Adam Butcher in Kim Chapirion's 'Dog Pound'
So here’s the top ten as posted earlier HERE, listed in random order without the supporting summaries.
Let Me In
The Social Network
The Wild Hunt
Tales From the Golden Age
The King’s Speech
Toy Story 3
Ok, if you’re sharp, you’ll see there’s 11 films listed, because I shamefully posted this list before seeing The Fighter.
With the exception of Catfish I purposely left out some of great documentaries from this year. If I were to list the ten best docs, consider this an equally fabulous list as above:
1. CATFISH (dir. Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost)
As mentioned above, the most psychologically intriguing film of the year. A story of a facebook romance which slowly reveals a dark troubling secret of the participants involved.
2. TABLOID (dir. Errol Morris)
As usual with Morris, he manages to find intriguing characters who find themselves in extraordinary situations. Tabloid is no exception, an enthralling and humourous true crime story and salacious tale of sex, religion and obsession. It's Errol Morris at the top of his game.
3. INSIDE JOB (dir. Charles Ferguson)
I’ve seen many films and journalism news segments which attempted to explain the incredibly complex chain of events which caused the financial collapse of the past 2 years, from 60 Minutes to Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story nobody seemed to get it straight. And no one’s really told the whole story. Remarkably Ferguson does this in spades.
4. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (dir. Bansky)
The notorious graffiti artist turns his camera on the man who turned his camera on himself. Confused? It’s a complex unpredictable journey of Thierry Guetta, a French stalker of Bansky’s who manufactured his own career as an artist on the back of Bansky’s and other more renowned artists' notoriety.
5. CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS 3D (dir. Werner Herzog)
The iconoclastic filmmaker gains unprecedented access for his 3D cameras into the magnificent caves in rural France where the oldest discovered drawings by mankind were created.
Five best scenes/set pieces of the year:
1. The finale of I AM LOVE:
Luca Guadagnino’s Visconti/Bertolucci inspired film is a handsome production, highlighted by the mesmerizing and hypnotic final scene wherein Guadagnino’s heroine escapes her drab existence and searches out true love.
2. The opening sequence of THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALIVE CREED
J Blakeson’s crackerjack three-hand thriller opened with a bang, a fun montage sequence showing the meticulous preparations of the film’s two kidnappers. The crisp and perfectly composed imagery reminds us a young David Fincher
3. The red-eyed Monkey Man in UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES
The most suspenseful sequence of the year ironically comes from the Thai art house auteur Apichatpong Weerasethaku. It comes when the Boonmee’s family is sitting at dinner talking the ghost of his wife who suddenly appears at the table. Then, the sounds of footsteps coming up the stairs. We’re then completely frightening out of our pants by the sight of a beast creature with haunting red eyes approaching the family with careful ominous pacing.
4. The entire second act of CARLOS
I saw the full five and a half hour version of Carlos. It was a long day highlighted by the second act OPEC sequence wherein the legendary 70’s terrorist holds hostage the entire OPEC committee, and hijacks a plane for three days taking them from Germany to Libya to Sudan and Yemen. It’s an hour long set piece as riveting and intense as anything in any thriller made this year.
5. The sex scenes in MACGRUBER
The sight of MacGruber jackrabbitting Kristin Wiig in one scene and later the ghost of his dead wife in a cemetery and is hands down the most hilarious scenes of the year.
Best Male Performances of the Year (in no particular order), some obvious, some not:
1. Adam Butcher in DOG POUND
Who? What? Dog Pound, a French/Canada co-pro won Best Director honours at Tribeca last year for edgy French director Kim Chapirion. This tough and impressive juvenile prison flick is anchored by a stunning breakout performance from young Adam Butcher, who plays his character Butch with a James Dean/Marlon Brando/Robert De Niro–type of iconoclastic zeal.
2. Christian Bale in THE FIGHTER
Bale's performance goes much deeper than the physical transformation into an underweight crack addict. His bond of brotherhood with Mark Wahlberg is so heartbreakingly genuine and profound.
3. Colin Firth in THE KING’S SPEECH
Yes he’s good. Not earth shattering news, that’s for sure. Like Bale, Firth’s performance is more than just a stutter, or an impression of King George, but an intimate look into a famous man, warts and all.
4. Michael Shannon in THE RUNAWAYS
Michael Shannon continues a terrific run of scene stealing performances, this time as the bombastic manager of the all girl teen band from the 70’s.
5. Ryan Reynolds in BURIED
One man in a box in the ground. Reynolds makes it all so believable.
Best Female Performances of the Year (in no particular order):
1. Jacki Weaver in ANIMAL KINGDOM
This tough ol’ Aussie broad commands the screen as much as she commands her gangster family.
2. Melissa Leo in THE FIGHTER
Like Jacki Weaver above, Melissa Leo is commanding as the manager and mother of Mark Wahlberg’s character, Micky Ward.
3. Michelle Williams in BLUE VALENTINE
Williams outshines Ryan Gosling in Derek Cianfrance’s ode to John Cassevettes.
4. Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN
Portman goes psychotic like only Darren Aronofsky can direct her to. Portman does what Sean Gullette and Jared Leto did in Pi and Requiem for a Dream respectively.
5. Noomi Rapace in GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO et al.
Rapace is simply electric as the whip smart investigative hacker. Despite her slight stature she manages to show such immeasurable strength after a history of spiteful mistreatment by the men in her life. It’s impossible not to take your eyes of her in all three of these films.
Five New Filmmakers to Look Out For:
1. David Michôd (ANIMAL KINGDOM)
Aussie Michôd aims for the stars in his Melbourne gangster epic. An ambitious style and tone that reminds us of the early cinematic confidence of Paul Thomas Anderson and Michael Mann.
2. J Blakeson (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED)
UK director Blakeson does miracles with three actors in a hotel room, dressed with nothing but a bed, and cardboard covering the windows. His precise look reminds us of a young David Fincher.
3. Alexandre Franchi (THE WILD HUNT)
With under $1million Franchi injects some superlative production value into his melodramatic medieval tale set in the world of LARPers.
4. Kim Chapirion (DOG POUND)
This French filmmaker, known for edgy music videos in France has smartly angled his way into the Vincent Cassell circle, which includes Romain Gavras, son of Costa-Gavras. Chapirion’s robust juvenile prison flick won him Best Director Award at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.
5. Debra Granik (WINTER’S BONE)
Unfortunately this just missed out on my top ten, but Granik’s reworking of the Western genre into a nourish thriller set in the depressed Ozarks demonstrates a smart knowledge of cinema and fine storytelling skills.