The Monday Movie Show’s 10 Best Movies of 2011

You can view both Andrew and Stuart’s individual lists of their best movies of the year, but we decided to come up with a definitive list between the two of us and here it is!

10 – 50/50

Joseph Gordon Levitt stars as a man diagnosed with a rare and life threatening form of cancer in this drama with comedy undertones. Advised he has a 50/50 chance of survival, the movie follows his life as the emotional strain of his situation begins to affect him and all those around him. Also starring Seth Rogen, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anna Kendrick.

Andrew says: 50/50 is that rare movie that tackles a hard and uncomfortable subject, but does it with enough blunt truth that it even manages to be funny at moments without it feeling awkward or inappropriate. Gordon Levitt gives a fantastic performance and even Seth Rogen is likeable as his best friend who struggles to give him support.

Stuart says: Who would of thought that a comedy drama about cancer would turn out to be a good film, i for one didn’t think it would however with the fantastic acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan and the brilliant story this turned out to be a fantastic movie that hit me in the heart.

9 – Trollhunter

A mockumentary (a la Blair Witch) in which a group of journalists investigating a number of bear killings, stumble on to a man who claims to be hunting trolls. Agreeing to let them follow him, they discover that following what appears to be a senile old man, may actually turn out to be the worst and most dangerous decision of their lives.

Andrew Says: A strange yet fantastic piece of low budget film making from Norway, utilising handheld footage and some extremely well done special effects that better those seen in some big budget movies, definately one to check out even if you don’t like subtitles.

Stuart Says: Now this might sound like a silly fairy tale concept and also if you throw in the shaky cam style movie then you will expect it to be a very bad movie however that is far from the truth as this is a really fun and entertaining movie, from the get go i was drawn in and the design of the trolls are absolutely fantastic.

8 – Senna

Asif Kapadia’s documentary about F1 racer Ayrton Senna, following him through the early days at the very start of his racing career to the tragic crash that took his life. Senna covers what is at the heart of every racing driver, and explores the life of this much loved and much missed historical icon.

Andrew Says: To say this is a masterpiece is an understatement, the movie not only manages to put together a detailed picture of his life, but does it with a skill that the footage and interviews tell the story themselves coherently without the need for narration. Even those who are not racing fans will find this worth a look.

Stuart Says: In my eyes there wasn’t another documentary released this year that captivated me as much as this did.  Following the life of Senna from the beginning when he was a child racing soap box derby’s to the tragic incident that ended his life was so fascinating that at times it didn’t feel like I was watching a documentary.  Even if you are not a fan of F1 like me then you still have to give this a watch as this will change your mind about it.

7 – Stake Land

Set in a post-apocalyptic America after vampires have spread across the country, a boy travels with a man known only as ‘Mister’ to find a safe haven in the remains of the world. Travelling along with a few found survivors, the group makes their way, with the boy learning to become a man in a very different world.

Andrew Says: Made on a small budget of arond $4 million, this takes two well worn subjects and mixed them together. Shot to be visually bleak, the movie instead of relying on special effects focuses on story and character, and Connor Paolo carries the movie well as the main character Martin. His and Nick Damici’s performance as the battle hardened ‘Mister’ make this a compelling vampire movie.

Stuart Says: It might sound like a follow up to I Am Legend if you read the storyline however it didn’t turn out like that instead it was a more contained and rounded film that made you fully care about the characters and the plight that they are going through, this made it a absolutely fantastic movie.

6 – Source Code

The follow up movie of director Duncan Jones (Moon) starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who wakes up on a train with no memory of where he is, or how he got there, before having to try and figure out which of his fellow passengers is going to blow up the train, and repeat the process again and again until he gets things right.

Andrew Says: This year’s attempt at intelligent science fiction, Source Code is another wonderful example of how you can make an intelligent blockbuster, and how you don’t have to dumb down things for an audience to follow. Hollywood take notes.

Stuart Says: Taking a premise where the same 8 minutes are repeated but slightly differently is a risky thing to do but Jones manages to pull it off to it’s highest standards, the movie is very gripping and it’s one of those rare Sci-Fi movies that make you think rather than just throwing pretty explosions over the screen.

