Best DVDs of 2011

Choosing from the pile of films that didn’t get a local cinema release, our professional voyeurs log a year of DVD love with their 2011 picks.

Carsten Knox

Coast writer since 2003

Bobby Fischer Against the World (Mongrel) Directed by Liz Garbus

Once upon a time, chess champions were famous. This doc follows the chaotic life of the biggest ever, and how pressure to compete drove him off the rails.

Bruce Springsteen, The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town (Sony Music) Directed by Thom Zimny

Daydream Nation (eOne) Directed by Michael Goldbach

Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls) breaks out in this Canadian dark comedy about boredom, sexually precocious teens, serial killers and small town life.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (Seville) Directed by Luc Besson

In A Better World (Mongrel) Directed by Susanne Bier

Last Night (eOne) Directed by Massy Tadjedin

Pearl Jam 20 (Sony Music) Directed by Cameron Crowe

Star rock documentarian (in print and film) Crowe revisits his buddies in PJ, charting their two-decade arc from the Seattle grunge scene to becoming one of the world's biggest cult bands.

Project Nim (Mongrel) Directed by James Marsh

Starbuck (eOne) Directed by Ken Scott

A heartwarming Quebec comedy about a shaggy 40-something who discovers he's fathered hundreds of kids thanks to the regular sperm bank deposits he made in his 20s. See it now before Hollywood remakes it in English.

Super (eOne) Directed by James Gunn

Ellen Page keeps making great career choices, including this year's violent satire on the superhero movie genre, starring Rainn Wilson as a disturbed, wrench- wielding vigilante.

The Trip (Alliance) Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Carsten's favourite movie as a child: The Outlaw Josey Wales. Favourite movie now: Withnail & I. The Coast's film and special issues editor.

Molly Segal

Coast writer since 2011

Around a Small Mountain (Cinema Guild) Directed by Jacques Rivette

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo (Argot) Directed by Jessica Orek

Bill Cunningham: New York (Zeitgeist) Directed by Richard Press

New York Times street-style photographer is a captivating character: accepting no pay for his work snapping stills of Manhattan's chic and elite, living minimally and alone---not even the documentary can solve this puzzle.

Mesrine: Public Enemy Number 1 (Alliance) Directed by Jean-François Richet

You don't have to see part one, Mesrine: Killer Instinct, to get hooked on this gripping and gruesome second instalment chronicling French gangster Jacques Mesrine's (Vincent Cassel) post-jail criminal life and demise.

The Round Up (eOne) Directed by Roselyne Bosch

Submarine (Alliance) Directed by Richard Ayoade

Tabloid (eOne) Directed by Errol Morris

This documentary starring Joyce McKinney examines her very public private life after she "kidnapped" the Mormon missionary with whom she was smitten. It's hard to tell fact from fiction as McKinney appears increasingly deluded.

The Tempest (Maple) Directed by Julie Taymor

Navigating the line between Shakespearean dialogue and contemporary touches, including the gender switch of Prospero to Prospera (Helen Mirren), this adaptation is entertaining---comedic talent includes Russell Brand---and enticing.

The Trip (Alliance) Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Brit powerhouses Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon venture across England on a food-critiquing road trip for Coogan's work. Their meals develop a pattern of one-upmanship with their celebrity impersonations while ruthlessly mocking the other.

Waste Land (eOne) Directed by Lucy Walker

YSL: L'Amour Fou (Mongrel) Directed by Pierre Thoretton

Molly's favourite movie as a child: Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Favourite movie now: Hannah and Her Sisters.

Matt Semansky

Coast writer since 2010

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (Mongrel) Directed by Michael Rapaport

Carlos (Mongrel) Directed by Olivier Assayas

Daydream Nation (eOne) Directed by Michael Goldbach

Everything Must Go (Maple) Directed by Dan Rush

Will Ferrell straps on his serious face and succeeds as an alcoholic left jobless, wifeless and alone on his lawn with his furniture and his demons. Ferrell underplays deftly and Rush resists corny redemption cliches.

A Film Unfinished (Kinosmith) Directed by Yael Hersonski

An incomplete entry in the Third Reich's film library is dissected in this documentary about the illusions and lies behind Hitler's motion-picture propaganda. Hersonski shines a light on the sinister side of film's seductive power.

Good Neighbours (Alliance) Directed by Jacob Tierney

Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman and Emily Hampshire circle awkwardly around each other while a serial killer prowls outside their apartment building. Montreal in winter is an appropriately icy setting for this chilling black comedy.

Jack Goes Boating (Alliance) Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman

Last Night (eOne) Directed by Massy Tadjedin

This mournful, beautifully photographed meditation on jealousy and infidelity examines a strained marriage between Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington. Both face temptation, and there's delicious tension in waiting to see who gives in.

Meek's Cutoff (Kinosmith) Directed by Kelly Reichardt

Waiting for Superman (Paramount) Directed by David Guggenheim

Agree or disagree with its conclusions, this investigation of an American education system that strands kids based on race, money and geography is a gripping, infuriating piece of intelligent provocation.

Vanishing on 7th Street (eOne) Directed by Brad Anderson

Favourite movie as a child: Halloween. Favourite movie now: 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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