Year in review: Top 10 films of 2011

Leow Si Wan
Singapore Showbiz

Bridesmaid power! (Yahoo! Photo)

1. Bridesmaids

The film's premise may seem fluffy but Bridesmaids is the single bright light in the dull, dark landscape of lousy comedies this year. "Hangover II" was a disappointment, "Horrible Bosses" was underwhelming, "Johnny English Reborn" had one truly funny scene and, well, you get the drift.

This heartwarming comedy has all the elements to make it a hit with both sexes. Bridesmaids' surprisingly accurate observations about the fairer sex guarantee that women identify with it. Men are not left out either -- there is plenty of Apatow's signature laugh-out-loud humor and witty dialogue served in glee by a talented cast with amazing chemistry.

Hilarious, positive and unexpectedly meaningful — what's there not to like?

X-Men: First Class cast (Yahoo! Photo)

2. X-Men: First Class

A stand-out in the also lackluster superhero genre this year. "Thor", "Captain America" and the "Green Lantern" have much to learn from these mutants. Directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring outstanding thespians such as James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and newcomer Jennifer Lawrence, First Class brought fresh air and rejuvenated the X-Men franchise.

To sum it all up: an intelligent, mature, engaging and stylish prequel.

The two brothers face off in the ring (Yahoo! Photo)

3. Warrior

The plot is typical enough — a pair of estranged brothers and an alcoholic father fight it out at home and in the boxing ring.

What makes the film a true winner however is the collective strength of the solid cast. Joel Edgerton in a teacher-by-day, boxer-by-night role and Nick Nolte as the alcoholic father trying to make good are nothing short of outstanding. It is to Tom Hardy's credit then that his powerful portrayal of a tormented young man driven to using his fists by circumstances and pure, unadulterated anger stole the show in several scenes.

The end result is a deeply moving piece of work.

Michelle Chen as Shen Jia Yi (Youtube Screenshot)

4. You Are The Apple Of My Eye

Based on a true life story, the directorial debut of Taiwanese author and filmmaker Giddens Ko is funny, sweet and romantic. Ko Chen-Tung who plays the main character, shone as the prankster with a devoted heart. Michelle Chen, a near-30-year-old actress who had mainly been cast in supporting roles before this movie, was also believable as Ko's studious high school sweetheart. For invoking a strong sense of nostalgia for the good old days of nursing an innocent crush and capturing the reality of how life sometimes can just turn out very differently, this Chinese  movie secures a spot in the top 10 list.

Apes take on humans (Yahoo! Photo)

5. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

James Franco is the dullest thing in the film — it is hard to tell if he is taking himself too seriously in a movie which is supposed to be fun or that he is just bored. Frieda Pinto comes in a close second as the token love interest.

Thankfully then that the primates — which have been rendered capable of displaying deep, rousing emotions — rise as the real stars of the latest Apes film. With stellar visual effects and a sweet (admittedly rather sappy) plot backing them up, Caesar and his gang make viewers want to root for them, even in the ultimate battle between man and ape.

All geared up for the mission (Yahoo! Photo)

6. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

If you are a Tom Cruise fan, his unbelievably toned physique (he is 49), the ease at which he slips into the role of agent Ethan Hunt and his insistence on performing his own stunts will further impress you. Fret not if you aren't because the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible series will blow you away with its stunning action sequences. Watch it on the Imax screen — you may forget to breathe at some points in the film. Consider yourself warned.

Woody Allen and Rachel McAdams get romantic in Paris (Yahoo! Photo)

7. Midnight In Paris

Woody Allen has had better films, but Midnight in Paris is still a mesmerizing and imaginative piece supported by a likeable and attractive cast, the very pretty Parisian backdrop and a romantic soundtrack. The film brings to life the greatest writers, artists and musicians of history (Salvador Dali, F. Scott Fitzgerald and company) and puts them all together in a very charming Woody Allen-ish way.

Ron and Hermione (Yahoo! Photo)

8. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II

A thrilling end to the well-loved Harry Potter series that deserves its place on this list. While faithful readers all know the ending, Hallows — with a cast viewers have literally watched grown up, exhilarating effects and tight editing — still succeeds in bringing viewers into the wizarding world and onto an exciting and stirring journey as the boy-wizard trumps over He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Romance brewing between this hot pair (Yahoo! Photo)

9. Crazy Stupid Love

Loads of talent (break-out stars of the year: the delectable Ryan Gosling and sweet Emma Stone are the leads), little plot twists, good humor, plenty of romance and just the right amount of cheesy melodrama and what you have is Crazy Stupid Love: the perfect weekend movie.

Muppets joy! (Yahoo! Photo)

10. The Muppets

One word: Triumphant. Critics raved about the show — Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97 per cent approval rating. Innocent, funny, good-hearted and with wide appeal. You would enjoy regardless of your age. Muppets creator Jim Henson would probably be proud.

Other Mentions: The Kids Are All Right and Black Swan. Two completely different, yet equally good Oscars-nominated films which must be watched. While both movies were shown on local screens only this year, they were released internationally in 2010.