The 5 Best Films of 2011

Well ladies and gentlemen, 2012 is nearly upon us. The clocks tick ever closer towards midnight, and with it a brand new dawn. But until then, lets continue to rake over the coals of the year past. Yesterday we brought you our list of the worst films 2011 had to offer, and so now as we wish to enter the new year in a positive frame of mind, we present to you the best cinematic treats 2011 gave to us, in our very humble opinion. So crack open the champagne and begin the countdown for Studio 279’s 5 Best Films of 2011! In at 5, we have:

5. THE GUARD d: John Michael McDonagh

The Guard was without a shadow of a doubt the funniest film of the year. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, the brother of the In Bruges writer/director Martin McDonagh but now destined to be free from family comparisons, the comparatively little seen film is a comedic gem. The never short of marvellous Brendan Gleeson stars as politically incorrect, drug and prostitute using Garda (Irish policeman) Gerry Boyle, whose beat is in sleep Connemara. When a gang of drug smugglers, including charismatic Liam Cunningham and the jaded-with-his-criminal-profession Mark Strong, start using Ireland’s West Coast as part of their operation, the FBI send one of their best agents, Don Cheadle’s Wendell Everett to investigate, leading to a culture clash between the straight-laced American and uninhibited Irishman. That run down of the plot fails to do justice to the scale of enjoyment on offer. Gleeson’s Boyle is a brilliant comic creation, from stealing then using drugs taken from deceased drug drivers and assuming because he is black Wendell must have grown up in the projects of Detroit and be a drug dealer himself, to a child like love of Disneyland and Goofy in particular. McDonagh’s script is full of killer lines which Gleeson nails every time.

But whilst Boyle is clearly a bad cop, he is also a great lawman, which gives the film added interest. Consistently written off and underestimated, Boyle may play the fool but is anything but. Though his lack of tact make him seem stupid, he is quicker off the mark than his colleagues and the FBI man himself, able to deduce what is really going on in the manner of that other drug taking detective Sherlock Holmes. Seeing him piece together the case is as fun as watching him playing arcade video games and downing pints when he is on duty. The film is also surprisingly poignant, with Boyle’s mother (Fionnula Flanagan) ailing in a care home and desperate for some late excitement in her life, a subplot that proves to be very moving. This kind of depth is often lacking in similar fish-out-of-water buddy cop films, as is the depth in the supporting cast. Strong, like Gleeson, is always dependable, but here as the English member of the Irish smuggling crew, his world-weariness is a highlight in a comedy full of them. Depressed by the lack of integrity in the criminal fraternity, and the morons they are forced to deal with (the pay off scene showcasing his disbelief at the stupidity of two idiot underlings is hilarious) he almost steals the show altogether. Cunningham is also a delight as the slimy top dog, full of easy charm and prank phone calls to throw the Gardai off the scent. Though by contrast he is lumbered with the straight role, Cheadle makes it work expertly, his bafflement with Boyle and his antics making the audience query, like him, whether he is for real or messing around. He does get his own chance to shine, in an ill-advised attempt to canvas the neighbourhood for witnesses, one that happens to speak Gaelic. He also underplays the acceptance of his unorthodox partner very well, so despite being a feature of practically every mismatched cop duo’s relationship it still feels fresh. And this is all before the western tinged finale where he and Boyle suit up and tool up for a shoot out confrontation on the pier. The Guard is one of those films you sit through with a smile on your face throughout.

It was nearly not so; due to a catastrophic miscalculation in regards to scheduling cinema visits, we selected to watch the worst film of the year on a Saturday afternoon, wanting to get it out the way and save the promise of The Guard till the next weekend. But its hurried unceremonious yanking from screens, as a small independent Irish comedy with a fraction of the budget of a bloated piece of garbage, can’t compete with audiences in the multiplex and obviously can’t be allowed space. So a breakneck evening visit, not customary for us, was arranged instead. And we loved every minute of it. A brilliant film was complimented by a packed house of well-behaved like-minded patrons who laughed in all the right places and entered into the spirit of things (you would be surprised how many comedies, genuinely funny ones, we have been the only ones laughing at) which added to an already great experience. Sadly many people missed out on this diamond at the cinemas, so when it arrives on DVD in January you are advised, nay, ordered to seek it out. No other comedy in 2011 had Brendan Gleeson get out of bed in his underpants as a Daniel O’Donnell poster looked on. If you need any other recommendation I don’t know what else to say.

