10 – The Guard Without a doubt, the funniest film of the year was The Guard. Made by John Michael McDonagh, it followed in the footsteps of his brother’s film In Bruges to be a dark but winningly hilarious tale. Brendan Gleeson is a revelation in the role and this is truly his masterpiece. 9 […]

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10 – The Guard

Without a doubt, the funniest film of the year was The Guard. Made by John Michael McDonagh, it followed in the footsteps of his brother’s film In Bruges to be a dark but winningly hilarious tale. Brendan Gleeson is a revelation in the role and this is truly his masterpiece.

9 – The Skin I Live In

Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In stood out from this year’s ultimately lacklustre crowd. For the first time in twenty-one years, the Spanish director was reunited with his once leading man, Antonio Banderas, in tale of sex, beauty and gender. Every scene is a work of art: clean, clinical and highly considered. Each performance is imbued with an intense realism that subverts the morals of the audience, leaving them in a state of disarray.

8 – Super 8

Heart-warming, yet surprisingly dark for a film whose cast is largely made up of kids, Super 8 is intense, emotional and more than a little nerdy (in true J. J. Abrams style). Paying tribute to Spielberg’s 80s thrillers, it’s a true delight for fans of the genre. The wonderfully original concept and visual effects will leave you dazzled. See it if you haven’t already!

7 – WNTTAK

Can a person be born evil? Based on Lionel Schriver’s bestseller, this haunting film examines that question through the eyes of Tilda Swinton, the mother of every parent’s worst nightmare: Kevin (the promising Ezra Miller). Told through flashbacks, the causes and devastating consequences of a high school massacre are revealed. Vivid cinematography, superb direction, disturbingly honest performances and a powerful message make We Need To Talk About Kevin a must see. Unsettling, unflinching and unforgettable.

6 – X-Men: First Class

Still reeling from the horrors of Wolverine, this was a superbly cast breath of fresh air for the franchise. Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr play off against each other perfectly. With Michael Fassbender stealing the show with the subtly tortured delivery of his cross-continental revenge tragedy. The score is faultless, the CGI excellent making this the finest X-Men outing to date.

5 – Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine is an original and moving film. The use of parallel and intertwined visions of a relationship’s delicate start and cataclysmic end are simultaneously touching and tragic. Ryan Gosling is superb as Dean, a charming but flawed man desperately losing everything, and Michelle Williams plays Cindy, his lover, with an elegant fragility that earned her an Academy Award Nomination. The script is concise and tender and with a minimalist soundtrack and some beautiful visuals and this tale of poignant modern romance was a must-see of 2011.

4 – Harry Potter

Maybe it is because we literally grew up with ‘the boy who lived’ that this final movie came to symbolize the official ending of our childhood. Maybe it is because we still aren’t over our Emma Watson crush. But most likely this dark and riveting battle movie is one of the best of 2011 because it did not fail to deliver. Minor flaws aside, we got some pretty decent acting, visually stunning action scenes and just about the right amount of emotion.

3 – Submarine

Submarine is one of the most impressive films of 2011 for several reasons, and ones that make it stand out among the other films on this list. First of all, it’s funny. But funny in an intelligent and witty way, and perfectly acted by its young stars. It’s a fabulously beautiful film, all the more impressive for the fact that this is Ayoade’s directorial debut. But Submarine‘s biggest success is its infinite relatability, how much of your 15 year old self you can see in Oliver. It is a wonderful, multi-faceted film that you can watch over and over again.

2 – Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen proves yet again he’s still got it with this light, funny, fantastical movie, set partly in the harsh superficiality of the present, and (through the aid of unexplained time-travel) partly in the romanticised Parisian Jazz Age. From the brutally candid Ernest Hemingway to the hilariously peculiar Salvador Dalí, the film becomes a who’s who for amusing muses and for lovers of cultural journeys. It is undoubtedly the best film of the year.

1 – Drive

Ryan Gosling in Drive

A tour-de-force of excellent acting, brilliant direction and a stunningly brave retro soundtrack, Drive is undoubtedly the best film of the year. It will be remembered as the film that truly heralded Ryan Gosling as a worldwide Oscar-worthy star. His performance is a revelation: tender yet menacing, confident yet naïve.

Gosling is supported by Breaking Bad‘s excellent Bryan Cranston who again is sure to make a sound film career after his turn in this. Carey Mulligan is also predictably fantastic and her relationship with Gosling’s character is a strong, sweet oasis in a desert of bleakness.

The aesthetic of the film is perhaps what most set it apart from the other films on this list. The retro, neon pink styling could so easily have looked tacky but contrasted with Drive‘s gritty ultra-violence it became brilliantly iconic.

Director Nicholas Winding-Refn uses music to excellent effect. The memorable soundtrack is topped off by credits’ song A Real Hero by College feat. Electric Youth which beautifully supports the haunting, emotional finale.

Drive is Redbrick‘s no. 1 film of 2011 and rightly so. If it is not recognised at the Oscars which may be the case due to its hyper violence it will be a true shame as this film really deserves to sweep the boards.

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