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Top Films of 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
31 12 2010

ImageLists, lists... there's something so geeky about those ‘best of' lists at the end of each year, but how we all love them. It's an impossibly difficult thing to compile, though, because any response to a film, or any artwork for that matter, is so very much dependent on the circumstances in which we see it. Are we feeling happy or sad, have we just tramped in from the snow or reluctantly left behind a beautiful sunny day outside, are we surrounded by a responsive or unruly audience or practically alone in an early morning show... how good was that film, really.....

Anyway after a not so very spectacular year on the big screen, here are, if not the best, then the ones I have enjoyed most/rated highest - in no particular order.

TOP FIVE

Most recently, MONSTERS (Gareth Edwards) was a real treat - exactly what a film should be, enjoyable on so many levels, great unshowy acting and effects, full of imagination, awe-inspiring and thought provoking. Best reason of all to be cheerful, it's a feature debut from a young British director, and just like MOON last year, a distinctly individual work rather than the good old well made but predictable ‘Brit movies' this country too often produces.

ImageIt's unusual for me to have two science fiction films in my list, but , despite the fact that, after enjoying the ride immensely, to my surprise it lingered very little with me afterwards, INCEPTION (Christopher Nolan) has to be here. Mind-blowing effects and ideas and a handful of great performances, it succeeded against the odds in keeping its time-stretching, existence-multiplying preposterousness just about credible and, more important, understandable, even if it made the brain hurt just a little bit. Though for all his large scale fancy effects Christopher Nolan has never for me come near the impressive quality of his minimalist first feature Memento, it's good to have a mainstream director with audacity who can use his enormous resources to intelligent and challenging effect. And he's another Brit!

ImageTime for something art-house now - and here's a film I loved so much I couldn't even bring myself to review it! IO SONO L'AMORE (I AM LOVE) (Luca Guadagnino) was probably the film I enjoyed most all year - a sensuous feast of visuals, emotion and sound, operatic in its crazy beauty. The amazing Tilda Swinton plays a Russian-born, dutiful wife of wealthy Milanese household who finds unexpected and unlooked-for love. The dance-like set pieces in the grand haute bourgeois interiors, the glories of the Italian countryside, the food, the emotion laid bare, all conveyed by the amazingly sweeps of Guadagnino's camera coupled with a striking, haunting score from music by John Adams provide a luxurious feast of the senses that leaves you reeling. It has its faults, it more than once teeters on the edge of pretention, but what a heady teeter, and what a film!

Moving from the sublime to the gloriously ridiculous, we come to BAD LIEUTENANT, Herzog's blithe working of the original cult tale of wickedness and remorse from Abel Ferrara. Amorality's the thing here - it's a dark view of a life where inconsequentiality reigns, and the term ‘bad' seems to have lost all meaning. The world goes its own way. Nicolas Cage is in top form as the hapless Lieutenant, and iguanas are good too.

ImageTHE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS) (Juan Jose Campanella) is a cracking Argentine thriller with a real noirish mix of melancholy romance and action. Ricardo Darin give his best performance yet as a world weary lawyer looking back on the case that changed his life, and a finely shot narrative that never flags tickles the intellect and emotions in equal measure.

 

NEAR MISSES

THE SOCIAL NETWORK Crackling dialogue and vibrant camera work bring the recent past to life, whether you love or hate the Facebook phenomenon.

ANOTHER YEAR Mike Leigh in top form with a superbly acted and wonderfully ambiguous tale of happiness and misery.

WINTER'S BONE Fine-looking, grimly beautiful mythic tale of endurance

A PROPHET A prison movie for today, and much more, horribly realistic and morally teasing.

ImageBEST PERFORMANCES

So many, including Tahar Rahim as the fast-maturing young convict in A Prophet; Tilda Swinton, who can make credible the realisation of heavenly bliss while sitting on a lavatory in I Am Love, but best of all were two actors in Another Year, RUTH SHEEN and DAVID BRADLEY. Sheen, almost ever present, turns in a performance of great sublety and unfathomable ambiguity. Bradley, whose appearance, two thirds into the picture, commands the screen with his awkward misery and monumental silences which express so much.

DISAPPOINTMENT

THE AMERICAN   I expected so much from Anton Corbijn after Control, and all I got was this beautiful but vacuous, derivative thriller.

GUILTY PLEASURE

ENTER THE VOID, Gaspar Noé's assault on the senses and the sensibilities - the colours hurt your eyes, the camera movement and seediness make you nauseous, the characters are loathsome, it amounts to precious little, but boy I enjoyed it!

ImageBEST ARCHIVE FILM

LIFT TO THE SCAFFOLD

Magnificently enjoyable thriller that predated the Nouvelle Vague proper, this debut film from Louis Malle, who went on to make so many classics over the following 30 years, is fresh, inventive, and an utter joy from start to finish. The beginning of a love affair with Paris and French cinema for so many postwar moviegoers, the scenes where Jeanne Moreau wanders despairingly through its streets to a soundtrack specially composed by Miles Davis would melt the hardest Francophobe heart.

SOFT SPOT

It's got to be JEFF BRIDGES in CRAZY HEART - the Oscar at last, and how, as throughout his career, he turns a plain, hackneyed old tale into magic!

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