29 December 2011


Having failed to publish a list of favourite films for 2010, I thought it best to try and come up with a list for 2011. From the lists and canons I have seen thus far it is pretty clear that the front runners are The Tree of Life, The Artist and A Separation. The Artist has yet to be released in the UK but it already seems like a strong bet for the Golden Globes and perhaps even the Oscars. As for Malick's much praised The Tree of Life, my initial reaction was a little underwhelming and the more I think about the film, the more convinced I am that I need to revisit the film and perhaps re-evaluate my judgement. It has been a particularly strong year for British cinema and I am a little miffed by the low key critical reaction from American critics and reviewers to Lynne Ramsay's latest film. Additionally, I am also perturbed by the absence of Indian films from my many of the lists I have come across. Surely you can't write off one of the biggest film industries in the world? In my personal opinion, the Indian film Dhobi Ghat was just as impressive as the Iranian melodrama A Separation or the Dardennes The Kid with a Bike. If this is the case, then why is Indian cinema so under represented in so much of the critical discourse that emerges at the end of each year on film?

The top 10 films of the year

The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Mark Cousins, UK

The Kid with a Bike
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France/Italy

Dhobi Ghat
Kiran Rao, India

A Separation
Asghar Farhadi, Iran

Essential Killing
Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/Norway/Ireland/Hungary

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lynne Ramsay, UK/USA

Dreileben: Part One - Beats Being Dead
Christian Petzold, Germany

Wuthering Heights
Andrea Arnold, UK

Nicolas Winding Refn, USA

Bennett Miller, USA

Honorable Mentions:

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
Shor in the City
Delhi Belly
Tree of Life
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Black Power Mixtape
Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster
Bobby Fischer Against the World
Attack the Block
Boardwalk Empire; Season 2 Finale
Woody Allen: A Documentary
Stanley Ka Dabba
Midnight in Paris


  1. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Exhilarated to see 4 of my own favorite films here, specifically KEVIN, which has been given such a raw deal by critics. And THE STORY OF FILM, which pretty much kept us occupied for 4 months. How can we not include it???

    Wishing you a terrific year ahead, Omar, and let your great work at Ellipsis keep going!

    (Now to catch up with the posts from last few months, which I've been postponing1)

  2. I think I cheated with The Story of Film but it was too big not to include in my final list.

  3. I haven't managed to see enough of last year's movies to make a list of my own or comment on made by others. But lists like these, including the presumably excellent list made by you, shall be acting as sources of quick reference for me now that I intend to watch at least some of the acclaimed films released last year. By the way, it was a pleasant surprise to see Dhobi Ghat, the underrated little gem from Amir Khan, making your Top 10.

  4. Yes, I really enjoyed Dhobi Ghat and also, question for you, why do you think there is such an absence of Indian films in end of year lists and film canons in general? Any opinions?

  5. yayyyy. Finally someone else that has Dhobi Ghat on their list other than me :) For me both Dhobi Ghat and A Separation were too close too call. Emotionally Dhobi Ghat was superior and bowled me over but then somehow I let A Separation just sneak ahead in my list. And I also had Shor in the City in my honorable mention. I never got to see Do Dooni Chaar in 2010 as it was never released theatrically so I included it in 2011. It was the highest Indian language film in my list as high up as #2 overall.

    Like you, every year I look at end of year lists and ponder about the absence of Indian films. I have a feeling it is more down to people not seeing Indian films and in this, I include North American critics. For example: I could not understand why a film like Black Friday was ignored even when it was released in NY & a few other American cities theatrically.

    5 years ago, I thought it was due to Indian films not showing at enough international film festivals that caused such ignorance. But in the last few years, some Indian films have been shown at various festivals yet they somehow go unseen. And even if they are seen, no reviews are published which is the equal of them going unseen. In the case of Dhobi Ghat it got a lot of publicity across Canada because TIFF had the world premier of it. The Globe and Mail published a few articles on it and also on the That Girl with the Yellow Boots. Yet, once the festival was over, I didn't see any mention of it again. Of course, there are still some people that confuse Indian cinema as Bollywood, a sentiment that frustrates me. Not sure if that plays a part in this ignorance as well.