This week Trespass’ writers are listing their top ten cinema releases (in Australia) of 2011, as well as recognising the film they know they should have seen but didn’t (the film that got away), picking out an Australian highlight and selecting their three top non-cinema releases, films they have caught at a film festival or that remain unreleased.
Top Ten Cinema Releases
1. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, USA)
Making an immediate impact from the opening strains of the electro-pop soundtrack, Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo-noir homage to the crime genre, Drive, is a cinephile’s dream. An outstanding ensemble cast is just the icing on the cake for this enthralling effort, with the smart script, stylish execution and sophisticated aesthetic resulting in a sublime combination of intelligence and artistry. As resonant on repeat viewings as it is upon initial discovery, the film shines with substance, whilst playfully referencing its inspirations. Indeed, there may not be another feature quite like Drive for some time, with Refn’s charismatic and calculating work truly something special.
3. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, USA)
4. Senna (Asif Kapadia, UK)
Whilst the inclusion of Asif Kapadia’s Ayrton Senna documentary may prove a surprise inclusion on best of 2011 lists due to its subject matter, the touching and tragic presentation more than earns its spot. Indeed, Senna is a must-see feature for consumers of cinema, lovers of action and aficionados of ambitious entertainment, with the flawless, fascinating and thrilling feature causing audiences to laugh and cry, and be moved and amazed, regardless of their prior ambivalence for or appreciation of the man at the centre or his chosen sport.
5. The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
6. We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, UK/USA)
7. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, USA)
Although he may not receive the recognition he deserves during awards season, Michael Shannon’s convincing central display in Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter is the performance of the year. Compelling in his portrayal of a man haunted by apocalyptic visions, he imbues every second of the finessed film with an air of psychological and physical foreboding. In his second collaboration with the writer/director, his efforts augment the filmmaker’s vivid vision. Together, they ensure Take Shelter is accomplished and astounding, as well as utterly devastating.
8. Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, USA)
9. Midnight In Paris (Woody Allen, USA)
10. Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, UK)
The Film That Got Away
Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois, France)
The Hunter (Daniel Nettheim, Australia)
2011 proved another excellent year for Australian cinema, from the haunting horror of Snowtown to the cute charm of Griff the Invisible. However, Daniel Nettheim’s The Hunter resonates with emotion, with the feature exploring a measured and moving mystery on multiple levels. From the exquisite imagery to the nuanced soundtrack, the Tasmanian tiger tale is composed and contemplative. At its core is a restrained yet riveting turn from the ever-impressive Willem Dafoe, with the actor the embodiment of the film’s enigmatic air.
Top Three Non-Cinema Releases
1. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, USA)
2. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr, Hungary)
Hungarian director Béla Tarr’s magnificently allegorical The Turin Horse is many things. It is a meticulous examination of the events of daily life, a metaphorical pondering of humanity, and a serious starting point for further contemplation of meaning and motivation. Indeed, over the course of 146 minutes, Tarr crafts what may be his final masterpiece. Allowing the haunting, hypnotic imagery to speak for itself, the feature is bleak yet brilliant, relentless and repetitive yet riveting, and meditative yet endlessly mesmerising.
3. Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine, UK)