is she a Mother who has lost her grip on reality? How much of what we see is true? Tilda Swinton missed out on an Oscar nomination here – a tragedy too as the UK seem to have missed out on the big awards, with no recognition for Tinker Tailor Solider Spy or We Need To Talk About Kevin in the main Best Picture category. Shame was a UK film too which equally missed out.
6. The King’s Speech (7th January 2011) -
What makes this film so accessible is how, through incredible direction and Colin Firth’s skill in depicting King George VI, we feel his pressure and, strangely, relate to it. The idea that at some point in your life you have to step up and tackle something that feels so challenging that you think you cannot take the pressure is something everyone has – or will – feel. For some reason, we feel the same as an incredibly unique monarch at a very unique point in history.
5. Hugo (2nd December 2011) -
Martin Scorsese has always loved restoration and the preservation of cinema. This is his love song to the early days of cinema. The 3D is incredible and I only question how accessible it is for the fans of Harry Potter gutted that the franchise ended during the summer.
4. Midnight in Paris (7th October 2011) -
As a big Woody Allen fan, I am so happy that he has struck out on top again. Owen Wilson can deliver his dialogue perfectly and I would have no problem if Wilson continued to feature in Woody Allen features because we know that Woody canot play the Woody-Allen role anymore.
3. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (26th October 2011)
I was excited for it and it failed to disappoint. I amanged to catch it twice in the cinema and there are two scenes that are cinematic-gold. The first is the chase in Bagghar as the continuous shot seems to move between multiple characters, mixing the foreground and the background, back and forth, before flying into the air anf following a falcon. The second is when Tintin is kidnapped and the camera follows Snowy up the stairs, over the tables, out the window, onto the road, onto a car, through cows … simply incredible.
2. Animal Kingdom (25th February 2011)
A film that almost feels a little too real. Too close for comfort as the poverty-breeds-crime message is clear. The gangsters have no pin-stripe suits, they are drug-dealers and drug-takers which feeds their paranoia. If you are a criminal, happy to commit murder – crimes like rape and killing-your-own-famiyl are not too far off. If I see “Pope”, I will run a mile. Stunning performance.
1. The Skin I Live In (26th August 2011)
I say completely snubbed – in fairness, it is a very American year at the Oscars – but it still suprises me how it doesn’t even appear in the foreign-film category. On the surface a small tale about an evil doctor imprisoning a girl and it turns into a fascinating insight into sexuality: what defines a man and what defines a woman? That is about all I can say before giving away the crux of the film. Ideas about what is and isn’t hereditary – madness? obsession? You must watch this film – especially if you are not a fan of international cinema because a film like this would not be made in the US.