Top 5 Movies 2011

Its coming to the end of the year, so here is the first of my end of year lists. My top 5 movies of 2011, in order:

5. Hanna

A kinetic, high octane thriller in the Bourne mould, about a young girl () trained by her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana) to be a badass assassin. The action sequences are shot fantastically, with a fast paced, bone crunching realism. The film’s strongest performance comes from Cate Blanchett as the icy CIA operative Hanna is out to get. Aided as well by a glorious, puslating Chemical Brothers soundtrack.

4. Captain America/Thor

A double whammy at four, as Marvel’s on screen universe expands. Both Thor and Cap were kinda risky propositions for the big screen with either character having the possibility of appearing ridiculous if not handled properly. Luckily, both transfers to the silver screen were done extremely well.

Both Chris Evans (Cap) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) gave brilliant performances. The character arcs in the films provide a wonderful contrast to each other- Thor begins the film with all the physical attributes of a hero but his arrogance and thoughtfulness stop him from being one, whereas Steve Rogers is a hero at the start who is limited by his physical deficiencies. By the end both are transformed into the heroes who will slot into next year’s Avengers.

Also, the films served to expand the Marvel universe and tie in all the films- Iron Man’s dad, H Stark (a pleasingly roguish Dominic Cooper) works on the super soldier programme, and the Red Skull’s (Hugo Weaving) plan revolves around an Asgardian weapon. And Thor threw up a geek pleasing cameo from Hawkeye.

All in all, a pair of entertaining well-made blockbusters, combining likable characters, humour and action.

3. The King’s Speech

An emotional, touching drama about the relationship between King George VI (Colin Firth) and his vocal coach Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who helps the new, unpreprared King overcome his stutter. Its a joyfully charming drama, with Firth giving a heartbreaking performance as the thoroughly decent prince thrust onto the throne, and struggling with his new role. The themes of expression, duty and class are all explored through the story, and the relationship between the two characters shows that friendship and respect can, and should cross class-boundaries.

Also Helena Bonham-Carter gives her best performance since Fight Club, as the King’s confident, supporting and sparky wife.

2. Paranormal Activity

Brilliantly effective chiller, as reviewed here.

1. The Fighter

The best film of the year. The true story of boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) who comes from a grim US town and lifts himself up to world champion, while also getting out of the shadow of his local celebrity brother Dicky (Christian Bale) a once promising fighter now wallowing in crack addiction.

Bale’s performance as the tragic Dicky is phenomenal, there are moments of genuine heartbreaking tragedy, as he is forced to come to terms with his failings and problems. He does provide a few moments of comedy, but the wreck of a human being still trading on a past glory that even he doesn’t feel is justified, is one of the saddest, most powerful performances I’ve seen.

Dicky is the showier part, and as such Bale, deservedly got lots of praise, but for me, Wahlberg’s performance is just as remarkable. He captures Micky’s likable personality and his frustration and fear at the fact his chances may be slipping through his fingers. Unwilling to hurt his family he allows them to spoil his chances until finally standing up for himself due to the support from his strong, feisty girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams).

The film is loaded with strong performances in particular Adams and Melissa Leo, as Micky and Dicky’s foul mouthed mother, hopelessly dedicated to Dicky who must also come to terms with how far he’s fallen, and who’s favouritism contributes to Micky’s frustration and anger.

Brilliant boxing sequences add to one of the best sports movies ever made, and like the best you end up wanting to cheer Micky on aloud. An emotional rollercoaster of a film with fantastic performances.

And the worst:

The Roommate

Not utterly awful, but a fairly clunky, predictable teen-thriller about obsession and stalking. The performances are alright, but you can tell where its going very early on.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. TTFN

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