5 – Super 8

Set in a small American town in the 1970’s, Super 8 follows a group of kids filming an 8mm movie who witness a train crash that brings the army in full force to investigate and clean up. Soon after, weird things start happening around town, and people start disappearing, just what was on the train?

Andrew Says: J.J. Abram’s throwback to the early Spielberg movies like Close Encounters, Jaws, and E.T. focusing on the world as seen through the eyes of early adolescence. The performances from the young cast are well above average for their age, but while the movie is good, it’s a little too overpowered by the sense of nostalgia for the period.

Stuart Says: Directed by one of the best directors in Hollywood at the moment J.J.Abrams, who manages to bring his fantastic Sci-Fi flare to a movie that might of been a bit of a mess if it was handle by a Michael Bay kind of director. If you are looking for a movie that will remind you how brilliant the children film’s of the 80’s were then this has to be top of your list.

4 – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tomas Alfredson’s take on John Le Carre’s book about spies in England at the height of the cold war, who are trying to uncover a possible traitor in the intelligence services featuring a powerhouse of actors including Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy, Cairán Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Toby Jones.

Andrew Says: Focusing entirely on characters and plot rather than injecting the movie randomly with forced action sequences, Alfredson has assembled a near perfect cast for the job. Oldman alone deserves to win an Oscar for his performance as a retired analyst Smiley, who is pulled back into the game to route out a mole.

3 – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

A re-imagining of the classic ‘Apes’ movie series, following an ape who, after being given a test serum to improve intelligence to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, finds himself imprisoned in a ‘retreat’ for captured apes. As the man who raised him tries to get him freed, Ceasar, mis-treated by his captors, begins to plan a rebellion.

Andrew Says: At first this looked to be your typical Hollywood blockbuster, audiences were in awe though at it’s main character – Ceasar, played by Andy Serkis in a full body motion capture performance, unlike anything that had been seen before. It’s Serkis’ performance and the emotional reaction that he invokes that makes the movie. Worth checking out even if you have little interest in it.

Stuart Says: Andy Serkis is not just the stand out for me the movie had brilliant direction and a very engaging storyline plus instead of being made by somebody who was just doing for the money director Rupert Wyatt made it more personal and this made it much much better than the piece of crap that Tim Burton churned out a few years ago.

2 – Drive

Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s drama starring Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman for hire. After agreeing to do a job to get a neighbor out of trouble with the local mob, things get messy when the job goes wrong.

Andrew Says: Personally, this movie just hit it right out of the park for me. It has the feel of a Quentin Tarentino script, directed with a style akin to Michael Mann. Gosling gives a career defining performance as the un-named driver, and Carrie Mulligan gives a worthy supporting performance as the neighboring married woman he strikes up a relationship with. The movie is rated 18 for a couple of hard scenes in particular, but it’s an extremely engrossing watch from start to finish.

Stuart Says: The movie itself hinges on how well Gosling can handle the role of a character that has about as much personality of a toothpick but also make him stand out more and gosling manages this to a tee, if he does not get a nomination for best actor at the Oscars then they really need their brains seeing to.

1 – Warrior

A drama following two estranged brothers as they enter a mixed martial arts tournament, following the two different paths each of them takes, leading up to a climactic battle between the two of them where neither will back down.

Andrew Says: A movie about mixed martial arts fighting which focuses more on the dramatic tension of the relationship between the two of them and their alcoholic father more than the actual fighting, Warrior is the gut punch that I was not expecting. Superb performances from Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, and Nick Nolte make this one of the best movies of the year.

Stuart Says: The story is engaging, the acting is of it’s highest caliber, how it’s shot is done with so much skill and if you throw these into a pot you know you are going to get something special and this is what we have here, to say Warrior is a excellent movie is doing it a bit of a injustice to even say that it’s an amazing movie is also doing it a injustice, this movie is not only the best movie of the year but it has done a really rare thing and made it into my top films of all time.

Posted on December 21, 2011, in Features and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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