Saturday, 28 January 2012


All those years ago, who would have guessed that guy from the "E.R." TV show would be a well-liked and respected actor/director?

Well, yet again, Clooney discreetly steps into the spotlight with a performance that many are calling his best to date and awards are rightly expected to follow. This is due to the man himself with his effortless charm and his ability to pick roles that elevate him and the film to memorable heights.

Here he teams up with director Payne who gave the seriously-themed films About Schmidt and Sideways a surprising element of humour that ended up pushing the darker aspects of the stories into the background but never ignored them. Here, this trend continues with what would normally read as a dark tale of a man dealing with the hat-trick of a comatose wife, the discovery of her infidelity and thus becoming a full-time parent to their kids during her absence/sickness. In other hands, this could have been a very somber affair but with Payne's light touch and Clooney's comedic talent, the life lessons learned throughout become that much more palatable, and highly enjoyable.

Clooney deserves the attention for his performance (although his Up In The Air turn is still his best work in my opinion) but alot must be said for the characters that he gets to bounce off of, in particular the two daughters (Woodley and Miller as the 17 and 10 year olds) and their laid-back but ultimately inspiring teenage dude friend, Krause. It is he who gets to be involved in two of the films best surprises - an unexpected display of violence and a surprising piece of information divulged that changes your perception of him in at instant.

What they have managed to do from the source material is create a roller coaster of emotions, swinging from tender, emotional moments that can bring the viewer to tears - Woodley's reaction to the news of her Mother by screaming under water and the family unit casually snuggling up on the sofa all comfortable with each other - through to the laugh-out-loud sequences - Clooney's bizarre run to confront friends about his wife's betrayal and his one attempt at discipline to one of his incredulous daughters.

Never dull and always full of witty dialogue and heart-felt interactions between actors delivering performances worthy of your time and effort, The Descendants is one of those films that deserves to be nominated in all awards ceremonies and to end up on your DVD shelf but go see it in the cinema so your probable tears won't be seen by your fellow viewers.

UK release date: 27.01.12
Certificate: 12A

Sunday, 15 January 2012


The "found footage" documentary style of film has had many low lights and some high lights since The Blair Witch Project was unleashed back in 1999. Since then, the field of horror has predominately attempted to take advantage of the "real events" myth that this genre brings to the audience, hopefully reinforcing the scares for them.

Writer/Director Brent Bell follows up his 2006 slasher Stay Alive with this demonic possession tale of a young woman - Andrade in typical plucky "talk to camera" heroine mode - who seeks the truth about her mother and the murders that she committed during an attempted exorcism performed on herself.

For once, the aspect of having a camera present throughout the whole proceedings is somewhat believable as its director/cameraman is after the money shots for his documentary. There's no real reason for you to scream at the screen to "drop the camera and run away" like Blair Witch or Cloverfield as this guy has money and success driving him on to continue filming when most sane people would have run a mile at the first sight of a contorted body spewing profanities in multiple languages.

There's really nothing new here that hasn't been explored before in the likes of the superior The Exorcism Of Emily Rose or the grandaddy of them all, The Exorcist, but that's not to say that there aren't some nice touches thrown in amongst the well-trodden path it walks down. The first meet between daughter and her mental institutionalised mother is a wonderful example of tension-building to the point that when the possibly-possessed mother beckons her daughter nearer and then drags her own chair across the floor towards her, you're whispering to yourself for her to get out of the room pronto.

Where the film lets itself down is its "twist finale" that presumably Brent Bell thought would give this film the legs that Paranormal Activity was given with its final 30 second sequence that opened up the door to it becoming a franchise. Not giving anything away, it makes a huge, hitherto undiscussed leap plot-wise, that is not explained but more shouted out in all the confusion and barely caught on camera for the audience to digest. It's not exactly rocket science or a brain teaser, but it would have been a nice touch if the characters had taken a moment to digest what was going on rather than just scream at each other and make a decision that even busty blonde's in slasher flicks would have questioned.

