Opinion: Nachos’ best films of 2011

Drive_Ryan_Gosling

We may well be in the first week of the new year, but if you’re anything like me, you’re still catching up with the remnants of 2011. Outside of playing a lot of games every year, I also have the opportunity to see a lot of movies (courtesy of Australian Penthouse). There’ve been some solid releases this year and plenty of duds. After the jump you’ll find my top 10.

Marky, you don't have a hope of winning an Oscar if I'm in the film...

# 10 – Limitless
There are those out there that doubt Bradley Coopers acting chops (*cough* Dave), but Limitless shows that not only does he possess an impressive acting range, he also has a keen eye for a great script (he was also executive producer for the film). It’s an intriguing ride from start to finish as you watch Cooper go from rags to riches to deep shit.

#9 – Captain America: The First Avenger
I was never a fan of Captain America growing up, but I found Steve Rogers to have the most heartwarming origin story for an onscreen comic-book character to date. In fact, to me, he’s just the most likeable superhero I’ve seen: a genuinely good guy with the heart of a lion. It also helps that it was directed by Joe Johnston, the guy who directed The Rocketeer.

#8 – Super 8
Okay, sure, Super 8 is pretty much a 112-minute homage to Steven Spielberg films of old, but it proves that this doesn’t mean that it can’t do its own thing, and it certainly worked for me. Hell, I still marvel at how cleverly they open the film (note to future screenwriters, watch the first five minutes of this film). It has a lot of heart and some groovy action for a film that relies on kids to carry the story.

#7 – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The fact of the matter is that the only Planet of the Apes film I’d ever seen prior to the 2011 prequel was the terrible Tim Burton… thing. So, as you can probably imagine, my expectations weren’t terribly high for Rise of the Planet of the Apes; that is, until I saw the second trailer and noticed that they were actually trying to tell a story and not just rip off an established IP. By the time the credits rolled on the film, I was almost entirely satisfied with how clever and engaging this film was, considering it could have so easily just have been a mindless popcorn movie.

#6 – The Guard
Hooray, a comedy in my list! I got to see this at the Sydney Film Festival early in 2011 and laughed more than I had in a long time. Put simply, as far as I’m concerned, The Guard is the best comedy of 2011, and as long as you don’t get too lost in the accents, you’ll have a ball from start to finish.

#5 – The Ides of March
I get the impression that a lot of non-Americans are put off films that cover US politics because they can’t understand what the hell is going on. In The Ides of March, politics plays second fiddle to a relentless assault on character integrity and idealism that makes it hard to not get caught up in the belief of a pure character… and the ultimate heartbreaking realisation that there’s no such thing: in fiction or in reality.

#4 – The Adventures of Tintin
Put simply, watching The Adventures of Tintin was like seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time. The potent Spielberg/Jackson combo has ensured that there’s a lot of heart mixed in with some epic action set pieces for one of the most memorable and family-friendly films of the year.

#3 – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Considering the Mission: Impossible series has gone downhill since the first film, my expectations were appropriately curbed, despite how awesome the trailers were for Ghost Protocol. By the time the credits rolled, Ghost Protocol had solidified itself as the best film in the franchise. Go see it and, if possible, in IMAX.

#2 – The Fighter
I had the pleasure of seeing this in late 2010, but considering it wasn’t released in Australia until January 2011, it makes the cut (and high up the list, too). Despite being a long film, The Fighter essentially merged the classic underdog story with a redemption tale–following two different characters for the respective narratives–and had me betting that Christian Bale would win an Oscar before the film had finished.

#1 – Drive
I’d heard great things about the script long before the film was released, which made me eager to see it as soon as I could. When the opportunity to catch an advanced screening rolled around, I jumped at the opportunity and was incredibly wowed with the results. Ryan Gosling absolutely dominates this film that doesn’t rely on exposition to tell its brutal tale.

Honourable mentions:
Hanna, Your Highness, Bridesmaids, The Beaver, X-Men: First Class, Crazy, Stupid, Love., Take Shelter, Incendies

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  • Anonymous

    I should get watching, haven’t seen any of these movies, though I reckon I would avoid two or three.

  • Anonymous

    great list

  • Blackwater

    The Guard getting some love? Oh hell yeah.

  • Anonymous

    It was great to see The Guard with a full cinema of people laughing at everything.