Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Joshua Martin Best Films of 2010

2010 was an incredibly disappointing year for film, but nevertheless, there were still some great films that did come out. I didn't see 10 new films this year that I thought deserved to be on a top 10 list, so instead of just putting down some that I love and a few others that weren't too bad for the sake of having 10, I am just going to put my top films of the year, which will not be ten.

Best Films of the Year:

1. Blue Beard by Catherine Breillat - Her best film to date is a subtle, nuanced, beautifully composed version of the haunting fairy tale. This film shows Breillat at the top her game, composing superb shots and creating a masterful mise en scene. If her next film, Sleeping Beauty, is anywhere near as good as this one, I can't wait.

2. Trash Humpers by Harmony Korine - The most unusual film of the year, but also the most fascinating and legitimately interesting film to come out. The film is grotesque, yet beautiful at the same time. Don't be fooled into thinking this is just a film meant to shock, as the mainstream critics will have you believe. Korine knows what he is going and he is doing it the way he wants to and, in this case, I think he was successful.

3. White Material by Claire Denis - A wonderful, elliptic, engrossing, and fascinating film from one of the best directors working today. Denis is a master at knowing how to use the handheld camera and fully integrate it into the style, tone, and cutting of the film. All those American filmmakers who use handheld as a crutch, could really take a few tips from Denis on how it is supposed to be done.

4. I Am Love by Luca Guadagnino - A visually beautiful and remarkable film to look at it. The first forty-five minutes are a masterpiece, though unfortunately the film veers off track toward the middle and the end, it still packs enough beauty to be well-worth seeing.

Honorable Mentions:

Life During Wartime by Todd Solondz
Wild Grass by Alain Resnias
The Social Network by David Fincher
Winter's Bone by Debra Granik
Shutter Island by Martin Scorsese

2010 Films I Still Need to See:

Film Socialism by Jean-Luc Godard
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Ne Change Rein by Pedro Costa
Aurora by Cristi Puiu
Dogtooth by Giorgos Lanthimos
Mother by Joon-ho Bong
Everyone Else by Maren Ade
Carlos by Olivier Assayas

It is possible that after seeing the above films, my top 2010 film list may expand, perhaps even to 10 films, but I can only go by what I have been able to see up to this point. This is part of the problem. Most of the above films were not released theatrically in Philadelphia (some haven't even gotten a big theatrical release in America at all), yet, these are some of the most interesting films out there right now. Unless you found a screening at a film festival or elsewhere, it was very difficult to see many of these films (if you could see them at all). How is cinema supposed to survive when good films aren't getting the kind of release they deserve?

Disappointments (Average to below average films by great or generally interesting filmmakers):

True Grit by Joel and Ethan Coen
Certified Copy by Abbas Kiarostami
Greenberg by Noah Baumach

Total Failures:

Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky
The Killer Inside Me by Michael Winterbottom
Enter the Void by Gaspar Noe
Inception by Christopher Nolan


  1. I'm interested to know why True Grit disappointed you and why Enter the Void was a failure?

    I'd also really like to see more of these movies in the theater, but I've been pleasantly surprised to see a lot of these movies on Netflix, a lot of them on instant watch. So, in a world where movie theaters suck, Netflix is at least making it easier for people to spend more and more time sitting on their ass at home watching movies rather than getting the full theater experience.

  2. True Grit was simply a genre film and an average one at that. I don't need to go to the theater to see the same rehashed westerns being made over and over again. I don't believe the Coen brothers brought anything new to the genre, which is my biggest gripe with the film. I like the Coen brothers, but I like them when they do something interesting and have interesting, absurd, and grotesque characters that are funny (like Fargo, Barton Fink, A Serious Man). True Grit was melodramatic, sappy, and uninspired. If I want to see an old fashioned western, then I will just watch a John Ford film and enjoy it a lot more.

    Enter the Void had some interesting stylistic choices, but failed in almost every other compacity. I have always felt like Gaspar Noe subsituted graphic sex and violence for true inspiration and ideas and found this to be no exception. The film is corny with its Tibetian Book of the Dead references and "Love Motel" sequence. And the point of view shots were cliched and uninteresting. I found the film cheesy, obnoxious, and laughable most of the time.