HONOURABLE MENTION: BRIDESMAIDS d: Paul Feig

Speaking of comedies of the year, it would be remiss of us not to give a shout out to the wonderful Kristen Wiig penned and starring vehicle Bridesmaids. Whilst missing out on the top 5 list only due to the nature of the competition rather than any of its own failings, in any other year it would surely be stamped as the best laugher bar none. Wiig’s Annie is made Maid Of Honor for her best friend Lillian’s wedding, but has to compete with the snooty and overbearing wannabe Maid Of Honor Helen (Rose Byrne, proving what she can do when given a character, unlike in X-Men) to organise the forthcoming nuptials. As much an honest look at friendship as an out-and-out comedy, Bridesmaids is heartfelt and humorous in equal measure. Annie’s problems, a failed business, unlucky in love with only an unctuous friend with benefits in Jon Hamm to console her (and he’s hilarious; hooray for Jon Hamm!) and her living arrangements with a weird roommate and her landlord, make her a fully rounded relatable character, not some caricature, making the situations she gets into more funny, with her romance with Chris O’Dowd’s policeman adding extra sweetness. Great set pieces, from a toe-curling piece of speech one-upmanship between her and Helen and throwaway gags, an impersonation of the male member, are equally rib tickling. The supporting cast are all superb, from the aforementioned Hamm, Byrne and O’Dowd to Maya Rudolph as Lillian and, in the role of the film, Melissa McCarthy as the decidedly unladylike Megan. Everything she does is achingly funny without resorting to cheap gags at the character’s expense. In fact, despite coming from the Judd Apatow stable one of the most remarkable things about Bridesmaids is its even-handed approach to its characters (even Helen gets some redeeming) and lack or reliance on gross out humour. Though there are sex scenes and one memorable but sublime scene of scatological humour, the film eschews the more blokeish elements of the man’s other produced efforts and is all the better for it. Even with a long runtime at 2hrs and 5mins, it never outstays its welcome, consistently funny from its opening bed gymnastics to concluding wedding karaoke interrupted by lewd sex tape. Well worth checking out if you haven’t already, Bridesmaids more than merits an Honourable Mention as one of our films of the year, even if the top 5 eluded it this time out.

4. SUBMARINE d: Richard Ayoade

Probably the best experience watching a film at the cinema this year came from the delightful Submarine. Adapted from the novel by Joe Dunthorne and written and directed by feature film debutant Richard Ayoade, famous as a comic actor from the brilliant series The IT Crowd, it is funny, affecting and surprising, carried off with great panache and with visual style to burn. Oliver Tate, the pretentious youth who is a hero in the French movie in his own head (played to perfection by Craig Roberts) starts a relationship with the wild petty arsonist object of his affections Jordana (Yasmin Paige) in a Welsh town somewhere in the 1980s. Meanwhile Oliver has to navigate his parent’s rocky relationship, from his professor dad (Noah Taylor) suffering from depression to his mother (Sally Hawkins) and her growing closeness to old flame Graham (Paddy Considine), a ludicrous New Age snake oil salesman who hosts oddball seminars about the power of colours and sells equally oddball VHS tapes outlining his crazy philosophy.

Calling it a coming of age black comedy drama, which it certainly is, suggests the film is a dry, self-important load of twaddle. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ayoade has crafted a stylish, fun and emotionally engaging tale that leaves you with the warm and fuzzies. Having such a socially inept protagonist who believes himself to be extremely suave is extremely funny, from his attempts at a romantic seductive dinner for two to plotting a spot of animal murder to ease the pain of potential future grief. The narration is brilliantly pitched, so often a narrative crutch for lazy filmmakers here illuminating the inner thoughts of the distinctly odd lead, and their comical difference from reality. This ranges from Tate’s risibly conceited musings on how the world would collapse into mourning in the event of his death to the meta humour of pointing out if his situation does not improve, the film of his life will not be able to afford the flashy camera moves he requires. The bold vividly coloured intertitles inspired by the Nouvelle Vague films Oliver cherishes smartly advance the story whilst suggesting his grandiose opinion of himself, all the while meshing seamlessly with Erik Wilson’s beautiful cinematography to create a visually striking and memorable film.

