A year in review: Top ten films of 2011

If you didn’t make it to the cinema too often in 2011, fear not. Dermot O’Rourke shows us which releases of the year are worth picking up on DVD

10. X-Men: First Class – A remarkable return to form for the failing series, proving that Michael Fassbinder has real star quality in a major Hollywood film. It’s not easy to make James McAvoy look good, but luckily, there is nothing the Binder cannot do.

9. The Ides of March – Do you like Ryan Gosling? Do you like George Clooney? Do you like taut political thrillers? Then you’ll love the handsomeness implosion that is The Ides of March.

8. Hugo – Martin Scorsese turns his hand to a children’s film, all the while deconstructing the mechanics of fledgling cinema in turn-of-the-century Paris. His creative re-examining of the medium proves him as both a student and a master of his craft.

7. Troll Hunter – A Norwegian faux-documentary horror film made in the vein of The Blair Witch Project that challenged the conventions of troll mythology. If a troll can smell the blood of Christian man, can they smell the smell the blood of the Muslim man?

6. Bridesmaids – The most successful movie at the Irish box office this year, Bridesmaids had such a ridiculously long run in the cinema this year that it still may be showing. Proving Judd Apatow to still be on form, this has been claimed by many as the comedy of the year.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II – Although by no means one of the best films of the year by itself, the film must be credited for the considerable achievement of completing an eight film series with an unchanging cast, tone and continuous storyline – a truly remarkable accomplishment, and one unmatched elsewhere in cinema.

4. Tree of Life – Terrence Malick. Enough said.

3. The Guard – Irish cinema springs back into cultural prominence with the performance of Brendan Gleeson’s career. Internationally, the film has been slated for its base themes and racist dialogue, but over here, we recognise it for what it is – an astute reflection of the mundanity of traditional Irish life, contrasted with the expectations of ‘cops and robbers’ excitement thrust upon us by American cinema. The fact the title for its recent French realise translates as ‘The Irish’ may do little for Bord Failte, but it still represents one of the best Irish films in living memory.

2. Drive – An incredibly stylish and intense thriller starring Ryan Gosling in a startling turn as the unnamed driver who has very little to say but is psychotic with a hammer. This is a brilliantly constructed car chase sequences that mainstream Hollywood action films could take pointers from and an eerily moody atmosphere is accentuated by what is undoubtedly the film soundtrack of the year.

1. Senna – A stirring portrait of Formula 1’s greatest showman. At once saddening and enraging, this documentary represents the very best of modern non-fictional cinema. It is also one of the most innovative films of recent times, particularly in the cinematic release, in which not a single piece of original footage was used. Possibly the greatest sports film of all time, and a worthy film of the year.