Saturday, 26 February 2011

Encore Awards: Picture

I contemplated doing a top ten lists of 2010 films which would have sufficed as proof of my favourites, but I’m not if not set in my ways and that seems much to imitative of the Academy’s recent return to nominating ten films for the honour – so I opted not to (not that this is actually cause for concern, but allow me my pretentiousness) – I went for an even more atypical top 7 instead. By now you’re probably tired of me telling you that 2009 had better films to offer us than 2010 and if I were to line-up my two top ten lists of the two years three 2010 films would make it into the combined ten. That doesn’t lessen my appreciation for the films I like this year – they’re still good. I haven’t found anything to fawn over embarrassingly like Bright Star or pontificate on continuously (and superfluously) like An Education but I do have one film at the top and a trio immediately after that’s difficult to separate. And the also-rans are in no way substandard. (All Awards)

When I think of my first impressions of some of these films, the results are kind of interesting. But, movie loving is a strange thing. Some of these films improve significantly on multiple viewings (The King's Speech, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) and some of them lose a bit of their lustre (The Social Network). The film I've seen most this year is The Kids Are All Right - and each time I see it, something new appears for me to love. Ah, le cinema....

(unless otherwise indicated, click on the photos for reviews)
In its way Agora is just the sort of film that makes sense on my list of personal favourites. I’m as keenly aware of its issues as any of its detractors – well, except for Jose, even I can’t defend it from the tongue-lashing he gave it – but Amenabar’s pseudo-historical saga appeals to me not only on a social level but artistically. True, its technical achievements are impressive, and maybe there’s something in it being the first A (well, A-) that I gave this year. At its strongest moments, though, no other drama this year – not even The Social Network – is able to marry intelligence with entertainment so sumptuously. And, I’ll always credit it for making me appreciate the ellipse which I was never half as interested in when I was actually studying Technical Drawing.

Animal Kingdom
I’m anxiously waiting what Michôd’s next cinematic encounter entails. Perhaps, Animal Kingdom shouldn’t work as well as it does – and a throwaway description of it I heard (an Australian, small-scale GoodFellas) made me wonder if it’s all really as rote as that. Still, when it comes to being seamless in blending acting, direction and writing Michôd’s work here is astounding. It approaches the bleak issues with a freshness – that’s not delusion – and manages to suggest interesting things about potential archetypes with smart profundity.
The Kids Are All Right
Detractors seem taken with the notion that the work is not laudable because the story is a normal suburban one with lesbians – no kidding. The very point of The Kids Are All Right IS the rote ways of suburban life, Paul is a mere plot point (albeit a nice, juicy one) and Choledenko knows to create the tone that makes the film dependant on its familial issues and not its LGBT themes. It’s a bit insular to boil it down to holding merit for the way that that ends up being so progressive; its strongest asset is its non-judgemental attitude toward its entire cast. It’s the sort of film that’s a bit like an arbitrary voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of a group of flawed individuals.
The King’s Speech
When you get past the fact that The King’s Speech isn’t what you expect it to be, the tale that Hooper crafts is comforting in its stylish sedateness. The amalgamation of everything that makes it thoroughly British (even if in an ostensibly formulaic way) is stimulating to watch as Hooper and Seiberg use the conventionality to create something subtly imaginative. I don’t care if it’s technical aspects have (unfortunately) turned into something of a joke recently, but it’s the sort of subtle camerawork and editing that’s always impressive and what’s more it emerges as one of the most well paced cinematic experiences of the year.
Rabbit Hole
One of the strangest things about Rabbit Hole is how much we manage to learn in a mere hour and a half. Neither Lindsay-Abaire nor Mitchell is willing to waste time on the extraneous and they make each minute contribute to a consistent movement forward that’s deliberate (though, never forced) and organic always in its progress. I’d never call it overwrought because despite its emotive potential there’s a sort of sheen preventing it from being too interested in the hypersensitivity of dealing with death and more involved in the detachment Becca and Howie feel from the world. Mitchell echoes it in his directing, and Lindsay-Abaire ensures that it wraps up concisely – but not with an obtrusive ribbon to tie it off.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
No movie this year puts a perpetual smile on my face as much as Scott Pilgrim vs the World (yes, I’m in lesbians with it). It’s continually daring without any arrogance about it, and in its somewhat single-minded desire to entertain us it never robs its characters of their integrity. A videogame geek, I am not, but I feel affronted on its behalf for being relegated to mere “dabbling” in technological innovations. Wright’s dedication to story and characters triumphs over a number of the more non-comic films of the year, and he approaches his subjects with a dearth of pretentiousness that even more of them could benefit from.
The Social Network
Amidst the barrage of Oscar prognosticating and choosing sides that’s happening online, it’s difficult to remember where your allegiances lay in the first place. The staunchest of supporters for The Social Network supporters have turned into a mean crowd, but that won’t make me waver in my appreciation for it. Rabbit Hole wins in the succinct department, but The Social Network emits a smoothness to it that’s never smarmy – no matter. Fincher’s directing style is not exactly personal, but his intent on coalescing technical aspects with the insularity of his protagonist is impressive. Add that to the fact that for every pithy bit of dialogue that makes you start, there’s an equally intelligent scene that makes you think.
FINALISTS: The Ghost Writer (review) tops my other list, and true there’s a delicate divide preventing me from surrendering completely to it. Despite the slightest of reservations, though, Polanski’s control over the story is excellent and a seamless screenplay merging with a talented cast makes for a rousing, intelligent but always entertaining thriller; Somewhere is a more dubious choice – ostensibly, I suppose – but I might even intimate that it’s my favourite piece from Coppola. It depends resolutely on her ability to retract the sometimes officious hand of the director and let the film just exist in its natural state culminating in an indolence that’s not overly stylised but still sophisticated and most important emotionally motivating.
SEMI-FINALISTS: They’re all worth your time for various reasons like The Fighter (review) for its ultimate focus on familial relationships and issues of self all under the smokescreen of a boxing film; Greenberg (review) for being so continuously smart in examining the misanthropic tendencies of a man simultaneously hateful of the universe and desperate for appreciation; Nowhere Boy (review) for managing to have that many obvious clichés in its pockets but still – in the end – managing to be refreshing in its focus not on Lennon but a troubled teenager; Let Me In (review) for taking the horror genre and moving it from the obtrusive to the psychological all the while never exploiting its young leads.