The relationship with Jordana is convincingly and sweetly portrayed despite its unconventional nature. Few romances take in singeing leg hairs with matches or setting off fireworks in bins, but it feels genuine and heartfelt. When things take a dramatic turn and both Jordana’s vulnerability and Oliver’s unwitting cruelty are exposed, the audience is left shocked but never alienated by events. Similarly, when the threat of the absurdly coiffed Graham (a brilliant character essayed by the most brilliant Considine, one of our favourite actors) becomes more potent, Oliver’s response to it and the film around it are taken seriously, but retaining an appropriate level of humour. The young boy’s drug fuelled attempt at avenging Graham’s presumed home wrecking is a great scene, as is Hawkin’s matter of fact explanation to her son what precisely happened between her and the bizarre self-help guru. Throughout the film the beautiful soundtrack of original songs from the Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner complete the picture of a fantastic, funny, truthful and emotionally rewarding film. Detractors attacked the film for its debt to Wes Anderson’s work (Philistines that we are, we are yet to seek out his work) but that would ignore the freshness, lightness of touch and all round brilliance of Submarine in what is, aside from music videos and television episodes, a first directorial outing. With it Ayoade has singled himself out as a talent to be reckoned with, and we look forward to his next effort with great interest, and possibly a bit of jealousy thrown in too.

3. THE TREE OF LIFE d: Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick is nothing short of legendary in filmmaking circles, the movie equivalent of Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman. The lengthy gestation periods of his projects and long gaps between productions are now mythical; in a directorial career spanning almost forty years, he has released only five films to date. For the past few years the industry jungle drums beat with the sound of a new Malick project, much-anticipated, often delayed, such are the vagaries of the Great Man’s progress. With the arrival of that film, The Tree of Life, his first film in six years since The New World, people waited with bated breath. Would it be a transcendental experience supplied by an artist of film? Or would it be some impenetrable mumbo-jumbo and pseudo-intellectual nonsense with lots of close-ups of Malick’s beloved trees?

Well the film’s presence on this list should be an indication of which side our cinematic bread is buttered. The Tree of Life is a profound and moving piece, one that in this writer’s mind may be Malick’s greatest work yet. The film practically defies categorisation or summary, such is its lyrical, almost poetic structure (that sounds unspeakably highfalutin, but sorry fellas, it’s true) The narrative, such as it can be pinned down, concerns the O’Brien family, headed by overbearing patriarch Brad Pitt and his wife Jessica Chastain, in 1950s Texas. In the present day their son Jack (Sean Penn) reflects on his childhood (where Jack is played by Hunter McCracken) and loss of innocence. This really is the best we can manage by way of encapsulating the film’s story, one that takes in themes of unfulfilled ambitions, God-given grace versus the power of nature, family grief and the origins of the universe itself. It is an extraordinary achievement, one that is difficult to put cohesively into words.

The memory like structure, where a remembrance triggers another memory that leads to something else, is expertly handled, beautifully aided by Malick’s eye for abstract details, like a hand, or light coming in through a window. The scope of the film is breathtaking, straddling the dawn of time, the mid 20th Century and the present and possibly the afterlife. But while to some this will sound (or even be) pretentious, this writer would respectfully contend that is not so. As grand and overblown as some of this sounds, it is justified totally due to the emotion permeating the film. By coupling these meditations on divinity, humanity and so on with something so relatable and universal, the unbearable grief of losing a loved one too soon, Malick is able to take us where we will follow. These themes are ones he has addressed before in his work, such as The Thin Red Line, but for us the theorising on grace, the natural world and man’s place in it e.t.c. fell flat as a war film did not feel like the appropriate vehicle to have those discussions organically; instead it just slowed up and distracted from a compelling enough tale about the horrors of war. The Tree of Life by contrast binds those questions into the questioning we all ask when such terrible things happen, and so is as emotionally rewarding as it is visually sumptuous. As it is also a semi autobiographical piece (Malick, like Jack, lost a brother at a young age) it feels truthful and painful as it should. The childhood memories feel authentic, and makes the viewer consider their own childhoods, which adds to its power.

