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Eleven from Eleven

Friday 6 January 2012, 16:28

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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At the end of 2011 I posted my ten worst movies of the year. Since then a lot of people have been asking me for my list of the best. I already revealed them on the 5 Live show but here they are again plus a difficult question - since I was forced to leave out Drive, one of my favourite movies of the year, which of my choices would you lose to make way for it?

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    Comment number 81.

    Definitely Kill List. It was only when it reached the last 20 minutes that this turned from a rather humdrum affair to something baffling, as if the makers didn't know what to do.
    Oh and i'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed the "could care less" Americanism. Less of that please!

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    Comment number 82.

    I'd say jettison Kill List. I didn't get it at all. Performances - fine. Dialogue - fine. Gritty realism - fine. Pity it doesn't make a lick of sense. I was completely at sea for the entire film, and then when it should've started to make sense it decided to make even less sense, and then it finished. And I shrugged.

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    Comment number 83.

    My omission from the list is the goat film. Only because I haven't seen it, because you actually make it sound about goat herding. The Wife couldn't be sold on a saturday night!

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    Comment number 84.

    Wel my first thoughts were ditch Benda Balili or Le Quattro Volte but since I haven't seen either of them it's wrong of me to judge them. With that in mind I will have to pick one of the others...it's not too tricky... I say ditch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Don't get me wrong, I see why you loved it, I enjoyed it myself, but Drive is the better movie. TTSS is a lovely lesson in 70s fashion and decor with some of Britain's best actors (and they all turn in superb performances) but you have to admit it is pretty slow going. It's got a treat of a cheese fondue at the end but you have to crawl through a whole load of beige shag pile to get there.
    Might I also suggest that you put ROTPOTA in its place too, as it's even better than Drive :D
    http://rogueshark.tumblr.com/

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    Comment number 85.

    Where is Warrior and 50/50 !?
    Take Senna out. It's quite clearly a documentary. My favourite documentary of the year was Being Elmo. Flawless.



    1. Drive
    2. Warrior
    3. The Descendants
    4. 50/50
    5. The Help
    6. Shame
    7. The Artist
    8. Take Shelter
    9. Midnight In Paris
    10. Crazy, Stupid, Love.

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    Comment number 86.

    @22, 41, 45-- you've made me change my mind. Dr. K should leave out The Artist, not because it isn't the fine film that so many who have seen it claim it to be (and frankly though I've not seen it, the trailer had me enraptured, will need to suitably adjust expectations before I see it when it comes round our neck of the woods Feb 20th), but for the pedantic reason you cite, it is simply not a 2011 release for the ordinary UK punter.

    This is one of the reasons that I try to have a go at the BAFTA's every year for having rules which allow films not released in the calendar year in question. Now I would never level charges of elitism at Dr. K, but BAFTA has graced 9 films to be released theatrically in 2012 with nominations on their longlist (out of 65 films). These are films which the BAFTA members have had a chance to see, but not the UK public (barring festival and "platform" release screenings). These 9 films rack up 56 nominations which is just over 20% of the 279 longlist nominations. 2 of them are released just 2 days before the 12th February Awards Ceremony. 50% of the nominations are for films which will be released on DVD in Q1 2012. Sadly this makes the BAFTA's look like a cynical marketing exercise poised irrelevantly betwixt the Globes and the Oscars. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change when the longlist gets whittled down.

    As for the critics end of year lists, well, if it's their own personal list of the films that they have happened to see in that year, then fine, can't argue with that. But by that token why consider release dates at all? Due to caring for a litter of puppies causing cabin fever isolation and temporary exile from the cinema, I caught up on a number of titles I missed from previous years, and I can say that amongst my favourite films I saw in 2011 I'd include Gilliam's Tideland and Davies' Of Time and The City. However, I think there's a reasonable expectation that professional critics lists are meant for their audience, and perhaps should be geared accordingly, not based on their at times rarefied privilege (or pain) to exalt in the great films (as well as endure the endless dross) before the rest of us.

    So, depending on which emphasis Dr. K would like to give his list, based on the films he had a chance to see or the films that we had a chance to see, then he could bump The Artist.

    Or maybe I'm just being mindlessly pedantic. All in good company here then....

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    Comment number 87.

    Mystified by the way The Guard seems to be so overlooked or forgotten in so many 2011 roundups - absolutely one of my films of the year, along with Kill List and Kind Hearts And Coronets (it's a new for 2011 print!).

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    Comment number 88.

    Either KILL LIST or MELANCHOLIA could happily go. But to be honest, I didn't think DRIVE was top ten material. I liked it, I enjoyed it, but I wasn't as blown away by it as everyone else seemed to be. SUPER 8 was the best movie of the year for me.

    http://streetrw.blogspot.com/2011/12/list-best-films-of-2011.html

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    Comment number 89.

