Monday, January 2, 2012

Best New Films Of 2011

Jan Sverak's Kucy se vraci (Kooky; Czech Republic; 2010): a truly intelligent and innovative fantasy.

Tsumetai nettaigyo (Cold Fish; Japan; 2010): Cinematic acid for the eyes, ears, and synapses. Like director Sono's previous film  Love Exposure (another diamond), this goes where convention fears to tread. A (mostly) true story that will drop your jaw.

Jutro Bedzie Lepiej (Tomorrow Will Be Better; Poland; 2011): another searing study of a child's passage into adulthood from  Dorota Kedzierzawska.

Koi no tsumi (Guilty of Romance; Japan; 2011):  Incredible erotic adventure, and one of the purest studies of depravity, paraphilias, and desire ever committed to the silver screen. 

Hwanghae (The Yellow Sea; Korea, 2011): Fierce and emotionally punishing action/drama boasting one of the best villains of the year.

Do-ga-ni (Silenced; Korea, 2011): Devastating true story of rampant sexual abuse at a Korean elementary school. The incendiary subject matter is not treated with kid gloves.  

 Jûsan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins; Japan, 2010): Stellar action adventure from the still prolific Takeshi Miike. 

Melancholia (Denmark; 2011): Emotional wreckage wrought by a novel science fiction premise. Extremely honest study of depression.

Nanjing! Nanjing! (City of Life and Death; China; 2011): 'The Rape of Nanking' from a surprisingly even-handed Chinese perspective. Staggering action sequences never stomp on the emotional intimacies.

Drive (US; 2011):  most purely cinematic event of the year.

Tyrannosaur (Ireland; 2011):  Blisteringly frank character study of a decent man handicapped by himself.

We Need To Talk About Kevin (UK; 2011):  best look at a damaged brain for quite some time. 

A Dangerous Method (Canada; 2011): Thought-provoking and focused cinematic essay on sexuality and its complex psychology.

 Akmareul boatda (I Saw The Devil; Korea; 2010): The darkest of thrillers in which violence and depravity take on an almost erotic glow. Truly sublime.

The Skin I Live In (Spain)
TinTin (US/NZ)
Shame (UK)
My Joy (Russia)
Confessions (Japan)
Rampart (US)
Terri (US)
Young Adult (US)
Tree of Life (US)
Caterpillar (Japan)
The Ides of March (US)
Pan Negro (Spain)
Serbis (Phillipines)
Point Blank (Fr)
Snowtown (Oz)
Target (Russia)
The Last Circus (Spain)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (US)
Terraferma (Italy)
Hanna (US)
Hugo (US)
A Separation (Iran)



  1. Of all those movies, I only saw I Saw the Devil. Great movie, and I'd been wondering how that killer would get his proper comeuppance if he was afraid of nothing, offended by nothing, and tough as nails. The solution was... inventive, to say the least.

  2. Mac -- it's a most inventive film. I hope you permit yourself the pleasure of seeing some of the others.

  3. Tons of great films on this list, including a whole bunch that I haven't seen and want to track down.

    I need to get that blu of DAS BOOT. I can't begin to describe how much I love that movie. I've never been able to understand how Petersen could make such a flawless, powerful, moving masterpiece and then follow it up with a career of (mostly) utter shit. Prochnow is one of my faves too, so good in IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS as well!

  4. What a great list, Phantom. I enjoyed all 8 of the ones I have seen from your top list - my biggest surprise out of them would be Melancholia. I really enjoyed that film, and I can't agree more about what you said about it.

    7 out of 8 of the runner ups that I caught I also enjoyed, the only one that I wouldn't make note of is Confessions - the amount of slo-mo in that film drove me cuckookaka.

    Thanks for a couple recs as well, my man. Tomorrow Will Be Better's poster reminds me of the ultra exhaustive Children Underground.

    I am curious why you chose to put a bunch of films I presume you saw last year on this list though. Because of theatrical release dates?

  5. Drive soundtrack was amazing,the whole movie had a "real, living creature" feal to it instead of a "another fake, surreal story of a man gone mad" :D

  6. :) your lists have yet to fail me. I have only seen 4 of these so far but i must and will see the rest. whenever i make similar suggestions to folk they scoff, doubt, and dislike them. oh well..also what multi region blue ray player would you suggest i get? iv noticed its a good idea that i get one with some of these excellent films not being so available to region 1/A?
    for example iv always wanted to see "midori" since iv read about it here but all iv found is a overpriced region 2 dvd copy.

  7. Anon -- I have a number of multi-BD players mkyself, but I can recommend this one for you:
    h**p:// (just replace *'s with t's) This seller is very reliable, too.

    Not sure where to find a cheap 'Midori'. I know I paid a packet for it several years ago.