Sunday, February 27, 2011

2010: A Review in Pictures

Since Oscar Day seems like the last opportunity to wrap 2010 up, I figured I would at least offer a brief review of my own. As you can probably guess, I did not think 2010 was a stellar year. In fact, the best film of last year I watched on television, not to mention I believed the third season of "Breaking Bad" probably topped most, if not all of these movies as well. There were many good films, but I cannot say that my enthusiasm level was all that high.

Even the above still is misleading, as I considered Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" a very good film that was surprisingly elevated to a great film by perhaps those wanting to support a film of solid craftsmanship while overlooking some of its glaring flaws. But, still, that last shot was my favorite of the year and probably represents what I thought about the year in film in general. Interpret that as you will.

This post will cover what I considered the best movies of the year and a few questions for some of the films that stuck in mind for all the wrong reasons. Finally, I also included my best experiences watching older movies on the big screen, which were the true highlights of moviegoing in 2010. I perhaps may write about or do a video essay about films from last year sometime in the future, one of which is already being planned. But I figured this would give you a good idea of what my overall feelings about the films of 2010 since this blog went dark during a few stretches last year. Here we go:

The Best Film of 2010, By Far:

Dir: Olivier Assayas
Scrs: Assayas, Dan Franck & Daniel Leconte

The Rest of the Top 10 (in alphabetical order):

127 Hours
Dir: Danny Boyle
Scrs: Boyle & Simon Beaufoy

Animal Kingdom
Dir & Scr: David Michôd

Another Year
Dir & Scr: Mike Leigh

Black Swan
Dir: Darren Aronofsky
Scrs: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz & John J. McLaughlin

Dir: Joon-Ho Bong
Scrs: Bong & Eun-kyo Park

A Prophet
Dir: Jaques Audiard
Scrs: Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Abdel Raouf Dafri & Nicolas Peufaillit

The Social Network
Dir: David Fincher
Scr: Aaron Sorkin

True Grit
Dir & Scrs: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Winter's Bone
Dir: Debra Granik
Scrs: Granik & Anne Rosselini

The Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):

The American
Dir: Anton Corbijn
Scr: Rowan Joffe

Blue Valentine
Dir: Derek Cianfrance
Scrs: Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne & Joey Curtis

Dir: Giorgos Lanthimos
Scrs: Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou

Four Lions
Dir: Chris Morris
Scrs: Morris, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain & Simon Blackwell

The Good, The Bad, The Weird
Dir: Ji-Woon Kim
Scrs: Kim & Min-suk Kim

Never Let Me Go
Dir: Mark Romanek
Scr: Alex Garland

Please Give
Dir & Scr: Nicole Holofcener

Secret Sunshine
Dir & Scr: Chang-dong Lee

Solitary Man
Dirs: Brian Koppelman & David Levien
Scr: Koppelman

Toy Story 3
Dir: Lee Unkrich
Scr: Michael Arndt

The Documentaries (in alphabetical order):

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Dir: Banksy

Inside Job
Dir: Charles Ferguson
Scrs: Chad Beck & Adam Bolt

The Tillman Story
Dir: Amir Bar-Lev
Scr: Mark Monroe

Some Random Questions:

Did Anything Remotely Resembling Drama Actually Occur During This Movie?

The Tempest

Was There Any Scenery Left After Christian Bale and Melissa Leo Finished a Take?

The Fighter

Was This Not the Most Uneasy Mix of 70's Sitcom Plot Devices with Self-Satisfied Political Correctness?

The Kids Are All Right

How Many People Must Die to Get Two Characters to Meet?


Are These Filmmakers Really the Vacuous, Opportunistic Assholes They Portray Themselves As in Their Own Film?


Did My Favorite Filmmaker of All Time Really Make Something This Ridiculous?

Shutter Island

Did the Hysterical Critical Reaction to this Film, Both Pro and Con, Illustrate Banksy's Point in "Exit Through the Gift Shop" That There is a Little Bit More Posturing Than Depth in Criticism Today? And a 2nd Question: All of That For This Movie, the Equivalent of a Mr. Brainwash Painting?!


The Best Movie Revival Experiences (in chronological order):

Red Cliff: The Complete Version (Walter Reade Theater as part of The New York Asian Film Festival)

Raging Bull (Loews Jersey Theater)

The Blues Brothers (Loews Jersey Theater)

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (Walter Reade Theater)

The Seven Samurai (BAM Rose Cinemas)

 Love Streams (Walter Reade Theater)

Once Upon A Time in the West (Walter Reade Theater)

As I have stated many times, I certainly plan for the blog to be more active this year. Here is hoping 2011 will have movies worth talking about.


Craig said...

I decided at the last minute to not do a best of 2010 list, in part because I still haven't seen all the potential candidates (Carlos a biggie), and because there's not much left to say about my favorites (True Grit, The Social Network, Winter's Bone) that hasn't already been said. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better to wait ten years before doing a 10-best list; I imagine my list for 2000 might be different now than it was then.

Your diverging reactions to Catfish and Exit Through the Gift Shop are interesting, because most of the reviews I've read liked or loathed them for what seemed to be similar reasons (i.e., that each film is purportedly a con-job). What made you respond to Banksy's movie differently than the other picture? I'm curious because up to now I've avoided seeing both.

The Ghost Writer may be a tad overpraised, but it's probably one of the four or five best experiences I had in a movie theater all year. Rarely has a depressing movie left me feeling so giddy. Shutter Island, on the other hand, was so laughable that by the time Ben Kingsley broke DiCaprio's toy gun, I wish Scorsese had gone even further and let the stage hands come onscreen to dismantle the set. My reaction doesn't diminish my esteem for Scorsese in the slightest, but the prose orgasms some of his fans have been having over this thing proves your point over at Cinema Styles that the misapplication of auteurism has become one of the most annoying trends to emerge in current online criticism.

The best movie I saw in 2010 was Red Cliff on DVD. I may have persuaded the director of my university cinema to put the international version on the program next year.

Steven Santos said...

Your point about lists is spot on. What I have here is guaranteed to change as time passes. Matt Damon actually says the same thing about the Oscars: hold them ten years after the movies are released.

I didn't mean to knock The Ghost Writer that much. As I said, I thought it was a solid film overall, but I guess I didn't have the emotional involvement in it as others did.

However, the year end tongue bathing of Shutter Island is quite perplexing, particularly the notion that it's the "smarter" version of Inception. I didn't care for either film, but at least Inception didn't traffic in the Holocaust and the murder of children not to explore the psychology of a man, but have his diagnosis used as a climactic plot twist, which has made Scorsese's movie feel more rancid to me over time. It's battling Cape Fear and Boxcar Bertha as one of his worst films.

Steven Santos said...

As far as my reactions to Exit and Catfish. My feeling is that Catfish, whether real or not, presents some rather trite ideas about identity in the internet age. I thought it was no different than reality television.

Exit actually works whether this story is an elaborate prank or not. Not to give too much away, but I did think the point Banksy is making had to do with questioning how people respond to art, not just what he thinks is bad art, but even wondering if the praise for his own art is at all genuine. Which may be why I latched onto it. It certainly made me even question myself. There's certainly the possibility you could think it's all bullshit, but the ideas it presents are worth thinking about and arguing, especially nowadays.

I'm with you on Red Cliff, which I would put over Carlos. Saw Red Cliff first on DVD and was lucky to see the whole thing in the theater a couple of months after. Hope you get a chance to see this in the theater. A great pop movie with a genuine epic scope that so few have experienced the way it should be seen because people in our country don't have the patience for a 5 hour subtitled movie.