An idea with merit but stereo-typing and cliches drag down the benefits of the unusual Rome setting and the depiction of the Church trying to bury such things to an overall missed opportunity. And the whole ending, just like the final 30 seconds of Paranormal Activity, ruins everything that went before it, just leaving a bad taste in your mouth rather than a sequel or prequel or an explanation of some kind.

UK release date: 02.03.12
Certificate: 15

Friday, 13 January 2012


If film has taught us anything, it's that if you live in the US you just aren't safe from global invasion from beings from another planet. If you live in the UK, France or Tokyo, you aren't that safe either but you and your country's plight will only get a mention over whatever form of media still exists at the time - TV or radio before all communications are destroyed by the invaders.

Well, it's time to relax because now everywhere is in danger, starting with Russia! Specifically Moscow. But never fear, because America will send its finest to help with the retaliation... two wanna-be software developer millionaires no less!

Originally planned to be based in the US, the influence and words of producer Bekmambetov relocated it to his beloved Moscow. Bearing in mind this is the man who gave us the likes of Night Watch, Day Watch and Wanted, it's a shame his words didn't extend to the script as well. Even the establishing shots of the Russian city seem to be more concerned in showing you the Western influence there - Starbucks, McDonald's - rather than the likes of the recent Mission: Impossible which showed the city off far better in it's 15 minute sequence than the whole running time of The Darkest Hour and they blew up the Kremlin in that one!

However, that's the not the major flaw with the film. Its the incoherency regarding the logic and the swing from super intelligence to dumbness of the central characters that stops you from suspending disbelief and therefore rooting for them to survive. The two American "heroes" who step up and take charge and their "just met/possible love interest" girls seem to be able to clock on to the alien energy detection techniques very really on but then they continue to make decisions that would make busty blonde's in slasher movies embarrassed.

What's a good and sensible move is the fact that the invasion is never explained in-depth and is left to us and the characters to guess at the aliens motives etc but then any positive actions are then squashed by the last 10 minutes of the film. It seems that action sequences that were destined for the film are tacked on at the end so that they can be included in the final product when they would have made more sense being placed in the initial run across the ruins of Moscow. At least the writers and director have the balls to not be so predictable when it comes to who survives and who doesn't.

A missed opportunity and an over-optimistic ending which looks like it's expecting a sequel but which will never come to fruition, here's hoping that Bekmambetov gets behind the camera and finishes off his Watch trilogy rather than producing below-parr popcorn fodder.

UK release date: 13.01.12
Certificate: 12A

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Apparently after seeing the stage play in the UK, Spielberg fell in love with the tale of a boy and his horse and moved it onto his ever-growing slate of films to make.

At first glance, it may seem like an odd choice for the man who has moved away from his early films that were described by some as over-sentimental, sugar-coated and emotionally manipulative and who now swings between his "fun" side - The Adventures Of Tintin; Indiana Jones - and his "mature" side - Munich; Saving Private Ryan.

And for a long while, it does feel like an odd choice for various reasons. The main one is that it doesn't feel like a film that's got the stamp "Executive Producer" on it from Spielberg, let alone "Directed by." If you didn't know his name was on it you'd swear that someone else was behind the camera calling the shots. Now is that a bad thing? Yes, and no.

Characters under extreme circumstance has been the 'Berg's consistent and strong point throughout his career and here, it's business as usual. However, the characterisation - and following on from that, the usual connection that is then made from the audience - is put to the test as it's not on a human level as you're used to but, not surprisingly when you think of the title of the film, on the horse, Joey.

From the outset, the emotions are all squarely on Joey - from his wanting to interact with the boy Albert who would become his most loyal friend but being told off and kept away by his over-protective mother, through to the acts of friendship and bravery when Joey takes the place of another horse in pulling heavy German artillery up a hill. Most of the human cast don't get a look in when it comes to the raw, emotional scenes. Sure there is a touching friendship between Albert and his Samwise Gamgee-type mate who follows him into war to find the horse but all the human cast are fleeting things in the life of Joey as he tumbles from person to person, and then from side to side during the war.