For some, the earnestness of Malick’s endeavour would be easy to mock. Painting on such a grand canvas, serving up such lofty themes and going so without any humour or tongue in cheek makes the film a big target, particularly in the divisive space and dinosaur sequences, or the conclusion in what may be a flight of fancy or may be heaven. With the former, the amazing special effects work used to conjure up the birth of stars, planets, creatures and more defy any criticism, reminding this writer strongly of Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, which, being a fantastic film, is always welcome. The presence of the dinosaur, and the point made about the battle between nature and a higher state of grace, is one that in context works perfectly well, although others may take issue with it as extraneous. But the finale, where characters from different time periods are reunited on sandy terrain, is beyond any brickbats. It is similar to but superior than a celebrated sequence in Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, which does not possess the same heft as Malick’s. The lead in that story, a spoiled, creatively blocked film director, is more inscrutable and less empathetic than Jack O’Brien, with whom we are able to sympathise having discovered his upbringing. The end is a satisfying emotional conclusion to a satisfyingly emotional story, and we are happy to reward it as such.

That is all without highlighting the exemplary acting on display. Brad Pitt reveals the full extent of his talents as the often bitter, sometimes bullying, otherwise kind and loving father of the family. It is a subtle performance, unshowy and internal, with no grandstanding or scenery chewing. His finest moment, when, as a middle aged man he takes the phone call telling him his son is dead, the camera just lingers on his wordless face in a heartbreaking scene. He will likely receive an Oscar nomination for Moneyball instead, but this should be the performance the Academy looks to as it is a reminder what a formidable actor he is. Jessica Chastain is luminous in the other, much more challenging role. Whilst Pitt plays a flawed but obviously human character, violent and petty as a traditional father figure, Chastain has to play an angelic, and possibly even divine, mother figure. She represents Malick’s idea of grace, and manages to pull it off despite the complexity of that task. She is ethereal and maternal, possibly sent from God or just faithfully devoted to him. Like most of the film, it is left ambiguous, but as you can believe she may be an angel, a human mother or a combination of the two, it hints at a great career ahead for an actress practically unheard of this time last year. Sean Penn has less screen time than either, but makes his presence felt as the lost older Jack, and McCracken more than convinces as the younger version. Taken as a whole The Tree of Life is an ambitious, daring but ultimately successful experiment, and one that is unquestionably one of the films of the year.

HONOURABLE MENTION: TAKE SHELTER d: Jeff Nichols

Our second and final honourable mention of the year goes to a film where that wonderful Jessica Chastain equips herself equally brilliantly as Terrence Malick’s opus, but the film and her performance in it could not be more different. Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter is a haunting little picture that gets under your skin and stays there. The imperious Michael Shannon, best known for his great turn as Prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire but a massive talent and one of our most beloved actors, stars as small town construction worker and family man Curtis LaForche. Curtis is plagued with vivid nightmarish visions of the apocalypse, featuring foreboding storm clouds, heavy rain the colour of motor oil, and sudden outbursts of violence from both strangers and, as the dreams progress, those closest to him. Alarmed and shaken by these horrific night terrors but unable to communicate them to either his friend and workmate Dewart (Boardwalk Empire co-star Shea Whigham) or his wife Samantha (Chastain) Curtis has to face two troubling scenarios; either he has succumbed to mental illness, something that stalks his family, or the chilling visions are in fact prophecies of the end of days. To this end, unknown to his wife and at the risk of jeopardising his family’s financial security and his livelihood, he makes his preparations; he goes about the task of expanding the rickety old dilapidated storm shelter in his back garden.

To say more would spoil a film whose power comes in part from the element of surprise and from the precision with which its story is told. The film is a real slow burn, piling up the tension as coolly and as methodically as Curtis approaches his problems. The visions themselves are excellently conceived and unnerving affairs, with recurring images of clouds contrasting with the perennial blue sky of LaForche’s waking moments, the unearthly rain a strange and unpleasant detail and the shocks of sudden violence all helping to put you on edge for the rest of the film. Nichols uses this simple but effective conceit to keep you guessing how the film will play out, and the significance or lack thereof of Curtis’ dreams. the director is able to address other pertinent issues, almost making the film a state of the nation piece, taking in the economy (a lingering shot of a gas pump ticking ever higher to warnings of risky financial investments in such a volatile market) medical insurance (Curtis can only afford a cochlear implant operation for his deaf daughter through the policy tied to his job) and mental health provision (concerned he is suffering from schizophrenia he seeks counselling, finding it to be somewhat less than useful). But Nichols is wise enough to keep this in the background and focus on the actors and, consequently, their characters.

