Words: Saam Das
A selection of FG writers submitted their favourite films of 2011. Each was released in UK cinemas during the calendar year. I totted the votes up and added some patented editorial magic to present this list of our top 20 films of 2011. With contributions from: Ced Yuen, Lauren Johnson-Ginn, Raman Kamboh, Alicia McBride, Paul Dean and Gabriella Shimeld-Fenn.
20) 'The Help'
(76% Rotten Tomatoes critic approval / 8.0 IMDB user rating)
Heartwarming tale transcending the racial barriers of 60s America or standard Oscar fodder? We think it falls just on the right side of sincerity, despite its clichés.
19) 'The Inbetweeners Movie'
(68% / 7.2)
Puerile? Check. Infantile? Check. Hilarious? Well, for one FG writer, at least - deeming it their second favourite film of the year. Fans of the TV series will greatly enjoy it. Others, probably less so.
18) 'The Skin I Live In'
(79% / 7.7)
In a sense, the arthouse version of 'The Human Centipede'. In pretty much every sense, nothing of the sort. Pedro Almodovar once again getting the best from Antonio Banderas in this bizarre drama.
(93% / 6.8)
Quite probably the year's most intense film, and another stunning installment of Australian crime drama, following the almost-as-brilliant 'Animal Kingdom' earlier in the year. Gripping throughout, would almost certainly have featured higher had more than just the one FG writer actually seen the film.
16) 'The Adventures Of Tintin'
(75% / 7.7)
Steven Spielberg brings some of his 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' magic to the motion-capture medium, by way of Hergé's classic, adventurous graphic novel series.
(87% / 7.3)
Richard Ayoade's directorial debut impressively displayed the awkwardness of romance, in a witty and pleasantly puzzling manner. The young pretender to Wes Anderson's crown.
14) 'Blue Valentine'
(88% / 7.6)
An oft troubling exploration into love. Powerhouse performances from leads Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, brought together magnificently by director Derek Cianfrance.
13) 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes'
(83% / 7.7)
Remarkably well-received considering the prejudice of being an unnecessary prequel. Instead, it heralds a now eagerly anticipated rebirth of the franchise. Mostly thanks to director Rupert Wyatt and another stellar mo-cap performance from Andy Serkis. Read Ced's full review here.
(90% / 7.0)
Women can be funny. As if that wasn't already obvious. But the success of this Kristen Wiig penned-and-starred comedy vehicle demonstrated that gender is no barrier to well-written humour. And admittedly, crass humour, but mostly good humour - encapsulated by the film's scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy who displayed both with remarkable ease.
(77% / 7.1)
Chris Hemsworth proved his doubters wrong and brought an appropriate gravitas to the larger-than-life comic book superhero, Thor. A summer blockbuster that delivered on all fronts. Read Ced's review here
10) 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows'
(60% / 7.8)
A vast improvement on the first film, Guy Ritchie once again brings his stylised version of the Arthur Conan Doyle character to the big screen. Perhaps not quite as good as the BBC TV show but an entertaining romp nonetheless.
9) 'The Ides Of March'
(86% / 7.4)
An accomplished political melodrama with an extremely strong cast featuring Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and actor-director George Clooney. Another successful collaboration between the latter and his writing partner Grant Heslov, following the brilliant 'Good Night, And Good Luck'. Read Raman's full review here.
8) 'The Guard'
(95% / 7.4)
Brendan Gleeson on top form in this slightly ridiculous Irish police buddy-comedy, reminiscent to 'Hot Fuzz'. Knowingly and gleefully unconventional. Read Alicia's full review here.
7) 'Source Code'
(91% / 7.5)
The follow-up to director Duncan Jones's excellent debut 'Moon', this film combined the sci-fi elements of his debut with a more action-orientated philosophy. The resulting mix was both intelligent and exciting, even if the film treated science and scientists with a certain disdain. Read Ced's full review here.
6) 'True Grit'
(96% / 7.8)
An unexpected remake of the Western by the celebrated Coen Brothers, and a potential star-making role for young Hailee Steinfeld - almost inexplicably nominated for a Best Supporting Actress nod at the Oscars, instead of the lead gong. Read Matthew's review here.
5) 'Midnight In Paris'
An unusual romantic comedy which proved to be a charming return for Woody Allen. For anyone who enjoyed 'Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure' or the 'Quantum Leap' TV series. All the more so, if you're a fan of early 20th century pop culture.
4) 'X-Men: First Class'
(87% / 7.9)
Arguably the finest film in the franchise - high praise indeed, with Bryan Singer's thrilling 'X2' in mind. Writer-director Matthew Vaughn teamed up with 'Kick-Ass' writer Jane Goldman (as well as the writers of 'Thor') for this excellent origin story. Read Ced's review here.
3) 'Black Swan'
(87% / 8.3)
Director Darren Aronofsky has firmly established himself in the top echelon of contemporary directors and this psychological investigation into the deteriorating mind of a ballet dancer added another critically acclaimed film to his catalogue. As well as helping Natalie Portman achieve a Best Actress win at the Oscars. Read Ced's review here.
2) 'The King's Speech'
(95% / 8.3)
A period drama based on the true events surrounding the ascension of Prince Albert, with the appropriately regal Colin Firth, aided superbly by Geoffrey Rush. Director Tom Hooper and writer David Seidler straddle the tone perfectly, making the film both comedic and witty and perhaps a deserving winner of four Academy Awards. Read the full review here.
(93% / 8.1)
2011 was certainly the year of Ryan Gosling (with 'Blue Valentine' and 'The Ides Of March' also in our list above) and so it's fitting that this film has come out on top in our collated writers' poll. A suggestion of style over substance but thanks to director Nicolas Winding Refn, it is a magnificent style. Read Alicia's review here.
Feel free to leave your thoughts on your favourite films of 2011 below.