TOP 11 FILMS OF 2011

It’s that time of the year (the end of it) when people sit down and drum up lists of their favourite things of the past twelve months. Today, I would like to share with you (only because you care so much) my 11 favourite films of 2011…


11HANNA – Directed by: Joe Wright
There’s a lot to like about HANNA, especially it’s odd-characters, it’s odd-pacing, and it’s incredible soundtrack, which just so happens to be the best soundtrack of the year — oh don’t mind me, I’m just trying to start a flame-war with all the DRIVE-soundtrack fanatics in the comments section (leave a comment, I dare ya’).

10MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – Directed by Woody Allen
My screening for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS could not have been more perfect for Allen’s whimsy: Saturday morning in the cinema, packed to the gills with giggling, giddy senior citizens. Leave your snarkiness at the door, Matthews. Avoid all spoilers of this film, and watch accordingly.

9WIN WIN – Directed by Tom McCarthy
I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a huge fan of writer, director and actor Tom McCarthy — the guy played a big part in inspiring me to write and direct my first short film, ROOM SERVICE. As with both of McCarthy’s other films (THE STATION AGENT and THE VISITOR), WIN WIN’s strength is in it’s characters. My expectations could not have been higher and I was not let down.

8RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Speaking of expectations… Any reasonable person would agree: this movie should have sucked. Really bad. But it didn’t. In fact, it was fairly awesome. Aside from a cringe-inducing final five minutes, the film had some of the best sci-fi moments of the year, and at one point (see photo above) literally made me gasp-out-loud. I generally don’t do that too often unless I’ve spilt a hot drink on my lap.

7 – A tie between:  DETENTION – Directed by Joseph Kahn
I’m sure I could be accused of bias here, but it’s nothing but pride for fellow-Haligonian, Mark Palermo who wrote the screenplay for Joseph Kahn‘s second feature film. Try and process this: a high-school, slasher-flick comedy that also has elements of time-travel. The film moves at an unbelievable pace, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s everything I wanted SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD to be.

Technically, I think DETENTION belongs in the 2012 category, I just wanted to get behind this movie early on and encourage you to embrace this madness when it’s available to you.

In spite of the public’s opinion of Tom Cruise’s very public, very odd life, he just can’t help himself from being awesome when he steps in front of a camera. MI:4 has some of the most-thrilling action sequences conceived on-screen all year, and also a surprising sense of humour.

6DRIVE – Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
“This film will shock you” is such an incredibly lame thing to say, but it applies here. From the first minute, I was hooked in, and was convinced that I was witnessing a brutal, unforgiving, modern masterpiece unravel before my very eyes. It was in the final fifteen minutes that the film lost me with a (in my opinion) weak finale. The anger I feel towards the ending is only a result of how amazing the rest of the movie is, so there’s that.

5WARRIOR – Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Howard Hawk’s famously said that a great film must contain “Three great scenes, [and] no bad ones”. Off the top of my head, I can count six great scenes in WARRIOR, which isn’t surprising given the talent involved, and nothing that even resembles a “bad scene”. Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and (surprisingly – for me, at least) Nick Nolte all give beautiful, heart-wrenching performances.

The major flaw of the film is it’s premise: we are expected to believe that two brothers could end up in the finals of a worldwide mixed-martial-arts tournament, which is, to say the least, ridiculous. If you can get passed this, you’ll be enjoying one of the finest ensemble casts 2011 has to offer. Upon three viewings, I have been brought to tears all three times. Manly, manly tears.

4MELANCHOLIA – Directed by Lars Von Trier
This was my first foray into the world of Lars Von Trier, and although I’ve heard many a weird thing describing his films, nothing could prepare me for this. Beautiful, frustrating, brave, and overall: haunting.

If there’s a full moon in the sky, I am now incapable of looking away without first pondering the world’s end. Thanks for that, MELANCHOLIA.

Oh, and Kirsten Dunst can act!

3SUBMARINE – Directed by Richard Ayoade
The main criticism I’ve heard leveled against Wes Anderson‘s most-recent films is that they are increasingly lacking in a human characters, which I personally disagree with, but for anyone who has this problem with his films of late, may I recommend viewing Richard Ayoade‘s debut feature film, SUBMARINE, a quirky and whimsical coming-of-age story highlighted by some amazingly well-balanced performances.

