Best of 2011

20. Captain America – The First Avenger

A lot of people may criticise Marvel’s method of carrying their films towards a much bigger picture, but let’s disregard the final moments which lead up to the Avengers in Captain America.  Joe Johnston’s film hit all the right buttons; it had the camp aesthetic, a strong lead and a fantastic soundtrack.  Sure, we may have desired a little bit more of the shield-bashing, and maybe a bit more Bucky – but it all fit into place.  Chris Evans proved to fit the bill when it came to portraying the Star Spangled Man.  It was corny, it was quintessential fun.  It was Captain America.

19. Crazy, Stupid, Love

Yes, that’s right – a romantic comedy makes the list.  Crazy, Stupid, Love delivered cinemagoers a rom-com with a healthy dose of sharp comedy and stupid, sexy, Ryan Gosling.  Steve Carrell was also a great lead, whose presence alongside Gosling provided many laughs throughout.  A neat little twist added to the story, too.  If you haven’t seen Crazy, Stupid, Love – then please do so.  It shames all the other rom-coms of this year (here’s looking at you, New Year’s Eve)

18. Contagion

If you’re looking for a scary, atmospheric thriller which features an epic medical disaster, then look no further than Contagion.  Featuring a mighty ensemble of talented actors, Steven Soderbergh’s terrifying film about an international disease makes you think twice about touching that door handle.

17. Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris was a delightful and insightful look into his personal love for Paris, through the use of the amiable Owen Wilson.  It’s fun, it’s jolly and more importantly, it is charming.  If you have any love for the French capital, then do seek out Allen’s film.

16. 127 Hours

It doesn’t feel like 127 Hours appeared in cinemas this year, but its UK release was actually the 17th January.  So early into the year we were treated with another great film by Danny Boyle.  Who would’ve thought Boyle can make you sit through a film about a man that gets his arm trapped in a rock, for at least 90 minutes?  It was an engaging flick, purely thanks to James Franco, neat camerawork and a cool soundtrack.

15. Rango

Gore Verbinski’s quirky Wild West animation tells the story of how one ordinary chameleon becomes a beloved sheriff, played by Johnny Depp.  Rango is a favourite purely because it is different.  Throw aside the tired smiles of Dreamworks characters, and give us film lovers the quirkiness of Rango anytime.  It was a refreshing animated tale, which just goes to show that there’s more to Verbinski than just pirates.

14. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin comic series have been loved worldwide, so there was obviously going to be a little controversy over the inevitable film adaptation.  Thankfully Spielberg and Jackson delivered the goods, with an enjoyable 3D film that doesn’t fry your eyeballs.  Serkis yet again proves to be the master of what he does, by pulling all those faces.  To be honest though, it would be wrong to not include Tintin in this list, especially considering the fact that Joe Cornish, Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright all helped produce the script.  It’s essentially the best team-up ever.

13. Hugo

We all questioned it – the great Scorsese, directing a children’s film in 3D? That’s insane!  Or so we thought.  Hugo proved to be Scorsese’s love letter to cinema, by focusing the story around the great George Méliès, who is essentially the prolific creator of special effects.  Film lovers will adore this heartfelt film.  Hugo was superb, which just further proves that Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of our time.

12. Bridesmaids

It was about time we got our hands on a worthy female driven comedy, and thanks to Kristen Wiig we got just that.  All the taglines were claiming Bridesmaids as ‘The Hangover’ for girls.  Honestly though, they got it wrong.  Bridesmaids is for everyone, and it exceeded the amount of laughs which The Hangover could produce.  It also scarily proves that there’s more to Melissa McCarthy than we thought.  Sookie is actually disgusting when let loose.

11. Tangled

Similar to many releases this year, the UK received Tangled the following year after America.  Tangled was a return to form for Disney, presenting fans with two perfect, memorable characters.  Their 50th animated film was a solid entry, and it feels right to regard Tangled as one of Disney’s best.  It also proved that animated films don’t need to rely on pop culture references every five minutes.  Just retell a classic story, add some heart and some catchy tunes, and you have Tangled.

