Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:42 pm 
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See Flickfeast.UK for a different version of these lists.

Taher Rahim in Jacques Audiard's A Prophet


I saw about 250 new films in 2010 according to the list I've kept, of which I wrote reviews of all but about 20, which makes it easier to remember what I saw. Here are my favorites of these.

I prefer not to make pronouncements about the general cinematic quality of the year compared to other years. What difference does it make anyway if it was a lousy year if there was one great film? There are still some I need to catch up on, but I think I saw more new movies this year than ever before and yet I don't think it was an outstanding year for releases. Might this be due to economic factors limiting what can get released or even made? I don't know. There are always a few very fine films and a few terrible ones and the majority of them are of average quality, neither very good nor very bad. That's why an evaluation of the year as a whole is such an arbitrary thing. Yet there were still some excellent movies especially in the US Oscar-bait system of year-end releases. And some fine ones early in the year we have to be careful not to forget. My system is to group my favorites in categories, best in English, best foreign, best documentaries, shortlisted, etc. but list the films alphabetically without ranking them against each other within the groups. If you make it into the club, you're in and that's enough. But I'll tell you a secret: The Social Network was the selection of the New York Film Festival I was most excited to see, and it's still my favorite more or less mainstream 2010 US release.

In addition to these lists Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance 2010) is worth mention, despite faulty structure, for awesome performances by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling -- clearly among the edgiest, most convincing work by any film actors this year. It's only because I am rating movies and not individual facets of them that Blue Valentine isn't in these lists. The Company Men is a good serious movie about downsizing and shows John Wells' potential as a writer and director of feature films. There are many other films worth seeing that there's no room for, such as Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void. Of the best films in English, The Ghost Writer, (surprising no doubt to some) Life During Wartime, and above all The Social Network are a real pleasure to watch. The others mostly are not, especially when they depict events as disturbing as a forced amputation, an imploding criminal family, sex with minors, drug addiction, or terminal boredom, but harsh or indigestible experiences make good films. I don't very much like Toy story 3, because the Pixar style and its sentimentality are not to my taste, but I recognize the skill and the humanity that went into this accomplished animated film. There are other good documentaries this year besides those on my list, some I didn't see such as The Tillman Story, The Two Escobars, and Marwencol. I chose ones whose subjects are significant to me. I'd say this was not quite a stellar year for foreign films in the US but then, if a year or so late, there was Audiard's masterful A Prophet. Though I listed Denis' White Material merely as a runner-up, that's only because she's so good I expect more of her. I wish I didn't look so much like a Francophile. Latin America produces a lot of exciting films, but unfortunately not enough of them are released in North America.

(Not ranked.)

127 Hours (Danny Boyle 2010)
Animal Kingdom (David Michôd 2010)
Fighter, The (David O. Russell 2010)
Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold 2009)
Ghost Writer, The (Roman Polanski 2010)
Greenberg (Noah Baumbach 2010)
Life During Wartime (Todd Solodnz 2010)
Social Network, The (David Fincher 2020)
Somewhere (Sofia Coppola 2010)
Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich 2010)
Winter's Bone (Debra Granik 2010)

Carlos (Olivier Assayas 2010)
Eyes Wide Open (Haim Tabakman 2009)
The Father of My Children (Le père de mes enfants, Mia Hansen-Løve 2009)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont 2009)
Mademoiselle Chambon (Stéphane Brizé 2009)
Making Plans for Léne (Non, ma fille, tu n'iras pas danser, Christophe Honoré 2009)
Mother (Bong Joon-ho 2009)
Prophet, A (Un prophète, Jacques Audiard 2009)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio 2009)
Welcome (Philippe Lioret 2009)

Ajami (Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani 2009)
American, The (Anton Corbijn 2010)
Anton Chekhov's The Duel (Dover Kosashvili 2009)
Daddy Longlegs (Josh and Benny Safdie 2009)
Hereafter (Clint Eastwood 2010)
King's Speech, The (Tom Hooper 2010)
Rabbit Hole (John Cameron Mitchell 2010)
Solitary Man (Brian Koppelman, David Levien 2010)
Terribly Happy (Henrik Ruben Genz 2010)
White Material (Claire Denis 2009)

Alamar ((Pedro Gonzalez Rubio 2010)
Art of the Steal, The (Don Argott 2010)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy 2010)
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (Michèle Hozner, Peter Raymont 2010)
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson 2010)
Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa 2010)
Nénette (Nicolas Philibert 2010)
Thorn in the Heart, The (L'Épine dans le coeur, Michel Gondry 2009)
Waiting for Superman (David Guggenheim 2010)
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe (Emily and Sarah Kunstler 2010)

Double Hour, The (La doppia ora, Giuseppe Capotondi 2009)
In the Beginning (À l'origine, Xavier Giannoli 2009)
Of Gods and Men (Des hommes et des dieux, Xavier Beauvois 2010)
Poetry (Lee Chang-dong 2010)
Post Mortem (Pablo Larraín 2010)
Rapt (Lucas Belvaux 2009)
Robber, The (Der Räuber, Benjamin Heisenberg 2010)
Strange Case of Angelica, The (O Estranho Caso de Angélica, Manoel de Oliveira 2010)
We Are What We Are (Somos lo que hay, Jorge Michel Grau 2010)
You Think You're the Prettiest, But You're the Sluttiest (Te creís la más linda, pero erís la más puta, Che Sandoval 2008)

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky 2010)
Boxing Gym (Fred Wiseman 2010)
Inception (Christopher Nolan 2010)
Kids Are All Right, The (Lisa Cholodenko. 2010)
Restrepo (Sebastian Junger, Tim Hetherington 2010)

©Chris Knipp 2011

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