In an ideal world Curtis LaForche would earn Michael Shannon a second Oscar nomination and his first for Best Actor (he previously received a Best Supporting nod for Revolutionary Road in 2009) It is a spectacular performance, quietly understated as a man trying to hold himself together, not sure whether he can trust his own sanity but determined to do what needs to be done so he can stay with his beloved family. His stoicism and desire to keep his secret from his family and friends feels eminently logical if not entirely sensible, and he does a great job of portraying a man touched by mental health problems without “acting crazy.” A lesser actor may have been tempted to deliver a bug-eyed, tic laden over the top performance, but Shannon downplays with aplomb, creating a real guy who is having real problems but is suffering in silence. When his inevitable meltdown occurs under the suspicious eyes of the townspeople, it is mesmerizing and terrifying, a tour de force of a man falling apart despite his best efforts, made all the more powerful and touching by the lack of histrionics elsewhere in his performance. Chastain too deserves awards consideration she will not get for this role (either The Tree of Life, or The Help, will get the nod, but what a year for her!) as she is able to invest a typical character, the nagging or shrewish wife, with a deeper intelligence whilst resisting the temptation to make her nagging or shrewish. Nichols is smart enough to make her absolutely in love with her husband, anxious to understand what is wrong with him but never piling guilt on top of him for his erratic actions. The decision to have her actively call Curtis out on his behaviour and make him spill the beans is a refreshing one, and when coupled with the character’s pragmatism and Chastain’s talents helps craft a loving relationship. Chastain brings an appropriate level of emotion to the part that makes you feel for her as well as him, and will them to work the whole thing out somehow.

But as well as what has gone before it is the ending that will stick with you most of all once the credits have rolled. One that is fitting yet unexpected, challenging but appropriate, and one that makes you want to recommend your nearest and dearest see it immediately (hence its inclusion as an honourable mention) Sadly at the screen we were at two morons decided to leave before the film was actually over, as there is a clever piece of misdirection that you think is the climax, only it isn’t, and so missed what is the best ending of the year. In the interests of balance another group exiting the screen when it was actually over said “that was the third worst film I’ve ever seen!” a statement that is admirably specific if entirely incorrect, so it may not be for everyone. The fact it nearly gategrashed the top five of our films and a year however should stand testament to its greatness. Regrettably it is unavailable on DVD until March, but trust us, it is worth the wait.

2. BLACK SWAN d: Darren Aronofsky

Much to your disappointment, we won’t rhapsodise at length about the majesty of Black Swan, but mainly because as it featured in the Oscar race just gone we made our views on it known extensively (but we also want to finish this piece before next year, damn it!). But for those without the time or energy levels at this late stage in the year/early stage in the new one [delete as appropriate] we shall do our best to summarise. Put simply, it’s mad as a box of frogs playing maracas, and is brilliant for it. Operatic, balletic and hysterical in every sense of the expression, Black Swan was until relatively recently our film of the year, which should go some way to indicating how much we loved it considering we saw it way back at the beginning of February. Magnificently directed by Darren Aronofsky, one of our favourite filmmakers, bravely acted to Oscar glory by Natalie Portman, the story of a psychologically fragile ballerina convinced her understudy (the great but often overlooked in the conversation Mila Kunis) is trying to replace her in the new production of Swan Lake was the most stunning film of the year. Visually dazzling with spectacular equisitely costumed and choreographed ballet sequences, excitingly shot by regular collaborator Matthew Libatique (he, like many others in Studio 279’s rundown of the year, oddly featuring in both lists) and with a majestic score by music maestro Clint Mansell (one whose exclusion from Academy Award consideration should force them to rethink the meaning of the word “Original” in the title for Best Original Score) the film is the complete package. Eye opening, nerve jangling, edge of the seat stuff, it is nothing short of total filmmaking; everybody firing on all cylinders to produce a horrific, exciting, beautiful, terrifying and all round wonderful piece of cinematic art. With any luck this one will stick in the brain for many years to come.

And so, which film is it that as Bert the Chimney Sweep observed in Mary Poppins, “cream of the crop, tip of the top…and there we stop”? Well, wait no longer, rev it up, people, for it’s:

1. DRIVE d: Nicolas Winding Refn

It’s Drive! Nicolas Winding Refn’s aces tale of a nameless Driver, stuntman and moonlighting criminal on the mean streets of LA, is the film of 2011 that most got our motor running. From the very first minute the retro synthesiser based score kicks in, and Ryan Gosling’s Driver outlines his exacting conditions for driving getaway cars, the film has you hooked. Tense waits in parked cars as jobs are going down followed by brilliantly shot and edited car chases when it all goes pair shaped ensures the enjoyment stacks up, and just keeps going. This opening salvo gives way to the tender romance between the shy and awkward when out of a car Driver and Carey Mulligan’s Irene, his apartment building neighbour raising her young child alone. Their relationship blossoms beautifully, with great chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan making them an endearing couple. But when Irene’s husband Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac, given a character he deserves after being the only redeeming feature of tat like Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood) is released from prison, but owes a debt to some shady characters, to protect the woman he loves and her child The Driver is forced to use his skills to help, a decision which will prove to have deadly consequences.

