Critic’s pick of 2011.

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Best 10 films of 2011

1The Tree of Life

This am­bi­tious at­tempt to ex­plain the un­ex­plain­able na­ture of life it­self is one of the most unique films of the past decade. Peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­enced its dreamy, trippy med­i­ta­tions on how our mem­o­ries shape us ei­ther loved it or hated it with a pas­sion. Like Stan­ley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space

Odyssey, if you fall un­der its spell, a mas­ter­piece ap­pears be­fore you.


Peo­ple who know film will im­me­di­ately recog­nise the stylis­tic in­flu­ences at work in

Drive – par­tic­u­larly the spar­tan spaghetti west­erns of Ser­gio Leone and the sleek, steely crime opuses of Michael Mann – but will also ap­pre­ci­ate the un­com­mon as­sur­ance and orig­i­nal flair with which they have been ap­plied. Star Ryan Gosling is a 21st cen­tury Clint East­wood.

3Source Code

A stun­ning work of modern sci- fi from the hy­per- tal­ented Bri­tish film­maker Dun­can Jones ( Moon). Work­ing bril­liantly as both a work of deep thought and di­rect ex­cite­ment, this grip­ping thriller re­peat­edly looped through the same eight min­utes of a fa­tal train jour­ney. Each pass be­came more com­pelling than the last.


Pot­ter & the Deathly Hal­lows Part 2

A fit­ting end to a decade of movies that

had the whole world be­liev­ing in magic. The mag­nif­i­cent clos­ing act of the pic­ture, which also pro­vides many beloved char­ac­ters from past Pot­ter ad­ven­tures with the chance to make one last­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the tale, achieved the per­fect good­bye.


The best doc­u­men­taries not only draw their sub­jects in fine de­tail, they also draw the fas­ci­na­tion and re­spect of view­ers who could not have cared less about those sub­jects be­fore. Who’d have thought a no- frills pro­file of the late For­mula One ace Ayr­ton Senna would be one of the most mov­ing and com­pelling films of the year?


This sub­lime com­ing- of- age com­edy, set in a coastal town in Wales in the 1980s, ef­fort­lessly speaks the uni­ver­sal truth of what it is like to be a teenager. First- time writer- di­rec­tor Richard Ayoade ( Mau­rice Moss from TV’S IT Crowd) achieves a per­fect bal­ance be­tween the bizarre and the bit­ter­sweet.


Im­pres­sively di­rected, bril­liantly acted and a com­plete work of fo­cused, bru­tal power, Snow­town stands as one of the most fore­ce­ful works ever made in this coun­try. A su­perb cast of un­knowns and ama­teurs lend the film gut- wrench­ing au­then­tic­ity and dam­aged grace that can­not be de­nied.


2011 was a big- ticket year for bril­liant doc­u­men­taries, and this bizarre tale of a beauty- queen- turned- kid­nap­per just had to be seen to be be­lieved. With the du­plic­i­tous and al­lur­ing Joyce Mck­in­ney par­tic­i­pat­ing all too en­thu­si­as­ti­cally in the film, there was no way the truth was go­ing to get in the road of a good story.


The best main­stream movie com­edy of 2011 cranked up the fe­male- raunch fac­tor to a level that prob­a­bly made many a male blush. Nev­er­the­less, there is a uni­ver­sal ap­peal to the story that oblit­er­ates any au­di­ence divi­sion along gender lines. Lead­ing lady ( and screen­writer) Kris­ten Wiig is a star player.


This is the per­fect film for old- school sports lovers who deep, deep down loathe the brash new world of com­mer­cialised com­pe­ti­tion. It de­liv­ers an­other killer script from the great Aaron Sorkin ( The So­cial Net­work ) and an­other soul­fully nu­anced per­for­mance from the un­der- rated Brad Pitt.

And the next 10: 11. True Grit; 12. Black Swan; 13. Hanna; 14. Red Dog; 15. Jane Eyre; 16. We Need to Talk About Kevin; 17. Mid­night in Paris; 18. The Guard; 19. Rango; 20. The Ides of March.

Worst 10 films of 2011

1Big Mom­mas: Like Fa­ther, Like Son

The dreaded re­turn of that calami­tous com­edy fran­chise where FBI Agent Martin Lawrence goes un­der­cover as a 300kg cross- dresser. Once seen, can­not be un- seen. Ever.

2A Heart­beat Away

This zest­lessly zany made- in­Queens­land com­edy gave away the ham so freely it al­most trig­gered the col­lapse of the en­tire Aus­tralian pork in­dus­try.

3Sleep­ing Beauty

Abysmally pre­ten­tious and seedy af­fair, where the young hero­ine ( Emily Brown­ing) took a snooze while old gents ogled her.

4Sur­viv­ing Ge­or­gia

A drippy Aus­tralian com­edy that de­liv­ered all the fun of a big fall down some small stairs. Time for a blan­ket ban on all home- made ‘‘ quirky’’ small- town farces.


This is pos­i­tive proof Twi­light- ap­proved pin- up Tay­lor Laut­ner will never learn to act in his, yours or any other life­time. A next- gen Keanu Reeves.


Don’t Know How She Does It

Sarah Jes­sica Parker re­veals how tough house­hold life can be when all you have is a six- fig­ure salary, a nanny and a rich, sup­port­ive hus­band. What a saint.

