Tuesday, 20 December 2011

2011: A Look Back

This time last year, I decided to set up a little blog. A place for me to jot down what I thought of books and films I'd been enjoying. One year on, and the site is far more successful than I could have imagined and has turned into a place not just for my ramblings, but for everyone to share their opinions and debate to their heart's content! So as 2011 draws to a close, here are my favourite things from this past year.

What have your book and film highlights been in 2011? As always, comment away! Enjoy xxx

2011 has been an impressive year at the cinema with massive hits from comic books to classics and brilliantly original screenplays. But it all started out with The King's Speech and Black Swan back in January - two completely different films that were both staggeringly good to watch. Later in the year, there were some more arty, occasionally darker films to marvel at rather than enjoy. The violence in Tyrannosaur - Paddy Considine's directorial debut - was intense but entirely overshadowed by the phenomenal performance given by Olivia Colman. Tilda Swinton also gave a quietly torturing performance in the bloodstained We Need to Talk About Kevin.

We Need to Talk About Kevin was one of the biggest adaptations of the year - but not the only one. There was also One Day, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Help and the final Harry Potter instalment - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. While The Help and We Need to Talk About Kevin did brilliant jobs with their original source text, it was the final Harry Potter that stood out and for all the wrong reasons. The team behind the final film opted for 3D spectacle over plot and lost all the fitting ends to the beloved characters. It was a sorry end to an incredible series.

While 2011 was the year I managed to read The Help and We Need to Talk About Kevin - two incredible books - the book of the year has to be Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. It held its own, even given the high standards set by Lupton's staggeringly brilliant debut Sister back in 2010. It was a lot to live up to but Lupton managed to prove just how talented she is with her second book. I look forward to book number three...
Though released a few years ago, 2011 was also the year I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, a brilliant piece of young adult fiction set in a dystopian future. The book has been made into a film for release in 2012 and I am hugely excited to see it on the big screen.
A piece of quality non-fiction came out in 2011 in Dani's Story by Bernie and Diane Lierow. It is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once and looks at the struggle the Lierows had in adopting Dani, a young girl who had been removed from her family home due to severe negligence.

In the last year, I have had the great pleasure of chatting to some brilliant people in the world of film and book, but the highlights have to be getting to pose my questions to two brilliant authors - Rosamund Lupton and John Grisham. Getting to hear Real Steel director Shawn Levy and star of Fright Night David Tennant talk about their films at Empire Big Screen Weekend was also brilliant fun.

Sometimes, films and books get overlooked because they are silly and not to be taken seriously - though this does not make them bad. For pure unadulterated enjoyment, highlights have to include the Hugh Jackman robot film Real Steel and hilarious romp My Sweet Saga by Brett Sills. Marvel film Thor was also suprisingly entertaining and saw newcomer Chris Hemsworth pull off arrogant, funny and charming with apparent ease. Kristen Wiig also proved her worth by starring in and writing the massive hit Bridesmaids which mixed gross-out comedy, humour, touching sentimentality and heartbreaking sadness with class. But the clear winner by a mile was the JJ Abrams/Steven Spielberg summer hit Super 8, which had me hooked from start to finish. It was an adrenaline fuelled ride with incredible young stars, amazing effects and a dark and twisted storyline to match.

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