Tim’s Tops of 2011

I’m gonna take a page from my creative partner, Sue, and give a run down of my favorite films of the year; though it appears that we do have a lot of the same films on our list.

1) The Muppets – This movie is sheer joy, and by far the best time at the theater I had all year. Sure you can blame that on nostalgia if you like, but I also believe it was a truly well written and well made film. Seeing my old friends on the big screen again made me laugh and smile. Call backs to the series made me teary-eyed and reminded me of how much fun these characters are. And that’s why we let them into our hearts in the first place.


2) The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard – This film is linked in my mind eternally with our site. Jeremy Lalonde the film’s director was kind enough to give us our first interview, and helped us launch our podcast format, and putt us in touch with some wonderful people. Thank you for that! But beyond that, this wonderful Canadian film is witty, fun, and has oh, so much heart. Even now, thinking about my favorite scenes makes me smile, and gives me shivers when I think about the performances. The longing for a DVD of this film may soon be fulfilled, and then everyone can share in it!


3) War Horse – A beautiful film made by one of my favorite directors. Spielberg works with an adaptation of the cherished children’s novel and brings to life the story of a horse named Joey who goes to war, and sees the good and the bad on both sides. Spielberg’s magic is on full display here and the film is touched with heart-touching and heart-breaking moments. Everything you’ve come to expect from a Spielberg film.



4) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – As stated yesterday in my review, I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this film, being such a fan of the original novel and film. But Fincher showed a deft hand and delivered a tightly wrapped thriller that was incredibly faithful to the book, and Craig is likable as Blomkvist and Mara’s turn as Lisbeth, while not a carbon copy of Noomi Rapace’s original effort is fairly close and is exactly what you think Lisbeth would behave and act like. Though as a personal side note, I preferred Rapace’s dragon tattoo on her back than the shoulder one given to Mara.


5) The Adventures of Tintin – Enjoyable Spielberg fun for the whole family! This film was an enjoyable romp that gave Spielberg his first animated film, as well as his first 3D film. Based on the beloved French comic this film could launch a whole new tent pole series, as long as the big players remain involved, I’m on board. And where else can you see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as identical police officers? Brilliant!



6) Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II – I just finished rewatching the entire series yesterday, and Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a wonderful cap to the entire series. In fact this time through it affected me even more emotionally that it had the first time through. It’s easy to brush these off as simple family movies, but from the beginning the books and the films have spoken to the important themes of friendship, loyalty, belief in oneself, and doing what is right. And of course, this film allows for Alan Rickman’s finest performance as Severus Snape, proving what an amazing actor he is.


7) Super 8 – The Goonies and Stand By Me meets E.T. and even that comparison does the film a disservice. Lovingly made by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, the film recalls moments from many Spielberg films, and took us back to a time when you didn’t have to lock your doors at night, and neighbors looked out for one another. Filled with a nostalgia that made me recall my own youth, and performances from children who seem able to act beyond their years, Super 8 was, for me, a magical film experience.


8) Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – I’ve been a huge fan of this series since its launch, and was very eager to see Brad Bird’s first live action film. I was delighted that it paid off as much as it did! What have you got next for me Brad? This is a highly enjoyable spy romp that embraces everything about the original series, updating it for today, and had some truly fantastic sequences. It also saw my favorite character, Simon Pegg’s Benji as a full field agent, hopefully to reappear in the potential sequels with Jeremy Renner.


9) Hugo – Martin Scorsese made a truly beautiful film about the love of movies and their origins. Wrapping it in a mystery for a young boy to solve, the film brought to life the early days of cinema. It showed us once again that if a movie is done right, it can transcend popcorn entertainment and revitalize the love of an art form that far too often gets shunt aside in the desire to make a fast buck.



10) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – An old school cold war thriller, the film is a slow burn that constantly ratchets up the tension as George Smiley attempts to flush out a Russian mole inside MI6. The film had a stellar cast rounded out by the always amazing Gary Oldman, a chameleon of an actor who buries himself in each and every role he takes on. It also didn’t play the viewer for a fool or pander to the audience. A smart spy thriller about an age seemingly long gone.