Everything about Drive is fantastic. Channelling macho chronicler of honourable crims Michael Mann, both with the gorgeous digital photography from Newton Thomas Sigel reminiscent of Collateral and a story that owes a debt to the little seen James Coburn starrer Thief, Nicolas Winding Refn crafts a film that is both pure entertainment but also proper unadulterated cinema. Stories of reluctant wrongdoers needing to do what they’d rather give up to protect their sweethearts is as old as the Hollywood hills, but the director does it effectively, efficiently, and most importantly, subtely, giving it a freshness these yarns so often lack. Making The Driver a taciturn, almost silent individual, enables Gosling to show his acting skills are the equal to his character’s driving ones, and creates an iconic presence in the style of Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name. The innocence Winding Refn uses in Irene and The Driver’s relationship makes the descent into horrific violence all the more shocking. In one key elevator set scene, The Driver kisses Irene sweetly in slow motion, only to turn around and viciously beat and stamp the hoodlum sharing the lift to a dead bloody pulp. These explosions of bloodletting are as wince inducing but deftly executed as those in a Martin Scorsese film; violence with hideous, nasty consequences, but not hideous and nastily violent. He ramps things up to their operatic, high stakes yet admirably low-key conclusion. The final showdown occurs in a parking lot outside a restaurant, after another character is despatched in the pounding surf off the Los Angeles coast. Drive is a great ride, pacey, fun, by turns shocking and by others gleeful. It is a good old-fashioned B movie elevated to A List status by the talent involved, a great director on top of his game, and a superb cast.

Aside from the great Gosling and marvellous Mulligan, Drive was always going to hit us in the sweet spot by casting some of our favourite actors. Bryan Cranston, the peerless star of one of the best TV series ever in Breaking Bad, here plays The Driver’s only friend and colleague, Shannon. He helps him get stunt jobs, helps him get “other” jobs, and proposes a way out of “the life” in the form of a stock car he seeks investment for. Cranston’s Shannon is both affable and sleazy, a good friend but one who looks weak enough to send his pal down river given half a chance. He is also not a strong man in a fraternity of dangerous people; his limp hints that his run ins with the mob have left him second best. Ron Perlman, Hellboy extraordinaire, muse of Guillermo Del Toro and like Cranston a wonderful exponent of American cable television through his role of motorcycle club head honcho Clay Morrow in Sons Of Anarchy, makes a strong impact in his part. A seasoned gangster but destined to remain on the outside due to his Jewish heritage setting him apart from the Italian dominated mob, his speech attacking the Anti-Semitism of his Cosa Nostra counterparts is one of the film’s best moments. And even Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, given the small put pivotal role of robbery accomplice Blanche, brings her greatness to the table. But all quail before comedian and comic actor Albert Brooks’ turn as the ostensible villain of the piece Bernie Rose. A businessman and gangster, Rose is mostly pleasant, if with a steely edge. He agrees to invest in Shannon’s mad scheme, but reminds him of the penalty for crossing him. This civility is not extended to other characters, as when things start to unravel, Rose is forced to get his hands dirty with sharp knives and other cutlery to, as he spits at an underling “clean up your mess”. It is the icing on top of a delicious acting cake, which, when set on top of an equally appetising filmmaking one makes for a splendid filmic feast. There is no weak link in the chain, nothing to make you tut or curse; just a great, well acted, flawlessly shot, expertly judged, terrifically scored and entertaining spin around the cinematic track. What more could you want in a Film of the Year?

So that’s it ladies and gentleman, our 5 Best Films of the Year. We hope some of your favourites were on the list, and that you enjoyed reading our meandering thoughts on these wonderful films. Let us know what you think of our selections if you do so desire. In any event we would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. We hope 2012 will be a great one for us, but may it be an even better one for you, dear reader.

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