This year has been a ridiculously good year for cinema - particularly British cinema. It started off with a raft of excellent January releases, with The King's Speech and 127 Hours leading the UK Oscars charge, but it's a mark of how much talent there has been throughout the year that three British directorial debuts have made their way into my top films of 2011. Documentaries, too, have been overwhelmingly strong - Senna has made a lot of "Best of 2011" lists, but Project Nim, Pina and TT3D hoovered up a decent amount of box office cash as well, some even proving that 3D might be more than just a passing Hollywood phase.
But enough of this. What you all REALLY want is yet another list of movies that some opinionated person thinks were better than all the other movies released this year. So, going by the only way to judge these things (theatrical release dates), here are the Top 11 Films of 2011.
All I Want for Christmas Is... A Black Swan Action Figure
From the makes of Drive: Scalextric, Tinker Tailer Whack-A-Mole and Buried: The Board Game, treat that special boy/girl in your life to a Black Swan Action Figure!
This exclusive action figure features a full facial likeness of Natalie Portman and comes in a special limited edition Black Swan box. With removable body parts and officially licensed swan replica pieces, you can recreate the full psychological horror of Darren Aronofsky's ballet drama in your living room.
The Black Swan Action Figure has flexible limbs and a 4-inch wing span and can be positioned in three special poses: Sitting, Stretching, and SWAN.
Do you just want to be perfect? Find out what happened to mummy's sweet little girl as you watch Natalie Portman transform into a swan - in your own hands!
(Warning: May not be suitable for under-12s. Mila Kunis sex doll not included.)
For more Christmas gift ideas, keep opening the i-Flicks Advent Calendar.
You know how it is: you get on the train, an old man starts perving at you, maybe he sings a song, maybe he gets his tongue out, but the disturbing thing is that he looks strangely familiar.
That's because he's Uncle Hank. And he's been riding Darren Aronofsky's subway for years.
At first, I recognised the man in Black Swan as being vaguely like the bloke from Pi, but thought it was just a coincidence. Then I started to re-watch Aronofsky's back catalogue and realised he was a proper recurring character. Allow me to introduce you to Darren Aronofsky's favourite uncle.
Director: Ivan Reitman
Cast: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Greta Gerwig, Kevin Kline
It’s the same every year. You go to the Oscars, you wear a pretty dress, you make some new friends and eat a massive Oscar dinner. Fatty cakes, protein-heavy canapes, rich desserts, tons of champagne - you quaff the lot. By the end of it all, you return home woozy and bloated before taking a trip to the toilet. Then you take a massive, horrible dump. This is No Strings Attached: the proverbial post-Oscar crap.
Paul invaded the UK box office this weekend with £5.52m, the highest opening of 2011 to date. But the surprise of the week was Justin Bieber hitting rock bottom: Never Say Never 3D took just £820,592. The Beliebers won't be able to, erm, Belieb it.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost taking top spot was expected, of course, given that the film landed in cinemas on Monday. While £5.52m is technically a record-breaking figure, it had four days of previews to rack up that total.
Compare it to, say, the superior Hot Fuzz, which got £5.92m on its opening weekend with just Wednesday and Thursday previews and you get a better picture. Paul took around £3.2m over the weekend alone - a way behind Tangled's debut of £5.11m in three days. But with a lot of negative reviews (and without Edgar Wright or 3D), Universal will be pleased to label their sci-fi a smash hit.
Gnomeo and Juliet stole the UK box office crown this week, keeping The King's Speech in a solid second place with £1.98m following its BAFTA victory.
It's a convincing win for Gnomeo and Juliet, which sits pretty at the top with a £2.95m debut. Not bad, given The King's Speech is still holding the most screens in the UK (543), but impressive with two other 3D animated kids movies out in force.
Yogi Bear put £1.82m into its pic-a-nic basket of soul-destroying naffness - again, a strong start given the competition, placing it in fifth place, £120k below Tangled. Disney’s fairytale has the fewest screens out of the three CGI contenders, but has now amassed a three-week total of just over £13m.
Fourth place went to True Grit, the Coens' remake, which performed astonishingly well in the US. It managed £1.82m from 372182000 screens, putting it shoulder to shoulder with Yogi Bear but without the 3D uplift. An average of over £4,000 per screen is pretty good for Paramount's Western, especially given the awards love going round to everyone else at the moment.