10. Source Code

‘Zowie Bowie’ should be allowed to direct as many films as he desires, as Source Code proved that there is more to Duncan Jones than just Moon.  He was able to provide us an incredible action film with an impeccable lead, Jake Gyllenhaal.  The plot was devilishly brilliant; as one soldier had to partake in a repeated 8-minute sequence to solve a bomb mystery on a train.  That’s some Twilight Zone shit, right there.

9. Senna

This incredible documentary shed light on the great Ayrton Senna, who was taken from us far too early in his exciting career.  Documentaries of 2011 have included Scorsese’s George Harrison film, and Morgan Spurlock’s piece on product placement.  However, the documentary with the most impact this year is Senna.  Do catch the proper theatrical release though.

8. True Grit

Is it surprising to see True Grit in the top 20? Not really, and that’s because the Coens directed a cowboy film, with the Dude.  True Grit sets itself to be a return to form for the stagnant genre, reminding people that there is still life in the western.  This is purely due to the great storytelling of the Coen brothers.  The performances really add weight to the classic tale.  Some scenes will stick in your mind, especially those concerning Labouef’s incredible aim.  Full of fantastic cinematography throughout; look no further than True Grit to experience a modern, fantastic take on the western.

7. Mission Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol

Brad Bird had a lot of pressure with MI:4.  It’s very difficult for a fourth film in a series to be any good at all, and Tom Cruise’s star status isn’t as prominent as it once was.  It was also Bird’s first directed film which wasn’t animated.  Thankfully and surprisingly, Bird delivers us the best MI film to date.  It seems like Tom Cruise still has what it takes, as he returns to play the cool and collected Ethan Hunt effortlessly.  What we get in the fourth film is a selection of MI’s best action scenes to date.  In particular, Ethan’s frightening climb in Dubai, providing viewers with sheer vertigo.  Perhaps the villain doesn’t have the same terrifying presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Davian, but it makes up for that with worthy supporting characters and fantastic, explosive scenes.

6. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Those damn dirty apes fall just behind the top five, but that doesn’t imply that it had any shortcomings.  The film is directed by Rupert Wyatt and stars James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox and Tom Felton.  More importantly though, the film boasts a superb performance by the great motion-capture actor Andy Serkis.  He plays the ape Caesar, who is now one of the most memorable characters of the year.  The reboot also included an incredibly shocking scene which left audiences collectively gasping at once.  If you haven’t seen it yet, do stay away from any spoilers – you’ll want the initial, desired surprise.  That also applies to the final bridge sequence.  It’s amazing.

5. Thor

Thor was a hard sell for most moviemakers, but Marvel thankfully got their hands on a director who knew how to tackle the magical and fantastical elements of Asgard.  Branagh handles his material well here as opening shots of Asgard establishes itself with vivid gold and silvers, showcasing this magical realm beautifully with seamless CGI and imagination.  Loki – played by Tom Hiddleston – is one of the best characters of the film, who will be remembered for his mischievous and ultimately manipulative role.  Hiddleston probably provides us the most interesting and awesome villain of the year.  Here’s to the Avengers.

4. Attack the Block

Believe.  Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block harks back to old 70s b-movies, but he perfects this film with a great script, entertaining characters and explosive scenes.  For a genre which is stale with overused concepts (see – Cowboys and Aliens), Cornish introduces his unique take on an invasion, including terrifying monsters and memorable characters.  He understands the language of the hoodies, as well as their actions.  There really isn’t a dull moment to be had when watching Attack the Block.  It’s so refreshing to see such that such a brilliant film is so essentially British.

3. X-Men First Class

Thanks to the directing prowess of Matthew Vaughan, First Class proved yet again that the X-Men are the most entertaining superhero team ever.  This has already been determined in the comics of course, but then the same goes for FOX’s latest X-film.  X-Men: First Class manages to entertain flawlessly throughout.  The premise seemed dodgy, but it strangely paid off.  That may be partly due to Jane Goldman’s script.  Fassbender will definitely be remembered for his perfect portrayal of the troubled, conflicted leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants.  Even though he was a little Irish towards the end.  Thanks to Vaughan and Jane Goldman, fans can now forget about the abysmal X3 and Wolverine Origins.  The film also includes the best cameo of the year.  “Go fuck yourselves.”

