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Top 10 Films of 2011

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by Gordon D'Mello (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney's heart, event enthusiast and founder/editor of growing sports syndicate 'Injury Time'
Published December 10th 2011
2011 was another massive year for Hollywood. We didn't have a massive amount of amazing films, but out of the lot, I've etched out my diamonds from the rough. Here's my top ten films of this year.

10. Fast Five
Universal Pictures
We all know of those wonderful chick flicks. Take the tissue box and cuddle up. Of course if you're a guy, get ready for ninety minutes of pain. Fast Five is the film of 2011 where you get all the lads together and enjoy the bonds of pumped testosterone. In F5 we are reunited with our old favourites in Dom, Brian, Han, Roman and even good old Luda. Dwanye Johnson also joins the line-up as a DSS Agent hunting down Dom and Brian. The film centres on a 'final' heist in Brazil and includes all the usual thrills and spills that any veteran of the franchise will love. We also have a much better plot which ties emotion with the action. Then we get a huge curveball in the dying embers, with a twist that definitely means there is at least one more film left in the series.

9. Paranormal Activity 3

In all honesty, one of the best horror films of the past few years. It seemed like the general consensus of people still were not convinced with this style of scare, myself included, after the first two instalments. But unlike the first two films, PA3's thrills start early and are generally much better. The plot leaves a lot of room left in the overall story so expect at least one, possibly two more films. With a climax that you'll find hard to rival in any horror movie in the past decade, PA3 is a rollercoaster ride that will have you sleeping with the lights on for a few nights.

8. Super 8

When JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg get together, something special is on the cards. Super 8 tells the story of a bunch of young kids who accidentally witness a train crash when filming their own 'Super 8' movie. It leads the pack on search of what actually happened that night, as people around the town continue to be killed in the aftermath. Perhaps the most impressive factor of the film is the performance by the young cast in particular Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, the latter proving she has the talent to match her older sister. It has some feelings of E.T. and is a true summer blockbuster told in a wonderful way.

7. The Tree of Life

Credit where it's due. Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is nowhere near your standard American film. It's extremely abstract, it's different and certainly not for those looking for quick thrills. In fact, never can I say that I've pondered so much after watching a film. This film will make you think about your life during and after watching. We see an outstanding performance by Brad Pitt as Mr. O'Brien, but it focuses on his son, Jack (played by Sean Penn as an adult), his relationship with his father and the questions of life. I know it might sound like a bore, and at times it can be. But you will be challenged in this film, challenged to think – and it's worth seeing this film just because of the fact that stories like this are extinct in mainstream Hollywood.

6. 50/50

When you think of a film about cancer, humour probably isn't the first thing you associate it with. However, that's exactly what this film is all about, and surprisingly enough, director Jonathan Levine finds the perfect balance between emotion and jokes. The plot depicts the life of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, leading to his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) attempting to keep him happy during his treatment. It's a journey that looks at the highs and lows of cancer and illness in general, with Rogen providing the comedic relief. But that comedy never steps over what is a very thin line and the result is a touching story that will appeal to a wide audience. A must see.

5. X-Men: First Class

Finally, X-Men is back. Whilst Wolverine was adrenaline pumping, it lacked a good story, script and screenplay, likewise The Last Stand. X-Men: First Class was the perfect response to breathe new life into the franchise. It is effectively the beginning to the X-Men, depicting the origins of Charles Xavier (Prof. X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto). Whilst it took a while, we finally have an X-Men film that is not full of action, that's not saying that it lacks great duels, but the focus of this film, unlike previous editions, is the storyline. We have a smart script from Matthew Vaughan and really, when I thought this might be one of the weaker X-Men films, it is arguably the best of the bunch.

4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Twentieth Century Fox
A wonderfully crafted, original take on the classic. This version of 'Apes' is fresh and focuses primarily on the emotional connection between man and primate. Andy Serkis gives another amazing performance as Caesar, the lead ape, whilst we have a solid performance by the ever-versatile James Franco. The scene is set when Will (Franco) decides to raise Caesar from birth, realizing that the ape had inherited the intelligence genes from a drug that had been tested on his mother. The plot is full of hints to a second film, with Serkis confirming that there will be a sequel, producer Rick Jaffa noting that they were building a platform for future films in the franchise.

3. Bridesmaids

If the Hangover was all about the bromance of guys hanging together, Bridesmaids is all about the 'sistership'. Of course, that mashed up with wonderful comedy, loveable characters and gross moments. It's over two hours long, so for a comedy that's a bit much, however, that allows Jadd Apatow (40 year old Virgin, Knocked Up) to really develop the characters into people you can associate with. To the guys out there, don't think this is a chick flick either. Whilst girls will probably understand and familiarize with the story a little more, there are still plenty of great scenes and jokes that will make even the staunchest tradie crack a smile. For me it was the best comedy of the year with a breakthrough cast.

2. Moneyball

Most films about baseball, sport in general for that matter, might shy away a certain number of viewers. But this film is more than that, I'd even go as far as saying you don't need to know anything about baseball to enjoy this film. It effectively deals with the big guy versus little guy theme, where we see Brad Pitt starring as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Cash strapped, the Athletics look finished, but Beane attempts to bring success with a final manoeuvre no one thought would work. It's a wonderfully witty script from Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin that isn't clichéd like many other baseball tales of recent memory are.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)

How can you go past the final film in perhaps the biggest film franchise of recent memory? It would be slack on my part if I ranked HP7 as number one for 2011 simply because it was the last instalment, but thankfully it sits on top because it deserves to. The film includes all the elements we've grown to love about the series, from the dark feeling to the Ron Weasley humour to one of the most epic final battles between protagonist and antagonist, this film was more than the perfect ending. Yes, money was the only reason for it being in 3D, but you cannot deny the brilliance and appeal. The film itself made a quite staggering 1.3 billion in revenue and that will surely continue upon its release to DVD and BluRay. My biggest hope is that the likes of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint can forge great careers; however it's going to be hard seeing them out of their 'natural' roles (at least in the interim). It's a tad sad thinking that there will be no more Harry Potter films to come, a true end of an era.

What Were Your Faves?

Don't forget we've got releases like Harold and Kumar, Mission Impossible and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo still to come. What were your favourite films of 2011? Let us know in the comments section.
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