It does start to feel like a soap opera when Joey is constantly taken by English, then German, then French and back and forth again throughout his war effort but the camera work and the music by regular composer Williams, glosses over that and keeps you transfixed to the screen. Infact, it's that combination that delivers a truly pulse-racing sequence that turns into shock and apprehension when Joey breaks free and runs away from the battle through the trenches, then into no-mans land and into the many barbed-wire fences strewn around. This arm-rest gripping segment then melds into a grin-inducing scene where hostilities are put on hold as tow soldiers - one from each side - try and save a brave horse that's in distress. It may even replace the Pipes Of Peace music video for most touching event during WWI.

So, with War Horse, fans of Spielberg will find themselves in a surprising situation - something new and different from what they're used to. It may feel a little strange and take some getting used to but in the end, just like his works before, you'll be glad you took your seat and watched it.

UK release date: 13.01.12
Certificate: 12A

Friday, 6 January 2012


The genre of biopic is normally a field where event after event has the viewer thinking that if they didn't know that it was based on fact, they'd believe that it was made up by writers.

The story of the Western World's first female Prime Minister, like the lady herself, is a film that will split people down the middle, and not just because of its central character.

Director Lloyd, who gave the world a singing Meryl Streep in Mama Mia!, tackles the controversial figure with a very strange narrative and an emphasis that will only serve to further the divide between the haters and the lovers. The story deals with the ageing Thatcher as she tries to exorcise the ghost of her dead husband all the while having various things conjure up memories from her political life.

This style has an unusual side effect where rather than a woman who either didn't back down in the face of adversity or caused the adversity (depending on your stance), you are presented with an old woman that could be your grandmother. Of course some will think that this is a deliberate ploy to make you feel sympathy for Margret, which for awhile, does feel like that is the aim - she's pushed and ignored by representatives of "business" and "youth" in a corner shop, she's talked about in hushed tones from people who "care/worry" for her health both mental and physical. But for each moment of that stance, you are presented with the memories of the miner's strike or the poll tax riots.

These aren't delved into too deeply, maybe for fear of moving it into the realms of political-based drama rather than the memories of a woman based in a man's world. The spotlight on the legislation side of her "reign" could possibly alienate the audience over the age of 30 who lived through the policies implemented by her and her government. Infact, where the film scores highly is in its depiction of what she faced from the all male environment at work. The shots of all grey/black suits bustling into the chamber like a rush hour crowd on the tube with deep in its midst one lone splash of bright blue trying to stand its ground; the handbag which never leaves her side especially after speech to the opposition that "today is not a day" for their petty squabbles; telling the American ambassador that Hawaii is just as much a small island as the Falklands are; the Kings Speech-esque voice training session that delivers a truly laugh out loud moment involving Dennis who is patiently (as he does throughout the whole film played wonderfully by Broadbent) waiting in the wings for hid "MT" - all these are standout moments.

Even if your memories or political views refuse to let you like the idea of a story of Thatcher, the one thing that cannot be denied or quibbled with is Streep's performance. Those few that shine no matter how bad the film is (Denzel Washington in Training Day for example) have a new standard to match up to. In both the later years and the political years, Streep nails every aspect. Her current Thatcher is full of little shakes, vague mind wanderings and aches and pains that make you forget exactly what Streep looks like - the transformation is truly stunning.

A mixed film but with one of the strongest and finest performances from not just Streep but from any other actor, her depiction of a woman in her prime and trying to deal with no longer having such prime or power is worth the admission price alone.

UK release date: 06.01.12
Certificate: 12A

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


So, the world and all its inhabitants made it through the foretold "rapture" and some religious guy in America apologised and said that he may have got the date wrong! Good news then for the British Olympics staff and its competitors!

And also for Hollywood and the film industry who had lined up an impressive, even by their standards, list of entertainment for the popcorn punters this year.

The film studios are already gearing up to release their big guns from this month onwards to dominate not only the lucrative Summer season but also the awards season with their releases
slated from October, so, how about a flash forward for you to plan ahead each month and either book the baby-sitter, cancel the stag/hen do, re-arrange that reunion, record that football match rather than watch it live or.... insert the relevant scenario that matches your busy life here!

