Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Out 1 Film Journal's Best of 2010

Before we get to the lists, a personal note. (Skip to after the break if you want to skip this jibber jab). If the creation of lists has us reflect on the year past, it is hard to do so at this site without offering a bit of an explanation (and, perhaps, an apology) for our limited output in 2010. While our absence could be seen as an ‘alternative’ web site, surrounded by another year of underachieving Hollywood films, and quietly folding into cavernous, academic caves, there is more to it that has less to do with our ongoing interests in cinema and more to do with a major transition year for each of the writers you’ve come to know (or are stumbling upon) at this site. (I don’t intend to speak for Chuck or Brandon in the next paragraphs, but our attitude towards the site and movies in general is precisely the reason this site has continued for the past 3+ years and is revamping, so we hope, in 2011. Have to say, we’re off to a good start).

For brief, exclamatory, explanatory recognition: each of the writers at this site is currently working towards a PhD in some cinema and/or art-related field. Not that this actually gives us any more qualifications or anything, but it’s something I’m proud to tout nonetheless. In 2010, my major transition (which contributed to the lack of a site for much of the year) came in the form of leaving New York, Columbia, and Film Studies proper for Columbus, The Ohio State, and Art History. An exciting change, but one that had me in the middle of nowhere over the summer before situating in Columbus and trying to find ways to make it seem like it isn’t also nowhere. Thanks mainly to the Wexner Center, film culture, as it were, isn’t lost, but it took most of the last third of 2010 to re-find its place in myself. I wondered if the site should go the way of New York for me – a great memory that I cling to, but know I have to leave behind.

What I slowly remembered throughout my first quarter in Columbus, though, was why I started this site in the first place (and why I was determined - and thrilled - to find dedicated writing cohorts with whom the site would be built): without a level of engagement, critical thought, and reflection, cinema (and art) can become meaningless. Some people accept it as such, and I fear, when I stopped writing, that I began feeling that way too. But this site, from its inception, was not only invested, but demanded – and knew – there was more. Nearing the end of 2010, I realized the reason I missed the site was also the reason I felt distant from art – I was leaving behind a crucial part of the process. I don’t intend on doing so again. Part of that process relies on a community – whether in local cities, states, art houses, dollar theaters, film festivals, or Twitter where I had most of my favorite discussions about film this year; part of it relies on finding artists who create work to examine questions rather than play inane tricks and force-feed explanations and answers; and part of it relies on viewers who ask for more from artists and hope, no matter the kind of work, that they discover new worlds.

The best cinema in 2010 did just that. Very few of the best came from expected sources, but that may be precisely why they continue to stand out. In honor of the film whose name this website yoinked, we offer our individual lists of the 13 best films of the year. And, with a nod of gratitude, we wish all of our readers uniquely great cinema in 2011.

Brandon Colvin’s Top 13 of 2010

1. Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine)
2. Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe)
3. Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
4. The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)
5. Dogtooth (Giorgios Lanthimos)
6. Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Refn)
7. Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl (Manoel de Oliveira)
8. Jackass 3D (Jeff Tremaine)
9. Alamar (Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio)
10. Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy?)
11. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar Wright)
12. Let Me In (Matt Reeves)
13. Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)

Best Director:
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer

Best Lead Performance:
Aggeliki Papoulia - Dogtooth & Steve-O - Jackass 3D

James Hansen’s Top 13 of 2010

1. Ne Change Rien (Pedro Costa)
2. Dogtooth (Giorgios Lanthimos)
3. Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine)
4. Flooding With Love For The Kid (Zachary Oberzon)
5. Carlos [330-minute version] (Olivier Assayas)
6. Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl (Manoel de Oliveira)
7. Jackass 3D (Jeff Tremain)
8. Lourdes (Jessica Hausner)
9. Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)
10. How Do You Know? (James L. Brooks)
11. Everyone Else (Maren Ade)
12. Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
13. Our Beloved Month of August (Miguel Gomes)

Best Director:
Jessica Hausner - Lourdes

Best Lead Performance:
Sylvie Testud - Lourdes & Zachary Oberzan - Flooding With Love For The Kid

Best Supporting Performance:
Greta Gerwig - Greenberg & The Crying Cowboy- Sweetgrass

Best Unreleased Film:
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (duh)

Chuck Williamson’s Top 13 of 2010

1. Alamar (Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio)
2. Dogtooth (Giorgios Lanthimos)
3. Mother (Joon-ho Bong)
4. White Material (Claire Denis)
5. Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash & Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
6. Wild Grass (Alaina Resnais)
7. Carlos (Olivier Assayas)
8. I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Fearra & John Requa)
9. Burlesque (Steve Antin)
10. I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino)
11. Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine)
12. Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)
13. Enter The Void (Gaspar Noe)

Best Director:
Gaspar Noe - Enter the Void

Best Lead Performance:
Kim Hye-ja - Mother & Do-yeon Jeon - Secret Sunshine (tie) & Jim Carrey - I Love You Phillip Morris

Best Supporting Performance:
Olivia Williams - The Ghost Writer & Song Kang-ho - Secret Sunshine

Best Unreleased Film:
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives & Oki’s Movie


Ed Howard said...

Great job, guys. I'm glad to see you bringing this site back to activity!

"without a level of engagement, critical thought, and reflection, cinema (and art) can become meaningless. Some people accept it as such, and I fear, when I stopped writing, that I began feeling that way too... I realized the reason I missed the site was also the reason I felt distant from art – I was leaving behind a crucial part of the process."

