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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Top 20 Favorite Films of 2011

After almost a week of delay, my 2011 year-ender movie list is finally here. Nowadays, the use of the term “best” is almost too dangerous, so I chose to stick with “favorite” in order to emphasize how personal the list is. It consists of films released in the Philippines within the year 2011 via legal screenings (theatrical releases, film festivals, etc.) Click here for my guidelines.

The countdown begins after the jump.

Funny as hell, Septic Tank has earnest intentions for the Filipino indie film. Though its screenplay could’ve squeezed out more substance, it still features a notable performance from the ever-reliable Eugene Domingo. Review here.

This film about a superhero-slash-god balances humor and drama so well that the unbeliever will think twice about hating future comic book screen adaptations. Where else can you find an Asian living in Asgard?

Wu Xia’s not for those with short attention spans. What’s amazing is that it actually takes its time to establish itself as a detective story, then Donnie Yen begins to show us why he's awesome, and everything turns kick-ass from there.

Featuring a jaw-dropping train scene before the twenty-minute mark, Super 8 doesn’t hold anything back until the credits roll. J.J. Abrams is surely one of those guys who can combine a coming-of-age tale with a modern-day sci-fi story and get away with it.

This third installment is indeed one of the year’s biggest surprises. Just when we thought that no more could be squeezed out from the found footage genre Paranormal Activity 3 comes and scares the bejesus out of us. Review here.

Sure, it may have a rather sleep-inducing first hour, but Spielberg’s first animated title manages to pull through with a second half highlighting what the director is perfectly capable of. The one-take chase scene near the end is already enough for this film to make it in my list.

Haunting and depressing, Bleak Night portrays teenage life with evident pessimism. It’s a commentary on the emotional volume of juvenile patriarchy and how far it is willing to endure adversity until it snaps. Review here.

The Philippines didn’t get its fair share of good animated films. Either that or 2011 just lacks the same amount of brilliant animated titles the previous years have. Good thing there’s this chameleon to say otherwise.

Drive teaches us that thrillers are as effective when focusing more on the tension-building rather than the thrill itself. And once it’s done with tension-building, it moves on to show gratuitous violence that still avoids outbalancing its well-thought pace.

Contagion packs plenty of scares in a way that everything that unfolds onscreen can actually happen in real life. If it tells certain truth about us humans, it is that we are still helpless creatures no matter how much technology has shaped our lives. Now I know I won’t be shaking hands with that chef next time I eat in his place.

Not since Inception has there been a film that has created more bandwagons of overraters and underraters, both screaming at each other regarding The Tree of Life’s worth. Sorry for the overraters, but I liked The Tree of Life.

Duncan Jones has directed only two feature length films. Moon made me a fan. Source Code made me a believer. With a pace so swift and a story so thought-provoking, it is definitely one of those science fiction titles I can recommend to everyone.

Intolerant people can screech and howl. Sayaw is solid proof that Philippine cinema still boasts intellectually provocative titles. It tells without showing. It shows without telling. Using dance and poetry like no other film has done before, it is also an exploration of the Body as the Artist’s medium to convey emotions and thoughts. Review here.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch Ethan Hunt’s latest globetrotting espionage adventure as he scales the world’s tallest building, fights in a multi-level car park, and stalks his wife from a distance. He bumps his head lots of times here, absolute evidence of his age, which makes it all more exciting.

Well-developed characters and incongruous comedy don’t exactly mix. But here comes Bridesmaids with a cast of a bunch of talented women in Western showbiz portraying real yet out-of-this-world characters. It won’t be the last time we almost died laughing due to a Kristen Wiig-starrer.

Only those born with pure hatred in their hearts will not smile as they watch Mart Escudero’s performance. With a cast of capable of actors and scenes so funny to remain legal, Zombadings raises a finger to all the comedy films major studios have released this year. Review here.

The Boy Who Lived battles with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Nosed. The second part of the movie adaptation of the seventh and final Harry Potter book ends an entire franchise with a bang. Even the Killing Curse couldn’t stop this movie from becoming an instant classic. Review here.

Screened last Cinemanila Film Festival, Pina is a dance documentary, a tribute to one of Germany’s most prolific dancer and choreographer. Tanztheater Wuppertal, the group which the late Pina had taught for, gives justice to their teacher’s works by showcasing eccentric and oftentimes intricate dance pieces that they have grown accustomed to for so long.

Niño explores the dichotomies of the young and the old and of the rich and the poor. Director Loy Arcenas and writer Rody Vera teamed up to create a film with characters most of us can relate to—characters who breathe, characters with genuine emotions. My most favorite Filipino film I have watched this year.

Warrior proves that good acting and unhurried character development can still produce something great out of clichés. One of the most undervalued titles released this year, it proves two other things: one, that there is nothing wrong with catharsis, and two, that MMA fighters, no matter how tough they look, are still human beings. It’s an epic drama film that explores the boundaries between brotherhood and rivalry, and it does so with sincerity.

So what do you guys think of the list? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And while you're at it, perhaps you can also share your most favorite films last 2011. To view my list last 2010, click here.


Markable said...

You're so lucky cuz, you were able to watch the gems of the movie industry via cinemalaya!! Planning to go there this July. I'm with three other Davao Bloggers, samahan mo kami!! hehe :D

Will said...

Truth is I wasn't able to watch a lot last Cinemalaya. See you this year!

Micamyx said...

Ditto with Nino <3 Nasa draft pa yung akin kaso puro Cinemalaya films nakapasok =))

indiboi said...

tucker and dale vs evil :D

khantotantra said...

iba ang attack ng story at acting pag sa cinemalaya/ indie. Maski di gaanong popular ang actors, alam mo na may angking galing yung story, actors etc.

Skron said...

I haven't heard of Wu Xia. I need to check that out. I became a fan of Yen when I saw him in Ip Man this year.

KikomaxXx said...

source code... parin sa akin...

Akoni said...

Source code and Zombadings!! drive nakatulogan ko. :D

Douglas Racso said...

very nice list :) loved that bleak night is in here

somelostboy said...

a friend of mine also worships Warrior so much haha. interesting choice for Wu Xia.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Cool list! Glad to see Pina ranked high, and I wish I could see some of those Filipino films.

Destiny said...

Warrior is the first film I watched this year and the experience really reaffirmed why I love watching movies. I only have high praises for this pic and I also enjoyed most of them included in your list.. but no love for Hanna?

Leomer Apolonio said...

Great list you got here Will. Now you gave me an idea of what to download next. :)

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