The following will pick each of the coming months and highlight some of the movies that hope to score big-time with your attention and your pocket money... so the list is there, all you have to do is choose what out of them gets your vote for your popcorn-consuming calender...

And as the poster for the "end of the world" film stated, you were warned... by me!



Spielberg steps up to the plate once again to weave his magic and this time it's a cherished play that has captivated all that have seen it that gets his attention. The phrase "never work with children or animals" was clearly never meant for the man who gave us E.T., Jurassic Park or Empire Of The Sun. Black Beauty, Seabiscuit, make your way to the glue factory...



Or, as some would call it, what Harry Potter did next! Again, another stage play adaptation except this time its more ecto-plasmic rather than equestrian. Daniel Radcliffe plays the unfortunate soul sent to sort out a will in a house that will forever change him. The play is awesome so the film has a lot to "live" up to...



Tough call this month with CG-heavy offerings of Wrath Of The Titans and The Hunger Games, but, lets face it, anything from the creators of Wallace & Gromit has got to be the one to go for! Showing that Brit humour can launch a thousand ships still, it looks like an offering that the whole family can enjoy - arrgh me hearties!



I won't lie to you, this is one THE big ones for me! The man who created Firefly gets to show exactly how ensemble movies should be made with some of the biggest egos to contend with! Finally, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Captain America get to battle it out against a formidable foe, and each other, whilst being helped by Black Widow and Hawkeye and no doubt called mutha's from Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury.... sounds like heaven!



A long time coming, the third installment of Earth's last defence against the worst scum of the universe goes all Back To The Future time-trippy in order to save the day and the franchise. With not much out around the same time, this could well make a killing at the box office until the big Summer hitters are released.



The possible prequel/side-quel/alongside-quel of what is regarded as one of the finest sci-fi horror films of all time will finally burst forth like a chest-buster onto the screens with original Ridley Scott behind the camera and a host of who's-who waiting to be killed off such as Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron... Commence screaming.



There shouldn't be anything to say about the third and final installment of Chris Nolan's genre-changing Batman saga except for it's finally here! With both director and star saying there will be no more Bat-antics, expect this one to go out with a big bang!



Pixar are back! And after comments regarding that their output has mainly related to only animals and such, they now appear to be tackling an all-human environment and addressing the unfair criticisms that females have played only minor roles to date. Either way, when Pixar are around every other film should beware!



For those who got to see the delightful Coraline when it was released, the same quirky and enthralling style is brought to the tale of a boy this time whose abilities will draw him into a world of adventure, excitement and danger. All accompanied by a U certificate though so bring the family!


SKYFALL (aka James Bond returns)

There's not much floating around regarding Daniel Craig's third outing as 007 except for the facts - Sam Mendes of American Beauty fame) directs, Javier Bardem is the villain, and Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney join in alongside regular Judi Dench. When the trailer hits, it will be added. Until then, here's a reminder of how the reboot started...



The guy that gave us Zombieland and 30 Minutes Or Less, goes all noir and serious with this LA-based thriller with Ryan "so hot right now" Gosling's 1940's cop trying to take down Sean Penn's big gangster. Expect tommy guns galore, see? Again when the trailer surfaces, expect it here...



Honestly, there is nothing to say except, for those of you who felt Christmas time ended with the release of the final chapter in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy back in 2003, fear not! With Peter Jackson back at the helm and Martin Freeman as the only Bilbo Baggins he wanted for the role, the first film of the two-parter graces our screens whilst New Zealand gets ready for the influx of tourists again!

So, for the time being, just know that for each film I've listed above, it will be up against at least another ten minimum in that particular month. There's a host of other note-worthy flicks but rest assured, when I can they will be here for you to peruse.

What are you looking forward to then? And did you know any of them?

Monday, 2 January 2012

FILMS YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE SEEN IN 2011: 10 through to 1

For every fantastic present, there's an over-done turkey and 2011 was no exception on that front concerning films. Here are the worst films of the year that you will never ever get that time back - for shame on you Hollywood, for shame!

