Opinion: Dave’s best films of 2011


Keeping the flick fan fest alive, I thought I’d throw a spanner in the works by ignoring most of the films showcased by the eminent Nachos Justice (his picks found here) or the highly unconventional Philpottian ones (Josh’s selection found here). I found the depth of 2011 cinema amazing, though it didn’t stop me from showing love to those that will barely get a mention in traditional Top Ten listings.

The Punisher, Ari Gold and the sex scandal celeb... who's that other guy?

# 10 – Fast Five
Yep. You read right. Forget about everyone fapping over that other moody Gosling number, Steve McQueen did it a lot better several decades ago in Bullitt. This bad boy had everything. Crazy plot, sexy mamacitas, Dwayne Johnson vs Vin Diesel and if that wasn’t enough Ludacris AND Tyrese. If you threw in long slow camera pans and a lot of brooding while driving it would lead the nominations by a certain Academy. The best offering of the franchise, this was one of the hottest blockbusters of the year.

# 9 – Hanna
It took me a while to get to this one, but I really was glad I did. The hot chick assassin story has been done to death and not particularly well with only a few Besson led exceptions, but lead Saoirse Ronan brought such vulnerability to the role and, most importantly, believable kickarsery I was hooked almost immediately. Slightly let down by the ending, I choose to remember the wonderfully understated performance by Eric Bana and the slow burn to Hanna’s final confrontation.

# 8 – Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Ignoring strong urges from peers to watch this I was beyond surprised with the end result. In a complete role reversal Steve Carrell plays the wounded soul allowing Ryan Gosling to stretch his comedic funny bone. The chemistry between the two is dynamite but this alone doesn’t get it over the line. The heartfelt and realistic portray of relationships, excellent supporting cast and strong ending knocked this one out of the park.

# 7 – I Melt with You
You could be forgiven for thinking this was merely another rehashed version of The Hangover (shudder), but you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Confronting and uncomfortable to watch at times it centres on a reunion of four childhood friends each coming to terms with middle age and taking a closer look at where they are in life and where they hoped to be. After the drug induced revelry dissipates each has a blinding moment of clarity that forever changes them. With so many films focusing on love and lost youth from the female perspective, it’s refreshing to see the male counterpoint receive some much needed attention.

# 6 – Margin Call
In the wake of the global financial crisis Margin Call is a scathing look at investment banking firms more than happy to screw over countless battlers of all shapes and sizes for the almighty dollar. Packed with exceptional performances across the board with a powerhouse cast boasting Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons and Zachary Quinto it is a telling reminder of the chasm between classes and a sad indictment of the world we live in.

# 5 – Limitless
At the insistence of Nachos and my editor at Australian Penthouse I put aside my immense distaste for Bradley Cooper and his trademark sneer and forced myself to watch this absolute gem of a flick. Appealing to the writer in me on one level while looking at the untapped potential we all have within, the arresting and unique visual style and surprisingly layered portrayal by Bradley Cooper made me reassess my opinions of the man and, in turn, presented me with a film I simply can’t wait to watch again and again.

# 4 – Armadillo
Documentary film-making and war go hand in hand and with the prolonged occupation of Afghanistan there have been plenty of exceptional accounts with the horrors of war laid bare (Restrepo comes to mind). This poignant telling of a group of young Danish soldiers at the army base of Armadillo (often only a stone’s throw away from the Taliban) is amusing, heart-wrenching and gripping with the insanity of war shown in all its glory. Watching the transformation of blue flame special rookies to battle-hardened veterans in the space of a few short months is riveting as is the camaraderie, the effect their actions have on the Afghan village neighbouring the base and the ravages each skirmish leaves on the men as a whole.

# 3 – The Guard
Taking a break from the serious side of things comes this riotous comedy. Worlds collide when a small town Irish cop teams up with an FBI Agent to solve a murder and take down a crew of local gangsters running a drug smuggling ring. The uneasy alliance and back and forth banter between Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle is pure gold as is the throwback casual, almost unconscious racism from Gleeson. This mismatched pair are electric on screen and have more than their hands full with a superb villainous trio in the form of Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot and the always rock solid Mark Strong.

# 2 – The Ides of March
George Clooney may be known as a fine actor, but he really is one hell of a director. Clooney and Gosling battle it out to see which can be more likable as we witness a passing of the torch from one established actor to the up and comer. A fantastic all around film with a beyond strong cast pales before Gosling’s transformation from naive idealist to political heavyweight. His astounding acting chops are clearly on display here as you can almost see the light of hope drain from his eyes throughout the course of the film. Magic.

# 1 – Captain America: The First Avenger
In my wildest dreams I could not have wished for a better film. As a child one of the first comics I ever collected was Captain America and when Chris Evans was announced as the lead, even the fanboy within who loves just about everything he’s done had to stop and say “err… what?” These fears were unfounded and allayed with this offering easily equal to Nolan’s best efforts. With a great supporting cast, a super cool villain thanks to Hugo Weaving’s awesome turn as The Red Skull, an engaging origin story with a solid dose of heart and one hell of a fleshed out hero, Chris Evan brings great sensitivity to Steve Rogers that completely grounds the film. Throw in a great eye for direction with The Rocketeer’s Joe Johnston at the helm and this baby pretty much has it all.

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Dave Kozicki

Shotgun Samurai
Video game reviewer, presenter and enthusiast. Film and TV-aholic. Pop culture geek. T-shirt and sneaker addict. All around nice guy and one hell of a sexy beast. Writer for Official PlayStation Magazine AU, AusGamers and Hyper Magazine.
  • Sandgate PIMP

    i agree with you’re number one, would have agreed with I Melt blah blah, but i first though it said I MALT!!