Every one of the 115 years since the invention of moving pictures tells us something new about filmmakers, and even more about the audience; ourselves. What do we like, who do we love? What are our fears and desires? What can we create and what has been innovated? In reflection, 2011 has enjoyed a high number of great movies that are worth watching. Independent cinema in particular dominate 18 of my top 20 films this year. 18/20. British cinema has risen to a new golden era of high quality filmmaking, and yet the government is financing less and less productions with lower budgets than before. The last of the UK Film Council productions are due to be released this month, and then the only places the UK will take on the box office will be in the form of co-productions. This is also the year of some of Hollywood’s biggest blunders from Green Lantern to Mars Needs Moms. It’s not surprising that in a year of interplanetary superheroes, the most likeable protagonist is 50/50′s down-to-earth Adam Levine, credit due to Joseph Gordon Levitt’s superb performance and Will Reiser’s screenplay, one of the year’s best. At the moment we only seem to have films made for either under $2 million or over $100 million and, perhaps frighteningly, $1 billion is the new $100 million target for box office takings. The unprecedented success of stylish thriller Drive has fuelled the current super rock star status Ryan Gosling now holds, complete with his own internet meme, which will no doubt continue into the new year.
So what can we expect from 2012? In the immediate future, there’s the delightful French comedy The Artist which is sure to be huge followed by Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady and Fassbender drama Shame. Later, there is Drake Doremus’s acclaimed teen romance Like Crazy that is surely bound to change what you thought of when you read the words ‘teen romance’. Hopefully, the Paul Rudd/Zooey Deschanel/Steve Coogan/Elizabeth Banks/Emily Mortimer/WHO ELSE COULD YOU POSSIBLY WANT comedy Our Idiot Brother will be picked up for a UK distribution and of course Pixar’s dark looking Brave will be out in July along with the bound-to-break-some-records The Dark Knight Rises. There’s also new films from 90s directors Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson and Peter Jackson’s Africa-feedingly expensive The Hobbit: Part 1. Comedy comes in the form of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest invention The Dictator and Will Smith is back in Men in Black 3. A movie I’m really excited for is Rian Johnson’s time twisting Looper with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt, and who could forget The Phantom Menace 3D? See below for an exclusive poster.
Oh, and Prometheus, The Great Gatsby, and Aardman’s Pirates! too. Anyway, without further delay, here are the official nominations for the 1st TRB Awards of 2011!
Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive)
Clearly it would be unjustified for me to give any award for writing as so many screenplays of this year’s films are not published, and even then it’d take a lifetime to read them all. Luckily, after being thoroughly moved by the film, I did get the chance to go through Will Reiser’s excellent 50/50 screenplay. Concisely structured, it’s full of personal touches – realistically detailed & flawed characters and the humour translates well to page, so this is my way of recognising Reiser’s achievement.
Male Lead Performance
Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur)
Supporting Male Actor
Michael Smiley (Kill List)
Lead Actress Performance
Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia)
Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur)
Seamus McGarvey (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
Andrew Weisblum (Black Swan)
Life in a Day
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Highlights for me have been Kill List‘s horrifying ending, Drive‘s visually indulgent style & it’s sublime soundtrack, Melancholia‘s jaw dropping beauty, finding new favourite comedies in the form of Submarine & Beginners, Woody Allen’s return to form with Midnight in Paris, and of course the irrestistible charm of The Artist.
But what are your 2011 film highlights?