10. Cowboys & Aliens
This makes it into this Top Ten list because it should have been in the list of films you SHOULD have seen! James Bond! Indiana Jones! The guy that did Iron Man! Spielberg producing! How could it go wrong?!?

It did! The trailer hinted at drama, action, comedy - and what we got instead was a scowling Craig with personality left off screen somewhere, Ford supplying what little humour there was and a long drawn-out finale that, like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind proved, you should never, ever go into the spaceship.

The potential was huge, the disappointment was equally so.

9. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
Sequels - This list of miss-fires will have its fair share of them. If they got it right once, the lure of extra cash disguised as giving audiences more of what made them happy in the first place is too strong.

The Transformers franchise, despite acknowledging the flaws of its second outing, hasn't learnt one bit from the over-complicated, hard-to-watch mess that was Revenge Of The Fallen. Getting rid of Fox was neither a good or bad decision but replacing her with a beautiful but expressionless plank of wood was definitely not a wise move. And with LeBeouf now relegated to "Optimus!" screamer throughout its running time, it is now time for a clean sweep - new writers, new director, new cast - or for it to be put back in the toy chest.

8. Happy Feet 2
The simplistic idea of combining cute animals with toe-tapping tunes made the original Happy Feet a well-deserved success. The songs felt like they were written for the film and not randomly shoe-horned in to help push album sales.

The same cannot be said for the second trip to Mumble's world. Unrecognisable songs for many, with not only plot hopping but storyline ignoring, it felt like two weak ideas hastily glued together to fill out the short running time. No happy feet or heart here.

7. Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The lure of more money was too much for the studio but instead of trying to go back to the beginning formula that proved successful, they stuck with the same technique that almost sank the franchise.

Over-complicated and full of pointless characters, Captain Jack Sparrow's fourth adventure rambled again across many lands and seas without actually going anywhere or making any sense whilst doing so. It was more "seriously?" than "savvy?"

Even though Depp's Sparrow is a delight to behold, he's not able to hold a film together for 2 hours on his own - he needs characters to bounce off of (literally in some cases!) and a plot to sail through - which was sorely lacking here.

6. Sleeping Beauty
Sexual awakening is a well-ploughed (sorry!) field in cinema. So much so that whole sub-genres were created to fully explore the various aspects of it - the biggest being the "coming-of-age" comedies of late.

This couldn't be any further afield from those if you tried. Coming across as art for arts sake, the tale of a girl essentially whoring herself out (anything except for penetration is the one rule) to pay for her education and food etc, drifts along with characters that have no explanation nor redeeming qualities for you to sympathise or engage with.

5. The Green Hornet 3D
With a plot and an overall product that felt like it was made up as they went along, this entry into the world of cinematic heroes had the unfortunate position of being in the same genre as the likes of The Dark Knight, Iron Man and Kick Ass.

Woefully miscast, badly edited and unimaginative, the only good thing in the film was the car - which isn't a good sign at all!

4. Conan The Barbarian
Another franchise reboot and another whiff of a money-making attempt. The trailer promised so much, as they always do, and the film itself delivered a soulless mix of unfunny, unsexy nonsense.

Neither tongue-in-cheek or brave enough to go hard-core aggressive and masculine, this Conan tried to "explain" him with an origins story when it should have just been giving him a quest to embark upon. Arnie can rest easy knowing he still holds the crown.

3. Your Highness
My personal biggest let-down of the year was the film that should, by viewing the trailer, have been the successor to the classic The Princess Bride. It wasn't even even good enough to be the Bride's chambermaid.

Too ready to go with smut jokes, it decided to just stay with them rather than expand and bring in varied types of humour. Improvisation was apparently key during the making of it and it showed with a simple plot lost along the way a slew of drug and dick jokes. Even Natalie Portman in a Princess Leia-esque bikini couldn't save this.

2. Sanctum 3D
Splashing Cameron's name all over this in the hope of riding on the success of Avatar only built up the eventual disappointment even more!