This film has 2011’s second best soundtrack — that’s right, you DRIVE soundtrack enthusiasts! Meet me in the comments section!

2ATTACK THE BLOCK – Directed by Joe Cornish
All too often, especially in the past ten years, we have been promised films with incredible premises such as “Nazi zombies”, “Pirates vs. Ninjas”, “Snakes on a plane” that have more often than not, ended up absolutely sucking. ATTACK THE BLOCK, which is essentially “Hoodlums vs. Aliens” is a film that finally delivers on it’s potential for awesome.

It’s not a surprise that SHAUN OF THE DEAD director Edgar Wright, was the executive producer on this film, as it has the same balance between comedy, action, and thrills, and perhaps it’s been even more finely defined here with ATTACK THE BLOCK. Anyone who knows how much I love SHAUN OF THE DEAD, knows how big of a compliment that is.

1MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE – Directed by Sean Durkin
I really don’t want to say too much about this film. It’s so much better to be discovered. It starts as one thing and slowly builds into an absolute masterpiece.

Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the Olsen twins (you heard me) is phenomenal (yes, you still heard me) in the lead as Martha, a young woman haunted by her memories of her time spent with a cult lead by John Hawkes (skinnier and better than ever), as she attempts to re-assimilate with her family. It sounds like an okay premise, but the execution is flawless.

If you take a recommendation from me just once this year, treat yourself to MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE.





Top 6 Performances From Films You Haven’t Seen

Boy oh boy, what a pretentious sounding title, right?

Well I originally started compiling my list as “Top 10 Performances That Have Inspired My Acting Ass”, but rather than wasting precious internet space with me telling you how much I loved James Gandolfini‘s performance in THE SOPRANOS, I figured my time (and your time) would be better well spent sharing with you my favourite performances from flicks that you may or may not have seen before!

Please check out some of these movies, and let me know what you think!

THE BIG LEBOWSKI – John Goodman & Jeff Bridges – I’m still amazed by how many people haven’t seen this film. It is currently my favourite of all time (future included). How much do I love these performances? Check out my Obama-inspired poster featuring The Dude himself hanging on my wall… I also have their action figures, the truest form of admiration.

THE LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER – Jackie Chan – This is the quintissential kung fu flick. I’ve been a huge Jackie Chan fan since I was 13 or 14, watching over 50 of his films, reading his autobiography “I Am Jackie Chan”, and most recently, following him on Twitter (@EyeOfJackieChan). Jackie is phenomenal in this, absolutely hilarious, heartbreaking, and death defying, the guy is absolutely deadly and commands respect from all of you. Check it out.

SLC PUNK – Matthew Lillard – I saw this film when I was 15, in the full swing of teen-angst and punk-rock. The film defined a lot of what I called punk, but really helped me gain an understanding of who I was. Lillard has a handfull of these high-energy monologues that he delivers to the camera, and one scene in particular which shakes me to my core every time I see it.

EAST OF EDEN – James Dean – About five years ago when I decided I was going to start studying acting and get involved, I went to HMV and purchased the James Dean Box Set. My favourite from all three of his films is definitely Elia Kazan’s EAST OF EDEN. I mean, it’s James Dean, c’mon.

FALLING DOWN – Michael Douglas – I started watching this one night on ShowCase at 2am, and I couldn’t turn it off. Premise: Douglas plays that guy who you know from work whose probably gonna explode and kill everyone; well he finally explodes, but it’s on his way home from work, and it’s in Central Los Angeles. Mayhem insues. This may be my guiltiest pleasure of all.

BRONSON – Tom Hardy – YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM. It’s only recently been released to DVD. One of the reviews I read described the film as “A Clockwork Orange For The 21st Century” and I can’t agree any more. It’s not quite as disturbing as Clockwork, but it really does leave a lasting impression. The way that Hardy plays Charlie Bronson is HUGE, he goes big, real big (in terms of mannerisms), but they’re all grounded in a real place. SEE IT.

Anyways, I must be going now, if you haven’t seen any of these flicks, check them out, let me know what you think; also, if you have any recommendations, please put them in the comments section below!

PS. Just a heads up, I’ll likely be changing the blog title soon, seeing as how I’m not a very good world traveller.