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Yet another film review site’s year in review… below are the films I watched in 2011 that are worthy of another mention.

The Best:
Real Steel – hands down, the most fun I had at the cinema all year.
The Guard – ultra blunt, black humor. Gleeson steals the show, but don’t forget about Don.
TrollHunter – captivating and humorous ‘found footage’ about Trolls, with a superb central character.
Your Highness – so good I’ve watched it twice. Swords and tits medieval questing film, with swearing.
Fast Five – despite being one of the worst scripts of the year it delivers the action, cars, babes and guns in abundance.
Black Swan – follows a high-pressure demented dancer. masterclass at both sides of the camera.
Hobo with a Shotgun  – nasty, bloody, schlocky horror in the vein of banned ‘classics’. Perfect homage.
Drive – moody and broody stylized tale of a stoic badass. Bursts of ultra-violence.
In Time – solid sci-fi concept with great execution and plenty ticking clock scenarios.

Stinkers:
The Dilemma – utter stinker of a ‘bromance’, less rom-com and more wrong-non-com…
Giallo – former master of horror gives us a masterclass in shit direction. Made in 2009, not released until 2011 because the star, Brody sued them!
Battle: Los Angeles – loud, blurry, messy, scrappy, shaky telling of an alien invasion. Nice SFX though.
The Eagle – Jamie Bell tramping around the woods for a few hours in a boring Scottish history class.
Faster – about as braindead as the central character. The Rock + Gun – Script – Action = steamy turd.
Bad Teacher – fell asleep, total stinker
A Lonely Place to Die – sloppy and nasty Scottish horror set in the bonnie hills and highlands.
The Tree of Life – WTF WTF WTF WTF, and some more WTF.

Best of the rest:
Infernal Affairs – the daddy of all Asian crime/mob pictures. Never gets old. Never gets boring.
Amores Perros – storytelling at it’s finest, no fancy tricks, just riveting drama.
James Bond January – all 22 spy films watched and reviewed in 1 month. Links to every article.
Black Mirror – prophetic, cutting UK TV Drama about life in the near-future.
The Good Wife – arguably the best show on TV at the moment. Stories, characters, production…
Timecrimes – pre-Triangle sci-fi thriller/horror. Original, clever, not spelled out.
Sleepers – fantastic example of drama and acting making sweet, sweet movie babies.
Alice Creed – Tight, tense drama with just three characters.
Jennifer’s Body – expectation-blasting teen-horror movie, surprisingly dark and funny.
Matador – Brosnan at his peak as the strangest hitman in cinema.


Black Swan: when a devoted ballet dancer finally gets featured in the lead role of Swan Lake she has to deal with all the pressures that drove her predecessor crazy. To get it out of the way, nobody does ‘descending into madness’ quite like Aranofsky – and this is no different in that you genuinely have no idea if what your seeing is real, unreal, paranoia, hallucinations, fantasy, or mental illness. The second half on the film in particular has some genuinely chilling and thrilling scenes. To begin with the camerawork feels awkward and unnecessary – walking shots behind the heads – but it works surprisingly well for most of the film – particularly when it starts spinning around the dancers. The film also uses SFX outstandingly, and wiping out the cameramen in the reflections gives the viewer a strange haunting sensation. The new-age classical soundtrack is nothing short of stunning. Although I wasn’t convinced by the first 40 minutes, seeing the complex relationships (mum, teacher, peer) develop is thoroughly enjoyable, particularly because the film always keeps you guessing. Cassel and the Hershey both give show-stopping performances, although they’re overshadowed by Portman who puts everything out there, and becomes the definition of fragile, slowly and believably transforming into a woman on the brink of madness. Don’t understand the big deal around theater walk outs – it’s definitely not for the prudish, but there’s nothing offensive here. Despite everything in front of the camera being golden, the real star is the man behind it, who gets everything pitch perfect and creates an absolutely stunning finale. Ballet’s never been this sexy and dramatic.

Score: 8/10