With no attempt at characterisation nor any likable individuals, how could you be expected to care who survived or not in this un-tense drama where water was the only exciting thing to appear on the screen. The using of 3D in dark underwater caves showed that the industry still had alot to learn - tagging a film "3D" won't make it good or a hit. Especially if you can't even experience the third dimension because just black emptiness upon the screen doesn't really work.

2. Immortals
Immortals - the film that was so mind-numbing that I couldn't even finish the review and post it. Again, like some of the other major disappointments, the warning signs were all there - this was "From the producers of..." which doesn't mean anything regarding the story, dialogue or direction.

Even making the recent Clash Of The Titans seem bearable, this incoherent mess seemed to just rely on six-pack shots of the new Superman looking what no doubt was supposed to be thoughtful and moody but ended up looking like Joey Tribbiani's "smell the fart" technique.

1. Tree Of Life
You just know that there are people out there who will commit celluloid snobbery - say a film is outstanding etc just because it's supposed to be or has been classed as such. This was this years entry.

All for different story telling techniques, variety can lead to new discoveries and new experiences in the field of cinema. However, if you're asking an audience to sit for 140 minutes then maybe you need to deliver at least some semblance of narrative to keep them engaged or make it feel worthwhile. Malik's fifth film in over 30 years looks and feels like those bizarre perfume commercials where random shots and lines of dialogue all pile up upon each other to sit there bold a s brass daring you to question what's going on and therefore show your ignorance at it all. Confusing and unengaging.

So, how unlucky were you then? How many did you see? How many will you see now just to find out if they're that bad? Did I list your fave film here and you seek vengence???

Sunday, 1 January 2012

FILMS YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN IN 2011: 5 through to 1

And so here are my top five films on the year that saw both good and bad in equal measures...

5. Disney's Tangled 3D
When Disney do it right, they knock it outta the park. Now with the influence of Pixar firmly in place, the once dizzy heights of The Lion King should be back in their sights.

Great songs - Mother Knows Best - along with one of cinema's finest comic relief in the shape of Maximus the horse, saw the story of Rapunzel (changed to be more "boy friendly") charm and delight children and adults alike.

With eye-widening imagery - the launching of the lanterns - laugh-out-loud moments - a sword-wielding horse vs a frying pan-carrying thief duelling - things are looking for both Disney and its audiences.

4. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Originally smelling of a studio trying to milk a franchise for all its worth, Rise Of The Planet... pretty much surprised everyone who saw it.

Pretty much the Andy Serkis show, his performance along with truly stunning motion capture and CGI made you forget that you were watching an ape and simply accept it and even more oddly enough, start rooting for it instead of the human counterparts!

Surprisingly engaging and emotional, the investment into characterisation pays off not only in the gripping finale but especially in the one sequence that could have had audiences laughing rather than stunned. Bring on another!

3. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Made famous by Alec Guinness, the BBC series was deemed one of those "untouchable" products by many. However, all their fears were for naught as Alfredson's version was the ultimate slow-burner with oodles of paranoia piled on from the opening sequence.

With a cast that didn't put a foot wrong, all were magnificent but the nod must surely go to Oldman come Oscar time. His quiet and methodical way throughout only helps to catch you off guard when his one moment of emotion slips through his calm exterior towards the end.

A truly engrossing film it showed that with enough care and attention, anything can be redone.

2. The King's Speech
Released at the very beginning of the year, this quickly became, and rightly so, a feel-good hit that devoured awards left, right and center.

The chemistry between Firth's buttoned-down Prince and Rush's down-to-earth therapist was a delight to behold whilst Bonham Carter was the Queen everyone would have wanted to reign!

Sure, steady and never over manipulative, it allowed the central characters to breath and grow making the viewers investment worthwhile when the big day inevitably rolls around and the public address has to be given.

Beautifully handled and funny to boot, it deserved all it got.

1. Super 8
No doubt a controversial choice, never-the-less, Super 8 was what a good film should be - entertaining in every way. A love letter to all those films released when I was growing up, it smacked of a wonderful tribute to all those early Spielberg films whilst still being an individual movie in its own right.

