Monday, January 3, 2011

Top Ten Films of 2010

Happy New Year, readers!

Now I concede: I haven't really made any kind of a scene here on You're Making a Scene in quite some time. Sometimes, life does get in the way of blogging. So what have I been doing these past two months? Well, getting married; going on a honeymoon; apartment hunting; moving; the holidays; and resuming my programming duties at Tribeca Film Institute for starters! One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2011, however, is to devote more time to writing about the films, filmmaking practices, and media-related issues that matter most to me. That being said, there's nothing like a good Top Ten list to start off the new year!

I count myself lucky to be a member of a group of incredibly discerning film critics, comprised of a number of New York University and Yale University graduate film and cinema studies alumni, who participate each year in a "Top Ten" poll organized by the illustrious Michael J. Anderson. (His fine film criticism, which can be found on his blogs Tativille and Ten Best Films, is some of the best commentary on the cinematic arts currently being written today.) Other participants in this year's poll also include P.L. Kerpius (Scarlett Cinema); R. Emmett Sweeney (Movie Morlocks and Termite Art); Matthew L. Singer ( and Termite Art); and Mike Lyon (Tits and Gore). The results of this year's poll are truly extraordinary; so, I encourage you all to check out our selections in the upcoming months, since many of the titles are probably unfamiliar to most American cinema-goers and have yet to receive distribution deals. (If there is any justice in this world, ALL of them will eventually get some kind of a theatrical or DVD release.) For the full consensus, check out Ten Best Films. My own list and a few thoughts on these selections follow below.

Sae Ron Kim in Ounie Lecomte's A Brand New Life

1. A Brand New Life, dir. Ounie Lecomte
2. Poetry, dir. Lee Chang-Dong
3. Black Venus, dir. Abdellatif Kechiche
4. Of Gods and Men, dir. Xavier Beauvois
5. Another Year, dir. Mike Leigh
6. The Social Network, dir. David Fincher
7. Into Eternity, dir. Michael Madsen
8. The Robber, dir. Benjamin Heisenberg
9. Black Swan, dir. Darren Aronofsky
10. My Brothers, dir. Paul Fraser

Upon reviewing this list, I am immediately struck by the number of intesely quiet and intimate character portraits (A Brand New Life, Poetry, Black Venus, The Robber) as well as family dramas (one could argue that A Brand New Life,  Poetry, and even Of Gods and Men all qualify as family dramas in addition to Another Year and My Brothers) that dominated this year. This is particularly striking in view of the showier and more widely covered Hollywood blockbusters that were released in 2010, such as Inception and True Grit (although, to be fair, I did not see the latter). The remaining films on the list are comprised of both highly topical films, such as The Social Network and Into Eternity, which manage to capture and distill unique moments in cultural and technological history, as well as the high-concept film, Black Swan. It was an extraordinary year for cinema, full of terrific writing, bold direction, and even gutsier performances, all of which amounted to a collection of films that somehow made its audiences feel the intangible, analyze the most challenging of ideas and concepts, and, in some cases, revel in the pure joy of art on the screen.

Honorable Mentions

If I may be completely frank, to choose only ten films and deem them "the best" of any given year does somehow feel a bit inane. Art is, after all, subjective; and cinema, more than any other art form, is the product of an incredibly collaborative process full of compromise, a plethora of chance happenings, budgetary and time constraints, as well as a host of other factors that remain out of any director's limits of control. Thus, I just want to make it clear that the above list is simply comprised of those ten films which, for one reason or another, left the most indelible impressions upon me. Which is to say that there were many other films I screened this year that also deserve special mention and which, depending on the criteria and on the day, could take the place of at least a few of those films listed in my top ten. These are (in no particular order):

A Prophet (dir. Jacques Audiard)
Winter's Bone (dir. Debra Granik)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (dir. Banksy)
The Fighter (dir. David O. Russell)
Soul Kitchen (dir. Fatih Akin)
When We Leave (dir. Feo Aladag)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Never Let Me Go (dir. Mark Romanek)
Post Mortem (dir. Pablo Larrain)
I Am Love (dir. Luca Guadagnino)
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (dir. Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg)
Lucky Life (dir. Lee Isaac Chung)
Micmacs (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
The White Meadows (dir. Mohammad Rasoulof)
Cairo Time (dir. Ruba Nadda)
The Other Guys (dir. Adam McKay)