DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Best of 2010

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Best of 2010

For these top ten lists I’ve always ranked them from one to ten. Why? Because that’s how my brain works. And there’s value in knowing what the BEST film of the year is. This year, it’s a different case. There just wasn’t that one film that stood out. As such it's a random order of the top ten. Regardless, here’s 10 fantastic pictures to find and watch and be bedazzled by (click on the title link to find my reviews of each film):

But before we get to the list, I shamefully posted this before seeing David O Russell's glorious and inspiring The Fighter, which makes this a list of 11, not 10.

The Fighter (US, dir. David O Russell)
So let's start with The Fighter, a film about two brothers, one a crack addict former fighter whose sole purpose in life is to see his kid brother achieve what he never did - a championship belt. It's classical cinematic storytelling at it's best, elevated by four stunning performances by the leads - Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams. The film hits those fundamental core feelings, which allows us to put our own lives into the characters as we watch the film, resulting in a deeper more penetrating emotional experience than perhaps all of the films listed below.

Catfish (US, dir. Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost)
I usually don't put documentaries on my top ten list, instead creating a separate list for those. Yet, if there were any film this year which blew me away, took me by surprise, it was theatrical experience of watching Catfish. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and of course I had no knowledge of the film before going in. The publicity people were so secretive, they had two separate press notes, one of which was sealed, not to be opened until after the film. The fact is, Catfish, is the most intriguing and psychologically stimulating film of the year. A story of this new information age, when identities are mallable like characters in a story, or a film.

Buried (Spain, dir. Rodrigo Cortes)
Another Sundance experience. And just about everyone knows the hook of this film. The story of a man trapped inside a coffin buried in the ground. That’s the movie, 90mins of it. And every minute is rivetting. It's filmmaking ofthe highest order, from a first time Spanish filmmaker. But the script (by an American) was strong enough to attract Ryan Reynolds, whose performance is astounding, but sadly will likely not get recognized during awards season. No bother, it proves Reynolds’ chops as an actor.

Let Me In (US, dir. Matt Reeves)
Cries afoul of genre-geeks who idolized the original Swedish film, who forsaw yet another Hollywood bastardization of a great foreign language film. Matt Reeves got the last laugh, delivering a film not only reverent to the original, but frankly, IMHO, better. I wouldn’t have though that possible but it is. The quiet ‘vampire’ story of a young girl bloodsucker befriends a young bullied boy in a small northern California town is remarkably poignant and affecting.

The Social Network (US, dir. David Fincher)
Ya yeah. Not that this film needs any more praise, but it is a terrific film. One of the films that captures the time and place attitude of a current generation – like Easy Rider, or All the President’s Men.

The Wild Hunt (Canada, dir. Alexandre Franchi)
What is this you ask? The Wild Hunt is so devious, so clever it almost defies description. Or at least I’m hestitant to reveal anything about why this film is a masterpiece. Canadian director Alexandre Franchi puts us in the weird cultish world of LARPers (Live Action Role Playing), you know those Dungeon’s and Dragon’s players who inhabit their characters, dress up like knights and pretend fight each other on weekend retreats. Within this world Franchi crafts both a lovely romantic comedy and horrifically suspensful melodrama, mixing humour and horror in equal measure and sending us on the most intense journey of the year this side of Black Swan.

Black Swan (US. dir. Darren Aronofsky)
Black Swan is indeed the most intense, viscerally penetrating film of the year. A trippy ‘experience’, more than anything. It’s a particularly salacious and contrived plot fitted to meet Aronofksy’s sensabilities as an American ‘enfant terrible’. If you've seen his 90’s films Pi or Requiem For a Dream, you kind of know exactly where this film is going from the outset. So in many ways, there’s not much surprise in the end, but the joy of Black Swan is the ride that Aronofsky takes you on to get there. He’s at the peak of his filmmaking powers in this one.

Tales From the Golden Age (Romania, dir. Cristian Mungiu, Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu, Constantin Popescu, Ioana Uricaru
This film seems to have been around forever, a Cannes premiere in 2008, the film finally got it's North American release this year. It's a rare anothogy film that work, a Romanian one directed by four of the country’s emerging filmmakers, but really commanded and supervised by the celebrated 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days auteur Cristian Mungiu. While that film was a harrowing, dark and disturbing look into the illegal abortion network of communist era Romania, Tales is a humourous antidote to that film. A five film compendium of urban myths from the oppressive era of Nicolai Ceauscescu, a Stalin-esque tryant who ruled the country with fear. The tales marvelous spin around the fear of these manical man to create five hillarious tales of black comedy. It’s the funniest film of the year.

The King's Speech (UK, dir. Tom Hooper)
More than just another handsome period film about the privileged lives of frivolous Royals. The story of King George VI shows us with heart breaking emotion the intimate life of a shamed man. The inner conflict of the King's speech impediment matches up miraculously in the inspiring finale to the fate of the Allies in WWII, and thus the fate of the world at large. And Hooper, Firth et al nail it.

127 Hours (UK, dir. Danny Boyle)
Even more than Black Swan, we know exactly where this film is headed. After all, it’s based on a true story everybody's heard about, the self surgery of hiker who got his arm caught between two boulders in a Utah ravine. We know what happens to his arm, and by the title we know how long it takes him to cut it off. Yet Danny Boyle manages to make these 127 hours suspenseful and utterly frightening. Boyle swings us through all the emotions of Aron Ralston from his carefree ambitiousness, to his self-depricating humour, to his melancholy reflections of his family, his near psychotic emotional breakdown and finally in the glorious finale earth shattering triumph and elation. The final moments of this films is perhaps the most inspiring, life-affirming moment in cinema this year.

Toy Story 3 (US, dir. Lee Unkrich)
Like docs I rarely if ever list animated films on my top ten list. Yet I’m confident enough to say that Toy Story 3 is the best film Pixar has ever made. A fun, exciting, emotional ride with those lovable characters going back the original CG animated film in 1995.

Thanks for reading, but this list actually continues. Check out PART II HERE.


T.J. Hawke said...

are you going to do a separate post on the best performances of the year, best action sequences of the year, etc.

Alan Bacchus said...

Yes. I will, docs as well. I'll called Best of 2010 - Part II. Stay tuned....

Pam said...

I'm so excited that Wild Hunt Got a place on your list. It was fantastic.