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.





SUNDANCE ’11 – Update #1

Author: Glen Matthews
January 20th, 2011 – 5:53am

I’ve learned that when a United States border guard asks you what you do for a living—at no point, should the words “I’m an actor” come from your mouth.

Close. Call.

Currently, I’m sitting in the Buffalo Airport where I slept overnight—this is what happens when you combine cheapest flight, with cheapest bus-ride (to said flight). It’s been 6 hours since the Sundance Film Festival has officially begun, and I’m pretty damned excited to be a couple of plane flights away from being in the depths of it’s madness…

“The [2011] Sundance Film Festival is like looking into our film futures. While many of the films are unknown now, playing at Sundance sets off a snowball effect that continues throughout the year and eventually, these movies become an integral part of popular culture.”

-Germain Lussier,

The last time that I was on screen in Utah, I declared “It’s Christmas, I just want to fuck!”, and now it’s “Give me the money or I’ll slice this bitch’s throat!” Please don’t let my Grandparents know what we’re doing down here.

As with any film festival, you approach it with a handful of films that you’d like to check out—but also with any film festival, plans tend to shift and the Gods of Film Festival laugh in your face, punch you in the gut, and deprive you of sleep. With that in mind, check out my top 5 films that I’d like to check out at the fest this year…

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN—Let’s get this pick out of the way and avoid any indication that I’m trying to be clever by selecting the movie that I’m in. I’m including this because tickets to the HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN screenings have been selling like mother-loving hotcakes (going for $150 on EBay—greasy bastards); I was fortunate enough to snag myself a ticket
to the screening in Salt Lake City on the 22nd (through a lottery ticket-purchase system), but other members of the Hobo cast/crew who are travelling down to Utah have yet to secure a ticket. Pray for their souls.

WIN WIN—This is the third film from Tom McCarthy. His two previous films happen to be two of my favourite films of all-time: THE STATION AGENT and THE VISITOR (Richard Jenkins for the win). McCarthy seems to have a knack for bringing the absolute-best performances out of his cast, and in this film, a story about a man who moonlights as an amateur wrestling coach, he’s directing Paul Giamatti, thus, the results in my brain are pure gold. I don’t have a ticket to this yet, so please, pray for my soul.

SHORTS PROGRAM 1—Comedy duo Tim & Eric (from the ever-effed TIM & ERIC AWESOME SHOW GREAT JOB) are bringing their short film THE TERRYS to Sundance as part of Shorts Program 1. Also in the lineup is Adam Yauch’s (from the Beastie Boys) FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT, a pseudo-mockumentary/documentary with the Beastie Boys being played by Elijah Wood, Danny McBride & Seth Rogen. So incredibly stoked to be checking this out tomorrow morning!

TAKE SHELTERMichael Shannon is a god amongst men (or at least actors). One of America’s finest character actors; his portrayal of a federal agent in HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE is one of my favourite performances of the year. In TAKE SHELTER he plays a Father who is having recurring nightmares of death and destruction which cause him to manically build a bomb-shelter in preparation for the impending doom that he believes is coming for he and his family. I’m on board.

PROJECT NIM—From the director of the Oscar-winning documentary MAN ON WIRE (see it), comes another documentary; this one apparently is about a group of scientists who attempt to raise a chimpanzee as a human. Simple enough, but with James Marsh at the helm, you have to believe it’s going to deliver. I can 90% guarantee I’ll be a weepy-baby by the end of this one.

Honorable mentions: RED STATE (from Kevin Smith), there is no way I’m going to get into this screening without waiting in line for a long, long time. I’m talking new-video-game-console-launch waiting times. TROLL HUNTER, the trailer for this looks terrific, but after looking at the schedule, none of the screenings are at a convenient time for me. And basically EVERY OTHER FILM, it’s Sundance, if it’s playing there, it’s very likely worth checking out.

Check back all week long for updates from other members of the HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN cast and crew!

Here we go!

Update as of 3:51pm MST: Made it to Salt Lake City just fine! Headed into town to pick up tickets!