Very well said. I've always felt that writing is very important to understanding, as important if not more so than reading about or even perhaps actually experiencing the artwork in question. It's through writing that we think, that we form ideas, make unexpected connections, develop a framework for considering a particular work of art and what it has to say. At least, it's always worked that way for me. Maybe some people can walk out of a film with their responses fully formulated in their minds, but for me it's the process of writing that makes things clear(er), it's in writing that the real thinking is done. It's obvious that all the writers here realize this, and it's what makes this such a consistently great site. Looking forward to a new year here.

Nostalgia Kinky said...

Thanks guys,
Tons of films here that I still haven't had the opportunity to see and I look forward to checking them all out.

James Hansen said...

Ed- Thanks so much for the kind words. It really means a lot, especially coming from you. Your site remains a venerable benchmark for web analysis; if we have half the spirit and thought you show constantly, then we'll still be in excess. Hopefully the readers we lost suddenly remember who we are! Come back! (And thanks for the comment. They've been increasingly rare! Not that bashing THE MECHANIC requires a lot of commentary from others, but still...)

Jeremy- Hope you get to check out some of them soon. You may particularly like FLOODING WITH LOVE FOR THE KID, if you haven't seen that yet. An 'interesting' adaptation of RAMBO FIRST BLOOD if ever there was one.

JeanRZEJ said...

There's really no excuse for abandoning your child of a blog, and you should all be ashamed of yourselves. Unless this blog is less a child and more a field, in which case your letting it lie fallow may be a stroke of unexpected - competence? I won't say genius, because then all of the slackers in the world would be geniuses. But I congratulate you all heartily on your competence.

As for your lists, they are all equally bizarre. A tough feat. Will Trash Humpers and Jackass outduel Flooding With Love for the Kid and How Do You Know? or will they both be outstripped by I Love You Phillip Morris and Burlesque? The answer is obvious, that whoever puts them all together will form some sort of Captain Cinema. I have seen none of the films I mentioned, of course, but I'm sure that the mythical 'elitist' club which is rumored to be so powerful is aching to repeal your membership cards, all of you. Meanwhile, I have been trying to get my card for years, to no avail. What's up with that?

This has been far too over the top, I apologize. Your opening statement was inspirational and will surely ring true to everyone who reads it, and we should all strive to conceptualize and then strive for such lofty goals. It almost brought a tear to my eye, but then the picture reminded me of a kitten and some garden shears and then it was all out the window. Note: if this is still far too irreverent and bordering on offensive I do apologize, but do you expect me to outdo Ed Howard? Don't be crazy!

Brandon Nowalk said...

Here I thought I was all caught up (or thereabouts, considering Uncle Boonmee and some other festival hits remain beyond my reach) and then all three of you go and put Trash Humpers on your lists, not to mention a handful of other films I've been ignoring. Glad to hear y'all will be more active this year. Happy 2011!

Chuck W said...

Heck, after all this discussion, I think too should track down a copy of Flooding With Love for the Kid. Why haven't I seen this yet?

Thanks for the comments, everyone. While James contends that he cannot speak for Brandon and me, I personally concur with much of what he says. I too have been trapped in a never-ending deluge of Ph.D work, and haven't been the most active contributor this year. Thankfully, I believe all that's all going to change this year (provided my candidacy exams don't get in the way), particularly since 2011 promises to be an excellent year in cinema (from what I've seen, heard, and read, anyway). And where else would I rather enter into that critical conversation than here?

Oh, and Brandon N. -- you gotta check out Trash Humpers. Catching a matinee screening of this in a near-empty theater in the mid-west where several other patrons became visibly weirded and started glowering, gasping, and fidgeting like crazy... well, I certainly can't think of a better moviegoing experience from this year.

James Hansen said...

JeanRZEJ- No apology necessary. I take everything you said as some form of crazed compliment. Maybe we'll try and morph into Captain Cinema for the lists next year.

Brandon- Glad to serve. Trash Humpers really is something. As someone who wasn't a Korine fan prior, it made me reconsider a lot of things about his whole 'project.' You'll never see anything else like it! [put that on a box somewhere].

Chuck- I have FLOODING... so it's even more bizarre that you haven't seen it. It got a lot of support in New York when it opened January 2010, but I didn't see it sticking around on any other lists. Too bad. It's pretty great.

Here's to 2011, and thanks again to everyone for the comments. It's just like old times!

Chuck W said...

I know Brandon usually posts this, but I went ahead and compiled all of our lists into a single master list. Ladies and gentlemen, our collective top five:

1. Dogtooth - 33 points
2. Trash Humpers - 26 points
3. Sweetgrass - 22 points
4. Alamar - 18 points
5. Carlos - 16 points

James Hansen said...

With a max of 39, DOGTOOTH did pretty well for itself. ALAMAR also just missed my list (#14, as it were) and just as easily could have been on there. I finalized before I saw your lists, so no switcheroos based on that stuff (except I had Steve-O as supporting performance, but then realized I had two dude performances, so he got cut. I was glad when I saw Brandon's list gave him a well deserved nod).

Thanks for compiling that, Chuck. I sometimes wonder if we should include a cumulative list in the regular post, but I don't wanna lose focus on the individual films on our lists (especially since, at least until 2010, we had access to wildly different movies).

Brandon Colvin said...

Definitely glad to read this post. Seeing the lists you guys made (Chuck & James) reminds me just how in tune our tastes are and why it is so fun to knock around critical ideas with you both.

James, you speak for me very well. Reading your introductory note makes me feel very much recommitted to what we've being doing here. Hopefully, I'll have time to do a bit more writing. I anticipate that I will. Second semester seems like it will be much less daunting that the first.

Chuck, that master list looks pretty solid. I was just about to calculate it for myself! Here's hoping DOGTOOTH can somehow win the Oscar.

ghd style mini said...

Great job, guys. I'm glad to see you bringing this site back to activity!