Not hindered by its young cast, it actually benefits from them as they all do a great job, none more so than the object of affection Fanning who is exactly the girl you wish you had your first crush on.

J.J. Abrams handles the sequences and the camera as well as you would expect giving such things as lens flare throughout and "that" awesome train crash also and his homage to growing up along with films is a heart-felt and grin-inducing one. A joy to behold again and again.

So, that completes the Top Ten for 2011. The list this time was hard to do with at least a few more nearly making it in until the last moments. Sadly, I was unable to fit in Hanna, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec, The Guard, Drive, Hugo 3D and The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of the Unicorn. Those films were standout for different reasons but in the end there are only ten places so you just have to do a Sophie's Choice and await the backlash!

So, over to you!

FILMS YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN IN 2011: 10 through to 6

Now with the clarity that can only come from people having to get ready to go back to work and having detoxed from alcohol after New Year's celebrations, it's the perfect time to look back upon the year that was 2011 and the films that graced our screens...

BEST FILMS OF 2011 - 10 thru to 6

10. Crazy, Stupid, Love
The rom-com genre was saved by this funny, insightful look at the different stages of love and how people face them. Unlike the types of New Years Eve, this ensemble cast all had story arcs that mattered and were worthy of your attention.

It also introduced us to Ryan Gosling and his bid to take over the world one film at a time. His clued-up romeo who takes Carrell under his wing and teaches him to respect himself whilst also becoming a player, pulls off the hard task of being a jerk that you care about.

And it's not all male shenanigans - Stone continues to cement her Best Young Actress bid as the perfect foil for Gosling's over confident guy and Tomei brings the laughter with her kooky teacher. Great fun.

From the most unlikely source came a film that approached the well-worn subject of coming-of-age and made it fresh and engrossing.

Ayoade, best known as quirky comedian from the likes of The IT Crowd and Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, made his directorial debut with the tale of an unusual boy who falls for an even stranger girl.

Confident direction with wonderful touches that belay its low budget, Submarine charms from the get-go with its central couple played perfectly by Roberts and Paige. The seduction sequence is hilarious and cringe-inducing in equal measures and more of the same is dished out throughout. Better than a slew of American gross-out coming-of-age movies all together.

8. Arrietty
CGI may seem to be the way forward for the movie industry but with the likes of Lassiter actively pushing traditional animation at Disney and Studio Ghibli still producing works of art, the form of hand drawn animation is not dead.

Based on The Borrowers, Arrietty charms you into grinning submission with not only its beautiful story telling techniques, but with its attention to detail which has you looking at every inch of the screen to see the clever uses of everyday objects being put to imaginative use by Arrietty and her family.

Showing that the art of art is not dead, this should be seen by all children so they can see how rich and beautiful cinema can be and it's not just shiny CGI. Beautiful.

7. Source Code
Coming out of nowhere, this was the follow-up to the fantastic Moon but you couldn't have two different films if you tried.

Both may have had mind-bending plots but Source Code mixed up the likes of The Terminator with Groundhog Day to startling effect. The simplistic idea is of a soldier continuously being sent back in time on a train to identify a bomber and prevent a major disaster which plays out in an increasingly tense segments lasting eight minutes each.

Each time travel segment produces more and more "who-is-its?" with Gyllenhaal trying to piece together clues and red herrings along with the audience. Perfect pacing and terrific twists, it demands repeat viewing.

6. Thor 3D
No one saw it coming! A comic-book superhero adventure dealing with a God of thunder when the trend of gritty heroes - Batman Begins - had become the norm... Then add to that it being directed by the bard lover himself - Branagh.

Despite the odds and any reservations, Thor is a success in every aspect. With the right amount of awe, wonder, laughter and action, it easily rivals the heights that the original Iron Man achieved. Branagh brings the Bard to the fore with elements involving the family politics and deftly handles the "fish out of water" plot upon Earth.

A great film in its own right, it doesn't feel like an extended trailer for the forthcoming The Avengers that Iron Man 2 and Captain America felt like. So much fun.

The countdown will continue with 5 through to 1.... What have you seen and what do you think should be included?