7Johnny English Re­born

Com­edy is still dead to Rowan Atkin­son. If any­one has a time ma­chine, might you warn us if Atkin­son dares make

a Johnny English Rein­car­nated?

8One Day

One day, some­one will ex­plain why the

turgid rom- com weepie One Day felt like it took one year off our lives.

9The In­be­tween­ers Movie

An­other TV- to- cinema tran­si­tion bites the dust. What made you laugh on the small screen, made you want to hurl on the big screen.

10Big Mamma’s Boy

The lit­tle Aussie eth­nic com­edy that couldn’t. Dated, dumb and dim.

Top 10 movie mo­ments of 2011

■ The last stand at Hog­warts in Harry Pot­ter & the Deathly Hal­lows Part 2.

■ The as­cen­sion to the after­life in The Tree

of Life.

■ Red Dog’s car­a­van park show with Red

Cat in Red Dog.

■ The food poi­son­ing at the dress fit­ting in


■ Natalie Port­man’s dance to the death in

Black Swan.

■ The first trip from new Paris to old Paris in Mid­night in Paris.

■ The last race at San Marino for Ayr­ton Senna in Senna. ■ A killer flu sweeps the world in Con­ta­gion. ■ Tom Cruise dan­gles from the world’s tallest build­ing in Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble 4.

■ James Franco am­pu­tates his own arm in

127 Hours.

Bot­tom 10 movie mo­ments of 2011 ■ Bella Swan gives birth to a mu­tant vam­pire in Twi­light: Break­ing Dawn. ■ Easter Bunny poops jelly beans in Hop. ■ Red Rid­ing Hood bonds with the Big Bad Wolf in Red Rid­ing Hood. ■ The scratch’n’sniff scenes in Spy Kids 4. ■ The very un­con­vinc­ing shark at­tacks in

The Reef.

■ The very un­con­vinc­ing shark at­tacks in

Shark Night.

■ The mu­si­cal numbers in Glee 3D: The

Con­cert Movie.

■ The stage ban­ter in Glee 3D: The

Con­cert Movie. ■ The clock strikes 12 in New Year’s Eve. ■ James Franco am­pu­tates his own arm in

127 Hours

10 great movie pair­ings of 2011

■ Brad Pitt and Jes­sica Chas­tain in

The Tree of Life. ■ Owen Wilson and Mar­ion Cotil­lard in

Mid­night in Paris.

■ Emma Stone and Vi­ola Davis in

The Help.

■ Chris­tian Bale and Mark Wahlberg in

The Fighter. ■ Saoirse Ro­nan and Eric Bana in Hanna. ■ Jake Gyl­len­haal and Michelle Mon­aghan in Source Code. ■ Kris­ten Wiig and Chris O’dowd in


■ Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fass­ben­der in Jane Eyre.

■ Matt Da­mon and Emily Blunt in

The Ad­just­ment Bureau.

■ Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Money­ball.

10 grat­ing movie pair­ings of 2011

■ Adam San­dler and Adam San­dler in

Jack and Jill.

■ Sarah Jes­sica Parker and Pierce Bros­nan in I Don’t Know How She Does It.

■ Tay­lor Laut­ner and Lily Collins in


■ Anne Hath­away and Jim Sturgess in

One Day.

■ The cow­boys and the aliens in

Cow­boys and Aliens.

■ Santa and his ap­pren­tice in Santa’s

Ap­pren­tice. ■ Any cou­ple – take your pick from

New Year’s Day.

■ Cher and Christina Aguil­era in


■ Tom Hanks and Ju­lia Roberts in

Larry Crowne.

■ Cameron Diaz and Justin Tim­ber­lake in Bad Teacher.

Un­der- rated films of 2011 ■ Lim­it­less. ■ Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity 3. ■ Bar­ney’s Ver­sion. ■ Our Id­iot Brother. ■ Su­per 8.

Over- rated films of 2011 ■ The Han­gover Part II. ■ The Hunter. ■ The Eye of the Storm. ■ Paul. ■ Sanc­tum.

Strong­est per­for­mances of 2011

■ Tilda Swin­ton in We Need to Talk

About Kevin.

■ Ryan Gosling in Drive and The Ides

of March. ■ Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre. ■ The cast of Snow­town. ■ Natalie Port­man in Black Swan. ■ Koko the dog in Red Dog.

Strangest per­for­mances of 2011 ■ Mel Gib­son in The Beaver. ■ Amanda Seyfried in Red Rid­ing Hood. ■ Isabel Lu­cas in A Heart­beat Away. ■ Jack Nicholson in How Do You Know. ■ Natalie Port­man in Your High­ness. ■ Mel Gib­son’s pup­pet in The Beaver.

A big hello to . . . ( star de­buts of 2011) ■ Hailee Ste­in­feld in True Grit. ■ Daniel Hen­shall in Snow­town. ■ Jes­sica Chas­tain in Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt.

Hello again to . . . ( come­backs of 2011)

■ Matthew Mc­conaughey in The Lin­coln

Lawyer. ■ Ni­cole Kid­man in Rab­bit Hole. ■ Noah Tay­lor in Sub­ma­rine and Red Dog.

Isn’t it time you just said good­bye?

■ Rowan Atkin­son in Johnny English

Re­born. ■ Har­ri­son Ford in Morn­ing Glory. ■ Jim Car­rey in Mr Pop­per’s Pen­guins.

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