Hey guys, Alicia here! Moviehole’s 2011 co-editor!
Whenever I tell people what I do for work – “well, basically I watch films for a living” – people always ask me if I ever get sick of going to the cinema. Truth is, I never do. Every single time I’m sitting in a theatre, the lights go down, and the movie logo rolls… I get excited.
At the start of this year I made it my mission to see as many films as possible. But, silly me, I didn’t actually write down how many I saw. I think I averaged about three a week. Good, bad, terrible… I saw them all! So here are some of my favourites!
(Some of these haven’t been released yet, but I enjoyed them so much I had to include them!)
1. THE SOCIAL NETWORK
When I first heard about a Facebook movie, I admit I may have scoffed slightly. But this film, directed by the amazing David Fincher and written to perfection by Aaron Sorkin, completely blew me away. With an interesting story, a quirky young cast and rapid pace dialogue, I was hooked from start to finish. Even Justin Timberlake impressed me! If “The Social Network” doesn’t win a Best Screenplay Oscar, I’ll eat my hat. And I like my hat!
You think “Inception” was hard to understand? Try seeing it in French, with English subtitles! I was in Paris when this film first came out, and didn’t want to wait, so I rushed to the local cinema and… got a bit lost. But still loved the spectacle of the special effects, and the intricacies of the layered story. When I got back to Sydney, I saw it again, and loved it even more. Is it all a dream? Does the top stop spinning? No matter how you interpret it, I love how “Inception” got us all thinking, and talking; even now I still have debates with friend about what it all means!
3. THE KING’S SPEECH
I’m not much of an arty period piece kinda girl, so wasn’t really expecting much from “The King’s Speech”, but was intrigued by the myriad of amazing reviews I was reading on Twitter. But this film had me enthralled from start to finish. What an interesting true story, a sharply funny script, and brilliant performances from Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth. After this and last year’s “A Single Man”, he has to get the Oscar.
4. BLACK SWAN
I loved “Black Swan” so much, I’ve already seen it twice and it doesn’t come out until January in Australia! As with “Inception”, this is a film which makes you think, and you never know what is real and what is not. The slow start builds in tension up to breaking point, with a frantic freaky ending that will leave you shell shocked as you walk out of the cinema. Natalie Portman is incredible as both the white swan and the black swan, and director Darren Aronofsky’s visuals make the ballet world look both beautiful and brutal.
5. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
Centering on a crazy French filmmaker who wants to be a famous street artist, this small documentary was given an interesting twist by the elusive Banksy. Unlike Joaquin’s Phoenix’s “I’m Still Here”, which revealed itself to be a hoax before it was released in Australian cinemas; it’s unclear whether “Exit Through The Gift Shop” is a true documentary or a mockumentary, and I like that! Not knowing just makes it all the more interesting, and like he does with his graffiti pieces, Banksy is brilliant about manipulating the art world. But again, unlike “I’m Still Here” (which I didn’t enjoy) this one doesn’t make fun of the audience watching it!
6. BLUE VALENTINE
Like “Revolutionary Road”, seeing “Blue Valentine” made me not want to get married! This film took 12 years to go from script to the big screen, and the amount of passion director Derek Cianfrance, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams have for this project is easy to see. Ryan and Michelle are so realistic as a young couple whose marriage is falling apart. All the improvising they did prior to film (even living together in the house for a little while) definitely paid off, with incredible performances from both. “Blue Valentine” is heartbreaking, touching, and unforgettable.
As a young girl with an affinity for the colour pink, I naturally grew up wanting to be a princess. And Disney films like “The Little Mermaid”, “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast” fed my desire, as well as hooking me in with a funny story and great musical numbers. With “Tangled” Disney is back to delivering those great films, and just like I was 10 again, I got swept up in the fun of it all. “Tangled” has all the elements we used to love in Disney movies – a sassy princess, a funny animal side-kick, a handsome guy, fun songs – with the updated 3D animation that looks beautiful. A great film for princesses young… and old(er)!
8. TOY STORY 3
In the 10 years between this film and “Toy Story 2”, I had forgotten just how wonderful this franchise was. I was even questioning whether we needed a third film… but just like it did in the first two films, “Toy Story 3” charmed the pants off me (and it was a little embarrassing to be sitting in a packed theatre with no pants let me tell you!). Once again Woody, Buzz and their toy friends took me on a big adventure, that was both sweet and funny. I’ll never stop laughing at the scene where Mr Potato Head becomes Mr Wobbly Tortilla, and my eyes automatically well up when I think of the moment all the toys thought they were doomed. Similar to “Tangled”, “Toy Story 3” momentarily made me revert back to being a kid again, eyes wide with wonder!
9. ANIMAL KINGDOM
This gritty Aussie crime flick has received critical acclaim throughout the world, and rightly so. Writer/director David Michod has crafted an incredibly tense film, and though not a whole lot of action happens in the movie, you find yourself breathless at the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It boasts a great cast of well-known and not-so-well-known names, the standout performance being from Jackie Weaver, who is downright scary as the matriarch of the family. She will do anything for her boys, so you’d better not think of crossing her! Jackie has secured a Golden Globe nomination, and I’m crossing my fingers she gets a nom for an Oscar as well. Though I’m predicting the award will most likely go to Amy Adams or Melissa Leo from “The Fighter”.
10. SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD
This video game-esque film was a little too ADD for a lot of people, but I loved the frenetic pace of it all. Michael Cera is brilliantly awkward as always, and the special effects are really fun to watch. There’s plenty of great jokes woven into the quirky script, and let’s face it, it’s just damn funny to see Cera battling seven evil exes to win the heart of the colourfully haired woman of his dreams. One to watch a few times, upon each viewing you discover more!
Bring on 2011, and hopefully another brilliant year for films!