It should be pointed out that the films listed here are movies I watched for the first time during 2011. It should also be pointed out that I am always right. Happy New Year!
Best Action: Thor (2011)
Sarah Anderson would not be amused. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is back to his arrogant best, banished to Earth from his home world of Asgard, fighting to reclaim his lost powers, not working as a mechanic, and a plastic helmet isn't going to cheer him up, either. Thor is a welcome addition to Marvel's catalogue - it almost reignites my fire for the forthcoming Avengers epic - the perfect excuse to avoid a night on the town.
Best Adventure: Super 8 (2011)
Bleak our world may be, but J.J. Abrams has his rose-tinted spectacles on, and he’s created a wonderful yarn that reeks of childhood nostalgia but with enough originality of its own, and a monster that almost rivals the best this year had to offer, in the form of the Jotnar from Troll Hunter. Goonies for grownups? Why grow up?
Best Horror: The Woman (2011)
Woeful is the household that wants a woman. If only lawyer and proud family man Chris Cleek had listened to this proverb before he stumbled upon a wild, feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh of Exam and Burke and Hare fame) bathing in a woodland stream near his isolated country home. Perhaps he wouldn’t have made a decision that would dramatically change both their lives. But then, he's more of an animal than she is.
Best Comedy: Bridesmaids (2011)
Following Annie, a maid of honour whose life unravels as she leads her best friend, Lillian, and a group of colourful bridesmaids on a wild ride down the road to matrimony started slowly, before quickly becoming the wittiest comedy of the year, even if some gags tried too hard to out-gross The Hangover (2009). Still, it was better than this year’s sequel, and included one of my favourite film moments of the last 365 days when Annie (Kristen Wiig) tries to get arrested. Besides, any film with Wilson Phillips is bound to be brilliant.
Best Drama: Confessions (2010)
Confessions tells the story of a teacher convinced that two of her students were responsible for her daughter's murder and begins a final lesson the students will never forget. Still high on the sugar-coated ripples of critical acclaim with his previous features Kamikaze Girls and Memories of Matsuko, genre-busting auteur Tetsuya Nakashima returns with a film bursting with inventive visuals and a slew of nasty surprises. Confessions is a beautiful piece of work harmonized with a cracking soundtrack, brilliant screenplay and wonderful performances. It’s worth watching just for Takako Matsu’s breath-taking opening monologue alone.
Best British: Attack the Block (2011)
Robbed by a gang of hooded youths isn't the worst thing that could happen to you on Fireworks Night, as Sam, a trainee nurse, discovers when a meteorite falls from the sky and destroys a nearby car. The gang, annoyed by such an inconvenience, investigate and discover an alien has crash landed, so instead of phoning home, they kick its head in. Injected with a sense of old-school fun, Attack the Block is one of the funniest films of the year, with an outrageous mixture of gore and gags.
Best World Cinema: Troll Hunter (2010)
Troll Hunter drags its heels from time to time, but you won’t have to wait long for the next burst of brilliance. With stunning effects, cracking monsters, lush scenery, strong performances and an inventive screenplay, André Øvredal’s second feature is one of the strongest and strangest horror movies of the year. Altogether now, “Troooolls!”
Best Classic: Who Can Kill A Child? (1976)
One of the most unsettling and infamous films of the 1970’s, arguably ever, an English couple holidaying in Spain travel to a small, apparently deserted island, but it isn’t long before the hideous truth soon reveals itself - all the adults have been killed by its whippersnappers, who are far from finished with their systematic slaughter. Made the more disturbing by the fact our female protagonist is heavily pregnant, with no real explanation as to why the children have gone completely nuts, this must-see psychological horror revels in the couple’s isolation and astounds with an unthinkable story you probably won’t be prepared for – seriously unmissable.
Best Television Series: Friday Night Lights – Season 5 (2010)
Adapted by Peter Berg from the book of the same name, Friday Night Lights dramatizes events surrounding two high school football teams based in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, with particular focus given to the team's coach, Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and his family. In the much anticipated (well, by me anyway) fifth and final season Taylor continues to take the Lions to unprecedented success. Cue lots of drama and conflict, make ups and break ups, warring teens and sparring adults, with a little bit of last-minute football mayhem thrown in for good measure. The Launchpad for many stars of 2012; I miss you already.
Hidden Gem: Burning Bright (2010)
Boarding your house up before a hurricane strikes is probably a wise move, but it probably also makes sense to check for any Bengal tigers that might happen to be stalking the downstairs hallway. I'm sure drop-dead-gorgeous Briana Evigan will do in future, after playing Kelly, a young girl with the responsibility of raising her autistic brother Tom after the apparent suicide of their mother. The effects are good, the set-pieces tense, and despite the fact a ravenous wildcat is stalking them in their own home, the well-paced Burning Bright still manages a sense of realism – hunt it down!