As we head into 2012, a year which will see the critically acclaimed Batman franchise come to an end and The Amazing Spider-Man and Men Black franchises relaunched, you may have missed some of the 'smaller' films to hit the big screen this year.
2011 in film saw superheroes, vampires, werewolves and wizards take over cinema theatres. There were even some apes as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a particularly clever reboot of the cult franchise, turned out to be a surprise box office hit, as was Bridesmaids, one of the biggest hits of the year alongside the blockbuster prequels, sequels and reboots Fast Five, X-Men: First Class, Thor, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
However 2011 will probably be best remembered as the year we said goodbye to Harry Potter with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 - which was the highest grossing film of 2011.
This Irish buddy-cop thriller is a gem. It is the feature length directorial début of John Michael McDonagh and it stars Brendan Gleeson as Sergeant Gerry Boyle, a Garda (Irish policeman) who is racist and confrontational and yet intelligent and charming. He lives a relatively simple life in Connemara, but when FBI agent Wendell Everett (a no nonsense Don Cheadle) comes to town, looking for an international drug-smuggling ring (led by Mark Strong), Boyle is forced to team up with the FBI, and he doesn't like it one bit.
The Guard is reminiscent of the great In Bruges, which also starred Gleeson and was directed by Martin McDonagh, John Michael McDonagh's brother. Glesson could take home a Golden Globe for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, for his performance in The Guard.
Win Win is another comedy which fell under the radar in 2011. It is directed by actor/director Thomas McCarthy, who previously directed The Station Agent and The Visitor.
In Win Win Paul Giamatti stars as Mike Flaherty, a struggling New Jersey attorney, who also volunteers as a wrestling coach at the local high school. Through some shady dealings with one of his elderly clients, Mike Flaherty meets Kyle Timmons, a quiet teenager who Flaherty asks to live with him and his family. What's more is that Kyle Timmons actually turns out to quite a talented wrestler.
This sports drama is charming and unexpected and Giamatti is wonderful as the troubled Mike Flaherty.
Submarine is the critically acclaimed feature length directional début from Richard Ayoade.
Set in 1986, we follow 15 year old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) on his teenage adventures; from trying to woo Jordana (Yasmin Paige), to dealing with his depressed father (Noah Taylor) and his mother (Sally Hawkins), who may or may not be having an affair with the next door neighbour (who just so happens to be her ex boyfriend Graham (Paddy Considine)).
Submarine features a fantastic score by Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets (Ayoade has previously directed music videos for he Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets).
Forget the scandals and what the tabloids say about Mel Gibson.
It is none of our business anyway.
What should be our business is viewing The Beaver, which features a powerhouse performance from Gibson.
Directed by Jodie Foster, The Beaver is the tale of Walter Black, who is depressed.
He is neither a good husband or father and can't function at work and his son Porter (a brilliant Anton Yelchin), is desperately trying not to turn out like his father. Black unsuccessfully attempts suicide after being kicked out of the family home by Meredith (Jodie Foster), his wife.
He awakens to the voice of 'The Beaver' (who sounds very much like Ray Winstone). This discarded hand puppet breathes new life into the formally numb Black.
2011 was the year of Ryan Gosling; he starred in the celebrated comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, the acclaimed political drama The Ides of March and the action thriller Drive.
In Drive, Gosling is an unnamed Hollywood stunt performer, who also moonlights as a getaway driver. Gosling's character - The Driver, is calm and collected, no matter the situation, as the tense prologue demonstrates.
But when The Driver meets Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos), he becomes entangled in both a personal relationship with her and her son, and a professional relationship with her husband, Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac), who has just been released from prison.
Drive is like a live action Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, with an 80s inspired soundtrack to match.
It is a brutal and dark urban fantasy and in many ways an instant cult classic.
The real star of Drive is director Nicolas Winding Refn, who was rightfully awarded the Best Director award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.