Black Swan and The Fighter also both posted takings of over £1m, lining up at number seven and eight respectively. That’s eight out of the UK Top Ten all taking over £1m at the box office. Eight. This never happens. Literally - it's never happened before. The BAFTAs are to blame for this box office silliness. As people flock to see the major nominees, money is flying into cinema cash registers.
It's sad to see The Fighter drop 50% to take £1.2m - compared to Black Swan's more typical 38% dip - but with so many movies out this week and the existing releases performing so well, there are only so many screens to go round. Black Swan's been out twice as long as The Fighter, but its £12m total gross is triple that of the boxing drama, which says a lot for its wider appeal. It's also showing in 100 more screens.
Perhaps the week’s most intriguing release was Never Let Me Go - demonstrating what happens during awards season if you don't get the nominations you wanted. It took just £625k from 265 screens.
A good comparison is last month's Conviction, which also had no BAFTA nominations. That took £279k from a similar spread of cinema screens, so it's not a terrible result given the heavyweight box office rivals. But a lack of nominations (and a low marketing push compared to Fox Searchlight's other movie, Black Swan) has left Mark Romanek's brilliant romance at the wrong end of the release schedule. Here's hoping Keira Knightley staring at people on the London Underground will help it stay afloat for one more week.
Just like the BAFTAs, the box office spotlight is still shining firmly on Colin Firth. £1.98m is less than we're used to seeing for Tom Hooper's drama, but it's been out for six weeks now. Six. By rights, it shouldn't be anywhere near the £2m mark. It's running total is now up to £33.7m, which makes it the 44th highest grossing movie in the UK of all time. And that's before it gets a kick from its Best Film triumph on Sunday - we're way past Slumdog Millionaire now, but that increased by £300k immediately following its BAFTA for Best Film, reversing a 32% drop from the previous week.
Paul tries to jump the royal shark by hopping into cinemas on Monday this week, so it should secure a top spot at the box office next week after 4 days of previews. But expect The King's Speech to stick around - just below Justin Bieber and Big Momma, who are both bringing their booty into play. And as half-term approaches, prepare for Yogi, Gnomeo and Rapunzel to squabble among themselves to see who can attract the most children.
The King's Speech swept the BAFTAs last night, in a largely predictable run of results that saw Tom Hooper's drama take home seven awards - surprise, surprise.
The British movie's haul began as Alexandre Desplat bumped Hans Zimmer off the favourite spot to nab Best Original Music. The deluge continued from there, with Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush all picking up gongs, the latter upsetting predicted contender Christian Bale - proof once and for all that Bow Ties are better than Crack Addicts.
Other pleasant surprises saw David Fincher claim Best Director for The Social Network (an award that I saw heading Tom Hooper's way), while Fincher's Facebook movie continued to pick up another two awards: Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing. And yes, Aaron Sorkin's speech was typically brilliant.
Inception also took home three golden masks, each for technical categories, while Natalie Portman nailed Black Swan's only gong and Roger Deakins deservedly won Best Cinematography for True Grit - a film which will fare far stronger on its home turf at the Oscars. Sadly, The Deaks wasn't there to collect, but that just gave Hailee Steinfeld a chance to pick up a trophy on his behalf. Aww, bless her little gun-toting cotton socks.
Meanwhile, Alice in Wonderland cemented its awards status in Make-Up and Costume departments (that's the BAFTA Award-winning Alice in Wonderland to you), Toy Story 3 inevitably dominated Best Animated Film. The remaining prizes went to Four Lions - Best Debut Director for the absent Chris Morris - and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which deservedly walked home with Best Foreign Film.
And then, just to top things off, The King's Speech grabbed Outstanding British Film to boot. In case we hadn't got the hint already. And yet, for all the complaints of the BAFTAs being too obvious this year, it was hard to whine when Colin Firth took to the stage to and outdid last year's infamous Fridge Man Speech (when he won for A Single Man).
The only highlight that rivalled that was Rosamund Pike failing to read an autocue and opening her awards envelope before she'd even announced the nominees. If she doesn't host the BAFTAs next year, I'll be very disappointed.
Read on for the full list of winners - including Christopher Lee and Harry Potter.
With the BAFTAs on tonight, it's the perfect time for a round-up of the key awards contenders.
But I'm a lazy person and couldn't be bothered after waffling on about them for 41 minutes last weekend, so I got my mum to give me her opinions on all the major nominees. She even scored them out of 5 using Werther's Originals. Suck on that, dad. (Disgusting mental image alert.)
What we said
"We've seen this all before, but never so articulate. Magnificent."
