Thursday, December 31, 2009


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I'm always pleased when my top 10 doesn't look like anybody else's, but I'd never set out to create something unique just to stand out from the crowd. Not unless my heart was really in it.

Last year, it was all about the re-release of Jerzy Skolimowski's long-lost Deep End (and this year, the reissue of two forgotten Sylvester albums from the early-1970s top my music list).

But not all years are created equal. In 2006, I gave pride of place
to 1969's Army of Shadows, indicating that the year had nothing
better to offer—not that I don't stand by Jean-Pierre Melville's
amazing movie—but I really would prefer to celebrate the new.

The minute Kathryn Bigelow's Hurt Locker ended, I knew I'd
found my #1, even though there were still six months left in the
year. As it turns out, dozens—if not hundreds—of film critics felt
exactly the same way
. So be it. It's my number one with a bullet.

For some, the picture pro-
vided their first exposure
to Bigelow (Near Dark) and
Jeremy Renner (North
Country), which is great—
better late than never—but
I've been pulling for these
underdogs for years. Same for Anthony Mackie, who made my list
three year ago with Half Nelson. He's a fine actor who deserves
more leading roles of his own (and also rates a mention for his
charismatic portrayal of rapper Tupac Shakur in Notorious).

Note: The links lead to my Amazon, SIFF, Siffblog, and Video Librarian reviews.

The Tops:
1. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
2. Il Divo (Paulo Sorrentino)
3. Precious (Lee Daniels)
4. Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
5. Public Enemies (Michael Mann)
6. Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog)
7. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp)
8. Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone)
9. Hunger (Steve McQueen)
10. Bright Star (Jane Campion)

11. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson)
12. Up in the Air (Jason Reitman)
13. Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt)
14. Goodbye, Solo (Ramin Bahrani)
15. The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)
16. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis)
17. Tony Manero (Pablo Larraín)
18. Medicine for Melancholy (Barry Jenkins)
19. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas)
20. Lake Tahoe (Fernando Eimbcke)

Note: I wish so many critics
didn't find it necessary to dis-
parage Anderson's previous ef-
fort, The Darjeeling Limited, in
order to praise Fantastic Mr.
Fox. Couldn't Fox be appreciated
on its own merits? Further, I
prefer Darjeeling to his debut, Bottle Rocket, among Martin Scorsese's favorite films of the '00s. (For once, I disagree with the director. And I'd also like to see more love for The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou).

Second Runners-up:
21. The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh)
22. A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen)
23. Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze)
24. Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders)
25. Tie: Big Fan (Robert Seigel) and The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
26. The Silence of Lorna* (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
27. Humpday (Lynn Shelton)
28. Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski)
29. Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
30. The Merry Gentleman (Michael Keaton)

* Also known as Lorna's Silence. Either way: she isn't very talkative.

Note: For my money, A Serious Man and The Informant! are
the year's saddest comedies. While watching both, I laughed. But
afterwards, I wanted to cry. As for The Wrestler and Big Fan, Ro-
bert Seigel penned the pair. And Roy Andersson's morbidly hilar-
ious You, the Living misses
my top 30 only because I saw it in '08.

Top Documentaries:
1. Stranded (Gonzalo Arijón)
2. Soul Power (Jeffrey Levy-Hinte)
3. The September Issue (C.J. Cutler)
4. Tyson (James Toback)
5. Audience of One (Michael Jacobs)
6. The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins (Pietra Brettkelly)
7. RiP! A Remix Manifesto (Brett Gaylor)
8. Invisible Girlfriend (David Redmon and Ashley Sabin)
9. Food, Inc. (Robert Kenner)
10. The Queen and I (Nahid Persson)

Top Rediscoveries:
1. Skidoo (Otto Preminger)
2. Cléo from 5 to 7 (Agnes Varda)
3. Model Shop (Jacques Demy)
4. Lola Montès (Max Ophüls)
5. Dillinger Is Dead (Marco Ferreri)
6. Funeral Parade of Ros-
es (Toshio Matsumoto)

7. Phase IV (Saul Bass)
8. The Rain People (Francis Ford Coppola)
9. So Long at the Fair (Terence Fisher)
10. Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (Paul Mazursky)

Note: Most of these titles screened as part of the Northwest Film
Forum's year-long '69 series. Skidoo is wacked-out, hippie-dippy fun
with a Harry Nilsson score and an all-star cast. The music is available,
the movie is not. To quote Adam Sekuler, "Skidoo: you gotta be there!"

Top DVDs:
1. Magnificent Obsession - Criterion
Collection (Douglas Sirk/John M. Stahl)
2. Philippe Garrel x 2: I Can No Longer
Hear the Guitar/Emergency Kisses
3. Made in USA (Jean-Luc Godard)
4. The Exiles (Kent Mckenzie)
5. Careful (Guy Maddin)

Note: I only list DVDs with extras that enhance the viewing ex-
perience in some way. Further, I only list those that I either pur-
chased or reviewed, hence no AK 100: 25 Films by Kurosawa,
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Qual du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, Gau-
mont Treasures, Zabriskie Point, The Exterminating Angel,
or The Samuel Fuller Film Collection, all of which appear
on Dennis Lim's list for The Los Angeles Times.

Worthy of attention
(in alphabetical order):
(500) Days of Summer, Ad-
ventureland, The Baader Meinhof Complex, Broken Embraces, Ché, Coco before Chanel, Cold Souls, The Country Teacher, Duplicity, An Education, Endgame, The Firm Land, The House of the
Devil, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus*, The Imma-
culate Conception of Little Dizzle, Inglourious Basterds, Lem-
on Tree
, Me and Orson Welles, The Messenger, The Missing Person, Moon, Séraphine, A Single Man, State of Play, Stel-
la, Sunshine Cleaning, Telstar, Trucker, and Two Lovers.

* Opens at the Metro Cinemas on 1/8/10.

Missed (or haven't seen yet): The Beaches of Agnes, Bron-
son, Coraline, The Cove, Crazy Heart, The Damned United, The
English Surgeon, Everlasting Moments, I'm Gonna Explode, Julia,
Liverpool, The Maid, Next Day Air, Night and Day, Of Time and
the City, Passing Strange, Police, Adjective, Pontypool, Ponyo,
The Road, Still Walking, Somers Town, Sugar, Tetro, Three
Monkeys, Tulpan, Unmade Beds, Up, Whip It!, The
White Ribbon, and World's Greatest Dad.

Note: I'll be seeing The Beaches of Agnes, Cra-
zy Heart, Julia, and Passing Strange shortly.

Endnote: Cross-posted at Facebook and Siffblog.
Images from Film Reference, Action Movie Reviews,
Way of the West, Channel 4, and The Guardian.

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