Continuing on to the second in a three part brief review of the best of 2011 – this time looking at three of the best films of the year.
True Grit – Coen Brothers
I’m a sucker for westerns, especially ones that are a cut above the average, and the Coen’s True Grit is one of the best. Less a remake of the John Wayne classic, more a reinterpretation of the original source book, True Grit was the Oscar winner that should have been, if it hadn’t come up against the rather more televisual The King’s Speech. The Academy always has a soft spot for posh English films, and n doing so has overlooked a true North American masterpiece – their loss.
This atmospheric adventure tells the story of a determined young girl seeking revenge for her father’s murder, and boast one of the year’s best scripts of 2011 and some of the most sumptuous cinematography ever captured by god-like talent of Roger Deakins. Seeing it almost a year ago now, I knew back then that this was already my film of the year.
The Troll Hunter – André Øvredal
Much less cerebral, but just as much fun was the Norwegian monster movie The Troll Hunter. It is as the name suggests a film about a man who hunts trolls, and is told through the now over-used found documentary footage format, trail-blazed by films such as Cannibal Hol0caust and The Blair Witch Project. The subject matter is ridiculous, but the tense plotting, good special effects and the fact that the actors deliver all their lines with such deadpan brilliance means that suspension of disbelief is easy. With Norway’s rugged scenery almost playing an extra starring role in this film, The Troll Hunter made me want to pack my desk job up and go out hunting mythical beasts.
The Skin I Live In – Pedro Almodovar
The Skin I Live In contains the winning combination of Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas came back together for the first time since 1990’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! As a long time Almodovar fan this dark psychological horror was always destined to be a contender for my films of the year. With Banderas playing a revenge-hungry plastic surgeon, Almodovar’s cold clinical direction suited the story excellently. An astonishing piece of work.