2011 End of Year Lists

It’s that time again and the lists of ‘best’ films. ‘favourite’ films etc. are appearing everywhere. Keith has already commented on the Sight and Sound list and here it is in the January 2012 issue (with links shown to our posts):

The Tree of Life, Terence Malick, US

A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, Iran

The Kid With a Bike, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France/Italy

Melancholia, Lars von Trier, Den/Swe/Fra/Ger/Italy

The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, France

6=  The Turin Horse, Bela Tarr, Hungary

6=  Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Cylan, Turkey/Bosnia & Herzogovina

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay, UK/US

Le quattro volte, Michelangelo Frammartino Italy/Ger/Switz

10=  This Is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmash, Iran

10=  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tomas Alfredson, UK/Fra/Ger

The list is based on the 5 top films nominated by 100 ‘international critics’ (although the selection of ‘critics’ seems skewed towards the UK and several of the UK names are unknown to me.) Titles are included if they have been seen this year. Several of the films selected have yet to be released in the UK (although some have appeared in festivals here). It’s interesting that between us we’ve covered all of the Top 11 that have received a UK release. S & S editor Nick James gives a brief summary of how the votes went. The most significant observation is perhaps that few European critics have much time for the Lynne Ramsay film which has been snubbed by the European Film Awards apart from the award for Best Actress to Tilda Swinton. We’ll no doubt return to Kevin, which Keith was less taken with than Rona and Roy, at some future date (Melancholia won Best Film) The other surprises were that Senna didn’t make the Top 10 nor Wim Wenders’ Pina. As an overall comment, it’s worth pointing out that the list has two Iranian films but nothing else from Asia. Latin America is also not mentioned though Las acacias, released in the UK this week is ‘bubbling under’ – having won many festival prizes over the last twelve months. Apart from Ramsay there are no other women as directors in the Top 11.

Here’s my selection of the 11 new films that have most impressed me over the last twelve months in UK cinemas (leaving out films that have only appeared in festivals). In no particular order:

A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, Iran

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay, UK/US

Le quattro volte, Michelangelo Frammartino Italy/Ger/Switz

Wuthering Heights, Andrea Arnold, UK

Incendies, Denis Villeneuve, Canada-France

Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, South Korea

Bal, Semih Kaplanoglu, Turkey-Germany

Senna, Asif Kapadia, UK

A Screaming Man, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad/France/Belgium

Meek’s Cutoff, Kelly Reichs, US

Mademoiselle Chambon, Stéphane Brizé, France

I should point out that it isn’t necessarily the story or the theme of these films that makes me want to single them out, but rather their cinematic qualities in terms of ideas and imagination, performance, cinematography, editing, direction, use of sound/music etc. A review of Senna will appear when I get time. This has been a particularly strong year for British Cinema and that is reflected in my choices. I haven’t watched as many Indian films as I would have liked and although I’ve seen several interesting Latin American films in festivals, few have got a UK release. I have seen four new Japanese films on release and I was tempted to include at least one. I realise that I’ve also left out Black Swan, which was released in the UK in January and is an astonishing film in many ways, but perhaps not so much in need of a boost.

Comments? Other suggestions?

Addendum: Just received the list of winners at the British Independent Film Awards and reminded that we haven’t mentioned Tyrannosaur. I haven’t seen the film – largely because I have seen the original short film which was extended by Paddy Considine to feature length. That was excellent but harrowing and I wasn’t sure I was ready for the full-length version. Here is the list of BIFA winners:


BEST DIRECTOR Lynne Ramsay for We Need To Talk About Kevin


BEST SCREENPLAY Richard Ayoade, Submarine

BEST ACTRESS Olivia Colman, Tyrannosaur

BEST ACTOR Michael Fassbender, Shame

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Vanessa Redgrave,Coriolanus

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Michael Smiley, Kill List




BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Maria Djurkovic (Production Design)




THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD (for outstanding contribution by an actor to British Film) Ralph Fiennes



8 responses to “2011 End of Year Lists

  1. When I have checked S & S lists there does always seem to be a Trans-Atlantic bias. Even when there are critics from Asia, Africa or Latin America, they seem to be mainly working in the USA.
    I must say I prefer the term ‘favourite’ to ‘top’.

  2. This is a fantastic list, Roy. Glad you loved BAL, one of my favorites of last year.

    Though I’m yet to see a number of new films, my favorites this year include A SEPARATION, THE TREE OF LIFE, THE KID WITH A BIKE, LIFE IN A DAY, SLEEPING BEAUTY, THE TURIN HORSE and a few more. There are about a hundred films that I need to see before I can come up with a definitive list!


    • Thanks Srikanth

      For some reason Artificial Eye have delayed the release of Le gamin au vélo in the UK. Sleeping Beauty and Life in a Day did get a release but somehow passed us by – I’ll try to look out for DVDs but there isn’t much time to watch those (and it’s not ideal). On the other hand the other two parts of the trilogy which ended with Bal are now available on UK Region 2 discs.

  3. My top films released in 2011 were:

    1. Black Swan
    2. We Need to Talk About Kevin
    3. Pina
    4. Melancholia
    5. 127 Hours
    6. Meek’s Cutoff
    7. Attack the Block
    8. Wuthering Heights
    9. Hugo
    10. Rise of Planet of the Apes

    Even by Hollywood’s standards, it had a dire year and audiences in North America are down. Do you think that’ll mean more creativity? No: less!

    As usual, January looks the most interesting in UK cinemas.

    • I haven’t seen four of these titles so it’s difficult to comment. I simply note that only one of your titles involves languages other than English.

      Audiences are way up in France and Norway, mainly because of the success of local titles, so North America isn’t typical and as your list confirms it has been a good year for UK releases.

      Sorry to sound grumpy but I can’t agree about January as a good time in UK cinemas since all those English language award nominees tend to keep out the foreign language films in our specialised cinemas. Having said that you should definitely see Tatsumi later this month.

  4. Don’t worry about being grumpy; you can’t help it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.