What my mum said
"I loved the hats and the bow ties and the pretty buildings. It was almost as good as Lark Rise to Candleford! Colin Firth's my favourite. He can suck my Werther's Originals any time. Along with Hugh Grant and Dustin Hoffman."
What we said
"All the depth and scope of Solaris, slotted neatly into some of the best action sequences since the original Matrix."
What my mum said
"If it was all a dream, then all that running around for two hours was completely pointless! And that bit where he tied them up in the lift? Why couldn't he just leave them in the hotel bedroom?"
(He needed gravity, mum.)
"I don't know what that is."
What we said
"A mad, brilliant melodrama. The film that Shutter Island wanted to be."
What my mum said
"Lesbian sex shouldn't go on for that long - speaking as a mother."
What we said
"Young people screwing each other over to achieve their dreams? Hell yes."
What my mum said
"I saw someone use Facebook once... I don't who this Mark Zuckerbird guy is, but he's not as good as Colin Firth. And he doesn't iron his clothes. No Werther's Originals for him."
What we said
"You've not seen hats until you've seen Hailee Steinfeld wear a hat. Amazing. Wonderful. Masterpiece. Hats."
What my mum said
"I didn't know they made Westerns any more. Still, that bloke from K-Pax looks nice in an eye patch. He should probably shave, though. Beards make things scratchy."
What we said
"Better than Buried? As a tense location, coffin beats rock, but as an actor, James Franco beats Ryan Reynolds every time."
What my mum said
"Another one that was probably all imagined in someone's head. Aron Ralston? That name's almost as made-up as Mark Tuckernerd!"
So there you have it folks. The King's Speech will win everything at the BAFTAs thanks to its incredible haul of 5 Werther's Originals from my mum. Case closed.
The Fighter failed to knock Tangled from the box office top spot after Disney's 50th took another consistently high total of £4.57m.
Dropping just £537k (about 10.5%), Tangled managed to hold off Mark Wahlberg, in third place, as well as topping The King's Speech for the second week running. The King's Speech is still number two, with takings of £2.74m.
This is the first time Tom Hooper's film has dipped below £3m since its release in January, losing 25% of last week's £3.6m. But it's still holding onto 545 screens - up 12 from last week - so we're only just now seeing the peak of its box office run. Or at least, we would be, if the Oscars weren't in three weeks.
The other awards contender, Black Swan, dropped a standard 32% to reach a solid fourth place figure of £1.72m. That loss for both Oscar front-runners is down to David O'Russell's The Fighter, which hit cinemas with a very strong £2.12m across 380 screens. Like The King's Speech, Black Swan also increased its share of cinemas over the weekend, but the boxing drama will be beating them back in a week's time after packing such a big opening punch.
Of course, Tangled has the advantage of its 3D ticket price, but new release Sanctum (or James Cameron's Sanctum In 3D to use its full title) suffered from poor word of mouth, notching up just £859k for Universal. They won't be too happy about such a so-so response. Maybe everyone was busy doing a spot of spring caving themselves - or they were just distracted by the Superbowl.
Also fairly floppy were seventh place A Little Bit of Heaven (£443k from a fairly wide release) and ninth place Brighton Rock. Rowan Joffe's remake can at least cling to only having 115 screens in the face of its £352k, which gives Brighton Rock's box office a surprisingly good average of £3,067 per screen.
Rabbit Hole, meanwhile, burrowed its way below the UK Top Ten (and Top 15 for that matter) with just £54,567 from its debut. It has 41 screens to its name; it is, after all, hard to sell a film about Nicole Kidman grieving. Its £1,330 average could be worse, but perhaps releasing it before The King's Speech would have given it more attention.
It's soon time for True Grit to weigh in as the last of the awards grabbers slip into cinemas before the BAFTA cut-off date. The Coen Brothers' Western did remarkably well in the US with their highest ever opening, so Colin Firth, Mark Wahlberg and Natalie Portman will have a struggle on their hands.
Black Swan, now on £10m total, will be happy with a £15m overall gross. Meanwhile, The King's Speech is still in its counting house counting out its money (and awards). It's just passed the £30m mark and is easily on the way to hitting £40m. Slumdog's final total was £31.66m. The counting continues...
So I went to see Black Swan last night for a second time. Aside from my unsuspecting male friends loving it and the cries of "Oh my God!" and "Ha ha! Pussy!" from the audience, I was struck by a disturbing revelation halfway through...
|Is it just me?
It makes the entire Black Swan experience a lot more terrifying. But I might just be imagining it (it's not a great photo of Vincent Cassel).