#14: Cairo Time (review)
#15: Shutter Island  (review)
#16: The Runaways (review)
#17: How to Train Your Dragon (review)
#18: Blue Valentine (review)
#19: Black Swan (review)
#20: Get Low (review)
#21: Green Zone (review)
#22: Night Catches Us (review)
#23: Toy Story III (review)
#24: Nanny McPhee & the Big Bang (review)
#25: Winter’s Bone (review) 

Nomination Tally (24 Categories, some miscellaneous some not)
127 Hours  1 nomination
Agora 10 nominations (1 Gold, 3 Silvers)
Alice in Wonderland 1 nomination (1 Gold)
Animal Kingdom 9 nominations (3 Silvers)
Black Swan 6 nomination (1 Gold)
Blue Valentine 1 nomination (1 Silver)
Brooklyn’s Finest 1 nomination
Burlesque 2 nomination (1 Silver)
Country Strong 1 nomination (1 Gold)
The Fighter 3 nominations (1 Silver)
For Colored Girls 3 (1 Silver)
The Ghost Writer 7 nominations (2 Golds, 3 Silvers)
Greenberg 1 nomination
Green Zone 1 nomination
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows 2 nominations
Inception 4 nominations (1 Silver)
The Kids Are All Right 10 nominations (4 Golds, 1 Silvers)
The King’s Speech 9 nominations (1 Silver)
Let Me In 2 nominations
Mother & Child 2 nominations
Nanny McPhee & the Big Bang 1 nomination
Never Let Me Go 2 nominations
Nowhere Boy 2 nominations (1 Silver)
Rabbit Hole 11 nominations (5 Golds, 1 Silvers)
Robin Hood 1 nomination
The Runaways 1 nomination (1 Gold)
Scott Pilgrim vs the World 9 nominations (1 Gold, 2 Silvers)
Shutter Island 7 nominations (3 Golds, 3 Silvers)
The Social Network 13 nominations (4 Gold, 1 Silver)
Somewhere 2 nominations
Tangled 1 nomination
True Grit 1 nomination
There, free at last – I am – my 25 favourite films of 2010. What do you think of my ragtag collection of picks? Snap decisions: how was 2010 in film for you?


Robert said...

Oh, not that I'm surprised but I am SO glad to see Rabbit Hole being your favorite film of the year. It was so ridiculously underappreciated and it's so wonderful.

And of course, I'm PSYCHED that Scott Pilgrim is in your top 7! :D

Runs Like A Gay said...

Great list - I'll definitely be looking some of these up.