2. Drive

Here we go.  Drive just misses out on the top spot, but you’ll find out why soon.  Nicolas Winding Refn’s violent flick is possibly the coolest film ever made, and that’s purely thanks to the 80’s synth inspired soundtrack, and it’s awesome lead, Ryan Gosling.  Yes, 2011 may be the year of the Gosling.  We had such impressive roles from the actor this year, but this was his best yet.  He was so stylish, so quiet, and so damn cool.  Refn made sure there was a lot of effort and heart put into the film, and that can be noticed in every shot.  This is the ultimate film for film lovers, which will leave viewers listening to the catchy soundtrack for weeks.  This film is the highest form of art.

1. 50/50

2011’s best film of the year is 50/50 – and it’s a comedy about cancer.

Well, here goes.  Cancer affects a lot of people, and everyone knows that.  Somebody in their lifetime has either lost someone or known someone with it.  Thousands of people are unfortunately diagnosed with it every year.  So when a comedy about cancer is made, it has to be handled thoughtfully and carefully.

Thankfully, 50/50 managed just that.  Jonathan Levine’s film tackles the material perfectly, providing humour and sensitivity, leading towards an emotional final quarter.  It doesn’t push the emotional vibes (much like My Sister’s Keeper), but it does ultimately provide a real life portrayal of one man’s struggle.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt proves yet again that he is one of the best actors of our generation, as his character goes through the motions.  Seth Rogen does his humorous supporting character shtick yet again, but it works perfectly here.  Anna Kendrick also fits into the frame of the film well, and whilst her story is predictable, it still works out nicely.

The film is helped by a calming soundtrack, which really adds to some scenes, particularly towards the end.  It is for those who enjoy comedy, and for others who have had to endure cancer.  Sufferers have also praised the film on it’s approach.  To produce an enjoyable comedy on such dark material should be commended.  It’s a touching tale, that includes all the right elements to make 50/50 the best film of the year.

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Best TV of the Year

5. Adventure Time

Possibly the best animated series on right now.  This purely thanks to Beemo and LSP.  Pendleton Ward and his friends gave us some extra nice specials this year, especially the Christmas one, which presented fans with a surprising take on the Ice King.  If you may think AT is for kids, you’ll be correct.  But the kids won’t understand half of the jokes.

4. Misfits

Newcomer Rudy made the show even better.  Sorry, who is Nathan again?  Series 3 had time travel involving Nazis, super powered STD’s, zombie cheerleaders, super-fast gender swapping and of course, Rudy.  “I’m more of an E.T man me. I fuckin love that little cunt.”

3. Community

Save Community! OR ELSE.  Sadly enough, it seems like Community is following in the footsteps of Arrested Development.  Season 3 has been cut off until later this year, due to ratings.  It’s insane though, as the show further proves to be one of the best comedies on television right now.  It shames The Big Bang Theory, as it’s a show for geeks, made by geeks.  If Community does get cancelled though, we fans can settle for at least a ‘Troy and Abed’ spin-off.

2. Black Mirror

Black Mirror provided people with one of the best television experiences of this year.  Following an enjoyable tale of a PM having intercourse with a pig, we were treated to the depressing ’15 Million Merits’, which was a critique on our bland entertainment stream of manufactured popstars.   It was an exaggerated vision of our world, and it was terrifyingly brilliant.  The lead, Daniel Kaluuya, blew us away with a mindblowing statement towards the show’s ending moments.  Jaws dropped at the actor’s capabilities.  It was bleak, it was depressing, it was perfect.

The third and final episode had a challenge though, it had to meet the standards of ’15 Million Merits’.  Thankfully though, it did.  ‘The Entire History of You’ took Facebook stalking to a new extreme.  Insecurities were met by the use of a ‘grain’, which could record memories, therefore presenting past conversations and experiences with more questions.  It was an emotional rollercoaster.  Now all we need is a second series.

1. Breaking Bad

Oh look, BrBa wins again.  This is why.

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Comics of the Year

5. Batwoman

4. Wolverine and the X-Men

3. Animal Man

2. Uncanny X-Force

1. Daredevil

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