09 December 2010

BFI Top 12 Films of 2010

The first end of year film list I have stumbled across so far: BFI (British Film Institute), Sight & Sound, Top 12 Films of 2010. I've only seen number one on this list - it always makes me feel bad when I haven't seen more, of what others consider to be, great films! I have heard of most of the others though and I will certainly be renting them.

"...What the most important films of the last year were depends on what you want from cinema in a time of austerity. That’s the conclusion we’ve drawn after canvassing 85 of our contributors for the top five new films they saw in the course of 2010, and their other highlights of the year. Some will argue that the phenomenal success of James Cameron’s Avatar (released worldwide in December 2009) shows that a big spectacle can be an effective antidote to hard times. Some will even reduce Kathryn Bigelow’s 2010 Best Picture Oscar win for The Hurt Locker (released earlier in 2009) to a mere snub to Avatar. But in this magazine, Avatar doesn’t feature in anyone’s list (our critics’ antipathy towards CGI spectacles is just as pointed in regard to that other huge box-office phenomenon, Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which gained just one vote). The Hurt Locker, by contrast, came joint second last year. The sort of cinema the wider public flocks to see, then, bears little relationship to what our 85 contributors want to celebrate..."

I've summarised the list below, but full details and introduction can be found at the BFI site here

1 The Social Network, David Fincher, USA
"Like Fincher’s most exacting film Zodiac, this is a forensic study of an enigmatic outcast remaking the world according to his own desires and specifications – and of the people left behind him to clear up or make sense of the mess." — Ryan Gilbey

2 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Lung Boonmee raluek chat), Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand / UK / France / Germany / Spain / Netherlands / USA
"Weerasethakul’s breakthrough smash has the uncommon virtue of trusting its audience to furnish its own commentary and explanations – a virtue made possible by its magical realism." — Jonathan Rosenbaum

3 Another Year, Mike Leigh, UK
"The latest of Leigh’s studies of happiness and the lack of it. Generous yet not indulgent to its characters, it’s a film during which one can find oneself changing one’s mind about which characters are most to be pitied and most to be admired." — Edward Buscombe

4 Carlos, Olivier Assayas, France / Germany / Belgium
"Assayas skipped the psychology of terrorism in favour of depicting the Marxist assassin-hijacker as the star of his own 21-year action movie – a man whose need for sex and liposuction confounds the notion of revolutionary asceticism." — Graham Fuller

5 The Arbor, Clio Barnard, UK
"A brilliantly inventive escape from the dead end of British social realism, Barnard’s film tells the tragic story of Northern playwright Andrea Dunbar and her children. Fortuitously, alas, it has also turned out to be the first real British film of the Cameron era." — Jonathan Romney

=6 Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik, USA
"Not least because of Jennifer Lawrence’s riveting lead performance, this was one of the best quest movies I’ve seen in years, its dark fairytale tests all the more compelling because they are faced by a 17-year-old girl in a dirtily real Ozark mountains setting." — Lee Marshall

=6 I Am Love (Io sono l’amore), Luca Guadagnino, Italy
"Guadagnino’s Tilda Swinton vehicle is the best portrait of crumbling aristocracy since Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard – and also has a delirious homage to D.H. Lawrence as the cherry on the cake." — Naman Ramachandran

=8 The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceausescu), Andrei Ujica, Romania
"Ujica’s reconfiguration of archival propaganda material, quietly needling out its intrinsic irony and the seeds of its own unravelling, is stunningly innovative in the realm of documentary." — Carmen Gray

=8 Film socialisme, Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland / France
"Like many friends, I’m still figuring this one out – and the effort has already been well worth the trouble. Even when Godard’s pet notions are unduly solipsistic, the work (and play) with sound and image are too dazzling to ignore." — Jonathan Rosenbaum

=8 Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz), Patricio Guzmán, France / Germany / Chile
"In Chile’s Atacama desert, astronomers examine the origins of the universe. Close to the observatory, families of the disappeared search for vestiges of their loved ones, victims of Pinochet’s regime. An extraordinary film about the unknown and the unknowable." — Maria Delgado

=8 Poetry (Si), Lee Changdong, South Korea
"The title tells all, evoking both the story (a woman takes to writing verse as her grandson is implicated in a girl’s suicide) and tone of Lee’s exquisite film. Seamlessly conjoining many themes, it benefits from one of the year’s best performances, from Yun Junghee." — Geoff Andrew

=8 A Prophet (Un Prophète), Jacques Audiard, France / Italy
"A Prophet has some of the virtues of the prison dramas Hollywood made in its heyday, like Riot in Cell Block 11, but updated to the present where the prison’s racial mix generates a particularly pungent aggression and tension. Tahar Rahim is brilliant as the young criminal who, through intelligence and grit, works his way up the criminal pecking order." — Edward Buscombe

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