So there you have it, my top ten films of the year, I would be remiss however if I didn’t give a few honorable mentions to other films I loved this year…

-Hanna, young actress Saoirse Ronan looks to have a long and amazing career ahead of her.

-Paul, featuring the ever awesome Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two geeks on a cross-country road-trip who have a close encounter. I love these two guys working together, they are always a sheer delight, and I would love to go for a pint with the two of them anytime!

-Source Code, Duncan Jones’ follow-up to Moon, Code was a fun temporal tale featuring Jake Gyllenhaal.

-Thor & Captain America, ramping us up for next year’s Avengers these two Marvel adaptations expanded the growing comic book universe and were good popcorn entertainment.

and finally the surprising X-men: First Class, another comic book film that introduces us to Xavier and Magneto before they turned against each other, both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are top form in this movie and of course there’s January Jones, as Stan Lee might say… ‘Nuff Said

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – Review

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is an old school, cold-war spy thriller.

And sadly, I think it’s not going to find as much of an audience as I would like it to here in North America. There’s not enough flash to hold the attention of the younger movie watchers who make up the large percentage of cinema goers. I think it will find an audience with the older ones though, as well as the ones who feel they don’t necessarily need to be pandered to and lead from point A to point B step by step with over simplistic plots.

This film certainly doesn’t question the audience’s intelligence, it expects you to watch and infer, to know enough about human behavior to understand some of the characters actions and reactions.

But after the director’s previous film, not to mention the film’s subject, I would expect nothing less.

Director Tomas Alfredson’s previous film was one that I raved to everyone I could when I still worked in a video store (if anyone remembers what those are anymore). Let The Right One In was one of the best vampire movies I had ever seen, and I do like my vampire movies. There were moments in that film, little side plots that were inferred and hinted at, that the serviceable (and yes admittedly good) American remake, Let Me In, felt they simply had to explain instead of letting the audience figure it out.

Adapted from John le Carré’s classic 1974 novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy takes us back to the height of the cold war, where after a blown op in Budapest which results in the loss of an agent (Mark Strong), George Smiley (Oldman) and his boss, code-named Control (John Hurt), have been forced-out of MI-6, known as “the Circus”.

Control, however, has one last mission for Smiley, to uncover a Russian mole in the highest echelons of MI-6.

It’s impossible to find the right word to describe Oldman’s performance. The man is a chameleon unlike any other actor of this age. He always IS the character, he’s never Gary Oldman playing a character, he’s been called the modern Lon Chaney, the man of 1000 faces, and though that compliment has bee paid to him before, I will happily give it to him again.

Staring out from behind a huge pair of glasses that give you the impression that when he looks at you, that he’s coldly studying you, and he gives nothing away. But then in other moments, you can see the wheels turning, as he puts the pieces of evidence together, seeing how they fit. You also get the impression that he always knows more than he tells you, and he’s a lot smarter than those he’s dealing with as well.

Which is saying something, because his assistant is Sherlock Holmes.


Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock in the outstanding BBC series anyway. Here he works with Smiley to steal files and information from The Circus to suss out the mole, being run by the Russian known only as Karla.

Watching the pieces come together, in this grimy and dirty looking 70s is a treat, though as mentioned above, it won’t be for everyone.

The last half of the film, as we build up to the reveal of the mole, Alfredson keeps tweaking the tension, til you realize you’re on edge asking yourself “When did that happen?”

I also found myself falling in love with not only the look of the film, the set design of The Circus was realistic and functional and yet engaging, as well as the locations used through out the film, but the film’s score as well. I usually recognize the names of the composers, but this one, Alberto Iglesias was new for me, but I’ll be listening for his work from now on.

The film has a stellar all-star cast of top tier English actors, Oldman, Cumberbatch, Hurt, Strong, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, Ciarán Hinds and Tom Hardy and each one of them brings their A game. It would’ve been something to be on set to watch this group of actors working together.

If you’re looking for a film that isn’t gonna take you by the hand and walk you through every single plot point, and hammer you over the head with endless exposition to make sure you got that point, and would like to see a film that respect’s your intelligence, as well as a fantastic cast and crew working with a classic story then you should definitely take the time to visit with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.