Black Swan. I LOVE Natalie Portman, but this was a terrible lot of old Grand Guignol tosh. Disappointing. Barbara Hershey, an actor who has spent her life being underrated, was good as her mum.
Rien a Declarer. (Nothing To Declare). Dany Boon again. What it is to be French. And to be Belgian. Conceit is the abolition of customs posts in the EU in the early 1990s. Hilarious.
True Grit. Really stylish. Wonderful script. I never saw the original, because I had political objections to John Wayne when I was young. But this, I like Jeff Bridges. His character, Rooster Cogburn, fetches up in travelling Wild West shows. Whatever were those all about? Stylish, but maybe slightly dull.
Made In Dagenham. Or, 'We Want Sex Equality' as the French insist on titling it. Utterly excellent. Should have had an Oscar. Daniel Hays stands out in support, as the husband - the film is set in the Dagenham car works female machinists' strike for equal pay in 1968 - not feel-good but dark. And about standing up for what is right. A wonderful film. Sally Hawkins, an actor I did not know, as the young wife who becomes a union leader, is brilliant. Rosamund Pike as the factory boss's wife. the pink clothes pegs, yes I remember those. Geraldine James. Bob Hoskins. I could go on. Brilliant, brilliant.
Fighter. A true story, and the protagonists are still alive. Blue-collar America.
Pina. By Wim Wenders, about the late choreographer Pina Bausch, one of the most beautiful films I have seen in a long time. Oddly, it was in 3D but I was not watching in 3D. So, so lovely.
Midnight in Paris. Woody Allen. With Owen Wilson, who is excellent. He was playing the part the younger Woody Allen would have played. Very cool, and very funny, imagine meeting Toulouse-Lautrec at the Folies-Bergere. I loved it. Quite probably this is going to be the film of the year.
Tous les Soleils. I went to see this on my own, not because i particularly wanted to but because it was filmed, and set, here in Strasbourg - but I was glad I did. Strasbourg is quite extraordinarily beautiful - I have been privileged to live and work in several beautiful places - and they made the main characters, brothers, Italian, so the issue of French or German did not have to be addressed. I liked it.
The Beaver. With Jodie Foster, I always like to see her. A film about a family, and, especially, about depression. Dunno. Really, dunno.
Omar M'A Tuer. A true story of miscarriage of justice here in France. An illiterate Moroccan gardener is working for a wealthy French woman. She is murdered. His name is written in her blood (the title says "Omar killed me" in ungrammatical French, though the murder victim was highly educated). Omar is still alive and living in Toulon. A luminous performance from Sami Boujalili. I thought it subtle and interesting, but it seems to have sunk without trace.
Chico and Rita. The first BD, or graphic novel, film I have seen in a very long time. Spanish language, set in Cuba and made, bizarrely, on the Isle of Man. Latin jazz piano and horn. The French get animated films as not many but the Japanese really do. What do flesh and blood actors think about animated films? Are their livelihoods being taken away? Discuss. Go and see this, it is affecting and interesting, and the soundtrack is great.
Deep End. I went to see this not knowing what it was going to be. It is quite possibly a masterpiece. Hugely scary and macabre, London seen by an outsider (Jerzy Skolimowski) set in a bath house, with the young Jane Asher, who apparently says now that this is one of the things she is proudest of having done. A work of staggering brilliance. But made in 1970 so how can I call it a film of 2011?
Le Moine. (The Monk). I lasted about 15 minutes. Lots of people in monastic clothing walking about looking mysterious in 17th-century Spain. And (you guessed it) there is a Mysterious Woman. Do. Me. A. Favour.
Une Separation. (A Separation). Iranian. Tehran as you have never seen it. Quite brilliant. Affecting, metaphorical, go and see it.
Les Deux Chevaux de Genghis Khan. Odd thing. A German documentary film about Mongolia. Starring Urna, who is excellent. The real star is the Mongolian landscape. As always. The great skies of the steppes, and the strange music they make. I love it so.
Killing Bono. On one level, what nonsense. Irish film. But on another, why not, and it is a true story. Bloke nearly gets to play with Bono, but doesn't. Ho hum. Quite entertaining.
Happy Happy. Norwegian. Despite that title, about as happy as Scandinavian films usually are. One dysfunctional couple meets another, with psychopathic son and closet gay husband. Aaargh. And yet the scenes stay with you. Check it out. There's lots of snow. And a choir. And knitwear.
Horrible Bosses. Well, it was quite entertaining. Jennifer Aniston surprisingly funny and good as a bizarre nympho dentist.
Tu Seras Mon Fils. (You Will Be My Son). It takes place in the Medoc vineyards. It is about inheritance, and property, and wine. It all ends Very Badly. But hugely impressive. Go and see it if you can.
One Day. Terrible load of tedious old crap. When she got killed I was hoping he would be too just to spare us all. But despite all the criticism Anne Hathaway's accent was fine.
La Guerre Est Declaree. (War Is Declared) True story of a couple (the director and producer, and one of them stars) whose baby son is diagnosed with a rare cancer, and how it fucks up their lives. Well, it is full of joy despite that. Cool.
This Must Be The Place. Sean Penn, and the premise is Talking Heads. Beautiful and puzzling.
Le Cochon de Gaza. (The Gaza Pig). Amusing, rather gentle and optimistic, against the stereotypes. Filmed in Malta nd set in Gaza. Date deliberately unspecific, because Israeli troops still there. A Gaza fisherman pulls in a live pig in his net. Hilarious at moments. The ending doesn't work - but check out MIss Piggy!
The Artist. Wow wow wow. Who would have thought? A silent film which is fab. I loved it. Totally,
Drive. I have been a fan of Ryan Gosling since seeing Half Nelson a few years ago. In this he wears a very cool jacket, does not say much, drives a car, stares into the middle distance, oh and he kills a lot of people. I think when people get stabbed it probably looks like it does in this film. Visually beautiful. I'd see it again.
Moneyball. Very clever. It's about baseball. But you don't have to know about baseball to appreciate it. Brad Pitt I think. Pretty good stuff. Intelligent script.
The Lady. Michelle Yeoh plays Aung San Suu Kyi. Rather well, it seems. Burma is so beautiful. And I liked David Thewlis as Michael Aris. Good.
So, if you ask me to choose, it is difficult. For films of 2011, I think The Artist, Midnight in Paris and Made in Dagenham. Not necessarily in that order. The most important film I saw in 2011 though was Deep End. On the whole, a very good year for films.