    I would eliminate your top choice 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'.

    I was late to the party with this one, but after several weeks of positive reviews I was looking forward to it. As a middle-aged, dedicated non-parent, I may not have the attitude to see the worth in this film, but I found the whole thing very irritating, disorientating and grindingly noisy. I suspect that was the director's intention, but I also despised all three lead characters, so met the end credits without any added value or thinking I'd seen the same things as all the critics.

    I would certainly vote 'Drive' above 'Kevin'.

    I would also make room for 'Another Earth'. Many of MK's reviews of this film have placed it in the shadow of 'Melancholia'. LvT's film is a good work, but let down by one or two wooden performances amongst the cast, and took time to recover from that incredibly annoying opening 'limo' sequence. The central performances in 'Another Earth' are excellent, and for that I would displace 'Melancholia' with its shadow.

    May I also give an honourable mention to 'Sarah's Key'? Fine film, held me all the way to the end, and the final scene had me blubbing through the credits.

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    Comment number 90.

    I agree with the 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' dissenters. Didn't get it at all: it wasn't a horror film and wasn't a psychological thriller and you can't do both. The pant-crapping, eye-balling Damian of a toddler is plain evil and so is the hamster-slaughtering teen but there's no supernatural aspect to it (so not horror). But his home life is bearable (two parents, huge house) and there's no drug use (legal ones are probably the worst) so bang goes the 'loon' diagnosis (so not a psychological thriller). The tiny amount of contrition at the end utterly fails to humanise a Kevin that showed precious little humanity up to that point. There was no mundane Freudian analysis and Pinhead didn't show up. As the Russians say, it was neither meat nor fish.
    On the other hand, big plus for The Guard. Totally misleading trailer but gripping Bendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle performances and a ballsey script.

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    Comment number 91.

    I have to say that The Guard was one of the most disappointing movies I've ever seen. The script is theoretically amusing but somehow the execution just doesn't work. I sat there dispassionately thinking "yeah, that's a funny idea" but I didn't laugh.

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    Comment number 92.

    Not that I've actually seen "Drive" yet, but if you're looking to remove something from your top eleven I'd choose "Hugo". Yes, it was charming and the 3-d wasn't the worst, but as a recently graduated film student it felt like Film History 101. I can't imagine children are that interested in it once it becomes a lesson and it felt too juvenile for adults.

    My Top 10:
    1. Melancholia
    2. Margin Call
    3. Last Night
    4. Shame
    5. Midnight in Paris
    6. W.E.
    7. The Skin I live in
    8. A Dangerous Method
    9. Friends with Benefits
    10. My Week with Marilyn

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    Comment number 93.

    HUGO OUT! I'm really sorry Mark and coming from a HUGE fan of Scorsese it pains me to say how wrong I think you and seemingly the majority of people are about this film. The 3D is utterly redundant and the narrative could be lapped by a snail with a tortoise on its back it's THAT slow and directionless. My Top 10:

    10. Drive Angry- A total rip-roaring guilty pleasure that is pure OTT gold and completely unashamed of it!

    9. Kill List- The first film to make my blood run frozen cold in a LONG time, so unrelentingly set in the real world that it makes the violence and mystery THAT much more in your face and terrifying. Full on gritty violence mixed with bizarre jump cuts and a constant sense of unease over what's real or not, even David Lynch would call this one a brilliantly scary oddity.

    8. Super 8- A pure-hearted piece of totally indulgent nostalgia that harkens back those first time viewings of past classics of our childhoods like 'Jurassic Park'. The best group of kid actors I've ever seen all work so well together and the genuine violence and dread whilst restrained for its target audience is no less tense or action packed. Sentimental and touching without over-coating it in sugar, a future classic in the making.

    7. Scre4m-Lifelong dream of seeing a Scream film in a cinema fulfilled with more than worthy 4th installment that upped the anti in terms of both comedy, self-parody and great mystery over the killer's ID. Pure bloody good fun!

    6. Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy- The most action packed non-action film. The oppressively grey atmosphere of mistrust and backstabbing was matched only by the wonderful smorgasbord of acting talent and the tense verbal swordplay that flowed like a modern day Shakespeare. Gary Oldman is simply legendary.

    5. Source Code- A brilliantly simply idea that's spun out like a beautifully complex maze of genuine ingenuity and dexterity on the part of the amazing Duncan Jones who blends together exciting action set-pieces seamlessly with proper human character development. The BEST new director out there by a country mile

    4. X-Men First Class- Second only to 'The Dark Knight' in terms of a comic book based film that breaks the mold and brings to this table something that's about so much more than just superheroes with superpowers kicking ass. We get a totally balanced presentation of the argument of viewpoints of Charles and Eric and more importantly how it properly effects the others like Mystique. A swinging 60s backdrop that must surely lead to a 70s sequel that CAN.NOT.COME.SOON.ENOUGH!!! Also Fassbender FTW

    3. Blue Valentine- Few films can leave you feeling like you've been punched in the stomach and that you still enjoyed it. The most emotionally raw and moving film i have seen in a very long time, the fiery onscreen chemistry between Gosling and Williams is pitch perfect and the film presents a hoping from their current state of doomed marriage to the early dawn of their relationship in order to present a beautifully tragic masterpiece that makes you want to go out and burn all copies of "Hollywood Romance" films.

