2011 BEST 10 FILMS

Edan Corkill

Seiko Ogura (VALERIA)

Noriko Kaji

Kenichi Eguchi

Teruki Uehara

Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2011
Edan Corkill
1. The King's Speech / Tom Hooper
Director Tom Hooper shows that you don’t need to jump off the highest building in the world in order to create suspense. Through his masterful depiction of the tense relationship between the king and his speech therapist, Hooper turns the mere delivery of a speech into something to cheer for.
2. Black Swan / Darren Aronofsky
I found it a little hard to believe that a professional ballerina would experience quite the depth of psychological trauma that Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) goes through, but this was so stylish and so beautifully shot that I was willing to forgive all that and just get carried away by it all.
3. Into Eternity / Michael Madsen
If ever there was an argument against the use of nuclear power it lies in the simple ethical question of whether or not we (who live in the present) have the right to be creating dangerous waste that cannot be destroyed and will not break down for over 100,000 years. Michael Madsen’s beautiful and sobering film depicts attempts in Finland to create a storage facility for nuclear waste. Everyone who relies on nuclear energy - and that means everyone in Japan - should watch this film.
4. True Grit / Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
With the best of the Coen brothers’ films, such as “Fargo” and “The Big Lebowski,” narrative twists that shock initially but then, with hindsight, seem utterly inevitable are a big part of the attraction. So, with their decision to stay close to the storyline of the original “True Grit,” the Coens more or less surrendered one of their strongest weapons. We know the young girl will come out alright. We know how it will all end up. Hence, there needed to be a lot of poetry in the telling to make it all worth while. And sure enough, there was poetry in the carefully crafted relationships between Hailee Steinfield’s Mattie Ross and Jeff Bridges’ and Matt Damon’s characters. But I’m not sure it was enough.
5. The Tree of Life / Terrence Malick
I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Terrence Malick fan, so I liked the abstract shots of the solar system (Is that what it was?) and the dinosaurs and the whole notion of trying to capture the entirety of Life in a single film. But, at the same time there was something about this that made me cringe: religion, and in particular, Christianity. How exactly did the brother die? Are we not intentionally led to believe that he died in a war? (Why else would notice of this death arrive by telegram?) And if he did die in a war, then should we really be just shrugging and accepting that death as God’s will?
6. The Social Network / David Fincher
Well-paced and gripping, but, if this is supposed to be a character study of the man behind Facebook, why is it that I came out of the film still not really understanding what drives him? Sure, we know he has a thing about girls who dump him and another thing about wanting to show up rich white guys. That all provides a (rather shallow) explanation for why Mark Zuckerberg starts Facebook and launches his empire. But why does he keep at it? Why is he still at the helm six years later? There must be more to this guy. Maybe in 20 years’ time another Zuckerberg biopic will appear and it will answer these questions. If so, then maybe that film will be genuinely worthy of comparisons with “Citizen Kane.”
7. Inside Job / Charles Ferguson
Everyone who is affected by what happens on Wall Street should watch this film. And, considering the way the film lays bare the connections between Wall Street and Washington, that means pretty much everyone should watch it.
8. Mission Impossible IV / Brad Bird
Director Brad Bird shows that while you don’t need to jump off the highest building in the world in order to create suspense, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Wow. What an adrenalin rush all that was - and just as well, because if you take a minute to actually think about what is going on, it’s all pretty stupid.
9. Tintin / Steven Spielberg
Personality, screen presence, sense of humor: In almost every way Tintin himself was outshone by his dog, Snowy. But, this film was nevertheless an entertaining ride from start to finish. Fingers crossed for even more of the dog next time around.
10. My Back Page / Nobuhiro Yamashita
A particularly unflattering - and thus engrossing - depiction of the kinds of people who were behind Japan’s ultimately failed “student movements” of the 1960s and ‘70s.

Edan Corkill
After coming to Japan in 1997, worked for the "Nagasawa Art Park Artist-in-Residence Program," the Mori Art Museum Project Office and the Mori Art Museum. Joined The Japan Times in 2007. Currently serves as a staff writer and as the chief of the newspaper's Arts, Entertainment and Features Division. In 1997, completed a BA (Hons.) in Japanese Studies at Sydney University with a thesis on "Ichikawa Kon and the Narration of Film Adaptation."
Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2011
VALERIA Seiko Ogura
  1. Restless / Gus Van Sant
  2. Belleville Tokyo / Elise Girard
  3. Road To Nowhere / Monte Hellman
  4. Hereafter / Clint Eastwood
  5. The Kids Are All Right / Lisa Cholodenko
  6. Saudade / Katsuya Tomita
  7. Crazy, Stupid, Love. / Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
  8. Peace / Kazuhiro Soda
  9. The Town / Ben Affleck
  10. Soul Kitchen / Fatih Akin
Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2011
Noriko Kaji
  1. Saudade / Katsuya Tomita
  2. Tournee / Mathieu Amalric
  3. The Tree of Life / Terrence Malick
  4. Pajaros de Papel / Emilio Aragon
  5. Blue Valentine / Derek Cianfrance
  6. The Tourist / Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
  7. Black Swan / Darren Aronofsky
  8. Certified Copy / Abbas Kiarostami
  9. The Ditch / Wang Bing
  10. Rise of The Planet of The Apes / Peter Chernin
Best 10 Films Released in Japan in 2011
Kenichi Eguchi
  1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives / Apichatpong Weerasethakul
  2. Essential Killing / Jerzy Skolimowski
  3. Saudade / Katsuya Tomita
  4. La Fille Coupee En Deux / Claude Chabrol
  5. In a Better World / Susanne Bier
  6. Os Famosos e os Duendes da Morte / Esmir Filho
  7. The Kids Are All Right / Lisa Cholodenko
  8. The Ghost Writer / Roman Polanski
  9. Submarino / Thomas Vinterberg
  10. Ending Note / Asami Sunada
Best 12 Films Released in Japan in 2011
Teruki Uehara
  1. Inspector Bellamy / Claude Chabrol
  2. Vincere / Marco Bellocchio
  3. Hereafter / Clint Eastwood
  4. Certified Copy / Abbas Kiarostami
  5. Incendies / Denis Villeneuve
  6. Blue Valentine / Derek Cianfrance
  7. Saudade / Katsuya Tomita
  8. House of Tolerance / Bertrand Bonello
  9. The Tree of Life / Terrence Malick
10. Palermo Shooting / Wim Wenders
11. Winter's Bone / Debra Granik
12. NINIFUNI / Tetsuya Mariko