Toby Woollaston’s top 5 films of 2011

by Toby Woollaston

It has been a great year for cinema with some really interesting releases getting a decent amount of attention. Of course it’s not easy getting along to see them all and there is plenty I still would like to see (Shame, Drive, and The Artist to name a few). Nonetheless of the 2011 releases (in New Zealand) that I have seen here are my top five films. Feel free to chime in with your top five in the comments section.

1. Tree of Life – directed by Terrence Malick. Tops my 2011 list with comfortable ease. By far the most original and ambitious film of the year. Existential film covering the start of time till now … and somehow pulls it off. See my review for more.

2. True Grit – directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. I’m not a huge fan of the Western genre. But I’m a fan of the Coen brothers. This remake of the 1969 original has it all; gripping narrative, beautiful cinematography, and exceptional performances from Hallee Steinfield and Jeff Bridges. Simply put, this is top-shelf cinematic entertainment.

3. Melancholia – directed by Lars von Trier. Brooding film exploring depression in a unique way. Superbly acted and movie making par excellence. See my review for more.

4. Black Swan – directed by Darren Aronofsky. Natilie Portman deserved the Oscar nod for her portrayal of Nina Sayer’s slide into paranoid psychosis. A film of such neurotic exhilaration it had me exhausted by the time it finished. Typical of Aronofsky’s high standard.

5. 127 Hours – directed by Danny Boyle. Technically brilliant film that maintains a heart. It’s not easy to generate viewer interest in someone who is stuck under a boulder for 127 hours but somehow Danny Boyle has done it. It’s a fascinating story told with real passion, and the tension building up to the inevitable event (involving an arm and a cheap knife) is palpable.

Happy New Year everyone!

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