Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Things are better than 10 years ago!

Today, The Ticket publishes our attempt to assess the best and worst of 2011. In a break with normal procedure, we are, this year, inviting Lord and Lady Reader to vote on our choices and thus create some sort of …

Fri, Dec 2, 2011, 00:01


Today, The Ticket publishes our attempt to assess the best and worst of 2011. In a break with normal procedure, we are, this year, inviting Lord and Lady Reader to vote on our choices and thus create some sort of “interactivity”.  We have thus composed one overarching, supposedly definitive top 10 and a series of subsidiary categories. Obviously, your favourite film won’t be on our list and you’ll be attempting to post a stream of invective beneath this entry. Fair enough. You pay our wages. (Unless you never buy the print edition. In which case you should be ashamed of yourself. Ashamed, I say!)

I would just add a few comments to those made in The Ticket. I first began writing in this organ just over 10 years ago. It has always been a pleasure, but a few months into my placement, I began to wonder if I’d ever be in a position to recommend a mainstream picture. After a mildly golden period for American film in 1999 and 2000, the second year in the millennium proved to be a roaring catastrophe. This was the year of Pearl Harbor,  The Mummy Returns, Glitter and High Heels and Lowlifes. It was the year the repulsive A Beautiful Mind won best picture at the Oscars. I recall that — no joke — I didn’t award four stars to a single mainstream release until October (and that was for the fun, but throwaway, A Knight’s Tale). No year since has been nearly as bad.

Ten years later, we find ourselves with a genuine wealth of fantastic films. Suffice to say, such was the abundance that we couldn’t find space for such excellent pictures as Source Code, True Grit or A Separation in the final 10. Apologies to fans of those pictures and to the bright people who made them.

It is, however, not all good news. In two categories, we were genuinely struggling to make up the quota. What has become of the comedy sector? The Republic of Ireland is just about the only country in the world where Bridesmaids became (to this point) the most successful picture of the year. It deserves its place in our list. Midnight in Paris was decent late Woody Allen. Submarine and Beginners were very good, but neither was exactly packed with belly laughs. What are we doing including the much reviled Your Highness? Well, we laughed like drains. We like the THC-charged laughs and A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas is, sadly, released too late to figure in the poll.

The other depressing area is feature animation. Lord alone knows which film is going to win the relevant Oscar next February. We can normally rely on Pixar. But this year, with Cars 2, the studio delivered its first unmitigated dud. The latest from Studio Ghibli, Arrietty, is well worth your time. Tangled was a really nice slash of trad Disney.  But, otherwise, we were stuck with decent, if unremarkable programmers such as Rango, Puss in Boots and Arthur Christmas. My Dog Tulip was really lovely. Sadly, however, almost nobody saw the blasted thing.

Anyway, enjoy the list and please do find the time to vote. Men died to achieve democracy, you know. Men died! As I understand it, you can also win some sort of prize. See, told you. That didn’t happen in 2001.

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