Yes, this is another one of those tedious retrospective articles in which I waffle on about nothing of consequence. Don’t worry, it won’t be that long. Probably.
I’m a proper sucker for quirky teenage indie comedy flicks, so it was no surprise to find that I revelled in this coming-of-age tale. An absolutely wonderful directorial debut from Richard Ayoade, best known for playing Moss in the IT Crowd, Submarine ticks all the right boxes in terms of humour and warmth and, crucially, the protagonist is someone who I could easily relate to i.e. bit of a creepy loser really (yeah, my teenage years were fun). Awkward characters, amusing dialogue, darkly comic, relentlessly clever… Almost a sort of specifically Welsh Wes Anderson movie, really.
4. Inside Job
Easily the best documentary of 2011, even though I loved the kind of all-over-the-place Greatest Movie Ever Sold by Morgan Spurlock too. An in-depth but easy-to-understand examination of Wall Street’s culpability for the recession of 2008 which triggered the current global depression, featuring interviews with a wide variety of key players with differing views on who was to blame. Charles Ferguson, whose first film was the equally excellent No End In Sight, did such a great job with this sophomore effort that it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Can’t really argue with that, can you?
3. Source Code
Three words: Better than Inception. I can just hear you all now; “Say WHAAAT?!” Honestly, it’s just a better film in every way. More fun, more interesting, more coherent, less pretentious and much, much less tedious. The narrative is beautifully constructed, perfectly paced and with all the requisite twists n’ turns. Gyllenhaal and Farmiga put in fantastic performances, giving the science-fiction plot some real bite with proper human drama. With this follow-up to Moon, Duncan Jones shows once again what a talented young director he is.
2. The Guard
If you’ve seen this, then you won’t need any explanation for this choice. If you haven’t seen this, do so now. Immediately. Don’t worry about reading the rest of this article, just do it. I’ll wait. Seriously, this is just comedy brilliance. What a cast – Gleeson, Cheadle, Cunningham, Strong… All in fine form, all palpably enjoying their roles and the chance to sink their teeth into some truly hilarious dialogue. It’s a dark and gritty comedy, with a little bit of pathos to it, but somehow it ultimately remains a feel-good movie. There’s a feel of old westerns (kinda makes sense, it is the wesht of Ireland after all) and buddy cop films as well. Magnificently put together by Michael John McDonagh, an exceptional debut for the writer/director.
1. Cell 211
I find it hard to put into words just how good this one is. It’s fairly rare that a film manages to leave me completely speechless, but this one did so with ease. Visceral, vicious, violent. To call this ‘dark’ would be the understatement of the year; it is heartbreaking, unrelentingly so. The basic premise in clever enough, but it develops far beyond that simple idea and by the end I felt almost cowed by the film’s genius. Nonetheless, all hangs on the central performances by Alberto Ammann and Luis Tosar, and they are both absolutely masterful. This is nothing less than extraodinary in every sense. A true classic.
So there you have it. Hard luck to those that I loved but just not quite as brilliant, such as Win Win, Red State, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Blue Valentine, Hanna, Super, Attack The Block, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I’m sure they are all devastated at not making the cut. There there, there there.
It’s also more or less guaranteed that I have made some horrendously glaring omission here, purely down to the majestic unreliability of my own memory. Apologies.
Solidarity brothers & sisters… ☭