    2. Drive- Gosling again! Admittedly one's enjoyment of the film is 100% down to if you can see Los Angeles as a backdrop for a modern-day fairy tale setting, if you do then this is the most entrancing and yet brutally violent B-Movie fairy tales you will ever see. With a sublimely 80s soundtrack and the fact that as the nameless 'Driver' Gosling goes from a mild-mannered shop mechanic to a full on avenging angel equals simply one of the best films I've ever seen. The fact that Gosling and Mulligan have scenes in which they say very little is because it's all done brilliantly through the emotions conveyed in their faces. Gosling's look of loss and shame when Mulligan sees the monster he has unleashed in the lift scene is heartbreaking and when you consider seconds earlier he'd caved a guy's face in with his boot...is pretty damn special!

    1. Black Swan- Simply majestic. This film positively thrives in the darkness, darkly manipulating and twisting the tale of Swan Lake into a real life setting as Natalie Portman goes through one of the most terrifyingly dramatic character changes of all time. Mixing Lynch-like surrealism with the overtly flashy horror-melodrama of Argento, you simply can not look away for a second for fear of missing a flash of something unexplained to heighten your fright or fail to to be entranced when the final act performs its hauntingly moving dance infront of your eyes and Portman descends down the rabbit hole into full madness. The transformation scenes are also done fantastically with a genuine sense of realism that we havent seen since Cronenberg and rise above looking daft or silly to becoming genuinely unnerving and flesh-crawling. A superb supporting cast and a constant use of fascinating motives:The film of the year right at the start and has remained queen ever since!

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    Comment number 94.

    I am alarmed at the number of people claiming Kill List either didn't make sense or had a "sloppy ending". Kill List is not a straightforward narrative film. There are various moments within it which encourage the viewer to question why and how things are happening and, crucially, if they are happening at all.

    The plot does not make sense in a linear manner; neither do the motivations and behavior of certain characters. Instead these elements (and the film as a whole) are meant to reflect the fevered mental state of a shell shocked war veteran and his attempts to come to terms with the things he's done, the country which sent him to fight and where he now fits in, both in British society and the greater war machine he was part of. Throughout the film his violent and sadistic behavior is rewarded - note how many of his victims say "thank you" before he kills them. Note also how his victims and employers all seem to be part of the same group - for the purposes of the plot a pagan cult.

    Again I don't believe this is to be taken literally. Rather the cult represents the unknowably large, powerful forces which send men to war. Though he may try to tell himself that the people he is destroying are "bad people", his real reasons for being sent to fight are beyond him, the whims and ambitions of far more powerful men.

    In the end he is “crowned” for his brutal services, a metaphor for military awards for bravery.

    The main similarity I can draw is with Kubrick's The Shining. Similarly I don't think that's a straightforward story but a tour around the protagonist’s fevered and disturbed mind.

    All in my opinion, of course...

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    Comment number 95.

    Easy: Kill List
    I don't think that you credit a film purely on it scaring you, it has got to do something else as well which Drive managed to do.

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    Comment number 96.

    It has been mentioned above, but I will mention it again: "I could care less"‽ (and yes, that is an interrobang).

    I suggest that Mark watches David Mitchell's "Dear America..." soapbox episode on youtube to grasp just how upset we are about this nonsensical phrase and that he has used it without mockery...

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    Comment number 97.

    Tweeted you but darned 140 characters do limit one! Anyhow -jist of my message is to either keep the eleven films adding Drive to make it a nice round twelve., which would correspond roughly to a film of the month x 12 makes twelve movie choices. Alternatively if yoy are doggedly stuck on eleven put Drive in and take out the artist because most mortals will only be able to see it from this coming Friday making it a 2012 movie, which can then be put into the 2012 best of list. Problem solved!

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    Comment number 98.

    With the exception of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy I would easily replace Drive with any of the films that you mentioned. Although I still wouldn't put Drive in my top 10 of 2011, despite enjoying it I thought it was highly overrated.

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    Comment number 99.

    All I'll say is that I'm EXTREMELY surprised 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams' didn't make your top 11, indeed didn't even get an honourable mention on the show as one of the nearly made-its!

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    Comment number 100.

    Mark, don't listen to anyone who says exclude Kill List from your list. They're wrong. Clearly.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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