Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Year In Film

Over the holiday period, and until early February, I have been taking part in a weekly film panel on New Zealand's National Radio. Each week, the show's host, a film critic and I pick a recent release and discuss it, then move on to other film related topics. Since it's been that time, one of the topics we've been covering is our 'top ten lists' of films for 2010.

In my opinion, 2010 wasn't a great year for films. Most years, 3 or 4 films really blow my mind, leave me reeling and unable to think of anything else for hours or even days. In 2010 I can really think of only 2 films that did that (I can't count Black Swan since it isn't releasing until Jan 27th). In fact, I couldn't come up with ten titles for my top ten list; I could only manage 8. There were several things I could have put on there, but none of them deserved to be in a top ten list really, so rather than subvert the idea of a TOP ten list, I've limited mine to 8.

You want to know what they are?

1. Winter's Bone Beautifully shot, simply written and with skillful performances from a bunch of unknowns, this is the one film that stood out head and shoulders above all competition. It's moving, powerful, surprising and horrifying all at the same time.

2. Toy Story 3 I cried, I admit it. My kids thought I was nuts. But how perfect was this conclusion to the series?

3. This Way of Life A family brings up their kids in harmony with nature on New Zealand's East Coast. The gorgeous scenery became a character in this thoughtful documentary about an unconventional family and their struggle to live the way they believed was right. And it's been shortlisted for an Oscar nomination!

4. Animal Kingdom This Australian film is perhaps the hardest hitting crime film I've seen in years. This is family dysfunction to an extreme! And at the head? Grandma.

5. Antichrist Six months later I still can't decide if Lars von Trier's film is brilliant or horrible. But it certainly affected me. I may never be able to watch Willem Dafoe again without thinking about this one...

6. I'm Still Here I think the brilliance of this mockumentary was lost on a vast majority of people. I laughed myself silly the day I saw it, and am chuckling even now, just thinking about how the media and Hollywood were duped by Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck.

7. The Millenium Trilogy The second part was kind of a mess, but overall, the three films of Steig Larson's hugely successful novels are excellent. I'm dreading the US remakes. Nobody could embody the mixture of toughness and vulnerability in Lisbeth Salander better than Noomi Rapace.

8. Silent Wedding Hardly anyone saw this Romanian gem, but it was both hilarious and terrifying, the tonal shift not subtle, but the dramatic heart of the film.

And that's my list. There are some other films of note, but nothing I felt was good enough to include here. And I must qualify this, by mentioning that I've been to the multiplexes only to see kids' films in the last 12 months, so I missed out on seeing things like Inception and The Social Network which appeared on so many other critics' lists.

What was your favorite film in 2010?

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