As any year comes to an end, the two chief tasks facing a film critic collective such as Front Row Reviews are the compilation of a “Top Ten” that best represents the individual tastes of its writers, and which films to make eligible. The first question finds its answer easily enough, by way of the closed ballot – each of us submits a personal top ten, ranked 1-10, with each film receiving different points according to its place on the list. The second question comes down, in essence, to whether or not a “Top Ten Films of 2011” list should have room for films most people can’t and won’t see until 2012. Or, put another way: does a film critic review for other film critics, or for the mortals who have to wait in line and even pay to go to the movies months after their flashy premieres?
For this reason, we at FRR agreed not to include films not yet on theatrical release, save for The Artist, which comes out next week. That means those of us already excited by the likes of Shame, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Kid with a Bike and so on get to vote for them this time next year, when many more people will have had the chance to see them – and at FRR, we pride ourselves in our resistance to snobbery.
This shows in the Top Ten itself. Palme d’Or-winning The Tree of Life shares space, for instance, with Bridesmaids. Richard Ayoade’s debut feature, Submarine, the only British film that made the final list, though some of its funding was American. Rango, meanwhile, is one of a surprising two animated films that feature – the other is Arrietty.
It’s often very difficult to find a balanced perspective between more recent viewings and those needing a little more reflection, especially since film journalism of our sort demands less revisiting of films we have seen than keeping up with what we haven’t. It might be surprising, then, to find Black Swan on the list – and so high, too. Released three weeks into 2011, the film has obviously endured the year better than any of its fellow Oscar contenders – no room for The King’s Speech or True Grit. And yet, Black Swan isn’t even the earliest release here: that title is Blue Valentine.
Of the 67 films put forward in the ballots, we had a clear, runaway winner in the end, with 8 of our 13 staff members voting for it. Its star, Ryan Gosling, is surely the leading male of the moment, featuring in two other films on the list too, namely Blue Valentine and The Ides of March. His turn in FRR’s favourite film of 2011 is intense and enigmatic, as a cipher who’s probably watched too many movies. To varying degrees, we probably all related to him in this sense… if not in others.
Front Row Reviews’ 2011 Top Ten
|Alex Rowland, Reviews Editor||Alice Bishop, Writer||Charlotte Stretch, Writer||Daniel Cole, Writer||Daniel Perrin, Writer||Luke Woellhaf, Writer
||Manleen Gill, News Editor|
|1||Drive||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2||We Were Here||Black Swan||Arrietty||Bridesmaids||Bridesmaids|
|2||The Tree of Life||Black Swan||Submarine||Blue Valentine||Drive||Rango||The Help|
|3||The Artist||Blue Valentine||Blue Valentine||Rango||Submarine||Drive||The Tree of Life|
|4||Take Shelter||I Saw the Devil||The Ides of March||How I Ended This Summer||Sleeping Beauty||Submarine||The Ides of March|
|5||13 Assassins||The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1||Tyrannosaur||The Artist||Black Swan||Arrietty||Drive|
|6||We Need to Talk About Kevin||Friends With Benefits||Bridesmaids||The Rise of the Planet of the Apes||Blue Valentine||Midnight in Paris||Friends With Benefits|
|7||Kill List||Limitless||Black Swan||Attack the Block||Tucker & Dale vs Evil||Troll Hunter||The Debt|
|8||Melancholia||Source Code||Bobby Fischer Against the World||Warrior||Snowtown||Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||The Adjustment Bureau|
|9||Tomboy||127 Hours||The Skin I Live In||Super 8||Tyrannosaur||Attack the Block||Crazy Stupid Love|
|10||Moneyball||The King’s Speech||Hanna||Meek’s Cutoff||Tangled||The Skin I Live In||Water for Elephants|
|Matt Sharp, A/V Film Events Reviewer||Michael Pattison, Writer||Mike Chapman, Writer||Nathaneal Smith, Writer||Ollie Coleman, Press Editor||Pete Thornton, Editor and Design Manager||Sam Inglis, Writer|
|1||Hanna||Archipelago||Drive||Arrietty||The Ides of March||The Tree of Life||Confessions|
|2||Drive||Le Quattro Volte||The Tree of Life||Take Shelter||Drive||We Need to Talk About Kevin||Tomboy|
|3||The Rise of the Planet of the Apes||Meek’s Cutoff||Midnight in Paris||True Grit||Weekend||Senna||The Artist|
|4||Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||The Interrupters||Kill List||Midnight in Paris||The King’s Speech||The Rise of the Planet of the Apes||Melancholia|
|5||True Grit||Blue Valentine||Black Swan||Attack the Block||The Skin I Live In||Dreams of a Life||Love Like Poison|
|6||The Ides of March||A Screaming Man||Attack the Block||Hanna||Black Swan||Drive||Attenberg|
|7||Super 8||Incendies||Weekend||Never Let Me Go||Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||Kill List||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2|
|8||Arrietty||The Salt of Life||True Grit||Submarine||Kaboom||Shame||Tangled|
|9||Rango||Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||Blue Valentine||Crazy, Stupid Love||Bridesmaids||Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||The Tree of Life|
|10||X-Men: First Class||Animal Kingdom||The Guard||Another Earth||Friends With Benefits||The Ides of March||Potiche|