My 10 Favourite Films of 2011

In no particular order:

Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malik)

Cinema, in part, is life writ large. Terrence Malik's masterpiece is life writ bloody humungous. Like an over-inflated sense of one's own awsomeness. Soft and tender, like the downy hairs on a frowning woman's face and floatily sensual like a helium-engorged silver cats head. Try and find it silly and pretentious and it will turn around and groggily hug the very softest membranes of your inner organs. Literally all of life is here, and it's a gossamer fist slid through a star-filled tube of gas. Why wouldn't you love it? It loves you.

A Separation (dir. Asghar Farhadi)

This isn't bad, trite, ill-observed, weak, emotionless, with nothing to say about people, Iran, the middle classes, working classes or religion. In fact it's the opposite. I hope my tone is conveying how good it is. Ha-ha. Now I'm grabbing you by the lapels and saying how wonderfully acted it is. Ha-ha. Now I'm shaking you. Perhaps you should see it.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (dir. Tomas Alfredson)

A fuggy, hand-rolled mix of elegant wallaper, age-aware-agents and unspoken irrelevant malice. Like breaking into an apartment untouched since the 70s to be told 'things are changing' by a group of immaculately dressed, highly intelligent, very sad, betrayed ghosts.

Of Gods & Men (dir. Xavier Beauvois)

Tremendous trapped trappists. This film is so much more than those 3, awesomely unimaginative words. Elegiac, haunting, loving and spiritual in a way that has nothing to do with those simpering, essential-oil burning, kaftan-wearing freaks who infect the very earth we walk on. The best use of music in a film this year.

True Grit (dir. Ethan CoenJoel Coen)

At this stage, the Coen Brothers don't care what you think. They just want to make a movie. As if by accident this one chimes with you. They complete you. A Western.

Submarine (dir. Richard Ayoade)

To a one-time insufferable, self-obsessed young adult whose belief that they are the centre of the universe over-rides their concern for others, I can jive with this joint. Its funny, different, confused and lovingly done. The film in my head is happy to include a reference to this film in a script that doesn't even fucking exist yet!

Green Lantern (dir. Martin Campbell)

A comic-book movie that acts and behaves like a comic-book movie. Funny, thrilling wish-fulfilment fantasy which speaks to anyone who ever just wished a purple chap would turn up and say "You are special. I'm making you a super-hero".  Just think! You would want that!!

Black Swan (dir. Darren Aronofsky)

If you're making a psychodrama, make sure you add a healthy, talking-apes-worth of psycho with that drama. What would happen if you took random snippets of everything written on Linkedin and then diffused them with a common-or-garden hand-spray onto a film about losing oneself. Then make it more-so. With an unhappy frown. And a mirror made crack'd with a sprinkle of mental. Dressed as a prettier version of a duck.

Senna (dir. Asif Kapadia)

Formula 1's greatest driver. If you like people who are far more talented than you will ever be in your miserable, fetid, bed-sitted life, you will like this. If you don't, you will like this. If you like Formula 1 then a petrol-fumed icing has just been applied liberally to what you call "my cake".

and finally a bit of TV derived from film...
This is England '88

Just like the film of the same name minus the 88 and This Is England 86, this is a drama with characters in. And by characters I mean real people on your vid-screen. And like in real life almost everyone is, at heart, benevolent, funny, thinking, breathing, sweating, copulating and being. Every line is delivered like words spoken from a mouth, every image make mundanity achingly pretty. The best drama on a TV.