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Films With Friends: Five Favourites Of 2011

January 1, 2012

Being a champion of pluralism and also tired of my own wittering, I asked five people whose writing I enjoy and whose opinions I don’t automatically disregard to contribute a few words on the best film they’d seen in 2011. Crucially these are all people who know me well enough to feel emotionally obliged to say yes. Here they are presented in the order they arrived in my inbox.

Kill List – Tim Clark

“A tricky recommendation, partly because it features a scene so startlingly violent that I actually whispered ‘bloody hell’ at a frequency only dogs can hear, but also because the less you know going in, the more you’re likely to get out. Kill List’s triumph, I think, is that it splices quintessentially British, well worn genres – suburban kitchen sink drama, gangster geezers, and something else I’d rather not mention – and still manages to come out feeling startlingly fresh. Credit for that is split equally between the superbly natural performances, and sophomore director Ben Wheatley’s ability to find evil – the real, banal kind – lurking around every corner of satellite town England. In fact he manages off kilter mood so well I want to call it Kubrickian, but fear coming across as quite the cunt on Nathan’s blog.”

Tim is editor-in-chief of the Games Division at Future Publishing, and runs the carefully spelt Arsenal blog arse2mouse

Never Let Me Go – Sarah Ditum

“Love, duffel coats and British boarding school life as dystopia – Never Let Me Go was always liable to take (and break) my heart. Even Keira Knightley was good, her chilly clipped performance for once making perfect sense rather than feeling like a dressed-up stick bobbing about on screen. Mulligan and Garfield were perfect, as the film unfussily layered up the anguish of its protagonists’ fates (bumper crop sadface) to an ending of terrible, tragic complicity. It left me longing for a hug, and a new dress.”

Sarah is a freelance writer who’s written for the likes of The Guardian, Psychologies and The New Statesman, and blogs on politics and feminism at Paperhouse.

Black Swan – Rachel Weber

“It’s a cliche to say something is stunning, but this mix of beauty, madness and waterfowl really is, in the physical, can’t-move-my-legs sense. And of course it’s visually amazing too, with Portman’s ballet dancer choreography and physical transformation mashing together the gorgeous and horrfying, and doing it so deftly you forget to stop and question the weirder, bone-snapping feathery moments. It also gets a special mention for featuring the most ostentatious girl wank scene you’ll see without using the internet and your credit card details.”

Rachel works for news website and blogs about awesome baking at Bite Me.

The Guard – Matt Elliott

“The Guard is the finest Brendan Gleeson showcase there’s ever been, and that includes In Bruges. It’s the only reason you need to catch John Michael McDonagh’s soggy, refreshingly unconventional Celtic crim-com, but I’ll give you another for free: it contains the best milkshake slurping scene in cinematic history (beating even There Will Be Blood’s theoretical drainage). Describing the plot does it no justice – Ryvita-stiff FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) visits the west of Ireland, plays straight man to Gleeson’s crumpled garda Gerry Boyle – but Gleeson’s portrayal of the glassy-eyed shuffle of anarchy helps make The Guard constantly surprising and completely irresistible.”

Matt is a script editor at Future Publishing. You can read more of his mind on Twitter.

Bridesmaids – Joel Snape

“There’s a saying in films that once you’ve seen a bomb, it has to go off, and because of that I felt vaguely cheated when Bridesmaids promised to end up in Vegas but never made it there. Still, the run-up to that mild disappointment made me laugh hard enough to make other passengers on my plane turn around –  neatly bracketed by a decent story and a deus ex boyfriend who was genuinely nice and funny. In a year when I switched The Hangover 2 off in favour of looking at the back of a plastic seat for an hour, it was nice to have at least one decent bromance, especially when one of the bros was Rose Byrne.”

Joel is features editor for Men’s Fitness and blogs about MMA fighting at Tiny Little Gloves.

Thanks to all, and especially to Joel for writing his entry with a New Year hangover and not making the pun ‘Bros Ryrne’.

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